Review of Hanamikoji

Hanamikoji pic2992529_md

  • Designed by Kota Nakayama
  • Artist Maisherly Chan
  • Published by EmperorS4 Games
  • Original publication 21 Flowers from Takamagahara
  • 2 Player
  • Time 10-20 min

Hanamikoji is a famous street in Kyoto renowned for its teahouses and geisha and in this game players compete for the favor of of 7 geisha. Hanamikoji is a 2 player game. It’s small enough to be considered in the micro game family with only 21 cards but it presents a lot of interesting decisions every turn.

The goal of the game is win the favor of 4 geisha or to have 11 or more charm points at the end of a round. The charm point value ranges from 2 to 5 depending on the geisha. Each geisha has a number of corresponding item cards equal to her charm points. Favor is determined by the player with the most item cards representative of the geisha in their tableau at the end of the round. 017e9403e72d774f5e1c37f775fae920897a4ced0e 019f86d7e4d7e3c9116f5a44043d46571d90a04e10
The interesting part of the game, of course, is how players get cards into their tableau. You start with a hand of 6 item cards (1 card is placed out of the round at the beginning. Then the player draws one card and takes one of 4 actions. Each action must be used and each action can only be used once. After you have chosen an action you flip the action marker over to the used side. The order in which the actions are done is up to the player. After each player has done all the actions the round is over.

The actions consist of 1)playing a card face down into their tableau, 01aa71bb0b5d946f0be9ba98c241b9ab7eb379565a2)discarding 2 cards out of the game, 3)choosing 3 cards and placing them face up and the opponent chooses one of those cards for their tableau face up and the active player keeps the other two for their own tableau face up and 4)choose 4 cards and split into 2 piles of 2 cards and the opponent chooses a pile for their tableau and places the cards face up with the active player taking the remaining cards to place face up as well.

Scoring takes place after each player has completed their 4 actions. Each geisha is evaluated and the player with the most item cards on their side earns the favor of the geisha indicated by the victory marker. In case of a tie, the position of the victory marker does not change either it remains neutral or in control of the player who controlled it the previous round. If one player has earned 4 victory tokens the game ends and that player is the winner. If not the charm points from the geisha each player has earned the favor are summed and if a player has 11 or more points they win. If neither of these conditions occur the next round is started.
Hanamikoji utilizes the “pie rule” mechanism quite nicely. It’s challenging to try and figure out what cards your opponent may want, or forcing them to pick a card you want them to have. Of course when they take the card you want it is so frustrating! Choosing which action to use when in a round of course may or may not give your opponent helpful information. It’s easy to leave the discard action only to find sometimes you have a card left you wanted to play but then you have to discard it. Once players have the favor of some of the geisha it then gets even more difficult as you have to choose between maintaining control and trying to gain additional favor. The game gives you that nice agonizing feeling with each decision as you try and outsmart and out bluff your opponent.

Note: this game is listed on BGG under its original title 21 Flowers.

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