This is a review of Hanamikoji designed by Kota Nakayama. It plays 2 players. Realistcally, I’d estimate the playtime at 10 minutes, but this game induces some serious analysis paralysis…
This is an insanely clever hand management game!
Between the two players, there is a row of geisha. On a turn, a player draws a card and takes one of four possible actions. The actions are a combination of card stashing, discarding, and playing a card to a geisha while also giving the opponent and opportunity to take a card from your offering. The game is TIGHT so you have to not only plan out how you will play what you have, but how you will also keep information from your opponent.
The way in which you force your opponent to push their luck is a ton of fun and creates a lot of tactical strategy for such a compact game.
The end goal is to have placed the most cards of a certain suit in front of enough geisha to win by points (11) or by number of geisha (4).
Players are competing to win the favor of the geisha by gifting them cards from their hands. The other player, though, can offer the geisha similar gifts, so you need to be crafty to ensure your gifts matter in the end.
The theme is wonderful, although it is loosely tied to the mechanics. As with most lightweight games of this type, that doesn’t really matter.
The art in this game is stunning. Each geisha has her own personal style and the cards are beautifully detailed.
The action tokens are adorned with iconography that reminds players how to take each action on a turn, which is very helpful.
Be warned, this game can induce massive analysis paralysis! Turns CAN drag while you stare at your hand, look at the table, psyche out your opponent, back to the table, the hand, the table, the actions you have left, back and forth and back and forth…
The game is so tight that you really have to be thinking through your entire round.
That said, this isn’t really a problem. The game still takes about 10 to 15 minutes and there is something for both players to think about at each turn, as two of the four actions have a player prompting their opponent to take a card as well. So while the game may hang at parts, there is still a lot of player interaction to keep players engaged.
I think this game was about 11 or 12 bucks, so…goddamn is this a good value. It’s deeply tactical, lightweight, beautiful art, good components. Aces all around and an excellent value.
This game is very lightweight and easy to teach. Anyone could pick this up and quickly. They will certainly be at a disadvantage against seasoned players, but they’ll pick it up quickly.
I can see myself bringing this game out a lot, because of how easy it is to teach, while also being deeply strategic.
After several games in a row, I can’t wait to play more. There are a few strategies to try out and they evolve as you read your opponent’s game. It’s surprisingly dynamic for such a light game.
An excellent game! Easily tops the list of some of my favorite two player games.