Yedo Review

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Yedo is a game by Wolf Plancke and Thomas Vande Ginste, published by IDW Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players are Clan leaders during the early 1600s in Japan. They will be attempting to gain favor from the new Shogun by achieving as much fame as possible. There will be numerous tracks to glory but in the end only one clan will be victorious. The player that can best accomplish this task will be declared the winner.

To begin, the game has several different difficulty levels including the easier Geisha level and the intense Samurai level. In this review I will be covering the normal game. First off, the game board should be placed in the middle of the play area. The Action cards are shuffled and placed face down onto their respective place on the board. The same thing is done with the Bonus, Event, Mission and Weapons cards as well. Two Weapons cards are drawn and placed face up on the last two spaces of the Market. One Blessing counter for each player is placed on the Temple District spaces. All the money (Mon) is placed next to the board with 3 Mon being placed on the Church. The Annexes are sorted by type and a certain amount of each are placed on their spaces on the board depending on the number of players. Geisha counters are also dependent on player count and are placed on the Geisha spaces on the board. The “District inaccessible” counter is placed near the board. The Round Marker is placed on the “1” space on the Round Track. The Watch Patrol coin is flipped to determine which color of Watch Patrol will begin the game. The color that the coin reveals will be placed on the Watch Patrol circuit space while the other colored Watch Patrol is placed near the board. Placeholder counters are placed on some of the Assignment spaces to close off certain areas based on the number of players. Players choose a color of Clan board and receive it as well as the Disciples and Markers of the corresponding color. Players place 2 of their Disciples on their Clan House and place the other 2 on the “Reserve” space on the board. The start player is chosen and they will place one of their colored Markers on the “1” spot on the Player Order Track as well as on the “1” spot of the Bidding Track. Players in turn order place their Markers on the next free space on both tracks until everyone has placed one on each. The remaining Markers for each player are stacked up on red space of the Score Track. Players take turn in reverse turn order drawing a card from one of the 4 Mission card decks. This continues until each player has 4 Mission cards. Players must have at least 1 mission of either red or black. Players receive 12 Mon from the supply as well as an Action card. The 5 favor cards are placed face up on the table. Players in reverse turn order take turns choosing one of the cards and gaining the assets shown on it. The card is then flipped over to the Blackmail side and placed beside their Clan board. Any remaining cards are set aside not to be used. Play now begins.

The game is played over a series of 11 rounds. Each round is divided into 7 phases that are played out in order. Those phases are prep phase, bidding phase, event phase, assigning phase, watch patrol phase, trade phase and action phase. The Prep phase is skipped in the first round but is played out in the following rounds. In this phase, 4 things are done. The Round Marker is moved one space forward on the Round Track. Players take back all their Markers from Bidding and Egress spaces and place them back on the Bidding track in the order represented on the Player Order track. A certain amount of Mon is added to the Church depending on if there is currently any money there or not. The player that owns the “Dojo” Annex receives 1 Mon from the supply.

The next phase is the Bidding phase. In this phase, players are given the opportunity to bid in a series of auctions for an extra asset from the action cards, bonus cards, weapons, annexes, geishas, disciples or mission cards. The minimum bid for the space must be used, or in the case of a 2-3 player game, the minimum bid for the category. The highest bidder wins the asset and can not participate in any other auctions during that round. The player’s Marker is taken from the Bidding track and placed on the appropriate Bidding space for the auction they won. The player then collects their appropriate reward. Once all players have either won an auction or chosen not to participate in the Bidding phase, play shifts to the next phase.

The third phase is the Event phase. In this phase, 2 steps must be followed; adjust the market and reveal an event card. The market is adjusted if there are weapons on the first 3 spaces on the Market. Those weapons are then cleared by sliding the first 2 weapons over to the right onto the last 2 spaces. If there were any weapons on these spaces, they are discarded into the discard pile. The top 3 weapon cards are then drawn from the deck and placed in the order that they were drawn on the first 3 spaces. Next, an event card is revealed by taking the top card from the event deck and reading the text aloud. The card is then placed on the “Current Event” pile. The effect from this card then takes place.

The next phase is the Assigning phase. In this phase, players take turns placing their Disciples on either a free Assignment space or one of their Annexes that have been built on their Clan board. This is done in turn order until all players have placed all their available Disciples.

The fifth phase is the Watch Patrol phase. This phase consists of 4 subphases. They are move the watch patrol to the next district, play action cards to influence the watch patrol’s movement, play action cards to save Disciples from being arrested and arrest Disciples. The first thing to do is move the watch patrol to the next district. The direction that the patrol moves is determined by the color of the Watch Patrol that is currently on the board. It follows the corresponding colored arrows. Players can then play one action card each to influence where the Watch Patrol moves. Once this substep is over, any Disciples that are in the corresponding district will be arrested. Players are then able to play one action card or their Blackmail card to save one or more of their Disciples from being arrested. Finally, the Watch Patrol arrests any Disciples that were not saved by an action card, returning them to the reserve on the game board. It should be noted however that a player can not lose either of their last 2 Disciples. If this happens, the player returns the Disciple(s) to the Clan House instead.

The next phase is the Trade phase. In this phase, players can trade assets with each other. If players have a Disciple in the Market district, they can exchange weapons and Mon. Players are also allowed to exchange all kinds of assets such as weapons, geishas, Mon, uncompleted mission cards, action cards and bonus cards if they have at least 1 Disciple in the Tavern district. Players can propose deals during the Assigning phase to have another player meet them in the appropriate district.

The last phase is the Action phase. In this phase, players will perform the actions allowed by the placement of Disciples from earlier. Players will take turns activating a Disciple in turn order. If the player chooses to activate a Disciple on an assignment space, they can either complete a mission or perform one of the actions that the space grants. The player can complete a mission by activating a Disciple that is placed in the appropriate district as shown on the mission card. They also must meet all the standard requirements that are listed on the card as well. There are also bonus requirements that will grant a bonus reward if the player is able to meet it as well. The mission card is then placed into the player’s completed mission cards pile. The player can instead choose to perform an action from the assignment space. Each district provides different things. For a detailed listing of all the options, consult the rulebook. The player can choose instead to active a disciple on one of their own annexes, performing the special ability of that annex. Each annex provides 1 special ability and a further ability that can be used at the appropriate time. For more information on these as well, consult the rulebook. Once the player has completed their action, the player then returns the Disciple to the Clan house. This phase continues until there are no more Disciples on either an assignment space or annex.

Once the 11th round or the round in which the “Kill the Shogun” mission has been accomplished is completed , the game ends. Scoring then takes place. Players gain points for completed bonus cards and for an unused Blackmail card. Players check their prestige points and the player with the most points is the winner.

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COMPONENTS
This game comes with lots of beautiful pieces. The board has a really rich looking design that is really gorgeous. All the different cards are great quality and are easy to read. The mission cards are quite nice but the action, bonus and event cards could have used a little bit more art to them. They’re not bad just kinda bland compared to the rest of the game. One thing though, they are brightly colored and easy to discern one type from another. All the cardboard pieces from money to counters are all thick and sturdy. They have really nice looking art on each one and really accent the game quite well. All the wooden pieces from Disciples and watch patrols to round and player markers are all nicely designed. They are brightly colored and look superb. The different colored player boards showing the different Clan Houses are superb. They are quite thick and the artwork on each is beautiful. I love how each one of these look. They have places for every thing that a player will need during the game. These are just amazing both in an organization aspect as well as in beauty. I can’t really complain about anything. Overall, this is a gorgeous game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed and looks great. There are lots of pictures and examples throughout the book. Each component including the game board and Clan Boards are described in detail with great pictures and references. The rules have extra sections for the easier Geisha version as well as the harder Samurai variant. Everything is written really well and flows through the basics of gameplay from one concept to another. There is nothing difficult to understand and the book is easy to read. All the assignment spaces as well as annex abilities are thoroughly covered in great detail. There is even a great breakdown on the back cover of each thing that can be gotten from prestige points and Mon to weapons and action cards. This section tells how to get each one, what to do with it and any important notes on them as well. Overall, a great looking design full of useful information. Really well done.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This game is absolutely incredible. It takes the worker placement mechanic to a whole new level. I love the complexity and design of the whole thing. There’s a ton of strategy to this game. In many ways it feels like Lords of Waterdeep with an advanced samurai style theme. It is definitely a couple of steps up from that game and adds a lot more depth to the game as well. Like any good worker placement there are a lot of decisions to be made. Knowing where to move your workers and when is key. Just like Lords, the missions play a key role in your success. As a fan of worker placement games, especially Lords of Waterdeep, this game fires on all cylinders for me. I absolutely love the game and find the theme to be fully integrated into every section. This is an overall masterpiece of design and beauty. I love that there are so many different paths to victory. The game is very strategic and you’ll find yourself analyzing things a bit as you plan your next move. Thankfully it’s not so deep that it will burn your brain that badly. For me, this game is a complete win.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Yedo is a medium weight game of worker placement in ancient Japan. It is quite long especially with more players. Most games will top the 3 hour mark quite easily. Be aware that this game will be the main event for any game night. The artwork and theme are amazing and the feeling of being a clan leader in ancient Japan comes through really well. I love the look and feel of the game and find that the worker placement mechanic is utilized to the utmost. The game has quite a bit of strategy and thinking but nothing that I found to be a brain burner. For me this game has a lot of similarities to Lords of Waterdeep except that this is a bit deeper with more choices to be made. Fans of that game will absolutely love this one as well. Players looking for more challenging gameplay in their worker placement should definitely take a look at this one. They won’t be disappointed. I enjoy the game quite a bit. This is one that I highly recommend. It’s a great game that should be on everyone’s shelf. You will not be disappointed at all.
9 out of 10

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For more information about this and other great games, please check out  Games at their site.

http://idwgames.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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