Kodachi is for 2-4 players. The small box comes with 158 cards with 35 guard cards for creating your encounters, 48 starter dojo cards to begin your assault, Envoy, rumor and skills dojo cards can be purchased to assist in your house invasion, last are 4 handy player guide cards.
Each player has a starter deck of 12 dojo cards, they then pull a hand of 6 cards that are used to defeat the guards. Depending on the cards in your hand, you can choose to defeat guards by stealth or by strength. Stealth means that you can present a card lower than the guard’s value, and strength is higher than the value. Choose your tactic wisely as you can’t change it during your turn, unless you have a skills card that will allow you to switch. After you defeat a guard you can choose to take on the next. Watch out for the elite guards, some are very high or low values, some contain more than one guard to defeat. Defeated guards turn into your treasure so that you can buy the Envoy, rumor, or skills card to make your hand better. If you fail to defeat a guard you lose all your treasure, and can pick up no cards for that turn.
Strategy comes into play when you choose to add skills, Envoys, or rumor cards to your hand. Each has a different treasure requirement, point value, and use, to help you defeat the next set of guards. Skill cards can be used for their value, to change strategy, or add/subtract from your final value. Rumor cards are used to build up your final points as well as face value to defeat guards. Envoy cards are used to earn clan tokens that add points to your final score, and determine the end of the game. The first player to earn 4 clan tokens makes that round the final round. If all clan tokens are earned, then you are in the final round. Each player’s turn ends with all other players picking up one card leftover from the round, this is an excellent opportunity to pick up more treasure, or make your hand better by purchasing another skill, Rumor or Envoy. Once everyone has had a chance at the remaining cards, the rest are placed into the discard pile, and it’s on to the next player.
When all clan tokens are claimed or a player has 4 tokens, the game is in the final round. Make sure that players have an equal number of turns and add up your score. Determining your final score can be a little tricky, luckily there is a handy guide to walk you through with examples. Don’t forget to score your extra treasure, and pay attention to your rumor cards that get buffed by skills or Envoys.
My group loved this game! We played a few times, and each game was different, as we got to try out different strategies. Do we press our luck? Do we play it safe? Should I horde my treasure, or should I buy, buy, buy? The games are quick enough that you can play multiple times in one game night. Once you get the hang of mechanics and scoring, it really becomes a game of strategy that can be adjusted to the number of players and how risky you are feeling on any given day.
Kodachi has a few complicated mechanics, particularly the scoring, the structure of the turn, and how to finish each player’s turn. Keep in mind a few things, having someone to moderate each turn, a dealer for the turn, was really helpful. Once the player’s turn is done, success or fail, every other player gets to take a treasure OR buy a leftover house card in turn order. Scoring can get tricky particularly with the Rumor cards. Pay attention to the color in the top corner of the card and refer to the booklet for more details.
My biggest gripe with Kodachi was storing the game. Guard cards and the house cards are easy to tell apart, but keeping dojo cards and house cards separate takes effort. The box is compact built with standard materials, and has only two dividers. As you play more, the cards get looser, and barely fit in the box. I’m not normally one to complain about small packages, but when I can’t keep a card type together, or easily set up for the next game I get very annoyed. Lack of space in the box forced a creative solution, I ended up changing the direction each starter dojo deck faced to separate them from each other. Now I just have to dig though the guard cards to find my starter hands.
We had a ton of fun with this game. There were definitely lots of opportunities for peer pressure to keep going and razzing as players pushed too far. The artwork for the cards is gorgeous, rich with colors and wonderful shadow accents. The Envoys in particular have amazing realistic art, I really loved the traditional makeup. The press your luck aspect makes for an exciting game, but the strategy creates a challenge to conquer time and again.
At the core, Kodachi is a deck building game that combines strategy with a bit of gambling. Curate your hand by defeating guards and gaining treasures to buy rumor, faction, or skills dojo cards. How many guards can you defeat in a turn with your 6 card hand? That depends on your skill, luck, and if you encounter an elite guard.