Published by: IDW Games
# of Players: 1 to 4
Seikatsu is an abstract strategy game that has players placing tiles during their turns. The tiles are heavy plastic with a pottery type feel to them. Each tile is adorned with a flower and bird. There are 4 different colored flowers that will be on the various tiles along with 4 possible types of birds. The instructions actually explain the exact flowers and birds used on the tiles. The game board has the game grid in the middle representing the garden and the outer part of the board is split into 3 color Pagodas. The tiles will be placed in a white cloth bag to draw during your turn. The rule book is very well done and explains everything in detail. There are lots of colorful illustrations to explain each detail to the game and provides many examples of gameplay and scoring. There are variant rules for solo and 4 player games. Inside the box is an insert that holds all the tiles. There is some wasted space in the box, but due to the board, it is required to be the size that it is. While Seikatsu has very few components, the ones it does have are outstanding in quality and appearance.
Seikatsu is a competitive tile laying game. Each player will be trying most of one type of flower in a row and also earn points for placing birds of the same type together. Each player will have a side of the board that is displayed by their color Pagoda. For gameplay and scoring purposes, they will be focusing on lines that in straight line direction with their Pagoda. The picture of the board in the picture is from the viewpoint of the blue Pagoda. They will be trying to get flowers of the same type in rows (really columns since it is up and down). At the start of the game, 3 tiles will be drawn and put on 3 spots adjacent to the Koi Pond. Each player will start the game with 2 tiles that are hidden from the other players.
During a player's turn, they will first lay down a tile and score for adjacent birds of the same type. For example if you place a a blue colored bird next to two other blue colored birds, you will receive 3 points. After you have received your points, you will take a random tile from the bag. Besides the regular bird/flower tiles, there are 4 Koi Pond tiles that are wild. You will decide what bird the pond will score as when placing. Afterwards, it reverts back to a Koi Pond till scoring. Once every space on the board is filled, the game is over. Players will then score for the flower color they have the most of in each row. Koi Ponds are wild and count for any type of flower for all players during scoring. Whoever has the most points after everything is totaled up is the winner of the game.
Seikatsu may not seem like it has much to do, but there is an elegance to the gameplay that will not come across from reading the rules or my gameplay. Seikatsu is easy to learn but has lots of strategy and you have to balance scoring early bird points with scoring larger flower points at the end of the game. You can not focus on one and win. Each time we played, we discovered something new we wanted to try in terms of strategy. The 4 player variant was fun to play as you can not communicate to your teammate without revealing your plan and so you have to hope that your teammate understands what you are doing. The components are probably the best I have ever seen from IDW Games. This felt like a quality game designed with elegance. I would recommend Seikatsu to anyone. This is a game that anyone can learn fast and enjoy. Even younger kids had fun with birds and deciding if they wanted to match birds or flowers. This is a game that can hit the table at anytime with anybody. I do feel it is best at 3 players, but it does work well for 2 and 4 players. This is staying in my collection with other great abstract strategy games. Seikatsu is one of most elegant games to come out of GenCon this year.
+ Easy to learn and enjoyable by all skill and age levels
+Outstanding component quality
+Rules explain everything in great detail
+Solo and team variants
+Plenty of deep strategy with balance of birds and flowers
- Box feels like it has lots of wasted space
- Team play can be confusing on direction of scoring
- Games can feel like they are done too fast