Designed by Cory Goff and Kevin Crosby, with art by Lamaro Smith and Justin Lynch, this colourful worker placement game sees 2-5 players competing to collect resources and build shrines in Japan. It blends together a number of familiar mechanics into a highly engaging, easy-to-learn and challenging game.
Competition over action spaces is fierce throughout the game, and there are very rarely any obvious or redundant moves. In order to build shrines (three sizes and in any of the seven geographical territories), you need an appropriate Deed card. Deeds each require a different combination of structures (resources) to build them, and will give bonuses at the end of each of the five rounds, so it is good to start building them as early as possible. At the same time, you will want to take opportunities to pick up extra Omikuji (objective) cards, as these give vital endgame bonus points for fulfilling certain conditions. All the while, you'll need money in order to buy extra resources and access certain powerful actions.
If these considerations weren't enough to be juggling, there is also a random event each round that gives a bonus to all players, such as a discount on building or a special action opportunity.
WizKids' Jinja offers enough randomness to keep you guessing and force you to adjust your short-term plans, without being wildly unpredictable. There's enough hidden information to keep the game tense and the outcome unclear until the final reckoning. There's plenty of replayability, with many different strategies to try and plenty of event and objective cards to see. You might not find it revolutionary but you'll surely find it engaging and fun!
(Review by Matt Young)