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Inoka

Inoka is a card game that is all about outguessing the other players. Prepare for battle and clash with your opponents to earn sacred stones and gain the victory.

Currently on Kickstarter, Inoka is played in a matter of minutes. Combat is resolved in a rock-paper-scissors type format, but several additional rules means there’s more to the game than first meets the eye.

Gameplay

Each player is given a deck of nine tactics cards. These decks are identical, containing three attack, taunt, and block cards ranging from values of one to three. The goal of Inoka is to collect three sacred stones. You win a sacred stone by winning a round.

At the beginning of each round, players secretly select five of their tactic cards to use that round, setting aside the other four face down.

Rounds involve a series of 'clashes' and work slightly differently depending on the number of players. In a two player game, players each simultaneously lay down one of their tactics cards. An attack beats a taunt, taunt beats a defense, and defense beats an attack. If both players use the same tactic type, then the one who played the higher value card wins. The player who wins the clash takes the leaf token and the cards used in the clash are discarded. If you already have the leaf token, and win a clash with an attack card, you win the round. Otherwise, players continue to have clashes until they run out of cards and the player with the leaf token wins the round.

In a three or four player game, at the beginning of each round, all players lay down a tactics card. The player whose card defeats the most other cards wins this clash and takes the leaf. For the rest of the round, the clashes will be one on one. Players take turns one at a time having a head to head clash with the player who has the leaf token. The winner always takes back the card played and the loser discards the card played. If you defeat the player with the leaf token, you take it from them and now players will take turns challenging you for the leaf. If you have the leaf and you defeat all the other players in a row, you win the round. Otherwise, players are eliminated from the round when they have only one tactics card left. You win the round if you have the leaf token and all other players are eliminated.

Inoka components

Review

Inoka has gorgeous artwork. The cards feature some absolutely beautiful pictures that are rich in detail and infuse the game with an enjoyable and dramatic atmosphere. It’s a compact little game with its story fitting into one paragraph, but the artwork alone left me eager to learn more about the world in which I was playing.

Both sets of rules are easy to learn and enjoyable (though the three to four player ruleset is slightly more strategic, as you can get more of an idea of the cards players hold when cards are taken back into their hand). The gameplay is fast, with minimal downtime even in a four player game, and it’s just plain, simple fun trying to guess what your opponent will do next.

As every player starts with the same deck but must choose five cards to use each round, there are many points during the game when you have to try to outguess your opponent, and you can often be met with some unexpected curveballs which are half the fun.

Each card shows which tactic type beats which, but we had some difficulty deciphering the iconography on the cards and had to look back at the rules a few times.

If you enjoy light, fast card games, Inoka is a highly enjoyable addition to the genre. Check it out on Kickstarter and see for yourself.

Pros: Lovely artwork, fast gameplay, minimal downtime

Cons: Iconography on cards was confusing

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the game, which is subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.