Publisher: Kolossal Games
Designer: AJ Lambeth
Artist: Gong Studios
Plays: 2-4 players
Playtime: 60-90 min
Take a second look is a new form of content I’m testing out. This is NOT a paid promotion. Kolossal Games was kind enough to send a prototype copy towards the end of the campaign and I’m thankful to them for supporting Jambalaya Plays Games. Thankfully, the make interesting and innovate games from my experience thus far. Late pledges exist for a reason, so I figured why not try to inform potential late backers about the game post campaign. I can be a more opinionated about the project since it’s after the campaign. I’m trying something new, so bear with me. Warning, everything you see is in prototype form.
From the publisher “Kami-sama is a beautiful and intuitive strategy game set in rural Japan during the Edo period. Two to four players will assume the roles of Kami, the spirits of the land. Using a combination of asymmetrical player powers, area control, set collection, pattern building, and light card drafting, players will work to balance their Favor with the people and their connection to Nature in order to be crowned Kami-sama, the chief deity of the land.”
Gameplay Over Everything
Kami-Sama uses the area control mechanic in a way I’ve never seen. The game is played over three years and each year is 4 rounds (12 turns total). The circular board is split into four villages and players will face one village. You take the majority of their actions on the “current” village, which is the one you’re facing. Here is the cool part, the board rotates after each round and you have a new current village in front of you to influence. I know that doesn’t seem mind blowing at first, but having the opportunity to make decisions on each section of the board after each player has touched it, feels like a turn by turn puzzle. During the round of the current year, you can earn village tokens for fulfilling yearly goal card conditions. At the end of year, all four villages are checked for who has the most influence. Village tokens are awarded for each section, which leads into the set collection part of the game. If you collect a token representing each village, you can turn in a set for points. THEN, you have villager cards that are drafted based on influence order for EACH village. Sometimes, it feels good to be in second place, because might have weaseled your way to winning a village section you didn’t expect to. So much gameplay to appreciate.
I’m Just Here for the Kami
I’m generally attracted to Japanese themes and I love anything with a mythical or spiritual touch. The characters in Kami-Sama are deities called Kami, which all have very interesting asymmetrical powers. After a couple of plays, what stuck out to me was how much you need to focus on playing into your Kami’s strengths. You’ll have chances to react to other players actions, but you will benefit most from staying in your lane. I played with three of the four base characters and not one of then felt like a dud or had a useless set of Passive or Unique abilities. In years 2 and 3 of Kami-Sama, you get an additional action cubes to play with. With more actions comes more opportunities to use unique action abilities and what I refer to as your “ultimate” power. Everyone else is powered up too, so the strategy goes up a notch. I can go on and on, but hopefully you under the characters are……fun. I could write another paragraph about the more advanced characters. Take a look at the Unbu, the Kami of Luck or Eshi, the Kami of Love for reference. They were unlocked during the campaign.
You have to pay attention in order to be successful in Kami-Sama. What other players are doing in their current village, is just as important as what you are doing with your current village. You might notice that I’m hinting at AP (analysis paralysis) gameplay. Hey, every turn has purpose and players are trying to undo what you just did. You have more actions each year and you need time to “figure it out.” I never felt like the game took too long or the small amount of AP was a turn off. The gameplay is engaging, exciting, and you feel a rush of excitement as the next village cycles in front of you. I started to get a case of the Mr. Burns fingers between turns, that’s good thing.
Kami-Sama is a blender of mechanics and awesomeness, which all start with an innovative take on area control. I’m also impressed by the lineup of titles from Kolossal Games (Western Legends, Imperius, Kami-Sama). I get the sense that their looking for more innovative games and they don’t skimp on quality. The prototype form Kami-Sama is one step away from a passable retail game. Take a second look at Kami-Sama and decide if it’s for you. I don’t know how long the pledge manager is open, but you can find the link here. Happy pledging!
Here is a link to the KickStarter Page if you choose to back Kami-Sama:
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