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City Explorer: Kyoto

Updated: Oct 24, 2020

This is a simple small-box memory-driven set collection card game from Moaideas. Each of the 35 cards represents a tourist location in the city. In addition, each card is in one of five suits (landmark, sight, museum, shrine, temple) and is one of three types (popular, exotic, iconic).

To play, the shuffled cards are laid out face down in a grid: 5x7 in a four-player game, but the grids are varied with the number of players (2–5). The leftmost card in each row is turned face up, and players then choose a total of three other cards each to flip. Play then begins. Each turn a player takes two actions. They can 'research' a site (peek at a face down card) and they can move a column up or down, with the displaced card moving to the other end of the column. Players don't need to take these two different actions; they can choose to take the same action twice (eg: peek at two different cards). At the end of each round, more cards are revealed so that players are increasingly playing with open information.

Instead of taking their actions, you can at any point 'depart for travel'. This means you choose a row and remove it from the game. That ends any further actions you will take, and that row will be yours for scoring (tho', until other players have 'departed for travel' you won't reveal to them the face down cards in your row). Rows are scored as in other set collection games: the suits score for the player with the largest number of cards in that suit, points are also earned according to the card types. A row with all five suits represented in it also scores.

As a memory game, City Explorer: Kyoto is tougher than most because the cards are shifting. As cards are increasingly revealed, both to all the players and to each player individually through their 'research' peeks, City Explorer: Kyoto becomes a push-your-luck hold-your-nerve game. Do you take a row that you reckon will deliver a decent score, or do you hold off in the hope of doing better? If you don't 'depart for travel', there's a risk that another player will nab the row you wanted; if you go too early, it can be all too easy for the remaining player(s) to find out what cards are where and to engineer themselves a higher score.

Designed by Yuo, City Explorer: Kyoto makes for an entertaining filler-length game (expect a game to last no more than 10–15 minutes). Moving the columns up or down is a bit fiddly as it involves repositioning a top or bottom card and carefully sliding the rest, but the game is otherwise easy to play.

The graphic design is by the TANSAN design group, with card illustration by Arthur Deussen. The stylised representations are attractive, although you may consider the colour palate unduly limited. The rules sheet incorporates an outline city map of Kyoto showing the locations on all the cards. That's a nice touch and would help to make this game double as a souvenir of a visit to the city. Moaideas could have expected to yield rather more sales in Kyoto souvenir shops, however, if the cards had drawn on actual photos rather than representations of the various shrines, temples and landmarks et al. Maybe they should publish an alternative edition of this game for that very purpose. I hope I shall be eligible for a small cut of the royalties if they take up my suggestion. :-)

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