Review: Seikatsu

Publisher: IDW Games

Designers: Matt Loomis & Issac Shalev

Artwork: Peter Wocken ( Art & Graphic Design), Lucas Mendonca, Sam Barlin

Player count 1-4 Players

Playtime: 30 minutes (Played 1, 2, 3 players)

A copy of Seikatsu was provided by IDW Games for review. I would like to thank IDW Games for supporting my blog. 

Seikatsu is an abstract game where you compete to make the most beautiful view of a garden. Players will take turns laying Garden tiles with a different birds and flower types. During the game, players score by creating flocks of  matching birds and the end game scoring is based on matching flowers from the perspective of each player’s pagoda.

Beauty At First Sight

Seikatsu has that “hey look at me” factor on a store shelf and at the table. It helps to have quality components and a neat little insert for all the components to stay in place. Everything you see and feel is aesthetically pleasing. I would describe the production and art design as pleasant, kind of like walking in a beautiful botanical garden. All the tiles a nice thickness and smooth feel to the touch.

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Gameplay

The gameplay on the surface may seem like a “place here and score” experience, but the end game scoring will reveal if you’ve made the best choices in the long run. Players start the game by drawing two Garden tiles from a sack. Each turn you place one tile, grab one tile out of the sack, and pass it to the next player.  The game ends when the last tile is placed.  Each Garden tile has a specific bird type and a color ring of flowers. When you place a Garden tile next to one with a matching bird, you gain one point for the tile you placed and you receive one point for each adjacent matching tile with the same bird. This is referred to as a flock or I call it a flock of scoring.  The other type of tile is the Koi Pond tile. There are a total of four Koi Pond tiles in the bag and when place, they are treated as wild tiles. During the game they can be used to create flocks of scoring for the acting player and have no value to other players afterwards. Koi Pond tiles are worth one point just like the Garden tiles when placed. These tiles have a different purpose during the end game scoring, but I’ll cover that later on. That’s about all the rules you need to know for the game.

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Peaceful Pagoda Scoring

The end game scoring is a little tricky at first, but it only takes scoring one player’s perspective to figure it out. Each player’s pagoda (green, pink, blue) is scored based on the perspective of their pagoda. The amount of points you receive is based on the majority of matching flowers in each row. The Koi Fish tiles gives each player an opportunity to represent a wild flower color for scoring purposes. Each player may use the same tile for two different colors based on their perspective, which is completely different than the in game purpose of the tile. The amount of matching flowers in each row creates a scoring multiplier. The score for one tile is worth a point, but you could potentially score up to twenty one points if you have six matching flowers in one row. In game scoring is more rewarding and a little easier to understand, so I can’t stress enough to focus on setting up matching flowers for end game scoring. Take a look at the pictures below for one scoring example.

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Solitaire Mode

The solitaire version of Seikatsu shifts your approach to the gameplay. Your AI opponents are the two left over pagodas. You start with all four Koi Fish tiles and one Garden tile. You still place one tile on your turn, BUT you must place your tile next to the last one you placed. The Koi Fish tile has a different role in this mode. They can be placed adjacent to any tile. There’s a lot of chin scratching, The Thinker like poses, and tile fidgeting as you begin to run out of space to add tiles. When you run out of space, the game is over. Expect to have a space or two left open if you aren’t paying attention to your placement as you get close to the edges. The end game scoring for you is exactly the same as the normal game and the remaining two pagodas representing your opponents. Your winning condition is based on beating the combined scores of your two AI opponents. Solitaire mode is probably the best way for someone to practice the game and it definitely makes Seikatsu worth it for people looking for a solo only purchase.

The Good

  • I found the game to be the most fun at 3 player and equally fun at 1 player.
  • The art work in this game is so pleasant.
  • I appreciate the level of strategy during the in game and end game scoring.
  • Easy to teach and definitely has that “let’s play that again” vibe.
  • Solitaire players could purchase this game just for this mode and feel good about their purchase.

Minor Gripes

  • New players may get crushed, so it’s important to lay out examples.
  • The two player and four player count gameplay don’t really fit the layout of the game. I didn’t play the four player game, but after reading the rules, my first thought was this is definitely not a four player game. My opinion..
  • Analysis paralysis warning! Towards the end of the game expect a little AP because everyone will be looking for end game scoring opportunities.

The Verdict

I think Seikatsu has a place in my Kallax because of the smooth gameplay at the solitaire and three player count. I wasn’t completely turned off by the two player mode cause it works in a pinch and it still show a decent representation of the game. What I like most about Seikatsu is the Zen like feel of playing the game. Player’s turns toward the end of the game can lead to little analysis paralysis, but this is the type of abstract game that’s worth your time when it’s all said and done. Seikatsu is a solid title for a game night and family gaming. The table presence alone is a huge selling point for me and it definitely with gain the attention of people passing by. I recommend you give Seikatsu a look next time you’re searching for a hidden gem.

I hope my review of Seikastu was informative. Please ask any questions you have below and please share this post if you choose. Thank you for your time and good day!

 

 

 

 

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