I first got a look at Seikatsu in 2016 at the first-ever Connecticut Festival of Indie Games, back when it was a bunch of poker chips and a paper board. It was at this year’s CT-FIG that I saw the game had been picked up by IDW Game and been given some amazing artwork to go along with it. The game was officially debuted at GenCon 50, and I was lucky enough to have IDW send me a copy to take a look at even though I wasn’t able to attend the con.
Seikatsu is a game of perspective ideally played with 3 players, though it can be played with 1, 2, or even with 4 in teams. The goal of the game is to create a beautiful garden by grouping types of large birds and creating rows of matching flowers as seen from your side of the board. This is done by drawing and placing tiles on the board until all spaces on the board have been covered.
The game is setup by placing all the tiles, minus the wilds, into the cloth bag included in the box. Random tiles are drawn and placed around the koi pond in the middle of the board. The wild tokens are then mixed into the bag and play beings with each player sitting behind their colored section of the board. Each player’s scoring token is placed on the score track at 0.
Playing Seikatsu is easy. Each player draws a token from the bag on their turn and places it on the board. Birds are scored immediately, 1 point for the bird placed and 1 point for each bird of the game type chained to the one placed. Once all the spaces on the board are filled flowers are scored and the player with the most points wins. Flowers are scored by row. Each player’s rows are from the perspective of their colored side of the board. Each row is score by figuring out which flower is the majority in a row, and then scoring that flower by the number of times it’s in that row. The more similar flowers in a row, the higher score.
You can check out all the fine details of the rules here.
Seikatsu is an absolutely beautiful games with an abundance of color and artwork with classical Japanese flair. The box design is minimal, with a wonderful use of foil to make the already stunning artwork pop even more. The board, as seen above, is both functional and attractive, while the tiles are thick and feel wonderful to hold. Attention to detail even flows down to the scoring tokens, which are little, detailed flowers.
Seikatsu is a beautiful game that’s elegance lies in simplicity. It captures the eye then hooks you with its approachable, yet fulfilling, game play. Each turn a choice must be made whether or not to score some quick points with bird groupings, lay the foundations for a big score on flowers, or to block another player from getting too many of one type of flower in their rows. It’s quick, with games lasting no more than 30 minutes due to the built-in timer of a set number of spaces to play tiles.
If you’re a fan of abstract strategy games, or just beautiful games, Seikatsu is not a game to pass up on. It’s one of those games that newcomers will be drawn to by the look of the game, but can sit, learn, and enjoy in time it takes to learn/setup most other games.
A copy of Seikatsu was provided free for review by IDW Games.
Media personality Rob “Devar-TTY” Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of Devar-TTY’s Pawns Perspective, Dev now focuses mostly on video games and TTRPGs. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.