A Tribal Games Review of Honshu
The flowers are blooming, the factories are churning away in the background, and the villagers are expanding throughout the world; truly the world of Honshu is at peace. But who can create the better world? Who has better flowers, factories and villagers? Honshu is the map building, card game that will answer all of those questions.
Flowers? Factories? Fighting each other over the best cards to build out your map and make an amazing world? These three F's make up the brilliant fun of Honshu. An amazing game if you are looking for something new to play with friends, and even better if you are looking for something casual with easy set up and pack up.
I have now had the opportunity to enjoy this game with 2, 3, 4, and 5 players and every experience has been completely different. Not only does the atmosphere change as the number of players increases, but the gameplay shifts in completely different directions, meaning that even experienced board gamers will have to change their tactics.
This is pretty much the Uno equivalent for newer games, as playtimes per game tend to be short, but can end up dragging on depending on the number of players, but the resounding follow up to every match is "let's play another." The rules are also very easy to pick up as the basic gameplay elements are simple, and once every player has scoring down, the games run smoothly. Overall a fantastic game for all ages.
How to Play:
The gameplay for Honshu changes when there are only 2 players, so I will first explain the rules for 3-5 players and then delve into the 2 player variant.
At the beginning of the game, all players select a starting card, which will act as the first stage for each players' world. Any resources shown on the starting card will be allocate to players. Players will then receive 6 map cards each, which they will not show to the other players. Map cards are broken up into 6 tiles of the following kinds:
These provide resources to the players which will then be used to help boost their card point throughout the game, and also will be used for scoring with factories.
At the end of the game, players will move matching resources from their production tiles to their factory tiles, scoring points based on the number of flowers shown in each factory.
A group of lakes at the end of the game will increase the players score.
The longest connection of village tiles within a players' world will provide points for that player.
Each visible forest tile will provide points to the player at the end of the game.
Each turn will proceed as follows:
- Players will select the card they wish to play and place it facedown in front of them.
- Players will then decide if they would like to use a resource cube to increase the value of their card by 60 points. Other players can match this, but they must use a resource cube of the same colour to do so.
- Players all flip their cards and the player who placed the highest number card (including any 60 point bonuses from resource cubes) becomes the first player for the turn. The order of play continues in descending order of card value.
- From the cards just placed down, each player will decide which they would like to add to their map. The player will add the card to their world, by placing it under or above part of any other card they currently have in their map. During this stage, the player map not cover up any lake tiles and may not fully cover any other card, but otherwise have free reign of their placement. It is important to note that covering any production tiles with a resource in them will cause that resource to be discarded. Cards can only be placed vertically or horizontally.
- Any new production tiles will provide resources to the player.
Every 3 turns players will switch hands, until they run out of cards. At the first point that players run out of cards, they will each take another 6 cards from the top of the deck. At the second point that players run out of cards the game will be over. This means that there will be 12 rounds in total.
At the end of the final round players will count up their scores based on the number of tiles within the largest chain of villages, number of forests they have, the resources that they were able to move to factory tiles, and the number of lake tiles they have grouped up. The player with the most points wins.
During the 2 player variant of the game, each turn the players will place their selected card facedown from their hand, then 2 cards will be drawn faceup from the top of the deck. The cards placed by players will become one pair, while the cards from the deck will become another pair. The player who placed the higher value card will be able to select which pair they would like and then they choose one card from that pair to add to their world, discarding the other card.
8.5 factory flowers out of 10
- Replayability - 8/10
The only area that replayability lacks in, is that there is a finite number of cards in the deck and once a player discovers a tactic they believe works for them, then gameplay will stagnate as they search only for cards that support their tactic, otherwise the game could be played thousands of times with great enjoyment. The many different forms of scoring points in Honshu creates an experience that can be played many times over before a tactic can be formed by any player and even that tactic may prove unsuccessful, which makes the game highly replayable. The replayability is also supported by the differing play-styles of each player: a more aggressive play-style will mean taking more cards that other players have placed, thus disrupting tactics and changing how other people play, meaning a more replayable experience. The other factor that affects replayability within Honshu is the number of players, as gameplay differs when more building options are provided, meaning that players will be constantly changing their tactics throughout the game.
- Thematic - 7.5/10
Honshu is set in Japan, specifically in a more simple time, focused on blooming flowers and expanding villages. Thematically this world is represented fantastically through the art work, each card and tile feels like a part of the world the player is creating and once the map is complete it is like the player has completely immersed themselves in the thematic environment. The gameplay is where thematics begin to lose their touch in Honshu: the card placement map building does not stick closely to the theme, nor does it immerse the player within the world. Thankfully, the scoring system is wrapped tightly around the theme: resource cubes, village, lake, and forest scoring, and factory and production tiles all reimmerse the player back into the world of Honshu, thus creating an extremely thematic experience for players.
- Fun Times - 10/10
The simple mechanics and quick gameplay make this the perfect game to learn with family or friends of any age. This is very well supported by the card stealing tactics which quickly create the tension expected throughout many group board games. The level of replayability within the game, also makes this the game to pull out in between games or during a party for something quick and fun.