Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Board Game: Kodama: The Tree Spirits

Yay! Games!

The Game: Kodama: The Tree Spirits
The Publisher: Action Phase Games
Time: The box says 10 minutes per player, which seems about right; took us about an hour, but we were learning it, too.
Players: Me, +Michelle+Morgan+Jonathan

Morgan, freeing tree spirits.

Game Play: In Kodama, you're building a tree, and then seeing if it pleases the tree spirits. The better your tree, the more points you get. In context, this means everyone has a trunk, and each turn everyone goes around and plays branches. Branches have various features on them (worms, mushrooms, stars, etc.), and features that match previous cards get your more points - but you can't score more than 10 points on a branch, meaning the game encourages you to branch out (lol) and make your tree at least somewhat diverse.

The scoreboard.
You also track seasons (the game has three seasons, with four rounds of adding branches each), and there's a special randomized rule for each season. Our Spring season counted clouds as stars, for instance.

Michelle, shuffling.
At the end of a season, you pick a Kodama from your hand - the Kodama give you bonus points based on certain criteria on your tree. So one Kodama might let you pick a feature and then score points for every time it appears, or every time it appears on an end branch, etc.

My tree, early in the game. Note the flowers and worms.
At the end of the game, whoever has the most points, wins. Pretty simple, that.

Opinions: So, for a start, this game is gorgeous. It's by Daniel Solis, so I really wouldn't expect anything else, but we all remarked many times how damn pretty the game is. What's more, because of the way building your tree and scoring points works, it kind of encourages aesthetic appeal, or at least consideration, within game play.

The scoring system took us a minute to figure out, but we were tired, and really once your get it, it's pretty easy. What I found interesting was that it's really easy to stack your branches so that you get lots of points, but you really can't do that and hope to win because the minute you crest 10 points, that branch is pretty useless (unless you start again with different features).

Morgan and her tree. Not pictured: Rum.
The game play isn't necessarily quick, but it could be. It feels like a game you don't really want to rush through, though.

Keep? Definitely.

Oh, and, the game instructions ask that when you finish a game, you put the little cardboard Kodama in the winning tree and post a picture, so, since Jon won because he always wins games, here's his tree:

Happy Kodama!