29/05/2019 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Hokkaido review

f53a9379-f9c1-4d08-9544-116ff9a97918

Hokkaido is the direct follow-up to Honshu, the clever 2016 map-building card game with a surprisingly brain-burning central mechanic of sliding cards over or under each another to expand regions and score as many points as possible.

Gone is the trick-taking used to dish out cards, replaced with a faster and more straightforward card-drafting variant: take one, pass the rest on. (The rulebook notes that Honshu can be played using the same rules, if you already own that game.)

Making things a tad more complex as you decide where to place your card are new mountain squares, which must always be placed in an ongoing range dividing your map in two. This feeds into a new scoring system where only the smaller of the two largest towns on either side of the range scores points for each contiguous square, in a neat encouragement of balance Reiner Knizia would be proud of.

While the increased number of rules makes placement a tad trickier, you do get an extra helping hand from the redemption of fallow squares. Previously worth zilch, the empty plots can now be terraformed by spending a pair of matching resource cubes – sacrificing their potential point value in factories at the end of the game, but allowing otherwise worthless regions to help amass points by joining other areas. It’s a small addition that makes for an interesting weighing up of options.

Hokkaido is beautifully compact and the design is impressive on paper, but it’s not often that much fun to actually play. The added stipulations – like lakes, mountains can never be covered, but also must always be placed together and never branch – mean that choosing cards often becomes an exercise in experimentation, as players take minutes to try out every possible combination and simply find out which plays are legal. This means that picking and placing a card never feels as smooth or strategic as it should, there's not much freedom in what you draft and what should be a small, fast game bogs down in overanalysis and fiddly card placement.

The solid design foundation and clever rules additions here are easy to admire from afar. It's just that up close you might find the time and effort is better spent playing something else. 

MATT JARVIS

 

PLAY IT? – MAYBE

 

Designer: Kalle Malmioja

Artist: Ossi Hiekkala, Jere Kasanen

Time: 30 minutes

Players: 2-5

Age: 8+

Price: £15

 

This review originally appeared in the February 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

Back to Reviews

29/05/2019 Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Reviews

Counterfeiters review

Is this money-laundering game the real deal? ...


Ravine review

Can the kooky party game survive in the wilderness? ...


Wakening Lair review

Awaken your inner adventurer ...


Forbidden Lands: Raven’s Purge RPG review

A perfect blend of epic fantasy and dark horror ...


Other Reviews in this category

Ceylon review

Board gaming to a tea ...


Mage Knight: Ultimate Edition review

Sizing up the return of a tabletop giant ...


Guardian’s Call review

Defend the realm by hoarding and lying ...


Resident Evil 2: The Board Game review

A dungeon-crawling throwback with a bit of bite ...