Living Forest - Kodama Expansion

Living Forest – Kodama Expansion

RRP: £25.99
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RRP £25.99
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The dreadful Onibi has never been more dangerous… He has set foot in the Circle of Spirits and is ferociously attacking the Sacred Tree, while his flames threaten all living things in the forest. But the Spirits of Nature aren’t fighting alone: Sanki has sent small beings of light, the Kodama, to help them face this growing threat. Play as one of the four Spirits of Nature and …
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Category Tag SKU TCS-CSGLIVINGKODAMA Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Makes it feel like a right battle for the forest.
  • Scared flowers have much more meaning
  • Player interaction increased.
  • Solo mode

Might Not Like

  • Does make the game slightly longer.
  • More chance of analysis paralysis with added mechanics
  • Only for players with a few games of the original under their belts
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Description

The dreadful Onibi has never been more dangerous… He has set foot in the Circle of Spirits and is ferociously attacking the Sacred Tree, while his flames threaten all living things in the forest. But the Spirits of Nature aren’t fighting alone: Sanki has sent small beings of light, the Kodama, to help them face this growing threat.

Play as one of the four Spirits of Nature and make the most of the Kodama’s help to save the Sacred Tree!

 

Onibi Is Not A Happy Fire Demon….

Onibi has had enough, those pesky spirits of Nature keep thwarting his plans. Planting proactive trees, extinguishing his fires and awaking his arch enemy Sanki – what is he to do? Go on the offensive seems the only course of action – invade the forest and attack it at its heart. Those pesky spirits will now need 13 or even 15 fires vanquished, trees planted or scared flowers to overcome him. So what have these Spirits got up their selves to combat the increased ferocity of the fire demon? More powerful guardians and trees for one, but the real dossy is the Kodama have come to help defend the Forest. Called forth from the trees by the scared flowers, they give the spirits more chance to drive back the ever-advancing flames, help to nurture the trees or even provide more scared flowers to summon further Kodama’s.

The Kodama

In this expansion to Living Forest (the 2022 Kennerspiel des Jahres winner) designer Aske Christiansen address the main issue in the base game that one path to victory was harder to achieve than others – namely obtaining 12 scared flowers. The flowers still allow a victory when achieving the desired number but are also another form of currency to buy a Kodama (tree spirit). These Kodama, like guardian animals, are added to your draw deck and any symbols on them stack with others from your individual forest board and guardians.

These Kodama come in three types – water, tree and flower and the number available depends on the player count. They are attracted with scared flowers and this adds another possible action to the Living Forests core ones. One Kodama can be brought per action used – similar to the obtaining protective tree action. As well as fattening your deck and adding help symbols the Kodama also add a new symbol (also called a kodama- lower case for the symbol, upper case on the card/tree spirit.) These allow you to take extra benefits with a cost totalling the number of symbols present in your line. These benefits allow:

  • With two visible symbols take a fragment tile.
  • With 3 take an element tile – these give a bonus whenever you play them. Immediately add 2 suns/ 2 water droplets/ 2 trees/ 1 scared flower/ 1 move. The tile is discarded after use.
  •  With 4 showing take another basic action. Again discarding the tile after use.

These Kodama bring much power to your deck and are definitely worth spending an action on. They cost between 2 and 4 scared flowers to summon and the kodama symbol with its benefits soon stack up. Each player has a Kodama (with a kodama symbol) in their starting deck, but the with the rewards only being available with 2 symbols, early purchase seems to be advisable.

As mentioned previously Living Forest: Kodama increases the required wining conditions to 13. BUT when all the Kodama of a particular type have been removed the winning condition of that particular spirit is increased to 15. This means if someone appears to be racing towards victory you can attract these Kodama to make the finishing post stretch off into the distance.

So what is the downside to these Kodama? Well for each Kodama added to a players deck the new Onibi figure, which has joined the Spirits on the Circle of Spirit, moves forward on the Circle of Spirits. For each Spirit standee he jumps over you add a file tile worth 2 to the middle of the circle. This is brilliant as if you are late in the turn order you can add fire tiles that other players may not have the water to counter. Bonus – they get Fire Varan to pollute their deck and clog up their guardian line in future turns.

New Guardians & New Trees

Five new level 2 and five new level 3 Guardian cards have also been added. The level 2 guardians allow you to perform the same basic action twice, while the level 3 allow you to perform a basic action shown on the card in addition to your normal two actions. The cost of these guardians isn’t cheap – level 2 range from 6-10 and the level 3 from 11-15 – but the extra actions could be the difference between just falling short or sneaking over the magic 13 (or 15.)

The new trees are linked with the number of kodama symbols in your guardian line. They instantly grant you extra symbols of their type (water, fire, tree, movement or scared flower) as you have Kodama symbols. One tree also permanently adds one kodama. Unlike trees form the original Living Forest, you can only have one of each tree.

Other Extras

As well as the new Onibi standee, Guardians, Kodama and elemental tiles this Living Forest expansion contains a double sided Kodama board which is the Kodama home for the duration of the game; forest help mini boards that tidily fit onto the side of your individual forest board; a tree dispenser for the new trees; 2 ‘call a Kodama’ rock tile to replace fragment tiles on the Circle of Spirits and an Onibi tile with an Onibi wrath token that is used in the Solo game. (see later.)

How Does It Play

For me this improves the original game so much that unless I was teaching it to new players I’d always include it. It stops the tried and tested short cut to victory of movement and protective trees that makes the original some what dull with all players heading down the same track. Having to be aware that fire tiles can be added to the centre after your go has ended means water becomes even more important otherwise soon you end up with loads of Fire Varian cards clogging up your hand. The increased victory points and the fact it nearly always goes up to 15 on at least two if not all victory conditions can thwart a breakaway.

I love the idea that tree spirits can be summoned to help protect the forest and it also means that scared flowers have a far more important role. Previously they seems only to be a tie breaker when more than one player achieved 12 fire tokens or 12 protective trees.
All of this means the game play is a richer experience with the options being increased, decisions meaning more and player interaction boosted. All this with not really adding massively to the game length. I’d say games now 5-10 minutes longer than with the base game of Living Forest.

The card and board art matches seamlessly with the base game and I love the addon to your player board explaining the kodama symbols bonuses. Components are of an equally high standard and having a figure for Onibi chasing you around the circle spreading more fire makes it feel like there is a real battle for the forest.

Overall if you like the original this is a must purchase. If you have found chances to get Living Forest on the table diminished in recent times, then this might be the spark you need to get it set up and ready for when your family or group sit down next for an evening. Living Forest remains a great start game of the living: quick to set up, with its light rules quick to play and packing up is done in a matter of moments. The Kodama expansion doesn’t change any of these to any great extent and whenever we play it there is always positive feedback on the experience.

The box comes complete with a solo mode which sadly I haven’t had time to fully explore, but looks pretty comprehensive with difficulty being easy to adjust.

 

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Makes it feel like a right battle for the forest.
  • Scared flowers have much more meaning
  • Player interaction increased.
  • Solo mode

Might not like

  • Does make the game slightly longer.
  • More chance of analysis paralysis with added mechanics
  • Only for players with a few games of the original under their belts