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Seikatsu

Players are competing to create the most beautiful view of the garden from their own pagoda. Build sets of birds and flowers and score them based on how they appear from the perspective of your side of the board.

Published by IDW Games, Seikatsu has a unique scoring system, as well as a beautiful aesthetic that blends perfectly with its garden theme.

Gameplay

The board shows a roughly hexagonal shaped space, with a pagoda placed at three of the end points. The rest of the hexagon is made up of empty spaces for the tiles. From the perspective of each pagoda, these spaces form seven rows. You place the board so that each player is sitting behind their pagoda.

Each player starts the game with two tiles in hand, which they keep secret from the other players, and the rest of the tiles are placed in the bag. Almost every tile shows one of four types of birds and one of four colors of flowers. However, there are also four koi pond tiles in the bag as well.

On your turn, you play one of your tiles onto an empty space on the board. It must be a space that is adjacent to an already placed tile. If the bird on the tile matches the birds on any adjacent tile, you score one point for your tile and one point for each adjacent matching bird. If it doesn’t match with any birds, then you score nothing. When you play a koi pond, for that turn and that turn only, you choose which bird it will represent for scoring purposes that turn. On future turns, it does not count as any kind of bird. Next, you draw a new tile from the bag. It is now the next player’s turn.

Once all the tiles have been placed on the board, the game ends and the final scoring is completed. From the perspective of your pagoda, you check each row of tiles. In each row, you count which color of flower appears the most, with any koi ponds acting as wilds. The color that appears the most is the one that will score, and the more of it there is, the more points it is worth. For example, two of them are worth only three points, while six are worth twenty-one. After scoring each row for each player, the person with the most points wins the game.

Seikatsu

Review

Seikatsu is a beautiful game, with an intriguing scoring method that is still not too hard to teach. Turns and gameplay are fast, there is minimal downtime, and even on an opponent’s turn you have plenty to think about as you see what flowers or birds they place, and where, and adjust your plans accordingly.

Scoring birds based on matches is fairly straightforward, but the big points really come from the flowers, so each bird you place you have to consider the flowers on its tiles and how those flowers will affect the perspective not just from your pagoda, but from your opponents' as well. This scoring mechanism based on perspective is both unique and clever, and leads to interesting interaction between the players.

You can play four players, with people splitting into two teams and each team working to score one pagoda, but it doesn’t feel like a great fit for the game and is less satisfying. However, the scaling between two to three players works quite well.

The components are, for the most part, exceptional. The artwork on the board is colorful and bright, and the acrylic tiles thick and solid and enjoyable to handle. The flower and bird illustrations are gorgeous and the game is a treat to look at. However, the purple and pink flowers can be a little difficult to tell apart at a glance, and one of the scoring example graphics in the rulebook is incorrect, making it more difficult than it should be to learn how the birds score.

Seikatsu has both an elegant design and an elegant aesthetic. The game is not overly complicated, but still manages to bring something fresh to the table. It’s easy to learn but has depth in its choices and gameplay.

Pros: Clever scoring system, beautiful aesthetic, component quality, fast gameplay

Cons: Error in the rulebook, not as good at four players, pink and purple flowers can be confused at a glance

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.