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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Take It Or Leaf It

This week we are coming to you from Cornerstone Cafe in Broad Ripple.  After standing in line for many hours down at Luna music for Record Store Day, we certainly welcomed sitting down with a relaxing game and a hot beverage.  Unfortunately, it ended up feeling more awkward and uncomfortable than anything else.  They clearly have a batch of regulars that they are used to serving and if you are not one of them, your service suffers.  The food was an odd mix of temperatures and had an unpleasant, old taste. Our coffee and hot chocolate did not fair much better.  It was maybe 1/8th full, but our waitress ignored us and there was an overall unwelcome vibe to the place, so much so that we were glad to quickly finish our game and leave.  With as unfortunate as that experience was, this review is about to get much better with Kodama: The Tree Spirits.  Read on to learn about this great little game.
In stark contrast to the weird environment that we were sitting in, was the delightful game we were playing, Kodama: The Tree Spirits.  We picked up this little gem from Action Phase Games when we were at Who's Yer Con.  The goal of the game is to keep the Kodama happy and you do this by having the best variety of flowers and insects in your trees.  The game takes place over 3 seasons and the player with the highest number of points is the winner.  Each player starts with a randomly assigned tree trunk and 4 Kodama cards.  These trunks will have a special icon (fire fly, flowers, caterpillar, etc.) on them, this coincides with scoring tokens on the tracking mat. Each turn the active player will take a branch card from the display (face up cards) and add it to their tree.  They score from the top of the tree down to the trunk and get 1 point for each occurrence of an icon (cloud, firefly, flowers, etc.)  in a contiguous line, with a maximum of 10 points being scored.  You can build your branches anywhere they can connect to another branch, but they cannot go past the base of the tree (grow into the ground), touch more than 1 card, or cover any existing icon.  At the end of each seasons (after playing 4, 8 and 12 branches) you choose a Kodama card to help you.  These offer bonuses based on how you have built your tree.  After the 3rd season, the player with the highest score is the winner of the game.  The game can take up a lot of room on the table, but this is to be expected when you are branching out your trees.  Sometimes you may find yourself having to reassemble the cards on your table or move other things around in order to make space for your growing branches.
The art and theme of Kodama is simply delightful and the game even includes little Kodamas to put in your completed tree and post on social media.  But this game isn't just cute, it also has a great strategic element to it.  There are so many ways to build the branches and with the seasonal bonus cards you can come up with many combinations to gain points and make your tree a forest favorite.  We have really enjoyed this game so far.  It's more light-weight which could make it either a great filler game, or a well-rounded game for multiple age ranges.  We both really love this game.  It abounds such great theme, artwork, and multiple options for light strategy that we absolutely recommend it for your collection. 

Kodama: The Tree Spirits
Overall Meeple Rating: 7/10

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.