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.
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.
Stylish minimalist graphic design
Easy to understand rules
Easy to transport in an appropriately tiny box
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.
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.
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.
Tim and Kayleigh Mierzejewski first met at a Battlestar Galactica board game night and visited GenCon on their honeymoon, so it’s safe to say they are big fans of games! Tim is one of the designers of Geek Fever Games, behind titles like Druid Dice, Plus Word, and Ice Fortress, and Kayleigh is his favorite playtester and co-developer. Together they enjoy games ranging from Taboo to Mage Knight, and have begun teaching their pre-school daughters to love games just as much as they do.
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