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Updated: Apr 3, 2023

This game has a notional theme about families of mushrooms but pay it no heed. Tim Rogasch's Kinoko is really an abstract micro card game that follows the central mechanic of Hanabi (Abacusspiele): you can see all the other players' cards but you can't see your own. For your own hand and the two hands of face-down cards on the table you can only see the numbers on the backs of the cards, not their colours.

The game is played using a deck of up to 18 cards: six coloured suits of cards numbered 1, 2 and 3. You play with two colours more than the number of players, so you use all 18 cards in a four-player game but only 15 cards in a three-player game and just 12 cards when you play Kinoko with just two players. Players are dealt a hand of three cards: one each of cards 1, 2 and 3 so that they can only see the backs of their own cards. In addition to the numbered cards, there is a 'family' card for each colour. One of these is dealt to each player and that becomes their secret target colour, a further card is placed face up on the table as the 'forbidden' colour. You win 2 points if you can get all three of the cards in your target colour together into any hand (your own, another players' or either of the two hands of face-down cards on the table). If you end a round with any 'forbidden' colour cards in your hand, you lose a point.

On your turn, you roll the three custom dice and choose one of the actions indicated. If you roll and pick a number, you swap two cards of that number - either from your own or another player's hands or with the cards on the table. In addition to the numbers 1, 2 and 3, each die gives you a 1 in 6 chance of rolling a symbol: one that lets you peek at a card of your choice, a symbol that lets you re-roll and a symbol that lets you swap all three of the cards in your hand for the hand of another player or one of those on the table.

There's a very strong memory element to Kinoko as it's likely that players will swap cards with the two on the table, so remembering what's where will be key to bringing together your three target cards. There's potential for 'take that' actions in transferring 'forbidden' colour cards to opponents' hands. Obviously there's a luck factor because you're rolling dice but you have a choice between the three dice rolled so that goes a long way to mitigating the luck. The game plays quickly, with the win going to the first player to collect 4 points: so you could potentially win in two rounds if you manage to avoid being penalised for holding 'forbidden' cards.

Kinoko is part of the series of compact small-box games from Helvetiq, and they've done a sterling job in its production, including cute art from Polina Ozean. The game fits comfortably in its pocket sized box even tho' there's not mushroom inside. :-)

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