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How To Play Hiroba


Did somebody say “competitive Su Doku”? But that’s a solo puzzle, right? Not any more, folks! Hiroba has gone and brought that frustratingly fun number cruncher into the realms of trad board gaming.

Let’s show you how it works in 1-9 easy steps!

Set Up

Laying out the board is the first job. Shuffle and place out 9 garden tiles face down in a 3 x 3 grid.

In a two player game, flip over 5 tiles (leaving 4 face down). For a three player game, flip over 7 tiles. And when playing with a full table, flip over all the tiles onto the garden side.

Place a Koi token with the fish side showing on a Koi square in each visible garden, and then give each player a board, and a set of double sided numbered pebbles.

First player will also receive 2 stone tokens (second and 3rd players each get one and the fourth player goes without).

Now you are ready to rumble in the…….zen garden!

On your first turn, you must place one of your double sided pebbles on a starting square – these are marked with a circular pattern. You can choose which side you want to use.

Then on later turns you can place your numbered pebble in any row or column where you have an existing pebble. But, just like Su Doku, you cannot place it in a row or column where a pebble of the same number has already been placed. And neither can you place a duplicated number in any garden enclosure (or on top of another pebble or Koi – but you guessed that, right?!)

And don’t forget your stones (if you have any). A stone token blocks off a space and makes it unavailable for the rest of the game.

The game continues until everyone has placed all of their pebbles on the grid. Then it’s scoring time!

Points are awarded in several ways, but the cool Koi fish need to reward the humblest players first. Koi tokens act as multipliers and will double the value of any garden in which they are placed at the end of the game (note: it does not double the value of the pebbles within it).

To gain a Koi token, you must be the player with the lowest total pebble value surrounding it. If you receive one, you flip it over and place it with the “2X” into one of the gardens in which you have the highest total value. As such, you will probably want to keep some lower numbered pebbles for going fishing!

Which brings us neatly onto scoring. The player with the highest total value in each garden gains control of that space. They receive 1 point for every square in the garden (regardless of whether there are other players’ pebbles, stones or any Koi tokens on them). So if the player using black pebbles has a total of 13 in a 6 square garden and the red player only has 3 (see picture), the player using the black pebbles will receive 6 points because they have majority control. But because the garden has a 2X Koi token in it, the garden is in fact worth 12 points (2 x 6)

The winner is the player with the highest number of points at end game!

And there you have it! Hiroba turns the Su Doku we all know into a neat push-pull for area control. Placing high for gardens v placing low for Koi bonuses.

I hope this short guide helps you through your first few chilled and crunchy games of Hiroba! To buy Hiroba today click here. Let us know your thoughts on socials @zatugames.