Dale Yu: Review of Kinoko  

Kinoko

  • Designer: Tim Rogasch
  • Publisher: Helvetiq
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 7+
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Cards: 24
  • Dice: 3

Played with review copy provided by Helvetiq

kinoko

In Kinoko, you want to be the first player to reassemble your family of mushrooms!  Kinoko is the Japanese word for “mushroom” – it literally translates to “child of the trees”.  In any event, your job in Kinoko is to manipulate the cards to get your family of mushrooms together.

There are 6 different colors of mushrooms, each with their own cute matching illustration, with 3 cards per type, numbered 1, 2 and 3.  There is also a color identifier card for each type.  The goal of the game is to get to 4 victory points first.

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In each round, the color cards are shuffled, and one is dealt to each player.  These colors are kept secret from your opponents.  The color of your cards tells you the color of mushrooms you are trying to unite this hand. There will always be N+2 colors in the game based on player count.  One of the two undealt color cards is then placed face up on the table as the penalty color for the round. 

Now, the deck of mushroom cards is shuffled, and each player is dealt a hand facedown so that each player has one of each rank (1, 2, and 3).  This might seem hard to accomplish, but it becomes easier when you know that the rank of each card is printed on the back side of the cards.  The remaining two “hands” or cards are placed facedown on the table as well (in two distinct hands).

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It is important to remember that when you pick up your cards, you hold them face down towards you – that is; you only see the backs of the cards, so you only know the ranks of your three cards.  Your opponents get to see the front of the cards so they know both the color and rank of your cards.

A start player is chosen and play will go around the table.  On a player’s turn, he takes the 3 dice (which are all slightly different), roll all 3 dice and then take one of the actions visible on said dice.  If you choose a number (1, 2, 3) – swap and two cards of the same value from any location.  If you choose the eyeball, peek at any card of your choice and then return it to the same location.  If you choose the three cards icon, swap your hand of 3 cards with any other hand (your opponents or either of the two on the table).  If the dice face is blank, you don’t have an option on that die.  If you get the re-roll symbol, you can re-roll all the dice and then take one of the actions that is then visible.

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Once your action is done, play moves to the next player UNLESS you think that there is a hand which has a complete set of your three mushrooms in your color. If so, you declare the round over and all the cards are revealed.  If your full color set is together in a single hand (anywhere on the table), you score 2 points.  Any other players who also have a full set also score 2 points.  Then, any players who are holding at least one card in the penalty color lose a point.  It is not possible to have less than zero points.  However, if your color is not reunited, all other players score a single point, and the penalty is not checked.

The game continues until at least one player has 4 points.  At that time, the player with the most points wins.  Ties go to the player who last stopped a round correctly.

My thoughts on the game

This is a quirky set collection game.  Though maybe better to call it a set arrangement game than a set collection game as you don’t have to actually collect the cards, you just have to get them together somewhere.

Gameplay is fairly quick, and is mostly determined by the dice.  We have yet to get a roll where someone gets 3 blanks, but that might be the time to retire the game… :)   Usually, you get to choose from at least two different options, and you just make the best of it.  I have already lost a few rounds – which I would have won had a certain action number come up on the dice… but that’s they way it goes when you add cubic randomizers to the mix.

Because my group is filled with gamers trying to get an edge, there is a weird start to some of our games.  If certain gamers see that none of their cards are visible on the initial deal, they might call the round to end as soon as they get their first turn – namely because there isn’t any penalty at that point (because you can’t lose a point if you haven’t gained any).  When we play again, I’ll have to come up with some way to curb this (maybe start with 2pts and we play to 6pts).   Or, if we just play it as a family game, this won’t be an issue!

Once you get through the danger of the early end, the game settles into a nice flow.  There is a bit of hand management as well as deduction as you try to learn what you can’t see.  Also, there is a lot of memory in the game – as you will sometimes learn info on cards (when cards are exchanged with your hand for instance) that you will need to remember and then track that knowledge as cards move around the table.

If I ever roll the swap hands icon, I almost always take it early in the game as it gives me information on the three cards I’m holding (assuming I switch with another person).  This is a good way to get a jump on figuring out where the cards of my color are.  When you are swapping cards of the same rank, don’t forget that you can swap from anywhere.  If you are good, you can work towards putting your cards together in a location while hopefully also breaking up an opponent’s color from getting put together.

Because we can’t follow the rules, we may also have to institute a penalty on players not remembering the rules and then they look at their hand to start the round – thus leading to a re-deal.  Seriously, we must have done this three or four times in our most recent game!  (And to be clear, this is a problem with the players, and not the game.)

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The art is adorable. The different mushroom characters are whimsical and bring a lot of theme to the table.  As usual, my eyes have a lot of problems distinguishing between the orange and the red colors, but at least the mushrooms on the main part of the art have different graphics.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t help you when you are fanning the cards in your hand, but I have found that this is an issue that I have and the other gamers in my group do not have.

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I also like the iconography on the box – where the manifest of bits is included along with age range, time, and player count!  The entire package is in a remarkably small box, and this game can easily fit in a pocket or purse.  It is a nice filler/opener, and would also be a good choice for a restaurant while waiting for meals.  It’s easy to learn, and would be ideal for kids/families as well.

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Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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1 Response to Dale Yu: Review of Kinoko  

  1. Tim says:

    Hello Gaming Doctor. Thank you very much for this review. Glad that you like the game.
    It seems there is a misinterpretation of the rules in one point. There is a penalty if you call the round to end after your first turn (and you don’t complete your mushroom set). All your opponents score one point. But you can play the game in the way you have mentioned.
    Many thanks
    Tim

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