Published by: What's Your Game?
# of players 2 to 4
The components in Nippon were hit and miss. The color scheme and overall design fit well with the theme. The actual art is kind of bland and does not add anything to the game. Workers are represented by 6 different color meeples and did not pose any issues for my color blind player. The one issue I had was the game board quality. The board appears to be already falling apart and bubbling up at one the seams. This was after opening the game for the very first time and have heard some others had the same issue. The rule book is highly detailed and provides instructions for every detail. I appreciate the single page appendix that was provided separate from the rule book for references on some of the different icon meanings. Each player also got a sheet that detailed the consolidate action as well as what each factory bonus was. These extras made learning and playing the game easier and I wish more games did this.
Nippon is a unique game that instead of placing workers, you are instead taking workers from the action spot. The goal in Nippon is to have the most victory points after the worker pool has been cleared 5 times plus 3 last rounds. During a player's turn they will be performing one of two things. A player may take 1 worker from the main game board and perform the corresponding action or a player may consolidate. When a player takes a worker they place them on the left most space on their player board that is empty. The player board also contains tracks for coal and money gained after consolidation and knowledge track for buildings. On the bottom of the player board is 9 goals that can give victory points depending on the multiplier that is placed on the space during the game. Players also have ships and trains that increase influence or provide victory points for the area they are placed in.
Each action space starts with 3 workers and there are 5 reserve spaces with 3 workers each to refill when an action space becomes empty. Once all the reserve spaces are empty you will move up on the turn marker. There will be 3 times you score points for your influence in the various regions of Japan. Players who are first, second and third will receive points, but the board also has an outside influence that could also be ahead of you in influence of the area. After the reserve has been cleared 5 times, players will take 3 more turns each and finally scoring will begin. The player with the highest score wins the game.
Nippon provided me with some great tense moments that I have not felt in many other games. The game was not as fast-paced as I would hope, but that is due to times when people are really thinking of what they want to do. I see the possibility of a player running away with the game. The games I played had two players competing while the other two lagged behind. I do think that will not be seen as much when players are more experienced with the game. I really liked the taking workers from the action you want and having all the actions available to you but at a possible cost. I was disappointed in the board condition and also wish they would have named the cities. The theme was just pasted on and not felt from the game-play or art. The games took a really long time and will take up the majority of your game night. I feel people who enjoy euro economic style type games will enjoy Nippon. Worker placement fans may find the variation fresh, but may not like having every action available all game. I enjoyed the tense moments and the decisions I had to make with taking colors other players wanted or something that may benefit me. You need to be paying attention to all the players and their boards at all times to try and maneuver yourself into the best position. Nippon will be added to my collection as a good medium weight euro game.
+ Fresh take on use of worker meeples
+ Some tense decision making
+ Solid rule book and player guides
- Long game and will be longer with AP prone players
- Theme was pasted on
- Game board quality