Designed by Ben Downton and published by Prometheus Game Labs, Micro Dojo really is a micro game. It's definitely pocket-sized: a two-player game played with tokens on a board that's around 3 x 3 inches.
Game play is reminiscent of the sliding square puzzles you'll surely have toyed with as a child. Play takes place on a 3 x 3 grid where each square bears a symbol. Four of the squares (initially the four corner squares) have a meeple tile on them. On your turn you'll move one of the meeples to an orthogonally adjacent square and take the resource or action indicated, worker-placement style. You place your Daimyo marker on the meeple tile and that means that meeple is unavailable to either player until after you've taken your next turn. You're ultimately trying to be the first player to score 7 victory points, and these can be earned by fulfilling objectives, trading in buildings that you've claimed and by spending food or gold (5 gold or 5 food per victory point).
It all looks very simple but looks can be deceptive. Tho' the rules are simple and the game is easy to play, this is actually rather a clever strategic puzzler. Depending on how the randomly chosen objectives come out, the game can become a surprisingly tense dance as players manoeuvre for position and try to lock their opponent from gaining the advantage. In the game shown here on Board's Eye View, the first objective that became available to be claimed gave a victory point to the player with the highest total of food minus gold. This forced both players to eschew squares that gave them gold. The player who went first moved a meeple to the square that gave them 2 food. The most the other player could claim on their turn was 1 food - so still behind on this objective - so they needed also to lock access to an action square that would allow the 'trigger an objective' action...
Despite its modest size, Micro Dojo still incorporates scope for stepping up the complexity. There are Advanced Objective tiles (including objectives that require specific meeples to be adjacent to each other) and alternative movement abilities for the meeples. If you play with these more complex movement capabilities, you can add that in as an option that has to be paid for with food or gold, or you can play with it as an option that bears no extra cost beyond ordinary movement. Because Micro Dojo is always a tussle for positional advantage, playing with advanced meeple movement at no extra cost is potentially the most challenging option.
Prometheus Game Labs are bringing Micro Dojo to Kickstarter on 10 May. And at £5, it could be one of the cheapest games to appear on the KS platform. Micro Dojo is due to ship immediately after the campaign - posted out in a cardboard sleeve, tho' the KS may offer a more deluxe storage option than a plastic bag for the components. We're expecting to see a flat-packed tuckbox, possibly included as standard. If you sign up here for notice of the KS when it goes live, you can download a print-and-play version of the game for free!
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