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Kinoko

Find the mushrooms in your color and gather them all together in one hand. The trick is that you have no idea what cards you’re holding, only what your opponents have.

Published by Helvetiq, Kinoko (which is Japanese for ‘mushroom’) is a 20-minute, 2-4 player game about moving cards around and trying to figure out where everything is, all while avoiding the forbidden mushroom.

Gameplay

There are six different colors of mushroom cards in the box. Each game, you play with colors equal to the number of players, plus two. For each color there is one family card and three mushroom cards numbered one through three. You shuffle the family cards separately and deal one face-down to each player (this is the color you are trying to find), and then one face-up onto the table (this is the forbidden color for this round).

Next, the mushroom cards are shuffled. Two sets of three cards are dealt into the center of the table, face-down. Each player is also dealt three cards. You hold your cards facing outward so that everyone else can see what they are but you can’t. However, the back of each card will tell you what the value is (one, two, or three).

On your turn, you roll the three dice and then choose to perform one of the actions you rolled. Actions include swapping any two cards that have the value shown on the die, rerolling all the dice and choosing another action, looking at any single card of your choice, swapping your cards for any other set of cards, or passing.

The goal of the game is to get the three mushrooms of your color all together in one set. It does not have to be in your set of cards; it can be an opponent’s hand or it could be one of the two sets on the table. Once you believe your colors are in a single set, and it is the end of your turn, you may announce the end of the round. All cards are then revealed. If you were mistaken, everyone else scores one point and scoring immediately ends. If you were correct, you and any other player whose three mushroom cards are gathered into a set, score two points. If any player is holding a mushroom card that is the color of the forbidden mushroom, he loses one point.

You then set up a new round and keep playing until someone has four points or more. The player with the highest score wins the game.

Kinoko Components

Review

Kinoko is an interesting little game that comes in a small, portable package. Its rules are simple, but there are some unexpected layers to be found in the gameplay. Players are not just trying to manipulate the cards to find their colors and move them into a single set, but also trying to deduce which colors other players are working towards, and trying to limit the information other players gather from your own actions.

There is also a memory element to the game, as cards are swapped in and out of your hand that you can’t check or into the sets in the center of the table. The die action selection also ensures that you can’t always perform the optimal move, and instead have to work within the options at your disposal for that turn.

The orange and the red colors can be easy to get confused, especially when comparing your family card with the mushroom cards. But you only need all six colors when playing with four players, so it’s possible you won’t even have to use both orange and red in the same game. Meanwhile, the artwork on the mushrooms is adorable and creative, and lends the game a fun, cheerful ambiance.

Rounds are fast, and the game plays quickly. It’s one that’s easy to want to play again, as soon as you reach the end. A little bit memory, a little bit deduction, and a little bit luck, Kinoko is a fun mix of mechanics that results in a thoroughly pleasant game.

Pros: Creative artwork, comes in a very small and portable box, nice blend of deduction and memory

Cons: Shades used for red and orange can be difficult to distinguish

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