Full disclosure: A review copy of Hyakke-Yagyo was provided by Big Cat Games.
Another of the Big Cat Games doujin games! There’s still a bunch where this came from, so I won’t be slowing down anytime soon. This time, I’m taking a look at Hyakke-Yagyo, a game of stories and parading monsters. It’s a pretty interesting set collection game, so let’s dive right in and check it out!
Players take on the role of storytellers, forming ghost stories by night based on many different monsters from Japanese folklore. The nice thing is, the stories change each time depending on who’s telling them and how the many characters interact, so you’ll never have much time to focus on any one of them. For those of you who are getting stressed, don’t worry; it’s not a storytelling game; It’s a set collection game. Will you be able to tell the greatest ghost story?
Actually a pretty straightforward process. Give everyone a Goldfish Card:
Give each player a Candle card and a Flame Chip:
Put the flame on the 0. The instructions say to put the Goldfish in your hand, but it has a different color back and everyone knows what it is, so I usually just have players keep it face-up in front of them.
Shuffle the cards:
Deal each player 2 and reveal five face-up in a row. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start!
A game of Hyakke-Yagyo is played over several rounds as players attempt to earn 10 points. Your goal is to gather monsters into your parade so that you can spin up the best story. But how do you do that?
Each round is a series of turns, where you have the following options:
Take a Card from the Parade Zone
You may take any card from the line, but you must pay a penalty for every card after the second. For the third / fourth / fifth card, play one / two / three cards from your hand to the Gossip Zone (the area below the Parade Zone). If you take the third, fourth, or fifth card, also discard the remaining cards in the line to the discard pile. Either way, refill the line at the end of your turn.
Take Cards from the Gossip Zone
You must put one card from your hand into the Gossip Zone, and then you may take all the other cards in the Gossip Zone into your hand.
The Disclose action is the most important one in the game, as that’s how you can start winning! To disclose, you must have a collection of some kind in your hand:
- Set: A group of cards that are different suits, but the same value.
- Run: A group of cards that are sequentially ordered by value, but are different suits.
There are some rules to this:
- You must disclose 4 cards at a time.
- Cards with two suit icons count as two cards.
- A Goldfish may be used as any card.
- A Joker may be used as any card of that suit for a run. It cannot be used for sets.
- All cards in a run must be different. You can’t play 2 – 3 – 4 – 4 – 5 – 6.
- You may only disclose once per turn.
That’s the entire Disclose action.
End of Round
The round immediately ends once a player has disclosed the correct number of cards (or more):
- 2 players: 12 cards
- 3 players: 9 cards
- 4 players: 7 cards
When that happens, the round immediately ends, and that player wins the round! Move on to scoring, which only happens for the winning player:
- Winning the Round: +1 point. You always get this if you win the round.
- Parade Report: +1 point if you didn’t use your Goldfish.
- Series: +1 point if all of your disclosed cards are in runs.
- Sets: +2 points if all of your disclosed cards are in sets.
- Unicolor: +1 point if all of your disclosed cards are the same suit.
- Spectacular: +2 points for every group of 6 or more cards you disclosed.
- Hyakke-Yagyo: +5 points if you disclosed a run from 1 – 11 of the same suit. This will also win you the game, and I’ll leave that math as an exercise for the reader.
End of Game
As soon as one player earns at least 10 points, they win!
Player Count Differences
At two, it’s tough. You want to disclose a ton of cards, but your greed can lead you to getting pretty aggressively Hyakke-Yagyo’d if you’re not super careful, which is generally pretty funny. It creates a nice tension around when you want to disclose. At higher player counts, it can be a bit frustrating since there are only three suits, so at four players someone is definitely taking the cards that you wanted. You’re not going to hit a Hyakke-Yagyo at that player count. I’d probably recommend it at lower player counts for that reason, but if you’re looking for a tough set collection game with lots of collisions, definitely try it at four.
- You should probably try to win a round as quickly as you can. Don’t get distracted trying to win the game in one round via a Hyakke-Yagyo; you should just focus in getting in, getting a few points, and then trying again the next round, in my opinion.
- Don’t take Jokers if you’re going for sets. Or take them if you think other players need them. Really, just remember that you can’t use them. There are very few things worse than a player realizing that a Joker is only for runs when they try and drop a massive set. It’s a bummer, and they usually end up losing the round pretty badly.
- Keep an eye on the Gossip Zone. You should periodically be taking cards from there, if not because you want them, then either to block your opponents taking them or to fill up your hand with cards you can dump to pull cards from the Parade Zone further back in the line. They’re both good options; you don’t want to waste your useful cards.
- You should use your Goldfish if you can, unless not using it will win you the game. It’s only one extra point, and that might be the difference between you winning the round and someone else winning the round. Naturally, if you need it to win the game, do so, but it’s rare unless you’re really doing an incredible move in a round.
- Remember, scoring blocks other players from scoring. This, I think, is the key to Hyakke-Yagyo. You’re not just trying to score enough points to win; if you’re scoring every round, nobody else can. This means you can work your way to the top incrementally, rather than having to dunk out 3 – 5 points per round. It’s very much a slow-and-steady mindset, and I like to think that it’s an effective one? The only time it falls apart a bit is if you’re trading blows with a player that’s consistently outscoring you when they score. That’s usually the time that you need to reevaluate this plan and come up with a better play before you end up losing the game after a couple rounds.
- Keep an eye on what other players are taking. If you see people going after a lot of the same number, dumping the Parade Zone might be a good way to mess them up. Same suit? Maybe you should take some of those cards for yourself. Just remember that at 3+ players it’s less efficient to hurt another player than it is to help yourself (since there are 2 other players, in that circumstance). Sometimes it’s just useful to know what they have.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The art is particularly incredible. It just looks really good. I’m assuming it’s traditional, but I’ve never seen art like this in a game before. I’m a huge fan of it, and it really gets noticed on the table when you’re playing it at an event or something. It’s all very cool; would definitely recommend it on the art alone, honestly.
- You know, I always like the standardized box sizes. It’s roughly the same size as the rest of the Deep Water Games line from EmperorS4. It’s a fairly standard size, now, which I appreciate, especially given how weird some of the boxes that I’ve been reviewing lately have been.
- Plays pretty quickly, ideally. Once everyone has a pretty good understanding of the game, you can probably burn through it in about 20 minutes or so. That’s a good length, I feel like, as it makes for a good filler game, though this one can be particularly tough.
- Very easy to set up. Just shuffle a deck, give each player a goldfish, and you’re basically ready to go.
- I appreciate the variable scoring conditions. They definitely reward certain behaviors, and that’s good! I kind of think they’re there to tempt players into trying to get a bit greedy and ultimately end up failing to score, but that would be rude, right?
- I also really like the cards that count double. That’s a really nice touch to make it a bit unexpected when a player Discloses a pretty aggressive set. The element of surprise is always a good one.
- A game that’s really best played on a playmat of some kind. You’re picking up a lot of cards at all times, and the cards aren’t a particularly nice stock, so you’ll scuff them a bunch if you’re not careful.
- Your first game will take a while. I think a lot of players I’ve played with aren’t used to this kind of thing, so the game will drag a bit while they familiarize themselves with the cards, the scoring conditions, and the overall flow of the gameplay.
- Since most of the cards are unique, you’re going to hit a lot of collisions where a player (usually inadvertently) takes a card you want and makes it difficult for you to win. I never said it was an easy game; in fact, this is one of the harshest set collection games I have. Especially given that players can’t score if another player scores; it’s an aggressive racing game with a brutal bit of set collection, especially as someone else throws all the cards you desperately need out of the round. It’s aggressive, but I kind of respect that? It may not be for everyone, though, fair warning.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, I really like Hyakke-Yagyo! I think one factor that might stop it hitting the table more frequently is its difficulty / aggressive-ness level, but that’s just that it’s pretty tough to play when your opponent can shut down your best round and score 1 point for doing so. It’s humorous, but many players will find it a bit frustrating. That said, you’ve gotta give it points for having wonderful (and unique!) art on so many cards; many of them even form one of those panoramas that some other games (Unfair, for instance) have, which I really like. A ton of unique art being packaged into a short filler game is an absolute delight, as far as I’m concerned, and this is a pretty unique set collection game, as well. It’s challenging, as I mentioned, but it’s also interesting, especially at two players where you have to read your opponent and track what they’ve taken, lest you risk them ending the game in one turn. That kinda standoff makes the game super interesting, in my opinion, and even though it doesn’t happen as much at 3 / 4 players, it maintains its status as a neat set collection game at those player counts as well by introducing a lot more competition around who gets what cards. That’s something I’m definitely into, and if you’re looking for a fun, quick, set collection game with incredible art, Hyakke-Yagyo might be for you, as well!