Are you ready to become the next great Bitoku spirit of the forest? It’s no simple task, you know. Yōkai, pilgrims, and kodamas can help you on your journey, but, ultimately, your choices are what will determine your faith. There’s a lot to factor in, and no time to waste. We’d better get started…
What Is It?
A few different work together in this game, giving players many options turn to turn, and various paths toward victory.
Card Management – You will only be able to play 3 of your yōkai cards per turn, so keeping the ones with the most beneficial actions for your strategy available to you is key. You can collect more yōkai cards throughout the game, and you can also remove one card you played each round from the game for points (as long as you still had 5+ in total in your possession). So it’s important to choose wisely, so as to not limit your possible actions too much.
Worker Placement – Your 3 yōkai guardian dice will get placed on various spots on the board to gain resources, cards, abilities, and more to help move your game forward. By timing your dice placements right, you will be able to do more actions by first visiting the forest, and later crossing the river.
There are many ways to score points throughout the game (i.e. orange crystals, buildings), but players will also want to look ahead and plan some ways to score end game points (i.e. vision cards, Iwakura rocks). At the end of 4 rounds, the player with the most points wins!
Who Is It For?
- 1 to 4 Players – Scales well
- Ages 13+
- Players who don’t get overwhelmed by a lot of choices
- More avid gamers (not beginners)
- Aesthetics – Absolutely gorgeous components/art
- Components – Really nice quality across the board
- Iconography – Almost everything as far as icons is very straightforward, so you aren’t constantly questioning what something means
- Reference Cards – I play so many games now that have 0 reference for players, which make things unnecessarily difficult. This has a little reference booklet for each player, which is such a nice touch
- Price Point – I feel like the price is super reasonable for the high quality production
- Plays smoothly
- Many different paths to victory
- Heavy front-loading of rules – I do feel that when you start playing, everything seems to fall into place and make sense, but teaching or listening to the rules the first time is a doozy
- Long set up/clean up
- Can be AP prone / have long downtime between turns
- Discount Icon – The only iconography I find a little unclear is when you get a discount on certain things (i.e. buildings, dragonflys). It is not super clear how the discount only applies to a certain thing/one out of two things in some places
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I generally wouldn’t jump at the chance to play a ~2 hour game; it just isn’t my preferred time range for a play. There’s something about this game though that just works. It has a really smooth flow that keeps things moving at a steady pace, which really helps. Plus, the fact that it’s quite a looker is an added bonus.
Apart from that, there are so many options that you always feel like you have something beneficial to do. Even when someone else blocks the spot you wanted, there’s always another choice that feels just as good, in a different way.
Also, I’ve tried a lot of different approaches to gaining points, all of which seem viable in scoring well by game’s end, so I really like that there isn’t just one “best” strategy that forces a race to certain resources or cards.
Overall, I think this game is one that will really hold up over many, many more plays. If you like short and simple games, this one will probably be a pass for you. But, if you like heavier, more intricate games with a solid flow, definitely check this one out!
My Final Rating – 9/10
Designer – Germán P. Millán
Artist – Edu Valls
Publisher – Devir
MSRP – $69.99
*This is not a paid/compensated promotion*
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