Review: Yokai – journey of the masters

When ghosts appear to someone, the person is usually in shock. They simply stare at him for a moment, then shake their heads because they can’t believe their eyes. And as soon as they shake their heads and the ghost disappears, they forget about him that morning. But what if ghosts need help! What if people forget about them as soon as they disappear from sight? It’s time to call in reinforcements!

The players in the card game, prepared by for all the eagerly cooperating, with Japanese-tuned illustrations by , rush to the aid. The game originally came from France, from the workshop of Bankiiz and . But we have a localized Czech version in hand, for which we can share with Loris Games.

The small white box on the lid shows a quartet of Japanese ghosts who will keep you company inside as well. After putting the lid aside, the players catch a complete deck of square cards, which they divide into two piles – the sixteen Yokai title cards are distributed in the center of the table in a square four by four. Then they take the remaining help cards, select a certain number of one, two and three-color copies according to the number of players. They then shuffle this deck and place it near the Yokai card board.

Players cooperate, but their ways of communication are very limited. But even so, they take turns on a turn, in which the active player always chooses any two cards from the set spread out on the table and secretly looks at them and returns them to their place.

The second phase consists of moving one card. This is also a mandatory step that cannot be avoided, but the player can again move any card. After it is placed, all sixteen cards must still be together and adjacent to at least one side.

Both of these parts of the move are about gaining information and attention. But the most important element and the architect of victory is the last step. The player reveals the top card from the help pack and places it next to this pile. Or instead, he can choose one of the hints that have already been laid out in previous moves and place it on one of the cards on the table.

He tries to use one, two or three colors and tell his teammates which card is under the help. The bottom card is locked from now on. It can no longer be manipulated in any way until the end of the game.

The game continues until all cards are covered by one of the hints. However, the players themselves can end their efforts even earlier if they no longer need more help and one of them announces that the ghost families are already reconciled. At that point, players must evaluate how they have done. First of all, the cards of the individual families must be together. The team can only achieve this by moving the cards correctly.

Otherwise, the ghost families could not be reconciled and the whole team immediately loses without a chance for further scoring. If this condition is met, then each Yokai card that is covered by the correct color hint gives the team one point. Wrongly placed help subtracts one point. However, the main source of points is unused help cards. The total amount will then determine how the team performed in comparison with the set table.

Yokai is an inconspicuous card game that you would not expect from a challenge. Like the very successful Hanabi, this novelty deceives very successfully in appearance and size. Players must cooperate, but they cannot advise or communicate verbally.

The basis of everything is the memory element and already here the bread is broken from the point of view of the target group, because many players simply do not like the need to remember the position of each card on the table. But in this novelty, an overview of the distribution of families is the part on which they must cooperate.

At the beginning of the game, of course, players need to gather enough information about the layout of the cards to be able to continue working, moving, overlapping, and telling teammates. And these first rounds are less fun, because it’s not about help and thinking about what a teammate wanted to say. The help cards are accurate (monochrome), but also partially indeterminate in the case of multicolored ones.

Plus, you don’t have to remember a particular card, because one of the four colors is always hidden on the other side. Players only need to maintain a mental color map, which is a lot easier. But the situation changes with each round.

Decisions when to lock a card are very important. No one can look at its color anymore, but they have to rely on the information that remains on the help card. After all, communication with the help of help cards about the colors of individual Yokai cards is interesting and exciting. Sometimes you can’t be sure exactly what your teammates want to tell you, but you have to make a decision and that’s what your overall point success depends on. At the same time, the players have full control over the distribution of families, they just have to keep a constant overview.

The game is very quiet. Teammates cannot talk about the cards they have revealed or their plans. Everything takes place practically in absolute silence, which may not suit many players. Many of us need communication and will not enjoy playing without it. If you are this type, then Yokai is not for you. It is intended more for thoughtful types, although the moves themselves are not long. The player already knows his options in advance, because the help cards are laid out from the last round. Only newly revealed cards can disrupt his plans.

It is not easy to clearly determine the playing time. There is no exact number of rounds in the game and it is just about the players and how long they will need for their agreement. The game can be completed in half an hour, but it can also last twenty minutes longer. It also depends significantly on the number of participants who have to agree on all this. The more there are, the harder it is to try. In general, however, success depends on all the members. The problem is replayability, because with frequent play, players will find each game very similar.

Yokai is a combination of memory, cooperation and silence, which is why it is not easy to evaluate the game. But we agree that the news is a drop better than the very successful Hanabi. At the same time, it is also different, although in essence it is still an effort to cooperate without words and knowledge of the identity of all the cards. Yokai is great if you like puzzles, abstract games and long for some interesting cooperative challenge.

DesignerJulien Griffon
ArtistChristine Alcouffe
PublisherBankiiiz Editions, Blackrock Games, Buró, FoxGames, Gam'inBIZ, Game Factory, Gamewright, Outland, Playagame Edizioni, SD Games, Swan Panasia Co., Ltd.
Year Published
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 4 players
(9 voters)
Playing Time35
Mfg Suggested Ages10 and up
User Suggested Ages10 and up
(5 voters)
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(5 voters)
CategoryMemory, Mythology, Puzzle
MechanicCommunication Limits, Cooperative Game, Grid Movement, Pattern Building
ExpansionYōkai: Tsurube Otoshi
FamilyCountry: Japan, Digital Implementations: Board Game Arena, Digital Implementations: Tabletopia
Primary NameYōkai
Alternate Names降妖伏怪

Infos courtesy of More Infos.

Review: Yokai – journey of the masters
Final word
Yokai is a cooperative card game in which no one knows the identity of all the cards, but still has to rearrange the whole set so that the hidden colors are together. With the assistance of help cards, players can communicate and the mechanism is cleverly optimized, so the chances of winning really exists. Only the path to success will be full of silence, because players are not allowed to communicate with each other. And although the cards are always arranged differently (players must remember their position), the games are very similar. But if you are looking for an interesting cooperative challenge, then Yokai offers a unique abstract experience.
Reader Rating0 Votes
+ exciting cooperation
+ the memory element has a reasonable level
+ nice workmanship
+ small box
+ scoring takes into account how fast the players solved the whole puzzle
+ interesting hints
= quiet
= memory element discourages someone
= when played frequently, it repeats
= the first moves are just preparation
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