In the old capital city of Hanamikoji, there was a street famed for its Geishas. In Hanamikoji you’re vying to earn the attention of 7 Geisha masters by placing sets of each Geishas’ favorite item. It’s been published by various companies over the past 5 years, and has been out of print for a while now, but will be coming back in August 2018 from Deep Water Games.
Hanamikoji contains just 7 Geisha Cards, 2 sets of 4 Action Tiles, 7 Favor Tiles, and a handful of Item Cards. The 7 Geisha cards are laid out on the table, each with a Favor Tile placed on their center. Each player takes a set of Action Tiles and places them down in front of them in order from 1-4 with the color side up. The deck of item cards is then shuffled, one is removed at random, and 6 cards are dealt to each player. Once this is done the game can begin.
The goal of Hanamikoji is to earn the favor of 4 Geishas or earn 11 Charm Points (listed on each Geisha), at the end of the round. This is done by placing a majority of Item Cards that each Geisha favors down in front of them. Each turn players will draw a new card and take 4 actions, determined by their Action Tiles, before resolving each Geisha and earning favor. Each tile is labeled 1-4, can be played in any order, and contains the following actions:
- Secret – Place a card, face down, under the 1 Action Tile to be scored at the end of the round.
- Discard – Discard two cards, face down, under the 2 Action Tile. These are not scored at the end of the round.
- Gift – Place 3 cards down on the table. The opponent chooses one to place in front of the corresponding Geisha and the current player places the other 2.
- Competition – Place 4 cards down in 2 stacks. The opponent chooses a stack and places those cards down in front of the corresponding Geishas, then the active player does the game with the other stack.
After each player has completed all 4 actions the cards placed in Secret and revealed and each Geisha is scored. Whoever has the most cards on each Geisha will earn their favor by moving the Favor Token to their side of the Geisha Card. If either player has earned the favor of 4 Geishas, or has earned 11 Charm Points in that round, the game is over. If not all the Item Cards, including the one set aside, are shuffled, a new card is removed at random, and a new round starts with each Favor Token remaining unmoved from where it currently resides.
For the full rules, including variant play, click here.
- Box 👍
- Rules 👍
- Geisha Cards⭐
- Item Cards👍
- Tokens 👍
(👍 = Good, 👎 = Bad, ⭐ = Exceptional)
Hanamikoji is an elegant game that requires much thought, planning, and cunning while playing. The roundabout way of playing cards makes each action agonizing as you’re usually going to have to get rid of good cards in order to help you hopefully play better ones. It’s a delicate game of tug of war where choice matters and the slightest misstep can cause you to lose the game. Thankfully, with a short play time and easy setup, you can play several games in a row to try and perfect your strategies.
Just as elegant and beautiful as the gameplay, Hanamikoji’s artwork is breathtaking, vibrant, and wholly thematic. The oversized Geisha cards are full-art and capture the imagination, while even the small Favor Tokens carry the theme down the tiniest detail. Even the box, designed in the style of a Japanese book, is striking and sure to make a splash on any shelf it’s placed on.
With a price tag of only $19.95, Hanamikoji is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a brilliant 2-player game. It’s portability, ease of learning, and beauty make it a stand out in the crowd.
A copy of Hanamikoji was provided free for review by Deep Water Games
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.