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Subject: A review of Kamisado rss

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Garrett the Hammer
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I've played more than a dozen games of Kamisado on yucata.de. I'll say that if you like deep, cerebral, brain-busting activities then this is a game for you.

At first glance Kamisado looks very similar to chess. You have a chess-like board, and pieces that move like queens. In fact, when I first started playing Kamisado, I tried some standard chess openings, which didn't work out too well. The goal of Kamisado however is very different from chess: get a piece to your opponent's home row.

The trick with the game is that your move will decide what opponent's piece moves next. And this all comes down to color. Whatever color of the board square your piece lands on will determine what color of piece moves next. For example, if you land on a red square, your opponent has to move his/her red piece next. If a piece can't move because all its potential squares are blocked by other pieces, your opponent gets to move a piece that matches the color of the square of the blocked piece. There are some more complexities like when a piece gets to the home row it promotes (like in chess or checkers), but I've found this is really a minor part of the game.

When it comes down to it, the game really boils down to two overall strategies:

- put your pieces in a position so they can score
- block your opponent's pieces so they can't score

You should try to move your pieces so they could move (if triggered) to the home row, while blocking access to your home row. Usually the game gets to a point where a player is forced to land on a square that allows one player to move a piece to the home row.

And just like in chess, you have to consider combinations of moves that allow someone to win. I've spent more time staring at a Kamisado board trying to analyze potential moves than about any game I can remember in recent past, with the exception of chess. To do well at Kamisado you sometimes have to think 3-5 moves ahead. It's because of the 'trigger' mechanism that you sometimes need to think about what pieces will be moving in the upcoming moves and how you can stop or force your opponent to make moves that benefit you. In this sense it really is a tactical, thinking game.

But I've found the biggest strength and weakness of the game is the color system. Not only do you have to keep track of spatial arrangement of pieces and the board, but you have to track colors at the same time. This can make the game a mental delight, but also lead to frustration. For instance, below is a recent game I played. Mind you, I'm no pro but I wouldn't consider myself a beginner. And yet I lost in two moves (a Fools Mate) simply because I somehow thought that my opponent would have to move a pink piece, rather than blue.

If you've ever seen those little puzzles where the word GREEN is written out in blue letters, and you have to identify the color of the letters, you'll understand this. Having so many colors tends to trick the brain (at least mine). I like the game and will continue to play it, but I wish there was someway around the color issue, but maybe that is the point of the game-learning to deal with the color issue.

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Michael Howe
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Cromwell
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Personally, I find this game very unclear and puzzle-like. Figuring out what position means, or what strategy means, seems to me almost impossible. Every move is a tactical puzzle, if you like that sort of thing.
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Matt Schoonmaker-Gates
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I agree the game is very tactical, but I find positional strategy very important (and much less obvious).

I like to make moves that don't necessarily accomplish immediate goals, but they set me up for the future. For instance, I like to gang up on an opponent's piece, and limit it's possible squares. I try not to let that piece move until it has no safe squares left. However, while I'm "attacking" this piece, I need to make sure my pieces are going in good spots so that they have plenty of places to move if necessary. So each time you move, you're both attacking and defending.

This game isn't for everyone, and it takes a little while to wrap your head around it. But once you do, it's really cool :-).
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David Form
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I've played a few times and I greatly enjoy this game. One strategic "rule" that I've learned is that one should try to limit the freedom of movement of the opponents pieces while maximizing your own pieces freedom of movement.For this reason, It is usually better to move orthogonally than diagonally. For the same reason, it is also usually good to move your pieces deep onto your opponents territory early in the game. I enjoy a game in which I begin with little idea of what I'm doing and discover strategies and tactics as I play more and more games. I wind up thinking about my moves for a while after each game.
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Garrett the Hammer
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mhowe wrote:
Every move is a tactical puzzle, if you like that sort of thing.


Yes, I very much agree. I could very easily see a book of Kamisado puzzles being published (there are already a few online).
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