Designer: Kota Nakayama
Theme: Card game, medieval
Mechanics: card drafting, movement programming
Number of Player: 2
Play Time: 15 minutes
Recommended age: 10+
Hanamikoji Review Content
Hanamikoji Dori is the well-known district of geisha in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. These female artists are very famous for their performances, requiring years of training. Music, dance, art, in many ways, they entertain everyone.
In this game, two players will compete to gain the favors of seven Geisha masters, by collecting the performance items they are the best at.
Hanamikoji plays in few rounds of 4 actions each. Until one player has won, players will draw a card in turn and play an action. When both players finished their action, they will score and check whether one as won. You won if you have the favors of four of the seven Geisha, or by having 11 influence or charm points.back to menu ↑
Hanamikoji artwork was done a young Taiwanese artist called Maisherly. The game looks absolutely stunning. Check out this article, you can find out more about Maisherly and see some of the original drafts and art styles she has done for the game.
Overall, as I said, the artwork is stunning and the game is really beautiful. If you are somewhat interested in Japanese culture or art, I would highly recommend this game.
The game is composed of the following elements:
- 7 geisha cards,
- 7 victory markers
- 21 item cards
- 2 sets of 4 action markers
- Organize the seven geisha between the two players.
- Place a victory marker on the top of each geisha card.
- Shuffle the 21 item cards and place the deck on the side.
- Give the 4 action markers to both players.
How to Play
Each round of Hanamikoji game consists of 3 phases.
The first player will randomly remove one item of the deck. This item is secret – neither player should know which one this is – and will not be used for this round. Deal 6 cards to each player.
If you are the first player, you will draw a card and will choose one of these four actions to perform:
- Secret: Place one item card, secretly, under the marker “1”. At the end of
this round, this card will be scored in your favor.
- Trade-off: Choose two cards from your hand and place them secretly, under token “2”.Those cards will be discarded at the end of the round.
- Gift: Place three cards, visible in front of your opponent. He will choose one to score on his side. The active player will then score the two other on his own side.
- Competition: Place four cards, visible, in two pairs. Your opponent will choose one pair to score on his side. You, the active player, will score the two other on your own side.
Once a player uses one action, he flips the action marker over and cannot use it again during this round.
The players then alternate “draw a card” then “play an action” until they both have played all their actions.
When scoring an item, a player needs to put it on his side, under the geisha using this item.
After the action phase, players move to a scoring phase: looking at every geisha, check who has the most items. Move the victory token on the side of this player who will receive the favor of the geisha. If there is no card or a draw, the token doesn’t move.
And you’ll soon realize this is where the trick is. Every round, the balance in the victory points may change. Make sure not to lose the favors you gained!
You will now check if anyone has won the game.
- Do you have the favors of 4 geisha or more?
- Is the total value of the geisha favoring you 11 or more?
Note that if one player has 4 geisha, and the other 11 or more charm points, the player with 11 or more charm points wins.
No? Then take the left-over item back in the deck, shuffle the deck and the second player becomes the first and the next round can start. Secretly remove an item and start again.back to menu ↑
Learning the rules takes no more than ten minutes and the game about the same amount of time. Yet, once you realize the limited number of each item, you will soon learn to make careful decisions.
You will initially be tempted to score the highest items, and yet, if your opponent thinks the same, neither of you will score. This can be a good strategy, but yet: wouldn’t you want to try for the geisha of value 4 instead?
And will you first offer a gift to your opponent, to test his strategy? Or will you discard two cards too early?
All those decisions craft the turn, and the game. You’ll need to read your opponent, and learn to change your strategies: play always the same way and you’ll be beaten. Be unpredictable, and you stand your chance.
Fifteen minutes later, you’ll find yourself shuffling the item deck again, going for a rematch. And again. And soon enough, an hour will have gone by and you’ll want to play again.
Hanamikoji Review score
In this game, two players will compete to gain the favors of seven masters, providing them with the items they are the best with. You will need to learn to read your opponent, tease him with opportunities and yet, outsmart him with your bluffing skills.
- Easy rules
- Quick and fun
- Very portable game
- Simplistic game
- Artwork too nice – you don’t want to damage the cards
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Hanamikoji — overview and rules explanation
Hanamikoji on BoardGameGeek: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/158600.