Koi Review

Rob Kalajian review, tabletop Leave a Comment

Koi - Smirk & Laughter Games $39.95

Game title: Koi

Game description: As a Koi fish, you spend your days (turns) swimming to and fro by playing a number of movement cards, with the goal of gobbling up as many dragonflies and frogs as you can every day. Each movement card has from two to four programmed moves, straight, turn, rotate any direction and leap over a space, with some moves being mandatory when played, and others being optional.

Overall
3.8
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

It’s hard to pass up Koi when you first see the colorful box with its breathtaking painting of the game’s namesake on the front. It’s a welcoming invitation into a world of beauty…and a deceptively cerebral game. Koi, like its cover hits at, is a game of Yin and Yang. A balance of aesthetics and thought. It’s a game that can take your breath away, and melt your brain out of your ears.

Pros

BEAUTIFUL

Logical, programmatic gameplay

Super approachable

Cons

Can suffer from Analysis Paralysis

Full Koi Review

It’s hard to pass up Koi when you first see the colorful box with its breathtaking painting of the game’s namesake on the front. It’s a welcoming invitation into a world of beauty…and a deceptively cerebral game. Koi, like its cover hits at, is a game of Yin and Yang. A balance of aesthetics and thought. It’s a game that can take your breath away, and melt your brain out of your ears.

Part of Smirk & Dagger’s new imprint, Smirk & Laughter, Koi is a game of strategic movement where you try to maneuver your Koi around a pond to eat dragonflies and frogs. You do this by playing movement cards from your hand to best program your Koi’s movement in the most efficient way. Each card has several mandatory and/or optional movements that must be followed in order before the next card resolves. If that wasn’t tricky enough, there are weather effects to take into consideration, rocks that can get in your way, cherry blossoms that fall into the pond and cause ripples, and frogs that can eat dragonflies.

Koi Review - Setup
A sample 4-player setup

While it may seem like a lot to contend with, the base rules of the game are very simple to understand. That, combined with the colorful board, excellent wooden bits, and easy to read iconography make the game very approachable, even with younger players. More experienced gamers will enjoy the challenge of playing a mix of movement, cherry blossoms, rocks, and frogs to get their Koi to do some pretty amazing things.

Of course, that leads to the games one major downfall. Those who suffer from analysis paralysis may find themselves really stuck with all the options a hand of cards can provide, leading to an incredible amount of downtime for other players. It’s by no means a deal-breaker for such a great game, but just be fair warned

Smirk & Laughter set out to create a different style of game than Smirk & Dagger has in the past. If Koi is any indication of the direction the imprint is going, then I foresee good things in their future.

A copy of Koi was provided free for review by Smirk & Laughter games

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