Romi Rami

Romi Rami

D: Antoine Lefebvre
A: Fanny Saulnier
P: Randolph, Hachette Boardgames USA | BGG
2-4 players 30 min ages 8+ MSRP $15
Time to Teach/Learn: 3-4 min

Romi Rami is a new game with an old soul. It has some famous card game cousins. You may have met them, Rummy and Contract Bridge, or its crazy board game uncle, Ticket to Ride. You’ll collect set of cards from one market in hopes of filling contracts from another. Keep your eyes peeled for the bonus suits and trophies, too. They can really boost your score.

There are 128 cards in Romi Rami. The main deck has 92 cards in four different semi-traditional suits (hearts, diamonds, cherries, and clover). The cards are numbered 1-2-3-4-5 in each suit . There are four cards at the high and low end of each suit (Four 1 cards and four 5 cards). There are five cards for each number in the middle (Five 2s, 3s, and 4s).

The contract deck has 36 cards. These cards have four different elements.

In the center is a recipe of cards you will need in order to fill the contract. The recipe could show a set of like numbered cards (a pair, three, four or five of a kind) OR the recipe could show a sequence of consecutive numbered cards, a run (a three, four or five card run). Every contract will show at least one recipe or as many as three.

Below the recipe on each contract card is a bonus suit, a large icon matching one of the suits in the game: heart, diamond, cherry, or clover.

The top edge of each contract also has important information.

The top right corner of the card shows the number of points you will score for filling the contract.

The rest of the top of the card is the scoring zone: this area mirrors details about the contract so the cards can be stacked in columns and overlapped, solitaire style as you collect them. This way you dont have to see the whole card, just the scoring zone, once you collect it.

The scoring zone shows the bonus suit and a number of card combo icons that mirror the recipe(s) shown on the contract. So, for example, if a contract had two recipes – a pair and a 3 card run – and the bonus suit was clover, the scoring zone of that contract card would show a clover and two card combination icons: a 2 card combo and a 3 card combo.

There are 4 cardboard crowns which serve as trophies in the game. The crowns display a number of points and a different scoring requirement on each side.

There are four cardboard Joker tokens (stars). Each player gets one and has the option to use it once in the game.

To set up for a game of Romi Rami, shuffle the main deck and deal a three card hand to each player. Then use the main deck to create the number market in the center of the play area by dealing 6 cards face up (2 rows of three cards). Shuffle the contract deck and deal four contract cards face up to the play area just above the number market. Keep both main and contract decks handy as you’ll be dealing or drawing from them frequently during the game. Last but not least, toss the four trophy tokens in the air The trophy sides that land face up set the trophy scoring opportunities for the game. Grab a joker token, pick a start player and we’re ready to go.

The goal of Romi Rami is to score the most points. Each turn a player will perform three steps, then the next player in clockwise order will do the same and so on until a target number of contracts is filled based on the number of players. When this target is reached, finish the current game round so everyone has had an even number of turns, then count up your points and high score wins the game.

So here are the three steps to your turn in Romi Rami.

Step One: you MUST collect cards from the number market. You can collect up to three cards, never more than three! There are two rules to follow when you collect. All the cards you collect must be the same suit OR all the cards you collect must be the same number. You can always collect a single card of any suit or number. If you collect more than one card you have to follow these rules: all the same suit or all the same number.

Step Two: You MAY fill a contract (or contracts) from the market provided you have cards in your hand to fill the recipe or recipes listed on the contract. Fill one contract at a time and either discard or bank the cards used to fill the contract. We will get to banking cards in just a minute. Once you start filling contracts, stack them in a column solitaire style so the scoring zones for each contract are visible.

At any point you can use your Joker token as a wild card for any one missing card you need to fill a contract.

Step Three: Refill both markets so the number market has 6 cards and the contract market has four cards. Then, check the number of cards in your hand. If you have more than 10 cards, you must discard down to 10 cards. If you have less than 3 cards, draw cards from the main deck until you have 3.

So, you MUST collect cards from the number market (either matching suit or matching number) never more than 3 cards. Then you MAY fill contracts if you have the right combination of cards from your hand – discard or bank those cards. Last of all, refill the markets (number market should have 6 cards, contract should have 4). Check your hand size 10 is too many. Less than three refill your hand up to 3.

From there Romi Rami is lather rinse and repeat round after round until someone fills the target number of contracts (5 contracts for 4 players, 6 contracts for 3 players, 7 contracts for 2 players). When the game is over you will score the points listed for each contract you filled. You will get 1 bonus point if you didn’t use your Joker. And then you’ll score two additional ways: your banked bonus cards and trophies. These two methods are…

The suit bonus and trophy points make each decision of which cards to collect and which contracts to fill more involved and challenging.

Every contract has a suit bonus listed at the bottom of the card. To fill a contract you have to follow the recipe for the combinations listed in the middle of the card (sets of like number cards or runs of consecutive number cards). Suit never matters when filling contracts. Until it does! The suit bonus listed at the bottom of the card says this: for every card you use to fill this contract that matches the bonus suit, instead of discarding those cards when you fill the contract you get to BANK each of those matching suit cards into a score pile. At the end of the game, each card in your banked card pile is worth one point.

Suddenly the number market isnt just about numbers. You may choose collect cards of a certain suit from the market in hopes that you can fill a contract and bank the majority, maybe even ALL the cards you use because they match the suit bonus on the contract. And because all the contracts are public information, you need to keep an eye on not only what numbers others are collecting but what suits they take as well. You may have your heart set on a particular contract only to have it swept off the market by someone else because they could cash in on the suit bonus.

The trophy tokens list a point reward for the player who collects the most of something at the end of the game. It could be the most contracts with a certain suit; it could be the most 4 card combo shown in the scoring zone of your contracts. Suddenly each contract you fill could put you in competition with your neighbors for the most diamonds or the most pairs. In order to win the trophy there can be no tie. You have to have an outright majority. As the game charges closer and closer to the end (and the end will sneak up on you much faster than you think) you will want to keep close tabs on where you stand in the trophy race since it could easily influence which contract you choose to fill.

Romi Rami is a great example of a modern grandma game. I know this is an inherently silly term, but hear me out. A grandma game doesnt mean you can only play it with grandma. It means you can play it with everyone including grandma (or grandpa). It means it is a game with a timeless quality, a universal appeal, a game you can pull of the shelf and teach grandma or anyone younger than grandma (or grandpa) and they will be able to absorb the rules and have fun on a level playing field.

A grandma game is a triumph of accessibility. If grandma can play and enjoy Romi Rami, I think practically anyone can. It is HARD to create games that have this broad appeal that aren’t just retreads of older games. Familiarity with key concepts and rules are often what make a game accessible, but it can also make it boring. You can draw inspiration from your cousins, but you dont want to clone them! Romi Rami can trace its heritage back to set collecting and contract filling games. You can even see how filling and scoring tickets building your train routes card by card shares some DNA with this game. Romi Rami draws great inspiration from its heritage, but also stands apart with its own paths to challenge and enjoyment. This vaults Romi Rami into its own class of classic, major fun for all.

December 2023

Written by: Stephen Conway

Velonimo

Release: 6/23/23   | Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Run Time: 25 min   | Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Humans have the Tour de France. Animals have the Tour de Zoo! A menagerie of animal cyclists from around the world have come to test their mettle with their pedals! Five mountain summits stand between you and the coveted Leader of the Pack jersey.

Velonimo is a modern twist on two classic card game elements: climbing and card shedding. The goal is to get rid of all your cards. You’ll do this by playing a card or combinations of cards that are higher than the ones previously played. Velonimo is five races up five mountains, each higher than the next. The first player to shed their hand in a round, finishes in first place and gets the leader’s jersey.

Velonimo allows players to combine cards across color or number. It also introduces powerful single cards  – some with special abilities (the tortoise) and some with very high values (the hare).  This means you have many different ways to stay in the race.

Strap on your helmet and tune in. Before you know it, you’ll be at the summit, riding along side Major Fun.

Velonimo

Designer: Bruno Cathala

Artist: Dominique Mertens

Publisher:  25th Century Games | Studio StraosphèresBGG Entry ry 

2-5 players  30 min  ages 7+   MSRP $20

Time to teach/learn:  3-5 minutes

  

 

Full show notes on all the segments are available at The Spiel.

Music credits include:

Bicycle Race| by Queenthe song

Broken Bicycles  |  by Tom Waits | the song

Broken & Beautiful

Broken & Beautiful: A Game About Kintsugi

Designers: Patrick Rauland
Artist: Shirley Gong
Publisher: Left Justified Studio | BGG Entry
2-4 players 15 min ages 12+ MSRP $16
Time to Teach/Learn: 5 minutes

Written by: Doug Richardson

Broken and Beautiful honors the art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is repaired with golden lacquer. In Kintsugi, breakage and repair are beautiful facets of an object’s unique history. In the game, you’ll draft pottery cards, manage their breakage, and repair them to increase their value.

Broken and Beautiful is played with a deck of 46 game cards. These represent pottery, gold, serving trays, and storage boxes, commonly found in many Japanese homes. Both sides of the pottery cards are important in the game. One side shows the unbroken object; the other side shows the repaired side, with golden veins connecting the broken pieces.

The cards also have an icon which tells you what class of goods it depicts: cup, saucer, plate, bowl, tea jar, vase, teapot, serving tray, or storage box.

Each card shows a number of gold ingots in the lower left corner. This is the cost to repair the item, should it break.

In addition, there are 4 player reference cards, 14 gold ingots made of wood, and a First Player marker.

To set up a game of Broken and Beautiful, you’ll orient the cards unbroken side up, and give them a shuffle.

Pick a start player for the first round. The player who most recently washed the dishes would be a fitting choice.

Now deal a group of pottery cards to the table equal to two times the player count, plus one. In a 3 player game, this would be 7 cards.

(Hint: It is helpful to lay out the pottery cards each round with like items grouped together. This way, everyone can clearly see how many of each are available.)

Now you’re ready to play Broken and Beautiful.

In Broken and Beautiful, you choose pottery cards to keep as part of your collection or to sell. Then certain pottery cards will break and players will have an opportunity to repair them, provided they can pay enough gold. Each type of pottery scores in a different way and this score can be enhanced if pottery is repaired. The goal to amass the most beautiful collection of  pottery and score the most points

Broken and Beautiful follows a simple four-step round structure:

1)Prepare for the Draft
2)Draft Cards
3)Pottery Breaks
4)Repairing Pottery

During the draft, each player will select two cards. The start player selects one card, followed by the player to the left

When you select a card, you have two options. Either you put the card in your collection, or you sell the card for gold. If you put the card in your collection, place the card, unbroken side up, in front of you on the table.  If you sell the card, take the number of ingots shown on the lower left corner of the card.

Once the last player takes a card, the order of play reverses. The last player selects their second card, followed by the player to the right, and ending with the start player. In game terms, this is known as a snake draft.

After each player has taken two cards, one card will remain unchosen. This card and the card on top of the draw deck will determine which pieces will break.

Remember both sides of the cards are significant in Broken & Beautiful. The top of the draw deck will display a piece of pottery, just like the card that was not chosen.

If a cup and a bowl are the remaining two cards, then all cups and all bowls in every player’s collection will break. Turn these cards sideways to show they are now broken.

But don’t despair! The game is all about celebrating the repair of everyday objects and making them more beautiful.

Starting with the first player, each player may repair an item. The cost to repair your first  item is shown in ingots on the card. A broken cup may be repaired by paying one gold, for example. Simply return that ingot to the general supply, and flip the card to its repaired side.

When you do, you’ll notice the repaired cup is now worth more points than before. On its normal side, a cup was worth one point. Broken, it is worth nothing. But when you repair it, it now is worth 3 points. It has become both broken and beautiful–and more valuable!!

After all players have had a chance to repair their first broken item, everyone has a chance to repair a second item, but the cost goes up! Repairing your second item costs one gold more than the price listed on the card. Your third repair costs 2 gold more and so on.

When all repairs are done, pass the start player marker to the next player in turn order, and set up for another round. The game ends when you can no longer deal out enough cards to hold another draft.

Now everyone will total up the points for their collection. Each item scores in its own unique way.

Cups score one point.

Saucers score nothing on their own, but when paired with a cup, double the cup’s worth.

Plates are worth 6 points,but only if you have a pair of them. A single plate scores no points.

Bowls are worth the number of them in your collection. That is, if you have 3 bowls, they are each worth 3 points apiece.

Tea jars will score you 6 points, but only if you have the most tea jars.

Vases are worth 1 point if you have just one, 5 points for two. Collect all three, and you get 15 points.

Teapots are worth as many points as you have other pottery with a matching pattern.

Finally, there are the wooden storage trays and storage boxes. Trays just score 2 points. Storage boxes are worth as many points as you have left over gold.

But that’s only half the story. The scoring for every item is enhanced when they are repaired. For example, pair a regular cup and saucer, and you’ll score 3 points. But if both have been repaired, the cup is now worth 3, and the saucer triples that to 9 points.

The key concept is that every object has value, but repaired objects enable new or enhanced scoring opportunities. In the end you’ll add up your points, remembering that broken pieces score nothing. The player with the most points is the winner!

Broken and Beautiful presents us with a paradox: a simple set of choices with hidden depth and complexities. The game is easy to learn, but in the playing, thoughtful challenges reveal themselves.

Every choice you make is both a choice of taking and leaving. You take a card to add to your scoring possibilities, but what are you leaving for others?

Do you concentrate your collection on one or two items, or spread it out among a wide range, hoping to maximize your scoring chances by fixing your items that break?

And what card will ultimately be left to break at the end of the round? Can you plan for this, knowing that some of your goods may break? With each choice, you play a little side game of “What will everyone else do?” Can you foresee the consequences of their choices?

How will you manage your gold, knowing that you’ll need to make repairs, and enhance the value of your collection? All these questions spin out from one choice: take a card.

The simple act of selecting a single card is actually two choices in one. Do I take this card for my collection or for the gold?

By themselves, gold cards can’t score you points. But you need gold to repair your broken goods. Or maybe you should leave the gold, as a gold card left at the end of drafting allows everyone one free repair.

And you should always be mindful that the game will be over more quickly than you think.. As soon as four short rounds. As few as eight not-so-simple choices packed into a 15 minute game

Broken and Beautiful is a game which will surely provoke someone to say, “Let’s play that again.”

Broken and Beautiful celebrates everyday objects. As they are, they serve as humble vessels for food and drink, making our daily existence easier.

But these everyday objects can break and become useless. Rather than toss them out, the philosophy behind Kintsugi says to honor them for their utility by repairing them.

Something artful and important happens when you take the time to mend a broken thing. The act of repairing a  common object reveals an inner beauty, a hidden beauty we might never witness. Kintsugi says a broken thing is more beautiful and more valuable for its uniqueness.

The same is true of people. Some of the wisest, most interesting people are those who have been damaged and sought repair. An addict now turned counselor. A life, once riddled by hatred, now dedicated to peace. A cancer victim inspiring hope in others.

As players, we all come to the table with flaws and imperfections. Playing a game like Broken and Beautiful can help us appreciate our own brokenness, and the beauty which lies beneath, waiting to be discovered.

Broken and Beautiful is like that thoughtful, practical gift you received long ago. That favorite mug, which became chipped. Those sewing scissors, now worn. The favorite hammer you’ve had to tape together that still fits your hand so well.

Every time you put it to use, you’re reminded of the hidden beauty in everyday items. A beauty which emerges over time, even as the objects wear down from use.

A game like Broken and Beautiful contains hidden pleasures you’ll only discover when you play. It seems humble and simple on the surface but there are subtle and beautiful strategies waiting to emerge and available to all.
 
It is an honor to place Broken & Beautiful in our collection, an elegant reminder of the hidden beauty you can find in Major Fun.

June 2023

Written by: Doug Richardson

Stampede

Release: 11/14/2022    | Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Run Time: 34 min   | Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

You are a stamp collector and your obsession is for one particular set of stamps featuring wild animals.

Driven by this animal passion, you’ll do almost anything to collect the whole set, including messing with other collectors that get in your way.

But remember the Collector’s Code. Play fair, no stealing! Just trading. Swapping one for one.

Stampede is a game of card swapping and set collecting. Using each animal’s special action, can you build the best album? It will take stealth, planning, and a bit of luck to collect the most dangerous… postage!

Stampede

Designer: Jeroen Geenen

Publisher:  Wiz Kids  |  BGG Entry

2-6 players  20 minutes  ages 10+   MSRP $20

Time to teach/learn:  5 minutes

Music credits include:

Star Collector  |  perf by  The Happening Fourthe song

Green Stamps  | perf by Allen Sherman  |  the song

Ouch!

Ouch!

Devir |  BGG

Designers: Romain Caterdjian and Théo Rivière
Artist: Fran Collado
Publisher: Devir
2-5 players 10 min ages 5+ MSRP $10
Time to Teach/Learn: 3 minutes

Written by: Doug Richardson

You and your friends are out in the desert and everything is blooming, especially the cactus. You shouldn’t touch… but they have so many pretty flowers! Risking a little prick, you can’t help but pick a few.

Ouch! is played with a deck of 44 cactus cards. 36 of these cards have only cactus flowers. Eight cards also feature an animal: either a helpful snake or a cute fennec fox.

The back of each card will show the whole cactus plant, as well as a number of flowers, ranging from one to three. The more flowers, the better. But be careful! The more flowers a card has, the more dangerous it is. The back of each cactus card has thorns covering one to three sides.

To set up a game of Ouch!, simply shuffle the cards and deal out six of them to the table, back side facing up. Players will now take turns going clockwise, starting with the youngest player.

The goal in Ouch! is to pick the most flowers. Extra points will be added for having sets of flowers of the four different colors as well as having the most red flowers.

What you are trying to NOT do is to get pricked. Remember, cactus plants have sharp thorns! 

On your turn, you will choose one of the six cards on the table. Then pick it up by one side of the card: top, bottom, left, or right. Now turn it over quickly and see what you got.

If the side you chose shows no cactus spines, congratulations! You have picked flowers successfully. Put the card in front of you in your collection.

If you picked up the card by an edge showing the cactus, then shout “Ouch!” and drop it quickly. Discard this card. It is out of the game.

Red cactus cards carry extra risk and extra reward. If you pick a red cactus and it stings you, you must discard a card from your collection. That’s the risk. The reward is, at the end of the game, the player with the most red flowers will score five extra points

You may also encounter some helpful animals in the desert. If you collect a card with a snake, watch the next player’s turn. If they are pricked by the card they choose, you get to add that card to your collection.

If a card you collect shows a fennec fox, you may choose to take another turn picking flowers. But be very careful! If you’re stuck by this card, you lose it, and the card with the fennec.

Whether you picked flowers, or got stuck by thorns, after your turn, draw another cactus card so that there are always six cards for the next player to choose from.

The game ends once someone has collected eight cards, or when there are no more cards in the draw pile. Then everyone adds up their scores.

  • You get one point for each flower on your cards.
  • You get 4 additional points for each bouquet of four different colored flowers you can make.
  • The player with the most red flowers gets 5 points. If tied, each player gets this bonus.

The player with the most points is the winner!

People play games for so many reasons. Some of us enjoy the thrill of competition. We get a charge out of besting our fellow players. 

Or maybe it’s the challenge of building up a tabletop empire – a kingdom, or business, or farm. We revel in creating a beautiful, efficient, or productive machine. 

Others love the challenge of playing cooperatively to solve a mystery, or beat back a pandemic. It’s us-against-the- game. Surviving or solving as a team is the reward.

Whatever the game, fun should be the ultimate prize. 

Ouch! delivers fun at its most basic level. This is fun we know deep in our bones – fun we can see and hear and touch.

The fun is in the look of relief on someone’s face when they pick a card and don’t get pricked. It’s in hearing a loud “Ouch!” from a smug opponent. You see this fun in the look of real apprehension as someone fearfully flips their card.

Which is silly, really. After all, those aren’t real thorns on the cactus plants. They’re just playing cards. And yet, you will find yourself smiling, and cringing, and shouting “OUCH!” as you play! 

Here’s why.

The game is just an object. But when it becomes an object of play, it becomes something more – an invitation to a world of imagination. We invest the cards in Ouch! with a power beyond mere cardboard. The game invites us to make believe, and the more you buy into that small illusion, the more fun we make the game.

A game can invite its audience to stop the “real” world. Come play and let’s find the fun. 

Most of the time, fun is hard to describe or know. The simple genius of Ouch! is that it helps us create fun we can recognize and surrender to in the blink of an eye… or the turn of a card. 

Ouch! allows us to lose ourselves in a simple lie and be silly for a few moments. The fun it gives us permission to find is evergreen – anyone of any age or background can find it. Ouch! delivers an experience far beyond a deck of cards. If you let it, the game will drop you off in a land we call Major Fun.

June 2022

Written by: Doug Richardson

Aves

Release: 6/15/2022    | Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Run Time: 180 min   | Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Seven fruits, seven feathers. The birds are playing a colorful game. When a red apple is eaten, a feather turns red. Eat a lime, a feather turns green. Can you be the first bird to collect all the colors and display them in your pretty plumage?

Aves is a card capturing / set collecting game with roots in the classics. It shares common ancestry with games like Gin Rummy and Scopa. It is also a game of simple, subtle, and sneaky strategies . Tune in to learn why we think Aves is a wonderfully accessible invitation to a lighter and brighter kind of fun.

This show also marks the 400th review episode of The Spiel!!

To celebrate, we invited Spielers from around the world to host seven different segments that have been part of the program over the past 16 years. This super sized show is filled with fan favorites, lots of laughs, and a ridiculous amount of board game hijinx. We hope you have as much fun listening as we did putting it together.

Full show notes on all the segments are available at The Spiel.

Aves  Play With Us Design  |  BGG

Designer: Shi Chen   Artist: Yawen Jheng

Publisher: Play With Us Design

2-5 players  10-15 min.  ages 16+   MSRP $20

Time to teach/learn:  3-4 minutes

Music credits include:

And Your Bird Can Sing  by  Neymar Dias & Igor Pimenta  |  the song

Little Birds  by Carthy, Hardy, Farrel & Youngthe song

Leather Wing Bat  by String Loaded  |  the song

Boomerang

Release: 5/9/2022    | Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Run Time: 32 min   | Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

The best way to travel is boomerang style. Pick a place to start and go! The farther you wander, the better the trip. Grab a bus, or train, a plane, a bike, or a boat to see and do as much as you can before your vacation ends. Spot native animals, collect souvenirs, hike the great outdoors, and experience fine dining. And don’t forget to take some great pictures along the way!

Boomerang is a draft-and-write card game. Pick a location card, mark sites you visit on your map, and pass your hand to the next player. Try to build the best trip over a series of seven cards balancing multiple ways to score with each new destination

The Boomerang family of games covers Australia, Europe, and the United States.Each game provides a common core of rules with surprising and fun continental differences.

Tune in to explore the game and learn how the entire series earns BOTH awards!

Boomerang  Grail Games  |  BGG Play on Board Game Arena

Designer: Scott Almes   Artist: Kerri Aitken

Publisher: Grail Games, Matagot

2-4 players  15-30 min.  ages 10+   MSRP $20

Time to teach/learn:  3-4 minutes

Music credits include:

Boomerang    by Cowboy Copasthe song

Baby Boomerang  by T. Rex  |  the song

Pocket Paragons

Release: 3/7/2022    | Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Run Time: 38 min   | Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Pocket Paragons is a what-beats-what card dueling game. Select a card; play it’s ability and try to anticipate your opponent’s next move. Duel one on one or in teams of three characters.

From Mata the Paladin to Sadoh the Ocean Queen, this is a world of high fantasy and high stakes. Seven cards separate you from glory or defeat.

Pocket Paragons is a duel distilled down to its very essence. A long game might take ten minutes! But don’t be fooled into thinking speed means lack of strategy. There are fun and challenging decisions at the heart of every turn.

Listen in to explore the game and learn how the game earns BOTH our awards.

Pocket Paragons  Solis Game Studio  |  BGG  

Designer: Brian McKay   Artist: Megan Cheever

Publisher: Solis Game Studio

2 players  5-10 min.  ages 12+   MSRP $25

Time to teach/learn:  5 minutes

Time to teach and learn: 3-4 minutes

Music credits include:

Pocket Calculator  |  by Basscraft the song

Hand in My Pocket  |  by  Vitamin String Quartet the song

Ten

Release: 11/29/2021    | Download:  Enhanced  | MP3
Run Time: 81 min   | Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

Ten is a press your luck card game with a twist. The goal is simple: assemble the longest runs of consecutive cards in four colors. How many cards are you willing to draw as you push two different totals closer and closer to ten? Use currency cards to buy from the market or win auctions for wild cards. Be careful, though! If you bust, everyone else may cash in.

Engaging, interactive, and filled with tough decisions, Ten is great for all ages. Listen in to explore the game and discover how Ten delivers on its promise of Major Fun.

ALSO in this episode… a Game Night Grab Bag segment featuring Brenna Noonan and Doug! The challenge: games where you build the board as you play.

Ten      

AEG  BGG  Buy 

Designer: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich

Artist: Shawn Stankewich

Publisher: AEG

1-5 players  15-30 min.  ages 10+   MSRP $20

Time to teach/learn:  2-3 minutes

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For info on the other segments featured on the show, check out the show notes at The Spiel!

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Interstitial music credits include:

Rotary Ten  by REM  |  the song

Count to Ten  by Timbuk 3  |  the song

Ten Years Gone  by Dread Zeppelin  |  the song

Ohanami

Ohanami

Pandasaurus Games  |  BGG  

D: Steffen Benndorf
A: Christian Opperer
P: NSV, Pandasaurus Games
2-4 players  20 min.  ages 8+  MSRP $15
5 minutes to learn
Written by: Doug Richardson


text-the concept

Cherry blossom season is about to blanket Zen gardens with their resplendent wonder. Water, vegetation, stones, and sakura trees must be placed in perfect harmony in order to become a Master Gardener.

Over three rounds you will carefully select or reject the elements for your next garden creation. Do you have the skills to craft the best Zen garden?

text-the components

Ohanami is played with a deck of 120 cards, numbered from 1 to 120. Each card depicts one of four elements: water (blue), plants (green), stones (grey), or cherry blossoms (pink).To help score your game, a handy pad of scoresheets is included.

text-the mechanics

Ohanami is a card drafting and set collecting game. Over three rounds, players will hope to be the most masterful gardener by drafting and scoring sets of elements by skillfully adding these to their three gardens. 

Each round starts by dealing ten cards to each player. Then players select two cards to keep for their gardens.

Once you’ve chosen two cards, you will pass the remaining cards on to the next player. Before you look at any new cards, all players will reveal the two cards they’ve selected, and place them into one of three gardens or discard them.

These two cards may go into the same garden or into  separate gardens. Either way, you’ll only have three gardens for the entire game. And you’ll find the cards you place define the limits of your gardens.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you’ve selected the blue 68 and the green 75. You decide to put this water feature and that bit of shrubbery into the same garden. From now on, only cards numbered higher than 75, or lower than 68 may be put in this garden. 

In other words, you may never place a card with a number that falls between two other cards into a garden. Such a card will have to go into one of your other gardens, or be discarded from the game.

So, on one hand, you’ll be selecting cards based on their number to fit into your gardens. BUT, you’ll also choose cards to play based on how each color group scores.

At the end of the first round, only the blue water feature cards will score.  Count the total number of blue cards in your gardens and earn 3 points for each of them. None of your other cards will score in round one.

In round two, both your blue water cards, and your green plant cards will score. Blue will again earn you 3 points apiece. Green will be worth 4 points each. Note: you are scoring for all the blue and all the green in your gardens, not just the cards you added during this round.

At the end of round three, all your cards will score one more time. Blue 3 points and green 4. Now your grey stone cards will score, and you’ll get 7 points for each of them.  

Finally, your pink cherry blossom cards will score.

If you have one lone pink card, you’ll get 1 point. Two pink cards get you 3 points, 3 pink cards are worth 6 points (1 + 2 + 3 = 6, etc.)…all  the way up to 120 points for 15 or more pink cards.

So, let’s review. Draft two cards each turn. Choose to either fit them into one of your three gardens or discard them. Draft and pass through ten cards per hand over three rounds. Score the relevant elements of your growing garden each round. Highest score wins and becomes the Master Gardener!

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First, some context, in Japan a Hanami is a planned excursion, a sort of picnic and stroll under the blossoming cherry trees. Life slows, and time is taken to appreciate the beauty of rock and water, bush and flowering trees.

People use Zen gardens to disentangle themselves from the cares of everyday life, and engage with nature. In the same way, Ohanami the game allows us to engage with the nature of play itself.

When we sit down to play any tabletop game, we accept the fact that we are fooling ourselves. We haven’t really become kings commanding great armies, or builders erecting a city, or farmers growing the best crops. We are merely players, abiding by a set of rules, and using simple items of paper and plastic and wood to depict our imaginary world.

All games are abstractions. Some games refuse to put on airs. What is the theme of checkers?  Doesn’t matter; just capture your opponent’s pieces and win.

Some games go to elaborate ends to try and convince you of their made-up “reality”. These are usually found in gigantic boxes crammed with elaborate carved pieces and fantastic terrain. And generally with a fantastic price attached.

By comparison, you might think Ohanami isn’t even trying. 120 cards and a scorepad? Really? Well, hold on, I think Ohanami is one of the most thematic games around.

Who are we? Clearly, we are gardeners, assigned the task of creating three Zen gardens. The pieces we choose for these gardens must both fit (numerically) and add up to a pleasing whole.

Each turn you sort through the goods on offer and select two candidates to take back to your workshop.  Hopefully, you’ve chosen well and can fit these new pieces into your expanding gardens.

Of course, you’ll keep an eye on what your rivals are doing. No sense leaving all the choicest pieces to them! Which means you view each small decision with both an eye toward your gardens, and a glance over the fence at what is happening next door.

Because your concern is with both the numbers on the cards and the types of landscape they represent, both the mathematical and aesthetic parts of your brain are involved in every decision. In a very simple way, this mimics why people enjoy zen gardens: engagement.

Because the rules are brief, you are playing within moments. Even with your first choices, you are setting the constraints of your three little worlds. In a flash, a round is over and scored. Repeat twice and the game is done.

And yet Ohanami never feels rushed. The lightness of rules allows you to notice the smallest detail: to appreciate the gardens around you and compare them with your own – to feel the world stop for 20 minutes and appreciate the joy of play.

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Ohanami creates a pleasing challenge out of mere pasteboard and ink, which replicates the experience of enjoying a well laid out garden. A subtle experience, but yet one available to anyone old enough to know their numbers and colors. 

Finding a game which plays quickly is easy. Finding one which plays quickly and deeply and with a structure which supports the theme of the game is much rarer.

Ohanami is a short, but evocative game.  It is accessible to almost anyone. The gift it gives us is time: leaving us  to look forward to many years beneath the cherry blossoms in quiet, playful contemplation. 

A game with such humble beauty and quiet pleasure needs no fanfare.  Exactly the reason we find it so worthy of both our awards. 

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Written by: Doug Richardson

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