Kodachi is a quick and interesting card game based on rival ninjas infiltrating houses in feudal Japan. Kodachi comes in a tight box containing a couple of small decks of cards, and a few tokens. The box it comes in is very small, but all of the contents can actually be transported in a collectible card game deck box which makes it a great travel game.
The rulebook for Kodachi is small, but robust and full of examples, making it quick to get into the game even if you've never played it before, or are going to play with someone new to the game.
The essence of Kodachi is a higher or lower card gamble. Two decks are shuffled and placed in front of the players. One deck is made up of guards that the players have to beat, the other deck is the possible reward for beating the guard. The first card of each deck is flipped over, and the player whose turn it is has to decide to beat the guard through Strength, which means playing a card of higher value, or Stealth, which means playing a card of lower value than the guard.
Players each have a hand of cards with set values, but also skill cards that modify the numbers on the cards and allow additional features like drawing more cards.
Once the player has chosen their method of entry, it is maintained from guard to guard for the duration of their turn. After defeating each guard, you can choose to stop or continue. If you continue, another card is drawn from the guard and house decks and placed beside those already in play. This new guard then has to be defeated using the same method as the previous. If you continue and fail you don't get any rewards, but the other players will, so making sure you have options in your hand before continuing is key.
Envoy cards can also be played to earn bonus clan markers that give the player who played them points at the end of the game.
Once a player has finished their turn defeating guards they get to choose a number of cards from those in play depending on how many guards have been defeated. These cards can be from either the guard’s row, which provide different types of treasures, or from the house row, which require treasures to buy them. As an example, if a player is allowed to pick up 3 cards, they can pick up 2 treasures and then use those to purchase a card from the house row.
After the current player has taken their cards, the other players can then each take a card if there are any left. House cards are immediately placed in your hand and can be used on your next turn to beat guards. It's hard to plan ahead, but as you play you can get a feeling for what kind of cards your deck lacks.
The winner at the end of the game is the player with the most points from all their cards, treasures and clan tokens.
Kodachi is fun and plays quickly although the non-active players do end up sitting around while the current player takes their turn. Because each player takes a card at the end of each player’s turn, it does mean that they are not sitting around simply until their next go in larger group games, but it can sometimes feel like an extended period of waiting and watching, with no real involvement. Games are fun, but they are dependent on guesswork and the luck of the card draw. There isn’t a lot of tactical challenge here for those looking for deep games, but Kodachi is easy to learn and entertaining, and extremely transportable, which makes it a great filler game, but not something that you will be looking to play every game night.
The Bottom Line:
Kodachi is fast and fun. It's very compact and doesn't require a lot of table space, making it a fantastic travel game. It is fairly random, based on the card draws and guessing which path is best to take to defeat the guards over your turn, but it can be mitigated on the card choices you pick at the end of each player's turn. It's very easy to teach and set up making it a perfect game to play on the go, as a filler or as a family game.
Get this game if:
You want a great travel or filler game.
You enjoy a fair amount of randomness.
You want an easy to play, easy to teach, fun game.
Avoid this game if:
You want a huge amount of tactical depth.
You want a lot of scope and variation in your deck building.
Have you played Kodachi? What did you think? What's your favorite travel game? Let us know in the comments below.
This copy of Kodachi used for this review was provided by Asmodee UK.