Recommend
46 
 Thumb up
 Hide
7 Posts

Yedo» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Curry favor with the Shōgun–or maybe assassinate him! rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Paul Beasi
United States
Easthampton
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
(A version of this review for a non-gaming primary audience originally appeared at Manga Bookshelf. I am the author.)

Every October from several thousand kilometers away I try to live vicariously through others’ accounts of Essen. Reading others' trip reports, one game that particularly caught my eye was a game from a pair of designers from Belgium called Yedo. It didn’t have a lot of buzz, had no US release planned, and it was the designers’ first effort, but the people who played it really seemed to like it and it looked stunning. I decided to take a chance on it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

In Yedo, a worker placement / auction style game, each player is a Clan Elder trying to curry favor with the new Shōgun who rules Japan from the city of Yedo (also known Edo–see the designer diary for information on the name–which is modern day Tokyo). This is primarily accomplished by completing missions to earn money and prestige points (PP). The player with the most prestige points at the end of the game is the winner.



Gameplay:

Yedo lasts for 11 rounds (unless someone assassinates the Shōgun). There are two versions of the game: Geisha and Samurai. For this review, I will cover the more challenging Samurai version. I’ll discuss the differences at the end.

At the beginning of the game, players will each receive some money, two disciples, an action card, four missions, and a favor. Players will use the disciples to gather the various items needed to complete missions and can acquire more disciples during the course of the game in order to accomplish more in a single turn. The action cards grant the owners special, usually powerful single-use abilities that can be used at various points throughout the game. The favor grants the owner a special starting bonus which could include money, cards, or even a blessing. Each favor’s bonus is unique, however after collecting the bonus players flip the card over and may use it once during the game as a blackmail card or keep it for 2 PP at the end of the game.

The missions are the crux of the game. They come in four colors which are indicative of their difficulty to complete. Green missions are the easiest, followed by yellow, red, and the high scoring but extremely hard black missions. Early on players will need to complete some of the easier missions in order to be able to collect the items needed for the harder missions. There are also five mission types: Warfare, Kidnapping, Theft, Espionage, and Assassination.



Once the game begins, players may bid in an auction on various assets: Action cards, Bonus Cards, Weapons, Annexes, Geisha, Disciples, and Mission cards. The assets are divided up into three color groups; in two and three player games, players bid on one of these color groups and in a four or five player game players bid on a specific asset. The starting bidder will make an opening bid on one group or asset equal to the minimum bid printed on the board. In player order, everyone participating in the auction will have a chance to increase the bid or pass. Finally, the person who started the auction has one more chance to increase the bid or pass and then the auction ends. The winning bidder places her bid token there, collects her asset (and in some instances 2 PP), and that color group or asset is now blocked for the remainder of the bidding round. This continues until everyone has had an opportunity to acquire an asset or drop out.

Next comes the event phase which starts with upkeep of the weapons market and ends with an event. The events can be good, relatively benign, inconvenient, or downright disastrous. The most devastating ones can really wreck players’ plans, possibly causing them to lose an entire annex, a disciple, a geisha, money, or a weapon–or more than one of these! Sometimes the really bad events can be somewhat mitigated by returning your blessing. There is a full deck of 27 events and since only one is used per round, not all events will be encountered offering variety from game to game.

After the event phase, the assigning phase begins. I’m not going to go over everything here as there is a lot that can be done, but this is where players will send their disciples to the various districts or their personal annexes. The districts include the Gates, Tavern, Harbor, Red Light District, Market, Temple, and Castle. Each district has a number of available spaces (depending on the number of players) where players may place their disciples to perform actions or to complete missions. Each district has multiple actions which can be performed ranging from acquiring new annexes, geishas, weapons, blessings, or missions to buying or selling PP, changing the turn order, or performing foresight (looking at the top three cards of one of the decks and with the exception of events replacing them in any order), among other things.



Completing missions will require players to have one or more disciples in specified districts and may include other requirements such as specific weapons, geishas, annexes, blessings, or even a competing clan member to assassinate. The green cards are easier with fewer requirements, but the black cards will require a lot of planning to have everything needed and disciples in the right places. This phase is only for placement of disciples; performing the actions occurs later.

After all disciples have been placed, the watch patrol will move. Players know ahead of time where the watch is going to be based on the color and current location of the watch patrol marker on the board. Action cards can be used to influence the movement of the guard. If there are any disciples in the district where the watch patrol ends its movement, those disciples are arrested! Any disciples there are returned either to the reserve if the player owns more than two with the remaining going back to the player Clan House. This can be devastating! Luckily, Actions cards can be used to influence whether or not a player’s disciples are arrested. Also, the Blackmail card can be turned in to save one disciple one time, giving up the 2 PP the card would be worth at the end of the game.



After the watch patrol has been resolved, players in the Market District may freely trade weapons and/or money. Then, players in the Tavern District may freely trade weapons, money, bonus cards, action cards, geishas and/or uncompleted missions. Disciples, annexes, blessings, and completed missions may not be traded. Also, players cannot reveal what is on any card that they trade; they may only state that they believe the card would be useful to the other person. Honesty is not a requirement!

In the final phase, players will begin activating their disciples to perform the actions available in the district or to complete missions. Mission cards have two halves; the top half is the Standard reward which must be completed and the bottom half is a Bonus reward which is optional. For the Standard reward, a disciple in one of the required districts will be returned to the Clan House in order to complete the mission. Any other disciples required for the Standard reward or Bonus reward may remain on their locations meaning they will be able to complete other missions or perform actions. Thus, the order in which actions are resolved can be very important.

At the end of this phase, the next round will begin until 11 rounds have been played. That is, unless one player has completed the Kill the Shōgun black mission! If this happens, the game ends immediately at the end of the round.



At the end of the game, players will score any accumulated bonus cards (which I didn’t mention in the review but they score PP based on a variety of end game conditions) and their Blackmail card if they didn’t use it. The Clan with the most Prestige Points wins!

Theme and Artwork:

This game is dripping with theme and I love it! The mission cards all have wonderful flavor text and the requirements generally make thematic sense. Combined with with the absolutely stunning, colorful artwork this game really puts you in 16th century Japan.

The only extremely minor issue with the artwork is that the annexes are all similar looking and when trying to figure out which is which on the mission cards, you have to pay extra attention. But this is only barely a quibble worth mentioning. All of the art is lovely. It’s one of the most striking games I have in my collection and it always gets complimented when I introduce it to people.

Rulebook and English Translation:

I have a lot of board games and therefore a lot of rulebooks. The number of problematic rulebooks far outweighs the number of good ones. I am happy to say that both the quality of the instructions and the quality of the translation are best in class. In fact, if I didn’t know that this wasn’t a game designed by native English speakers I would never have guessed it.

The rulebook is laid out in a very well organized manner. After reading through the rules, I had almost no questions about how to play. On the back page, there is a table that summarizes what things are, where to get them, what to do with them, and important notes. The player board lists all of the phases, all of the annex functions, and all card and weapon limits. The action cards clearly indicate in which phase they can be used.

That said, there were two misprints in the English edition of the game: The Tavern and Market districts on the back page were labeled incorrectly and a couple of the yellow Assassination mission cards were misprinted as Kidnapping. Mistakes like these are common in first printings of any game and neither causes a major problem, although some of the bonus cards do rely on the types of missions completed and players will have to make sure that if a mission is labeled Kidnapping but the flavor text says to Assassinate someone that they remember that it is an Assassination mission.

Still, those mistakes aside I consider the manual the gold standard of what game manuals should be like. The translation was perfect and the rules were complete, clear, and concise.

Conclusion:

If you haven’t figured it out already, I absolutely love Yedo. It scales very well for two to five players and is a solid tactical game. This game is what Lords of Waterdeep wishes it could be. While I found that game enjoyable enough, it was an extremely dry extrapolation of Dungeons and Dragons. This is the opposite of that. The theme shines in this game. It’s really hard to explain without just experiencing it, but everything looks beautiful and the missions are highly thematic.

I mentioned earlier that there are two versions that you can play. The Samurai version includes all of the action cards and all of the events. The action cards can be very confrontational and the events can be extremely cruel. I will admit that this game has flared tempers between players and if you don’t like confrontation or having your plans utterly wrecked by the turn of a card, you will NOT want to play this version of the game. However to accommodate this there is the Geisha version of the game. In this version, the most evil event and action cards are removed from the game. Also, the watch patrol is removed completely for the 11th round of the game. These changes will not make Yedo that much easier but may make it more palatable for some, especially younger players.

I really hope that this game finds a US distributor because it deserves to be played by everyone. Yedo is easily the best game I acquired in 2012 and definitely one that will find its way to the table often. There may be a few retailers who still have leftover import copies but otherwise you’ll have to order this directly from Germany.

If you get the chance to play, take it! You won’t regret it.
33 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thomas Vande Ginste
Belgium
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thank you for the great review and showing the people the way to our game.
We wish as much as you that more publishers will pick it up, so it's easyer and cheaper to buy in other country's!
So spread the word and if you know publishers ... .

Greets,


Thomas
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Harrison
United States
Fisher
Illinois
flag msg tools
So long ...
badge
... and thanks for all the fish.
Avatar
mb
seqiro wrote:
That said, there were two misprints in the English edition of the game: The Tavern and Market districts on the back page were labeled incorrectly and a couple of the yellow Assassination mission cards were misprinted as Kidnapping.

Only a minor correction, actually all yellow and red Assassination missions are mislabeled as Kidnapping. But as you say, in all other respects (key color, key character, flavor text), they appear like Assassination missions.


I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of the manual. A good manual is a pleasure to read: and this one was a pleasure to read. I only encountered two rules issues I had to run to BGG for, and they were already answered in the forums.


I also second your warning about the Samurai difficulty. After getting several 2-player games (me and my wife) under our belt, we tried our first 3-player game. As a starting bonus, my wife got a geisha (or an annex, can't remember which). In the first auction, she bid very high to get an annex (or a geisha, can't remember which).

Out came the event: all players lose an annex of their choice, and a geisha. She didn't have a blessing.

Bam. She was broke, she was busted, and that mission didn't get completed for a long while. It seriously set her back.

And she was used to the game by that point—it was her fifth play.

I don't think we'll stop playing the Samurai difficulty (she said she wants to try it again, and we had played it a couple times before that), but it can be quite a shock. Some of the cards can be quite mean, too.


That said, this is a great game. The theme just leaps off the board at you. After we finished our first game, my wife turned to me and said, "You can sell Princes of Florence if you want to. I will always want to play this instead."

This was one of my best purchases last year. If I try to break it down to mechanisms, I see that it's just I do this, and this, and this, and then I can do this, but it's so much more than that when I actually play it. It comes alive. I can't think of any better way of describing it.

Our best moment with the game so far was when, entirely by accident, we completed the following three missions in order:

Quote:
Jane steals the gold statue from the shrine.

I kill the official who suspects me (outrage!) of stealing the gold statue.

Jane shuts down the investigation surrounding the murder of the official and the theft of the gold statue. She doesn't want anyone looking into it, even if I was the one who was forced to murder the official.

It was a beautiful sequence. I love how the same characters, and even sequences of events, appear and reappear.

The only thing I wish for with this game is more, many more, events. They create a world I don't want to stop.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Beasi
United States
Easthampton
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HuginnGreiling wrote:

Only a minor correction, actually all yellow and red Assassination missions are mislabeled as Kidnapping. But as you say, in all other respects (key color, key character, flavor text), they appear like Assassination missions.


Ok so I just went through and looked at each mission and found three yellow missions that were mislabeled and one red mission that was mislabeled that we didn't see before. But all of the rest were correct. Is it possible there are multiple print runs out there?
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jonathan Harrison
United States
Fisher
Illinois
flag msg tools
So long ...
badge
... and thanks for all the fish.
Avatar
mb
There should be 3 yellow and 1 red Assassination missions (i.e., all the yellow and red Assassination missions) mislabeled as Kidnapping.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Beasi
United States
Easthampton
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ah yes, somehow I misread what you wrote.

But yes, I have the same cards misprinted.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Shayne Gray
United States
Akron
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I also have this game, and I have to say that it is a really good game. I only have 3 games under my belt so far, but I expect this will hit the table more in the future.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.