Playtime: 30 Minutes
Japanime Games is here with another nature themed card game! The Imperial Garden in Japan is beautiful during the fall, so it’s time for players to collect the finest leaves to add to their collection. Momiji is a set collection game with variable powers that will test the players’ memories and their ability to adapt to the constantly changing selection of cards.
A Brief How To Play
Setup varies depending on player count, but players will always be dealt six random leaf cards, three panorama cards, and a few acorn tokens. The specific types of leaves and objective tokens vary from game to game, but they will be shuffled and set up for players to access over the course of the game. Four leaf cards will be flipped face up for players to access, forming different piles of the same types of leaves.
A player’s turn always consists of one action. They can take from a pile of cards in the center and add that to their hand. When taking this action, players may also spend an acorn token to flip four more cards, adding to the various piles.
Another action is playing 1 or 2 leaf cards from their hands to form their own pile. Every leaf card has a number 0-3, and the cards must be placed in ascending order. The same number can be played multiple times, but the player can never skip a number or go backwards. When a 3 is placed, that pile is closed and a torii token is placed on top. If two different leaves are placed down and they have corresponding acorns on them, players will earn acorn tokens.
The final action is activating one of the objective tokens at the cost of three tokens., which offer an opportunity for players to get extra points. For example, the player who has the most zero cards or uses the most red leaves will get bonus points at the end. The player that activates the token will get ten points for succeeding, and players that succeed that didn’t activate it will still be given three points.
The game ends when there are no more leaf cards available or a set amount of piles are closed by torii gates. Piles are scored by multiplying the top card’s number with the number of cards in the pile. Each remaining acorn grants one point, and players will score a few more points based on objective tokens that they successfully complete. The player with the most points wins.
Pacing, Interactivity, and Player Counts
As a set collection game, Momiji moves at about the perfect pace. Since a player’s turn only consists of a single action, most of the time is simply going to be spent on deciding which action they should take. On the surface level, Momiji doesn’t seem to be special in too many ways mechanically, but the ability to use the acorn tokens as small boosts makes a significant impact on the game’s depth. Sure, players can just take a pile of leaf cards as their action, but maybe it’s worth spending an acorn on drawing four more cards and potentially making their desired pile larger. There is of course, some risk here since they might not add to the pile they want at all while enhancing another one that their opponents are eyeing.
The balancing act between taking piles, playing them, and using acorns makes for a highly engaging experience for all players. Players can focus on maximizing their piles, but to do so they might have to make some cuts in acorn accrual. Activating objective tokens is also a vital play, since it’s expensive to do so and results in a turn essentially being lost. Players will also need to consider that they can activate a token and then lose the objective associated with it. As such, it’s difficult to maximize every turn, and while players won’t usually directly attack their opponent, every move affects everyone in some way.
Any player that is actually paying attention to their opponents will thrive in Momiji. The top card in everyone’s pile is visible to all players, but what is below them isn’t. What’s even more interesting is even the turn player can’t check what is in their leaf piles. Players will want to remember what they are doing while taking mental notes on their opponents actions as well, especially when considering activated objective tokens. Momiji certainly isn’t heavy, but their is plenty here for the hardcore crowd.
Momiji is best played at three or four players if players are wanting to maximize interactivity. At smaller player counts it becomes more and more like a game of solitaire as players don’t have to worry as much about their favorite pile being snatched by another player. Speaking of, there is a solitaire mode for the solo players out there, and it works rather well. Players will be more focused on achieving high scores, and it’s a nice change of pace. It’s a more peaceful experience for someone who just wants to sit in the corner and collect leaves.
Theme and Components
Like Japanime Games’ other recent release The Tree Lined Avenue, Momiji leans on a nature theme. Of course as one would expect from the theme, this game is full of vibrant colors and gorgeous landscapes. There aren’t any spectacular components, as the game consists of just cards and tokens. Still, there is plenty of beauty in Momiji’s simplicity, and the low price point makes the lack of extravagant components easy to forgive.
The box is a good size for this game, though it is a little larger than it needs to be. Players will have no problems fitting all of the components in.
There are plenty of elements in Momiji that serve well for its longevity. Depending on the player count, there are quite a few variations that will be made to every game. The beginner game consists of three specific landscape panorama cards with simple abilities. When players feel comfortable, more of the cards open up, granting them access to more rules to mix the experience up. These cards are typically drafted during setup, making the game start before it even begins. There are many landscape cards available, allowing for players to fine tune their strategies. This is also great for keeping the Momiji feeling fresh through multiple playthroughs.
Other elements of the game are somewhat shuffled around as well. The objective tokens change every game, practically guaranteeing that the same strategy can’t succeed on every playthrough. A game of Momiji typically takes about 30 minutes to play when all of the players are comfortable with the rules, making it ideal as a light game to fill your shelf.
Momiji Is Great For Fans Of…
Set collection fans will find plenty to like in Momiji. It’s light enough to be enjoyed by the casual crowd, but has enough hidden numbers and depth to satisfy crunchers. The combination of drafting and set collection makes Momiji similar to games like 7 Wonders or Century while still standing out as its own experience.
Players who don’t want to spend forever at the table will feel at home while playing this one. It’s not a long game, but there is still plenty to do in Momiji that makes it feel like it’s a bigger game. It’s short and sweet, but it certainly isn’t shallow.
Of course, the theme might be motivation enough to draw players in. It’s a budget game with tons of color and a beautiful theme. Anyone who likes pretty games will certainly get what they are looking for here.
Momiji is a surprisingly interactive
Pacing and Interaction
Theme and Components