Kodama are mythological tree spirits from Japan… and Kodama is a card-based game that I played last week at the monthly boardgames club at work. You place cards that form a gnarly tree decorated with features such as clouds, mushrooms and caterpillars. Each round you score points for lines of matching features flowing from the card you have just placed but there are additional bonuses to draw on too. The game is divided into three seasons – spring, summer and autumn – each of which features an additional rule based on a randomly drawn ‘decree’ card for that season. Sometimes you might want to create a large number of branches from your main trunk but, equally, you might have incentive to build a very long, high-scoring branch or to seek out or avoid particular features. The, at the end of each four-round season, you play a Kodama card. From a selection of four cards, you will get to field three throughout the game and they will reward different strategies to create a ‘home’ that they enjoy.
It is a gentle game, without much inter-player conflict, apart from the occasional time when another player takes a card you were hankering for. It is also quite beautiful to look at, as the trees gradually grow and develop creating forms that remind me very much of the art of Bonsai. I also had a feeling that Jane would enjoy it so I showed her a couple of videos when I got in from the club and ordered a copy the next day, which arrived quickly and has now had a couple of plays.
Cons? Not many. There were a couple of minor flaws in the production such as the registration of the playing pieces on the die cut cardboard – when the counters were pressed out, they were usable but the circles that were cut weren’t centred on the circles that were printed. Overall though, a lovely little game and one that I can see being easy to get out and play.