Hatsuden Review

Tim & Kayleigh Mierzejewski review, tabletop Leave a Comment

Hatsuden - Itten

Game title: Hatsuden

Game description: HATSUDEN is a game of two players with a theme of electricity supply. Construct 5 types of renewable energy plant (Solar, Geothermal, Wind, Hydro, Biomass) and complete your supply to the city. Compete for greater electricity, also making sure to keep just the right amount for your city’s demand. The special technology cards also play a big role as the game develops. Now, head out to the journey to become a great “HATSUDEN” engineer.

Overall
3.5
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

Quick, exciting 2-player games can be a wonderful thing. We hoped we’d find that in Hatsuden as well, but unfortunately, it provided quickness without excitement. We enjoyed the clean, minimalist graphic design, and the largely unexplored theme, but the gameplay was just… boring.

Pros

Stylish minimalist graphic design

Easy to understand rules

Unusual theme

Quick gameplay

Easy to transport in an appropriately tiny box

Cons

Little room for interesting or memorable plays

Results highly luck-dependent

Just boring overall

Full Hatsuden Review

Quick, exciting 2-player games can be a wonderful thing. In 15 minutes you can have a vicious battle of wits, develop powerful combos, and use your limited time and resources to execute your plan just before your opponent. As a gaming couple, we love games like Blokus Duo, Summoner Wars, or Greedy Kingdoms that can provide these experiences. We hoped we’d find that in Hatsuden as well, but unfortunately, it provided quickness without excitement.

A hand of power plant cards

The rulebook is appropriately short and straightforward. Hatsuden is Japanese for “generation of electric energy,” and the players are trying to achieve just that. Each player is an energy engineer, providing power to their cities, aiming to get 10 points of power to each. There are 5 different types of renewable power plants (such as Wind and Solar) making up the players’ hands, each providing 1 to 4 points of power. Each city can have no more than one plant of a type providing it power. At the end of the game, a player scores a point per city that has exactly 10 power, and a point per power type they have a majority in. (The power types are otherwise identical in gameplay.)

On your turn, play a power plant and place it in the row of either of your cities, and the column corresponding to the power type. If you play the highest level power plant (the 4-value one) of a power type, you also randomly draw one of 5 special cards that gives some other minor boost. You could choose not to play a card and instead play any power plant face down to take up space, or to upgrade one of your power plants to a higher-valued one now in your hand. Once either player has filled all ten of their slots, the end of the game is triggered, and whichever player has the most points in power majorities and city powering is the winner.

The players have provided some energy of each type, trying to hit exactly 10 energy per city, and more of each energy type than the opponent

After reading the rules, we hoped we’d find a tense tug-of-war over the power plant majorities. We expected there’d be bluffing and big reveals, careful forward planning and a beautifully elegant system of risk-and-reward decisions. And there is a little bit of that. After our first game, where it kind of anticlimactically reached its end after 5 to 10 minutes of “I play a card, you play a card, I play a card…”, we expected we missed some hidden depth or look-ahead, so we played again. Still about the same.

The plays tended to feel very obvious, and the interaction not so tense. We sat on it for a little while, then tried it again. And again. Still not much to it. We enjoyed the clean, minimalist graphic design, and the largely unexplored theme, but the gameplay was just… boring.

It’s possible that there is some further depth hiding down there somewhere. We looked for it, and we can see some faint glimmers of it off in the distance. Maybe if we played the game dozens of times, we would find something amazing. But nothing about the game grabbed us into wanting to play it nearly that much. It mostly seemed to come down to who drew better cards, and who could fill their grid the fastest. We don’t see how there can be interesting, exciting plays, or how any experiences would stand out. It’s functional, it works, it looks nice… but it’s uninspiring.

A free copy of Hatsuden was provided by Itten Games.

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