New Shogun sows uncertainty around himself. None of the original clans in Yedo, which is now known as Tokyo, can be sure of its place. They listen carefully to every word arriving from the palace and try to accomplish every task, that could help them secure favor of the upcoming leader. But you’re not alone. In Yedo, there are several such families, living all together and applying for position of the most influential family. Whether you join either side, expect a tough fight for position in the limelight..
In 1605, Japanese country was place for a drama, which was behind onset of Hidetada Tokugawa. It is him, who will you try to please in new board game called Yedo. That is brought to our tables by eggertspiele company, whose creations are distributed by Pegasus Spiele. Its authors are Wolf Plancke and Thomas Vande Ginste, nice thematic illustrations were prepared by well-known German author Franz Vohwinkel.
On the lid of the box, you will find a portrait of supreme ruler of Japan holding a hawk. On the right side, as if at a distance, the picture also contains face of a geisha. They play important role in the ancient land of the rising sun.
You will find literally a flood of components inside, and we will not name them all. But we will stop at them definitely at least for a moment. You will be fascinated by folded game board, that provides a hawkish view of Yedo and its seven districts from Edo-Jo to Ikegami Hommonji. Around the lower left corner, a trail for victory points winds, just as a turn counter. Above are various sections for storing cards and tokens. In the upper left corner an important indicator of the playing order is located. Its divided into three columns, which are used during the game.
There will be a total of 59 mission card, when you pull them out. They are divided to four levels ranging from simplest green (twelve) to the most difficult black (eleven). However, the package is much thicker, because there is also fifty action cards, 27 bonuses and 27 events. All cards are wearing mainly text, and if it is any graphics to be found, it usually unites type of card on the back.
Players will be also served 84 tokens of money (mons) in three levels and sixteen buildings, you can choose to build for your family. But it is not even all: forty weapons (eight kinds), geisha tokens, blessings and other types are present too.
There are also wooden components to be encountered, which are all divided among players, and are therefore classed into five colors. There are four pawns for each of the participants and three other round tokens as indicators. Important role in the game have two guard figurines, one red and one blue, which will march through each district of Yedo and you have to avoid them.
The last component is then five big cards (boards) for players. You have picture of your house in your background and there are only a few small spaces for geisha on it and several placed for constructed buildings. Other cards have to be placed to colored strips indicated on the edge of the family card. On the left are unfulfilled mission, fulfilled are moved to the right. Below is a place for weapons, but also for special bonus cards next to it. For each banner is also stated limit for number of cards for clarity. This is the top value you can simultaneously possess.
Preparation time is quite challenging and lengthy, which corresponds to once mentioned large number of tokens and other components. Most of them are just piled up next to the board (money) or on it in the appropriate places (cards). Three coins have to be also placed on the church. From the pile of weapons, you reveal top two as a starting offer.
Number of buildings and geisha tokens is dependent on the amount of opponents participating in the game. Gray chip indicates number of the round, so it starts on one. Then its your duty to decide, which unit will patrol the city, using lottery token. Its thrown into the air and show you initial color of the guard. Color determines direction of its motion, either clockwise or counterclockwise.
In case you are playing in a lower number of players, you have to cover up some positions in the neighborhoods, using interlocking chips. This will reduce the space, where you can send your servants during a game, for example in two players its a full of 10 spaces to cover, in four then just one less than maximum.
And now finally we have to pay attention to players and their preparation. Everyone chooses one of the clans, stand two servants on their player’s board and other two are sent to rest in a family house on the map. Trinity of round tokens will be also used on the board – one marks zero of starting victory points, two more then travel to the small scale at the top – one is order, second one bidding closely linked with the first one. Position of both are random but identical at the beginning.
Each player starts with four missions, twelve mon (money) and one random action card. Finally, to compensate for the players order, you select one favor from Shogun, starting with the last player. They represent more cards or even finance to immediately gain. Now we have a game ready.
But even playing of Yedo is not very intuitive and fast. Fortunately, everything is described in a long column of text on player’s board. All games have the same course – exactly eleven rounds, each of which is divided into seven phases. Although there is one situation, where fight can end prematurely – when one of the players manages to accomplish the mission “Kill the Shogun”.
At the beginning of each round (except the first) all your servants will return back from bidding positions on the column according to your current place in order. Soon after that, but starts second phase. Auction, where you can bid on seven different support things, that can help you on your way for shogun’s affection – all are located in the upper part of the board, and they contain a special bonus cards, weapons , buildings, geishas, but also mission and new servants.
Such an auction goes always gradually through all players, starting with the one, who is at the top in order on bidding scale. The player announces a category, he is interested in. It contains number of minimum bid, with which the player agrees, but can offer even more, if he wants. Others have a chance to react and offer higher amount for moving their token to the site. Player who wins moves his piece there and a moment later grabs a deserved reward for himself, according to a little more detailed conditions.
The third phase is the event. Any of the players reveals top card from this deck, reads its text and places it on the discard pile face up. It immediately becomes valid. Any immediate effect shall be obeyed and permanent events applies until the card is covered with new event in the next round.
In the fourth round, players send their representatives available on their family card to a free box in any district or building. Finally its time for last player to start. You must place all the pieces, you have available, including those you got in auction this turn. Their evaluation and earnings per location will follow later.
First, there are moves of patrol one street away according to its color, either clockwise or counterclockwise. Players may affect its movement using action cards. In case guard encounters any of your vassal in the target area, he becomes immediately arrested. These pieces are returned to sleep to your house on board, from where you have to regain them with help of the action. However, you can never sink beneath two pieces. At least two people will serve you always, irrespective of the will of the guards.
Now all players have complete freedom to trade with each other. Length and possibilities of this phase differs depending on type of opponents you are playing with. Some really like to offer a bargain and love to trade, sometimes you only skip this option, because players prefer to plan their activities themselves and do not want to be interefered with.
Now finally comes the most important thing – action phase. This includes evaluation of all your outgoing followers and allows a variety of options for you to accomplish. In general, there are three types of actions – either you fulfill a mission, use special ability on board or activate your own building.
In the neighborhoods, you can recruit workers for your family, but also beg (money in exchange for victory points), obtain geisha, weapons or buy points for money. And lot of other options, which together form seventeen different types! All brings you closer to victory, at least if you use it correctly.
Most important, however is carrying out missions, which need to have enough supplies to be completed. Each mission you hold in your hands has clearly defined requirements. You must meet them, before you can sending your worker to score it or get even more rewards for it. Difficulty of missions is different and it depends, which mission pile did you choose.
At the end of the game, you can score your saved up bonus cards for even more points. You can even reverse otherwise seemingly firm positions on scoring scale. Nevertheless, the game ends with a victory of family, who accumulated most prestige and honor and thanks to it, shogun likes it the most.
Yedo is quite challenging strategy game. It’s not so much in intensity, but rather in a huge flood of components and options. Otherwise, thsi game is a classic and very cleverly balanced worker-placement (sending of workers on board) game. But not only that. The game itself works, in addition to laying pieces, with several other elements, that make Yedo different experience, whether it is an auction or missions.
But thanks to this wide-mentioned options, game has a really significant number of ways, you can wipe your way to victory. Points are awarded not only for completing quests (although these remain a key part of your pain), but you can exchange them for money.
An excellent solution is hidden on the player’s board, which is beautifully arranged and yet, you find not only description whole turn there, but also a place to store cards. And beside their code names, you will find also clearly established limits, which helps enormously in clarity and feel of the game.
What we really like about Yedo is impression, that you get from the game, regardless of the number of opponents. Blocking a number of action fields, allows you to enjoy a balanced and exciting game for two, three and four players. Perhaps only five are marginally longer game due to all the choices and actions competitors must perform. But it is not any significant slowdown.
Theme is great and very well connected with the game. Although, in fact, game’s mechanics could be separated, yet emotionally everything fits to gameplay more, than well. And overall impression is important and is highlighted with text on the cards.
Thanks to a clear iconography, eventually you do not get lost even in the flood of opportunities available. Just be prepared for first few games being more of a exploration and teaching, than really playing. There is however quite a lot of text on cards, which clearly disqualifies anyone, who does not speaks English. Yet graphics and visual consistency of the game is at a high level.
There are several mission piles, but even then game relies a little on luck factor. Its the same also with weapons, which are revealed randomly. But otherwise everything is up to your skills of carefully managing your fragile relation to emperor.
Yedo is very succesful strategy of the European type (euro), where you have to think and plan and always be one step ahead of your rivals. A large number of options and therefore more complicated rules make it difficult game to start (and almost impossible for beginners), but once you learn everything, you’ll enjoy excellent balance and interesting game. Yedo is not for inexperienced players, but advanced players will enjoy an interesting experience.
+ well thought-out strategy with many options
+ more paths to victory
+ mechanisms are well intertwined
+ beautiful graphics
+ clever player boards
+ missions are variable and with more difficulties
+ excellent fun for all player numbers
- longer gametime
- more difficult game (many options, many components)
- longer game preparaton
- luck is a factor with bonus cards