If you are anything like me you enjoy spending Sunday afternoons relaxing at home but are in need of amusement. Kodama Duo offers a stress-free 30-minute session of light entertainment with simple rules and accomplished artwork. Kodama Duo is a spin-off from Kodama: The Tree Spirits, specifically for two players.
For those who do not know what Kodama are, having thought them simply to be strange looking creatures on the front of the box; they are in fact from Japanese folklore. They are spirits who make their homes within trees and act as their guardians.
The Basics of Kodama Duo
In Kodama Duo, the aim of the game is to create the most appealing tree for a Kodama to live in. Split over three seasons, spring, summer and fall (autumn). You do this through card selection and placement. Every player will start with a trunk card, which as it suggests, features the base of your tree. You then lay branch cards leading from this trunk and gradually a fully grown tree forms in front of your very eyes!
There are six different features that will appear on the branch cards, comprising flowers, mushrooms, stars, caterpillars, clouds and fireflies. Your main goal is to create runs of these features along the branches of your tree. The longer the run, the more points scored.
To aid your choices, you are shuffled four Kodama cards at the beginning of the game. These offer extra point-scoring opportunities at the end of each season. For example, you might be able to gain three extra points for each caterpillar on your tree, so you would want to proactively choose cards that feature a caterpillar, rather than say a cloud…
The game is quite straightforward in this way and building your tree is satisfying. Whoever scores the most points at the end of the game wins, simple as that. The gameplay is unique and will allow both adults and teenagers to find it enjoyable to see their tree take shape.
Extra Aspects of the Game
To enhance the game further there are a number of cool twists and game rules which enhance the overall gameplay.
One being the splitter/chooser roles for each of the two players. Basically, each turn comprises of dealing out three branch cards from the pack. Each player will eventually place one of these three cards onto their tree and score points for any runs. But before this, the designated splitter gets to decide how to split the three cards into two groups.
One group will be made up of one card. The other group will be made up of two cards.
The features that appear on the cards will directly impact what the splitter decides to do. BUT they do not get to choose which group of cards to have. Instead, that is the role of the chooser. Thus, the splitter can only hope that their opponent, the chooser, will pick the group they do not want…but there is no guarantee.
Not surprisingly this adds a great unknown dimension to the game, which can greatly impact the scoring and scupper a player’s plans.
Linked to this, is the benefit of choosing the group with two cards. The player who does gets to claim a spirit token. One of six in the game representing each different feature. The spirit token can be added to your tree to effectively change one feature on it. I.e. covering up a cloud with a caterpillar, which might provide the potential for you to score a long run of points next turn.
Lastly, as you begin each new season a decree card is revealed. These often outline a specific scoring parameter for that season. There are a number of decree cards but you only play with one for each season, each game, so there is a good degree of replayability value.
The Artwork and Components
As already mentioned, the artwork is extremely well accomplished for this game. The branch cards are simple and clearly show the different features, in a variety of combinations. The Kodama cards each feature a cute Kodama in a different pose. One might be wearing a mask whilst another could be playing with caterpillars. This variety really highlights the time and effort put into the design of the game, which is great.
The trunk cards, rightly so, are larger in size than the branch cards. This successfully reflects the strong starting base of your tree. The spirit tokens, scoreboard and player tokens are all made from thick cardboard. Over time, I imagine they might become rather play worn. The rulebook is straightforward, which is a real bonus and will allow for a quick start to gameplay.
Overall, the colours are bright and the quality and design are consistent throughout.
For those looking for a cute theme, coupled with quick gameplay and value for money, then I would certainly recommend Kodama Duo. It takes up minimal space, offers light competition and replayability, as well as personal satisfaction through the building of your tree. Who wouldn’t want to create a home for a peaceful tree spirit?! You might not even mind if you lose a game as a result. A lighthearted fun card game, suitable for teenagers and adults alike. Why not give Kodama Duo a go?!