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Sakura (Boardgame)

Sakura (Boardgame)

Written by Bryony Stibbons on 22 Apr 2018


Distributor A-Games • Price £18-£22


“Every spring, the cherry trees blossom all over Japan. The Japanese celebrate this occasion, as according to their traditions the goddess of Fuji mountain, Konohana Sakuya Hima, revives the fallen flowers at this time. The cherry flower is a symbol of vitality called ‘sakura’ “

Having read this, it is still impossible to define the theme of this game – I can only summarise that it is Japans answer to Uno!

Set Up:

Players are dealt an even number of cards (different amounts depending on player number) out of a pack of 52. Each card contains a number from 1 to 13 which is written in one of four colours and no two card of the same (it is not dissimilar to the premis for a regular pack of cards). Then two more cards placed on the table either end of the Ying-Yang card. One end of the ying=yang card indicates that card must be placed next to it in ascending numerical order and at the opposite end descending numerical order. You also lay out five character cards that are available to purchase and deal each player 5 coins.

Game Play:

Players take turns to play two cards from their hand – one onto the ascending pile and one in the descending pile. To play a card it must be the same colour as the one at the top of the pile and must meet the descending/ascending rule, or it can be a card of the same number as the top card but of a different colour.

Meeting these rules gets tougher the further into the game you go so you are able to purchase character cards that grant you powers that can help you place a card. For example, one card allows you to reverse the Ying-Yang card making it possible to place a higher number where you previously had to place a lower one.

If you are unable to play a card and no character card can help you then you must pick up the pile in question. Picking up card may ultimately be your demise, as markers on the cards picked up are your score and the lowest score wins so you really want to avoid pick-ups. However, there is an up side to picking up, as this causes you to get more coins.

After three rounds, that are played until all players are rid of their cards you add up the points gained from the pick-ups and the lowest score wins.

The Verdict:

I enjoyed this game, despite being thoroughly thrashed. The increase/decrease rules can be very frustrating, especially when your opponent player the highest value card on the increase side and vice verse. There is a rule allowing you to go between 13 and 1 regardless on the increase/decrease rule, but we found that we never had the right card at the right time to make use of this rule.

The character cards are what make this game and the key is to make sure that you understand their powers and use them at the right time. The cards and pieces are a good quality with nice illustrations for the character cards in particular, although there are some illustrations on the playing cards that are a little confusing because the colours on the cards conflict with the colours of the numbers.

There is a huge luck element in this game, which means it won’t appeal to all gamers as some like to be in total control of their own fate. It is fairly light and, other than having to remember what all the special powers are of the character cards, easy to learn.

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Game Length: 30-45mins

Number of Players: 2-6

Theme:

The rules for this game state:

“Every spring, the cherry trees blossom all over Japan. The Japanese celebrate this occasion, as according to their traditions the goddess of Fuji mountain, Konohana Sakuya Hima, revives the fallen flowers at this time. The cherry flower is a symbol of vitality called ‘sakura’ “

Having read this, it is still impossible to define the theme of this game – I can only summarise that it is Japans answer to Uno!

Set Up:

Players are dealt an even number of cards (different amounts depending on player number) out of a pack of 52. Each card contains a number from 1 to 13 which is written in one of four colours and no two card of the same (it is not dissimilar to the premis for a regular pack of cards). Then two more cards placed on the table either end of the Ying-Yang card. One end of the ying=yang card indicates that card must be placed next to it in ascending numerical order and at the opposite end descending numerical order. You also lay out five character cards that are available to purchase and deal each player 5 coins.

Game Play:

Players take turns to play two cards from their hand – one onto the ascending pile and one in the descending pile. To play a card it must be the same colour as the one at the top of the pile and must meet the descending/ascending rule, or it can be a card of the same number as the top card but of a different colour.

Meeting these rules gets tougher the further into the game you go so you are able to purchase character cards that grant you powers that can help you place a card. For example, one card allows you to reverse the Ying-Yang card making it possible to place a higher number where you previously had to place a lower one.

If you are unable to play a card and no character card can help you then you must pick up the pile in question. Picking up card may ultimately be your demise, as markers on the cards picked up are your score and the lowest score wins so you really want to avoid pick-ups. However, there is an up side to picking up, as this causes you to get more coins.

After three rounds, that are played until all players are rid of their cards you add up the points gained from the pick-ups and the lowest score wins.

The Verdict:

I enjoyed this game, despite being thoroughly thrashed. The increase/decrease rules can be very frustrating, especially when your opponent player the highest value card on the increase side and vice verse. There is a rule allowing you to go between 13 and 1 regardless on the increase/decrease rule, but we found that we never had the right card at the right time to make use of this rule.

The character cards are what make this game and the key is to make sure that you understand their powers and use them at the right time. The cards and pieces are a good quality with nice illustrations for the character cards in particular, although there are some illustrations on the playing cards that are a little confusing because the colours on the cards conflict with the colours of the numbers.

There is a huge luck element in this game, which means it won’t appeal to all gamers as some like to be in total control of their own fate. It is fairly light and, other than having to remember what all the special powers are of the character cards, easy to learn.

6
Easy to learn and enjoyable, but a little too luck driven for me.

Bryony Stibbons
About Bryony Stibbons

A life-long board game addict, but anime newbie, Bryony is gradually getting hooked!


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