Gain The Favor Of Geishas In Hanamikoji

Gain The Favor Of Geishas In Hanamikoji

August 27, 2018 Off By Ruel

Originally published by EmperorS4, Hanamikoji is now available in North America thanks to a new edition released by Deep Water Games. In this 15-minute card game for two players, you’re visiting the famed Geisha street in Hanamikoji, located in the old capital of Japan, Kyoto. Will you or your opponent be the first to gain the favor of the geishas?

In Hanamikoji, you win the favor of the geishas by playing cards featuring each geisha’s preferred performance item. Whether it’s an umbrella, teapot, or other item, you’ll try to have the majority on each geisha by the end of the round.

If you have the majority on four of the seven geishas or have collected 11 charm points (each Geisha is worth two through five points), then the game ends immediately and you win.

Both players each start with six of 21 item cards and four action markers. The item cards correspond to each geisha’s preferred performance item. So, you may only play the flute card on the geisha with the flute.

You’ll alternate actions with your opponent during the action phase. On your turn you’ll do two things: draw a card and perform one of four actions:

  1. Secret. Take one card from your hand and place it face down under the Secret marker. This card will be revealed the scoring phase.
  2. Discard. Take two cards from your hand and place them face down under the Discard marker. These cards are not scored during the scoring phase.
  3. Gift. Place three cards from your hand face up. Your opponent chooses one and plays it on their side of the matching Geisha. You take the two remaining cards and play them on your side of the matching Geisha(s).
  4. Competition. Place four cards from your hand face up and divide them into two sets of two cards each. Your opponent takes one set of two cards and plays them on their side of the matching Geisha(s). You take the remaining two cards and play them on your side of the matching Geisha(s).

After all actions are taken, begin the scoring phase. Players reveal the card under their secret markers and place it on their side of the Geisha.

Now, count the value of the cards on each side of the Geishas. If one side has more than the other, then move the favor marker to the winning side. If there is a draw, then do not move the favor marker.

If either player has won the favor of four Geishas or has accumulated 11 charm points, then they win immediately.

If neither player has won, then the favor markers remain where they are, all cards are reshuffled and the next round begins. The game continues until one player reaches one of the two winning conditions.

Hanamikoji is an outstanding two-player game featuring set collection and area majority, culminating in an engaging see-saw battle of wits. On the surface it’s a simple game to learn and teach: draw a card and take an action.

Its complexity and depth, though, is apparent as the game hums along. Every turn forces you to make a tough decision: what action are you going to take? This isn’t an easy choice at all, since every card counts in the race to gain the Geishas’ favor.

Will you go for the higher-valued Geishas in an attempt to gain 11 charm points? Or will you try to gain the favor of four lower-valued Geishas so that you can earn a quick victory?

The actions force you into these tense moments. With the gift action, you’re seemingly in the driver’s seat, as you let your opponent choose one of the three cards you’ve revealed. But when you use the competition action, it’s much more difficult as you reveal two sets of two cards and let your opponent choose one set.

Along with the gorgeous artwork, this is the beauty of Hanamikoji: it’s a constant tug-of-war distilled into simple yet meaningful card play. Most games are over in less than 15 minutes, making it the perfect filler between heavier fare or the first of multiple plays of this excellent small-box game.

Our thanks to Deep Water Games for the review copy of Hanamikoji.