Endless climb is finally at end. I can breathe freely. Finally, I am here. Temple, who is allegedly touching heaven with its highest pillars, did not stay behind my expectations. This majestic building does honor the gods and is inhabited by their representatives. They, however, have to deserve their position and change every year. There is always a big brawl and only the chosen one, who picks up sacred stone, can stay close to gods. Now, Kumotori stare at me spitefully as someone, who is competition for post of Kumo Hogosha.
And this struggle will be joined by all the players, who choose this massive box with title Kumo Hogosha as a new addition to their family of gaming stuff. It was created by Patrick Gere and Nico Pirard, who released it with help of French company Morning Games. Game was published in 2015 and is illustrated by Frédéric Genet.
Players find scene of uncompromising battle, that takes place on the roof, on the box itself. But there is not a direct path for getting inside. Players must use an opening on the side and eject a box made of hard cardboard. This puts an obstacle in the form of a weak magnet in your way. It is holding lid in place. Only after lifting it up, players finally get inside the box. And on the inside of the hinged lid, players find two compartments with rulebooks.
In the bottom box lies in the first place irregularly folded game board, which offers an environment of a temple. This will be your fighting ground. Players put it on the table between them and while doing it, they will most certainly notice the hole in the middle. This is, where gray pin should be placed and it will hold rotating arena board in place. This square gaming area is divided into eighty-one squares. But to get to this plan, players must get through a layer of foam and find plastic insert underneath. Players now take out a large gray stone of balance, that has carvings on its sides, showing various pictorial scenes. Stone has its starting place in the middle of the arena. Both opponents will then choose one hero board, attach it to the board extending its graphics and spread beautiful large wooden cubes on positions of six actions. With the help of small tokens, they mark scale of actions.
Since then, players take turns, in which they can use five action points. They may arbitrarily divide them among a large number of different activities, which can also be repeated. First and only mandatory is rotation of the playing area by ninety degrees in any direction. They may choose, when they want to do it during their turn. Combat environment is very erratic.
Clash is all about Kumotori warriors, which players can deploy in the first row, ie the one, that is closer to them at the moment. When doing this, they can choose any dice from their reserve, as well as its upper picture. Heroes represented by dice may be moved for one point to one of the four neighboring spaces or just rotated on the spot. That’s because top symbol determines, what action is warrior ready to do at that moment.
Just one action point needs Kumotori to do one of his six different clan specific action, which usually also influences opponent’s character. These icons are printed directly on the dice and only the one shown on top can be used. They can toss their rival to an adjacent field, pull or push his around or block all his movement by jumping on his back. But fighter may also simply run around (move by two squares) or jump over other pieces. Whenever players manage to push or throw opponent dice to their own camp, they may hold onto this kumotoriho as captive. As long enemy figure is lying on his board, it will grant him one extra action to spare each turn.
But still we have not mentioned sixth side of dice. This shows the possibility to push stone of balance. This action requires two kumotori to join in their efforts, because only then can big and heavy stone be moved one square to an adjacent field. Players are trying to push especially this stone, trying to be first, who can push it off the map. Stone balance must end in the opposition camp. This would at the same time mean, that active players can celebrate victory.
Kumo Hogosha is beautiful, abstract, but contactful game. It is this combination, that is reflected particularly in the role of rotating board. Players will be spinning it at least by ninety degrees each round, but even more, if they are willing to sacrifice their action points. However, there is few of them each turn, so they have to manage it well.
Players do have a very wide choice of actions, that may be used to influence their opponent or move them towards victory. Initially, most important action is movement as heroes trying to gain positional advantage. But there is plenty chances to turn back the results. Maybe by capturing the dice of rivals, because that will give you more actions for the next turn, which may be a big deal. Other player can for an action rescue his character and move it back to his camp. Both clans in the box are same, but authors are simultaneously promising expansions and new capabilities for their game.
Swapping their opponent’s dice, pushing and capturing is a source of great entertainment. Now, thanks to this, hint of the theme sneaks into supposingly dry atmosphere of abstract game, which is associated with the box at first. Everyone has a good overview of all possibilites and options even for their enemies. All options are also printed on game board and they can always carefully monitor, how many action points have their left with a small pointer on their board.
Game offers a wrestling experience. It is not easy to move a stone in your favor. But thanks to the rotating surface, every movement may be seen as benefit for both opponents, because while its closer to one at first, only some turns later, it may be closer to other player. Rulebook also contains variant for four rivals, which is done as a team effort. However, this is for overall feeling of the game quite inconvenient.
Game time corresponds to its abstract nature. Although it would seem, that pushing large stone from the middle out of the board is a superhuman task, everything is quite fast and game does not last longer, than forty minutes.
Box excel in fantastic processing. Beautiful box is leading the way as well as printed wooden dice. Unfortunately not everything here is to praise. While all components are stored here as in swaddling clothes, when you open the rulebook, you will experience a disappointment. The problem lies mainly in the lack of details. You will not learn answer to a number of issues raised and there is also not enough examples. There are even some untranslated passages, that remain in the original French! So much attention has been paid to the contents of the package, but the rules were somehow forgotten and since it affects first impression, its bad practice.
Kumo Hogosha is a terrific game, in which two teams of muscular warriors fight for domination of a stone. Their dice move around the board, which rotates continuously. And so, it is not easy to have a positional struggle under control. And maybe that’s why we see Kumo Hogosha as really fun, although when you read the rules, you have to make more effort to learn it. But fortunately, you will forgive it, once you play.
Kumo Hogosha enchants you since the first moments, when you discover a number of interesting components inside. But to figure out, what to do with them, you have to wade through simple but poorly structured and incomplete rules. If you do not lack commitment, you will find not only nice looking, but also working positional game in this box. Dice figures influence each other, are tossing and pushing in an attempt to gain an advantage. Kumo Hogosha is very nice abstract game, that still has a theme and will captivate you with its elegant finish and functioning gameplay.