Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance Review

Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance is a game by Masayuki Kudo, published by Japanime Games.  It is for 2-4 players. In this sequel to Tanto Cuore, players will employ both maids and butlers to build up their mansions, as masters of their house. It can be played either by itself or combined with the original Tanto Cuore or any of the other expansions. This sequel adds new cards and new card types.

For more information on the original Tanto Cuore and how to play it, please follow the link below.

https://jlnelson73.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/tanto-cuore-review/

It should be noted that in this game, there are no Private Maid cards. Players that wish to use them will need to incorporate the cards from one of the previous versions of the game that includes them.

To begin, the butler and maid chiefs should be removed from the deck and placed into separate piles face up in the Town (The place where all the available cards are located on the table). The three types of love cards should be placed in separate piles in the Town, face up near the butler and maid chiefs. Ten of the general maids and butlers should be chosen and placed in separate piles face up in the Town, in two columns of 5 piles each. It is suggested for first time players to use a selection of recommend maids and butler. This list is noted in the rulebook. The Friends and Social Bonus cards should be placed in separate face up piles in the Town next to the 3 stacks of love cards. The remaining general maid and butler cards are returned to the box. The Meetup pile is created by placing the Meetup Spot 3 card face up beside the Maid/Butler chiefs. On top of this card is placed the Meetup Spot 2 cards, followed by placing the Meetup Spot 1 cards on top of that. The Chapel cards are placed beside the Meetup card pile. If playing with the General Butler Dermot Gherin, the Drama cards are placed in a pile beside the Chapel cards. If this particular General Butler is not one of the cards used, then the Drama cards can remain in the box. The Trial cards are placed face up in a pile beside the General Maids/Butlers. The Blizzard cards are placed face up beside the Trial cards. For a better look at how the cards should be laid out, there’s a nice picture that shows the exact placement of each stack in the rulebook. Players are given 3 Beverly cards and 7 of the 1 Love cards. Players will shuffle their cards together to form their starting deck. Each player will then draw the top 5 cards to be their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.

As with the original rules, this version follows the same 4 phases of a player’s turn; Starting, Serving, Employ and Discard phases. For more information on each of the different phases and the step by step process of a player’s turn, please follow the link above. As for the changes and differences found in this version, I will now go over each one. To begin with, this game comes with male butler cards. It’s actually the first entry in the series to contain them. One thing to note about these is that when the rules or cards mention maid cards, maid chiefs or general maids, this also refers to the same type of butler cards. For instance, general butler cards are used the same as general maid cards. Friends cards are also general maid cards but are special and don’t count as one of your 10 general maids that you use to set up the Town. They are not gained in the same way either. These are added after successfully completing an approach, more on the approach in a bit.

Another new card type is the social bonus cards. These are treated just like Love cards and are gained from events and certain special effects from other cards. These types of cards also give the player victory points for scoring at the end of the game.

As with the original game, this game also comes with event cards. They are treated the same way and come in 2 varieties. There are the Blizzard cards which are placed on top of a building card and there are the Trial cards which are played on top of a couple and are double sided, more on couples in a bit. Blizzard cards are removed a bit differently than other events. To remove it, the player must discard any 4 love cards to return it to the Town. Trial cards when played force the player who had it played on their couple to reveal a 3 Love card or be forced to breakup their couple. If a breakup happens, the player that played the trial card will then pick one of the cards from the 2 cards in the couple and place them into their own discard pile. The player that suffered the trial will put their remaining card from the couple into their discard pile. The meetup card remains in the player’s private quarters and the trial card is removed from the game, more on couples and how they’re formed in just a bit. If the player is able to reveal the required 3 Love card, then they will flip over the Trial card to the Trial Overcome side, which will earn them victory points. They can earn even more if they have 3 or more of this card by the end of the game.

Next there are the drama cards. These are only used when Dermot Gherin is used as a general butler pile in the Town. These are treated as an event card. Each time a Dermot card is employed or played, one of these cards are drawn and played face up, resolving it’s effect. There are 6 different types of drama cards, most of which cause negative actions against the other players.

This game also has a special building card called the Chapel. This card allows the player to move a couple from their private quarters under this card to gain 10 victory points at the end of the game. If there is no couple beneath this card, it causes the player to lose 5 victory points. Other than that, these are treated pretty much the same as any other building card.

Finally there are the double sided Meetup Spot cards. These are also special building cards but are treated a bit differently. These can be bought in the same way as other cards can be during the Employ phase. Once played they go into the players private quarters face up. Once there, the player is then able to make an approach. The player is only able to do this at the start of their turn, so they’re unable to both play the card and then use it in the same turn. To make an approach, the player will pick a maid card from their hand and put it in front of themself face down. This is called the “Approaching Card”. The player then picks another player to make an approach toward. That player must then show the approaching player their hand secretly. The approaching player will then take the highest cost maid card from the shown cards. That card is placed face down on the table and is called the “Target of an Approach”. If both cards have the same value, then the approach succeeds. If the approaching card’s cost is higher or lower then the player may discard a number of Love card equal to the difference in cost. If the player is unable or unwilling to do this, then the approach fails and the target of the approach is returned to it’s owner’s hand and the approaching card is returned to the player’s hand. If the approach succeeds, then the approaching card and the target of the approach are placed in the player’s private quarters together so that both cards can be seen. This pair of cards is called a “Couple”. The player will then take the meetup spot card that was used successfully and places it face down on top of the couple, giving a bonus for each couple. The player that lost their maid card will then be given a Social Bonus card to add to their hand from the Town. The successful player also gains a Friend card which is added to their discard pile from the Town. At the end of the game, individual points on maid cards that are part of a couple are ignored. They instead will gain points based on the meetup spot or chapel they are placed under.

As with the original game, the game continues until two of the maid piles in Town have run out of cards. Once the game ends, the current player will finish their turn. Scoring will then occur. This is done in much the same way as well. Players add up the number of victory points for each card in their house, discard pile and deck. Couples, event cards, building and chambered cards gain points a bit differently. Couples, as noted earlier, will gain victory points based on the meetup spot and chapel instead of from their individual cards. Cards beneath the Blizzard event gain no points. Cards chambered in the player’s private quarters may gain bonuses based on any Chambermaid bonuses that apply. Some maid chief cards or general maids may also provide end of game bonuses to victory points. Players add all these bonuses to their totals and the player with the most points is the winner and crowned the “Ultimate Master”.

COMPONENTS
This game, like any other deck building game, comes with a whole bunch of cards. As with previous sets, the look and feel of each card is pretty much the same. The nice easy to shuffle finish on each card is great. The same stylized manga/anime artwork is present on each card. The overall design is very well executed. With this set, I can say that I’m much happier with the artwork. With a mixture of both maids and butlers, there’s a lot less provocative artwork. While I’ve felt that the previous versions might have been a touch over the top, this set is one that I have no problem playing with my daughter. The artwork in this one is very subtle when it comes to the maids and the butlers, making it possible to play this one with younger players. Just like with other entries into the series, the iconography is quite easy to understand. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the series should have no problems with this at all. Overall this is a great looking set of cards and it fits in well with the other sets.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this version of the game is very similar to the rulebook for all the other versions. It’s long and thin and fits well inside the box without having to be folded. It has plenty of pictures and examples through the book. Unfortunately, all the pictures and images in the book are black and white. Not my favorite, but it’s something I can live with. Everything is explained quite well. All of the different card types are explained in great detail with diagrams of just what each portion of the card is and does. Each of the different phases is explained in a step by step manner which makes it quite easy to follow and understand. The book also contains optional rules for two or three player games, as well as how to play this set along with other sets. This also includes how to play with 5 or 6 players. The book also contains a really nice visual reference to every card included in the set. Each card is explained in excellent detail. This is a great reference especially for new players that have just jumped into the game. Overall I feel that the book is very well designed and that it contains all the pertinent information that you need to be able to play the game. I do wish that the rulebook was in color and possibly even contained some solo rules, as I love a good solo game, but I’m not complaining. It’s still really well done.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
It’s no secret that I like deck building games, like the series of Cerberus games from Cryptozoic or the Legendary System from Upper Deck or even the Dominion series from Rio Grande. Speaking of Dominion, like with the other entries of this series, this one too bears a lot of similarities to that game, as far as gameplay goes. This version does not contain any of the Private Maid cards, so to play with them, players will need to include one of the other expansions or the core game that contains them. I have to say the addition of the butler cards is really nice. I like the interaction between these and the maid cards and how players can gain extra points by turning these cards into couples. The new drama and event cards add a nice take that feel to the game by allowing the players to shut down other player’s couples from gaining points. It can be a bit mean but after all, all’s fair in love and war. Speaking of love, the way that couples are created through the art of the approach is quite brilliant. I do love that just like in real life, love can be hit or miss. If your opponent has a matching value card as their highest value maid card in their hand, then cupid’s arrow hits it’s mark and it’s all fireworks and roses. Otherwise, like in real life it’s back to the drawing board and another night alone watching reruns of Sanford and Son. In any event, the theme of this expansion is really good. I think more so than any of the other expansions, this one hits the mark. I love the feel of the game and enjoy it quite a lot. The similarities to Dominion are still there somewhat, so deck building fans that like that style of game will most likely enjoy this one, especially if they like making love connections. For me, I enjoy it more than any entry in the Tanto Cuore series. This is one that I would highly recommend. It’s all about the love.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance is a standalone expansion to Tanto Cuore that adds butlers to the world of maids. Like with other entries into the series, this version still plays in around 45 minutes. The cards are excellently designed and look awesome. I really like that the artwork was toned down a bit in this expansion. It makes it a bit easier to play this with some younger players. The manga and anime style is still prevalent and looks great. The rulebook for this one has pretty much the same look and feel as the others. It’s black and white but covers everything really well. I do wish there had been some color added and even some solo rules would have been nice. Even without those, it gets the job done. The game itself introduces some new mechanics that are a lot of fun to play. I love the interaction between maids and butlers and how much fun it is to make couples and then try to destroy your opponent’s couples or keep them from scoring. One thing I noted earlier is that there are no private maids in this set. So just be aware that if you’re looking to add more of them, you won’t find them in this expansion. Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed this version much more so than any other set of Tanto Cuore that I’ve played. Fans of the game will absolutely love this one. Deck building fans that enjoy Dominion should find something to like about this one as well. For me, this is a great version of the game that can be played by itself or mixed in with one of the other sets to add even more variety. It’s one that I thoroughly enjoy. I highly recommend it. Now get ready to make a love connection.
9 out of 10

 

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

http://www.japanimegames.com/

Japanime games will be launching a NEW 10th Anniversary Kickstarter later this month! This will include a brand new 10th anniversary edition of the game, new play mats, new promo maids, and something else very special which they will be announcing soon, so be sure and keep an eye out for it!

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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