The title may be misleading. If you're expecting this game to deliver spiritual fulfilment then you're probably going to be disappointed. If, however, you are looking for an easy-to-play filler-length roll & write game with an extra twist then Korea Board Games' Nirvana could be just the thing!
Designed by Chikasuzu for 2-6 players but actually with no set upper limit, Nirvana uses printed sheets that show spaces in 12 groups of three. Everyone takes their own sheet and for each of the 12 rounds, three standard six-sided dice are rolled and every player writes down the three numbers rolled in any order in any of the empty groups of three on their sheet. You're recording the numbers so that they add in columns to become 'cards' above and below the spaces on your sheet: each 'card' represents the total of one to five numbers. When the 12 rounds are up, the players use the virtual cards they have created to play a trick-taking game.
For the trick-taking game, you 'play' (cross off) the card or cards as you play them. The next player has to match or beat what you played. So, for example, if I play two 3s, then you can only follow by playing two cards of value 3 or higher; you can't follow by playing a higher singleton or three of a kind. You ultimately win Nirvana by being the first to use all the cards in your 'hand'.
Because you are competing to exhaust your hand, you will probably maximise your prospects by using the roll & write portion of the game to generate cards with high values and multiples of the same number. Strategy tho' can be varied between games because you have the option to additionally incorporate three of the 24 supplied 'Insight' cards, each of which imposes a rule variant that can shake up play.
Roll & Write games have been appearing thick and fast, and they vary enormously from the super-simple to the heavily complex. Nirvana is at the lighter end of the range, making it a great choice to break out with novice players. Some may feel it odd playing a card game with only virtual cards but Nirvana is otherwise straightforward, tho' you add to the complexity when you introduce the Insight cards. The Insight cards, of course, add hugely to Nirvana's replayability. One limitation on replayability tho' is the finite number of sheets in the pad that's included in the box. Board's Eye View recommend keeping a half dozen or so back for laminating, and then substituting dry-wipe pens for the pencils in the box; that way you can continually reincarnate the game long after the pad would otherwise be exhausted.
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