Published by: Iello Games
# of Players: 2 to 4
Iello Games has always delivered beautiful looking games. Kanagawa takes that a step further. A game about painting should have great art and this game does that to a great level. With each card you add to your painting you can see the landscape flow into a masterpiece. The components besides the lesson cards help immerse you into the master's studio. The bamboo school board is such a great touch that shows detail and wanting the player to get the full experience. Wooden brush pawns are used to show landscapes you can paint. The rest of the components are made of thick cardboard that will hold up with time. The game comes with an insert that holds everything nicely but I do not think it will hold cards that are sleeved. The rule book is beautifully illustrated and with a glossy finish that will hold up with time. The rules explain everything in detail and with plenty of illustrated examples. Kanagawa may have Iello's best components and rules to date.
Kanagawa is a set collection game that includes elements of auction and engine building. The goal in Kanagawa is to obtain the most harmony (victory points). To do so, you will be taking lesson cards and adding them to your studio or to your print. The game ends when all the lesson card decks is empty or one or more players have at least 11 cards in their print. The school board will hold the current lesson cards available for players. If the space is red, the lesson card will be placed face down. Each lesson card can be used in two ways. If you add it to your print, it will become part of your work and be the major impact on scoring at the end of the game. A card can also be used to improve your studio. This will provide you the ability to paint different landscape types and may provide bonuses such as extra brushes, victory points or ability to move a paint brush each turn.
Each round cards equal to the number of players will be added to the school board. Starting with the player with the grand master pawn, a player will decide to either broaden their knowledge (which means passing on taking a lesson card) or put a lesson into practice. That player will select all cards in a column and add them to their studio or print, resolving any effects after placing the card.
There are diploma tiles that provide harmony and possibly an additional benefit when obtained. If you meet the criteria of a diploma tile you have the option to take it. If you decide to take a diploma tile, you can not take another diploma tile of that color, but if you pass on the diploma, you will no longer have access to that specific diploma and must go for one of the higher criteria ones. For example a diploma may be taken if you have 2, 3, or 4 of the same type of landscape. If you pass on the 2, then you will have to go for the 3 or 4. If someone gets them first you will be out of luck. Higher criteria hand out higher harmony points. Once everyone has had a chance to pass or take a lesson column, the school board will add a new row of cards under each row that currently has a card on it. The remaining players who passed last turn have the option to take a column or pass again. A third row will be filled and players must choose a column at that time. Once everyone has resolved their lessons, a new round will begin with filling up the top row of the school board.
Each print side of a lesson card contains a season in the upper right corner and landscape types that it takes to add it to your print. For example if the print requires 2 blue landscape, you must have paint brushes on two 2 blue landscape skills in your studio that have not been used this round. You are limited on moving paint brushes by the number of move icons you have in your studio. You may have the skill available but no way to move the paint brush to the skill. In the upper left hand corner of the print may be harmony icons that will score points at the end of the game. Prints may have trees, animals, buildings, or people in them. You will be trying to get sets of these to obtain various diplomas. Once the game ends everyone will score their print and studio. First players will receive a point for each lesson card in their print. Players will then get 1 point for each lesson card that is in your longest sequence of identical seasons. For example if you have 5 winter cards next to each other, you will get 5 points. Players will add up the number of harmony points displayed on their lesson cards in their print and studio. Add all of that to the points you received from diploma tiles and add 2 extra points if you have the grand master pawn at the end of the game. Person with the most points wins the game.
Bruno Cathala games has always been either hit or miss for me. Kanagawa is one that I have probably enjoyed the most in recent history. Kanagawa was easy to teach and play, but provided depth for a set collection game. I really got into the theme and trying to make my print stand out. In one game I had winter through 8 cards with lots of buildings and people. The end design of the prints look great and the components add a level to the game to make it more enjoyable. My only complaint is that there is no scoring pad included and you have to provide your own paper and pencil. The game plays in under an hour and had a lot of enjoyment playing with various groups of people. I found that families really enjoy this game the most as their is player interaction in choosing what column and when to take it, but no one could feel picked on. The art alone made me want the game and the gameplay will keep it in my collection. Recommend this to game groups that enjoy games on the lighter side, families, or those who love art. The quality and attention given to the details in this game show great effort by Iello to provide an immersive experience.
+Light to medium weight game that is easy to learn and play
+Art theme is developed well by components and gameplay
+Component quality is awesome
+Great insert that holds everything
+The actual art is very beautiful
-Not a fan of square cards
-Needs a scoring pad
-Would like to see card packs with alternate landscapes or designs