Reviewed By: James Freeman
Anyone who knows me knows that my dream vacation is Japan. I have a mild obsession with... well all of it. The technology, the breathtaking scenery, some of the pro wrestling leagues and weird T.V. shows, Even the Bboys. When I see a game from Japan or about Japan, I'm in with no hesitation.
In Seikatsu, players take turns placing tiles into a shared garden area, with each tile showing a colored flower and colored bird. Players initially score for groupings of birds as they place them (if similar birds are adjacent, then you score for all touching birds). However, at the end of the game, they score for rows of flowers and only for the rows of flowers that exist from their perspective, i.e., that are viewable as lines from where they sit at the game board.
Now first I need to talk about the presentation. The art in this game and the overall presentation is excellent. The tiles are much thicker than I would have thought they would be. Also, the addition of the Koi pond in the middle of the board to tie in having the koi as a "Wild" tile during play was perfect thematically. The birds and flowers chosen in the game were very specific to Japanese culture. The flowers are Primrose, Plumeria, Tulip & Bluebell. The birds are the Scarlet Tanager, Japanese Waxwing, Japanese White Eye and Japanese Paradise Flycatcher. The flowers and birds are rotated between each other on the tiles to create a variance.
When your scoring for the initial phase you are trying to group as many birds as you can of the same kind together, however just because you grouped birds does not mean the flowers will match for the second phase scoring. And this is what sets this game apart for me from the other abstracts.
When you score for the second phase, you only score based on YOUR perspective. You have to look at how the rows line up for you during the game as well as how they line up for your opponent. You may want to lay that koi fish (wild) down to get three birds in a flock, but does it help your end game? Does it help your opponent get a more substantial score for their garden?
This game is easy to teach, strategic looks impressive on the table and has high replay value. If you are looking for abstract, I can not recommend this one enough.
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