Preview: Sakura a tactical card game

Easy to learn tactical card game for 2-6 players using the theme of SAKURA. Aged 10 and above.

It’s fantastic that a pop singer has created a new game.  The artist who brought us “Hips Don’t Lie” has a game that will convince you that game designers don’t lie either. (edit: he went on for 3 paragraphs before someone at the ranch pointed out that Shakira and Sakura aren’t the same thing) I’m a huge fan and wow, what an amazing crossover!

I have just been informed that Shakira, the singer, had nothing to do with this game, I am disappointed.

I love Uno.  I love Uno because I can teach it to people who don’t speak the same language as I do, in about 5 minutes. I think Sakura would take 7 minutes.  That’s HIGH praise because although the game has several non-Uno like wrinkles, they are added so effortlessly that it makes the game flow quickly and seems like a natural progression.  We can not wait to play this game at the ranch, (edit: that’s true, I’m drooling), it has a great theme and the art fits to it well.

The game play is deceptively simple, just put a card on both sides of the yin/yang control that either are higher or lower than the number on the card that’s on top of the pile depending on which side you’re playing the card.  On one side, lower, the other side higher, they must also match the color. You can play cards of the SAME value, ignoring the color requirement.   That sounds like double Uno to me, but here is where the wrinkles come in. You can use cards to change or augment the cards in your hand.  One of the cards adds 2 points to the card you’re playing, making a worthless card, for that turn anyway, into a great card. And other characters do other game changing type actions, like flipping the yin/yang card. We love the Uno type of reversals.

Of course, there’s a penalty for NOT having cards to play, you take all the cards from the pile you can’t play on.  These are called “tricks” and are placed in front of your for scoring at the end of the round.  Of course, in a game like this the winner is the player who has the lowest point total at the end of the game. We had to download the rules to learn how the game ends, (edit: odd since it’s kinda cool), the game ends after 3 rounds, a round ends when each player has only 2 cards left. Why 2 cards?  No idea, but if I recall my Uno training, those last couple of cards are hard to play anyway.

The rules are downloadable, even if they are a Beta, and you can see how easy the game is to pick up. The rulebook looks beautiful and easy to read. While younger kids could play this game easily, I see adults grasping the depths and really enjoying the game.

Pretty simple.

And that’s how I would also describe the art, pretty simple.  But that’s exactly what this game calls for, simple. Sakura doesn’t have the in your face bold colors of Uno, it has the simple easy depth that you’d expect from a game based in part on a Japanese tradition of cherry blossoms. In Japanese culture the cherry blossom represents rebirth or the coming of spring out of the harsh winter. It’s kinda like how some of us look at baseball. I think that some in our hardened game-centric ranch hands, will look at this art and say things like: “wow, that’s a beautiful card”, and more. Art can detract from a game by not fitting the theme or for not representing the action of the card. They can also make it hard with small symbols and unclear rules on the card.  Again, Sakura cards are simple and very clear.  There are symbols but they are easy to distinguish and understand.  The hard pointy black things are bad, the softer round things are good.

To simple stretch goals

Our only complaint is that the stretch goals are not the type we like to see.  The first goals should be about improving the game components. This is a game that will be great for kids, but there is only one stretch goal that improves the cards. Let’s hope we can sleeve the cards to help the game last. We would love to see an add-on for the yin/yang card to be made of wood. (edit: he typed “weed”, not sure if that was a typo or not) That’s an add-on I would pay good money for and an overlooked source of income for the publisher.

With about 16 days left, maybe we’ll unlock some more goals that we can aim for. As they say in big business, they’re leaving money on the table!

But one thing you should put and leave on your table is this game. (edit: awful segway) because it will be the game your non-gamer friends OHH and AHH over when you bring it out. And trust me, you will bring it out JUST for that reaction.

Back this game and you’ll thank me in the morning…