Ukiyo may be small and serene looking, but your mental cogs will be crunching in this 5 minute patching puzzle from Walnut Games!
*Patching * Puzzle * Hand Management * Strategy * Variable Objectives * Card Placement * Solo Mode *
Just to be clear, this isn’t my usual Kickstarter preview review. In fact I almost most feel like I am cheating. And that is because I have had Ukiyo for more than a year. And not because it has taken that long to get to the crowd funding stage. It did that. It smashed that. It sold out. And because of that the publisher, Walnut Games, is bringing it back for those who missed out on the small but perfectly formed initial 400 print run.
So what is Ukiyo? Well, it is an 18 card wallet sized pocket full of puzzles of the most frustrating but wonderfully zen order! Multiplayer and Solo modes play slightly differently so I’ll explain each very briefly in turn:-
Depending on how many players, you divide up the cards numbered 1-18 between you. Each card has 6 symbols printed on it as well as a unique scoring objective. (Yep, mutli-use cards! Yay!). Each turn, you lay a card into the common tableau subject to just a few rules:-
- The tableau must never exceed a 6 x 6 symbol grid; and
- You cannot tuck a new card under a previously laid card (but you can lay that new card partially or wholly over an existing card, horizontally or vertically, upside down or right side up, or adjacent to an existing card (i.e. not overlaying at all)
The game ends when every player has only one card remaining in their hand. And to be declared the winner, you must have completed the task on that card such that the finished common tableau satisfies that particular scoring objective. Where more than one player achieves their final objective, the player with the highest numbered task wins.
In solo mode, there are 50 printed challenges which scale up from easy to medium then hard and finally brutal! Each one contains a specific combination of scoring objectives (2,3 or 4), all of which you must complete with the cards remaining in the deck by the end of the game.
To set up, you pick your puzzle from the list, extract those numbered cards and set them to the side. Shuffle the remaining cards in the deck and place those face down. Each turn, you then draw a card and lay it into your tableau, mindful of what you are trying to achieve. The same placement rules for multiplayer mode apply to solo mode. If you have achieved all of the scoring objectives by the time you place your final card into your tableau, you have cracked that challenge so it is time to try the next one!
Super Speedy Brain Burn!
‘Fessing up time. I love card patching games. I love puzzles. I love quick games. I love strategic games. And I love games with solo modes. But most of all, I love games that belie their size.
As such, for something that takes mere seconds to set up, and only minutes to play, the challenge in Ukiyo hits a sweet speedy, strategic spot for me. Particularly so in solo mode.
I have an ever growing Buttonshy 18 card game collection and it shows no sign of stopping. And the satisfaction I get from puzzling out Ukiyo alone is of a similar ilk.
Solo play in Ukiyo feels simultaneously calm but crunchy. Tasked with satisfying multiple scoring objectives with only the remaining cards feels do-able at the start. But as the tableau grows, doubt starts to creep in. And knowing that, even if you achieve them before the deck runs out, you could jeopardise your win by having to place the remaining cards somewhere, is fast, frustrating fun! It’s strategy at super speed!
Multiplayer is also a fun challenge, and we have played Ukiyo at 2, 3 and 4 player count. Because you have no control over what the tableau is going to become from turn to turn, you have to stay on your toes when it comes to your final objective. You have limited powers of manipulation, so your final card might need to change. Not just because you don’t think you’ll achieve it. But also because you must lay a card each turn. And other players might have a higher card number in mind (helped if you can remember or see which card numbers are going down each turn!). Strategic sacrifices therefore have to be made.
Ukiyo has been in my pocket almost permanently. SO much so that my first set wore out! It has been played in cafés, parks, hospitals, hotels, at weddings, pubs, restaurants, on floors and even on the passenger seat when waiting to collect my son from school. Okay so the tableau was a bit misshapen, but it still worked! The hook for me is that each game only takes a few minutes to play. As such, I have the perfect excuse to sneak it in like a gaming snack between meals. But if you are like me ( or you snack like me), then you will never stop at just one!
If you are interested in knowing more, head over to the Kickstarter campaign page and be sure to click so that you get notified when it launches on 24 May 2022!