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April Showers Bring May Flowers

It's time for nice weather and gardening time here in Oregon. In honor of that I'm writing about Hanamikoji. 21 Flowers is a 2 player card game with a small central board and two tiny player boards. There are 21 cards which represent 7 different flower factions. Some of the factions have varying numbers of cards numbers in the deck. The game is self-published by the designer(I believe) and distributed by Takamagahara.

The goal of the game is control 4 factions or to have 11 points at the end of a round. The point value ranges from 2 to 5. Faction control is determined by the player with the most cards representative of the faction in their tableau at the end of the round. In case of a tie, the position of the faction does not change either it remains neutral or in control of the player who controlled it the previous round.

The interesting part of the game, of course, is how players get cards into their tableau. You start with a hand of cards (1 card is placed out of the round at the beginning. Then the player draws one card and takes one of 4 actions. Each action must be used and each action can only be used once. After you have chosen an action you mark it off on your player board. The order in which the actions are done is up to the player. After each player has done all the actions the round is over.

The actions consist of...

  1. playing a card face down into their tableau,
  2. discarding 2 cards out of the game,
  3. choosing 3 cards and placing them face up and the opponent chooses one of those cards for their tableau face up and the active player keeps the other two for their own tableau face up and
  4. choose 4 cards and split into 2 piles (a pile must contain at least 1 card) and the opponent chooses a pile for their tableau and places the cards face up with the active player taking the remaing cards to place face up as well.

So this game utilizes the "pie rule" mechanism quite nicely. It's challenging to try and figure out what cards your opponent may want, or forcing them to pick a card you want them to have. Of course when they take the card you want it is so frustrating! The way a round works is more interesting than it sounds. Choosing which action to use when in a round of course may or may not give your opponent helpful information. It's easy to forget the discard action as sometimes you have a card left you wanted to play but then you have to discard it. Once players have control of some of the factions it then gets even more difficult as you have to choose between maintaining control and trying to gain additional factions. 

„Choosing which action to use when in a round of course may or may not give your opponent helpful information..“

Lorna Dune

This game would make a great addition to one of the big publisher's 2 player lines. Play time is about 10-20 minutes for a whole game but it there is enough depth to make it feel longer.