Hanafuda Review (Koi Koi)

Hanafuda - Price Varies
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Game title: Hanafuda

Game description: Hanafuda (花札) are playing cards of Japanese origin that are used to play a number of games. The name translates to "flower cards". The name also refers to games played with the cards.

Overall
3
  • Play (Mechanics)
  • Presentation (Art/Quality)
  • Plan (Rules)

Summary

Hanafuda, or Japanese Flower Cards, are beautiful little decks of thick cards with nothing but pictures on them. There are 12 suits, each representing a different month of the year, with 4 cards in each suit. Two of these 4 cards of Plain cards, while the other two may contain Scrolls, Animals, or Brights. Like a standard Poker deck, there are many different games that can be played with Hanafuda, but one of the most popular is Hanafuda, also known as Koi Koi. It’s a trick-taking game where two players are competing to complete Yaku (sets.) Once a player completes a Yaku they may end the round and score points, or call “Koi Koi” to continue to try and earn more points. They must be wary, though, for it their opponent gets a Yaku and ends the round they get double points and negates the points earned by the other player. The game ends after 12 rounds.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Visually Stunning
  • Compact
  • Easy-to-learn

Cons

  • Standard Hanafuda cards may be too small for some
  • Hard to shuffle
  • Complicated Scoring

Full Hanafuda Review

Hanafuda, or Japanese Flower Cards, are beautiful little decks of thick cards with nothing but pictures on them. There are 12 suits, each representing a different month of the year, with 4 cards in each suit. Two of these 4 cards of Plain cards, while the other two may contain Scrolls, Animals, or Brights. Like a standard Poker deck, there are many different games that can be played with Hanafuda, but one of the most popular is Hanafuda, also known as Koi-Koi.

Koi-Koi a 2-player matching game where players are competing to complete Yaku (sets.) Each player starts with 8 cards and 8 cards are placed face-up on the table. Each turn a player tries to match suits of a card from their hand to one on the table. If they can’t they place a card on the table. Then, no matter the outcome of the first action, that player draws a card from the deck and does the same with that card. They then take any matches they made and check to see if they have a Yaku.

Koi Koi opening setup
Opening Setup
“Koi-Koi.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10:29, 29 April 2020‎, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koi-Koi.

Once a player completes a Yaku they may end the round and score points, or call “Koi-Koi!” to continue to try and earn more points. They must be wary, though, for it their opponent gets a Yaku and ends the round they get double points and negates the points earned by the other player. The game ends after 12 rounds.

It’s a rather simple game with a rather intricate scoring system. There are many different Yaku you can create, as well as a few conditions where a player may instantly win the game. It’s a bit much to take in at first but as you play you’ll start to get the hang of it. The real beauty of the game comes from the Hanafuda. The small, thick cards almost resemble tiles and most sets of filled with amazing artwork. Decks can range from a few dollars all the way up to over $100.

Just like every game collection should include a standard set of Poker cards, you should consider a set of Hanafuda as well. There are many easy-to-play and enjoy games out there, and they certainly look great on the table.

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