Sunday, 18 September 2016

Kodama: The Tree Spirits - Game Review

Kodama: The Tree Spirits has been hitting our table recently, so we thought it was high time we shared it with everyone!

In this game from Action Phase Games, designed by Daniel Solis and with Kawaii art by Kwanchai Moriya, the players take the role of forest caretakers, tasked by the Guardians of the Forest to grow the perfect tree to house cute but picky little forest spirits - the Kodama.

The game is quick to set up - score board, branches display, a decree for each of the growing seasons (Spring, Summer and Autumn), 4 Kodama cards dealt to each player and a trunk card per player too.  Each trunk has a special feature these are used for various scoring situations - I had the star (on the left) and Pinkuiropixie had the orange caterpillar (on the right).

At the start of each season you reveal the Forest Guardian's decree for that season - these decrees have different effects on the game, this one - makes any mushrooms on branches count as flowers instead.

Each season is broken down into four growing phases.  During each phase, each player chooses one of the branch cards from the display to add to their tree.  You score points each phase based on connected branches sharing special features (like the star and caterpillar but also flowers, mushrooms, clouds and fireflies).  There are a few rules about how to add a branch to your tree - it has to look like it is growing from either the trunk or another branch (not just floating about!), when you add a branch it can only touch one other card and it can't extend off the table. After you've placed your branch you fill the gap in the branch display from the card deck.

After four growing phases you have to choose one of your Kodama cards to make your tree its new home.  These little guys give you bonus points for fulfilling different criteria - they all have different tastes and preferences after all!

Here's Pinkuiropixie's tree after Spring with the newly moved in Kodama:

And here is mine:

It's then time for the next round - it's the turn of the Summer Forest Guardian to issue her decree, replacing the Spring decree:

This time it didn't affect scoring - but a strong Gust blew away the branches in the display meaning a new selection were available.  Bad luck if you were planning on taking one that was still left over from Spring!

Again, you have four growing phases to gain favour from the Kodama.  At the end of Summer, here were our trees.  First up is Pinkuiropixie's:

That's a lot of caterpillars!  Now here is my Summer tree:

You then head into the final season, Autumn/Fall.  Now the Forest Gurdian for this season issues his decree:

This Guardian gives you a chance to score some extra bonus points - rewarding you for having branches without certain features on your tree. As before, this replaces the Summer decree.

So, you have a final set of four growing phases to perfect your tree and choose the final Kodama that gets to move into its new home.  Here is Pinkuiropixie's final tree:

While mine looked like this:

Sadly my tree just wasn't cool enough for the Kodama and I lost 66 points to 113 points.  I'll get even next time!!

A fun feature of the game is the winner card and Kodama tokens that the winner gets to decorate their tree with to share with the world!  Here's Pinkuiropixie's winning tree all decorated up:

I think my favourite is the one lying on its back with his little caterpillar friend!

We really recommend Kodama - it's cute and creative but you have to keep an eye a few steps ahead to maximise your points and leave room for your tree to grow.  It doesn't take long to play once you get used to the rules for placing branches, so it's a fun start to a game night or just a quick fix of gaming.

Mata ne!!

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