2 – 6 players.
Play time: ~5 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy via Big Cat Games!
Logged plays: 6
Full disclosure: A review copy of Jikkuri Millet was provided by Big Cat Games.
Alright, we’re nearing the end of the doujin games line. This has been an absolutely delightful adventure, so, I’m kind of sorry that it’s wrapping up for now, but I assume more will happen in the future. Either way, one could say I’m feeling a number of emotions about it, so Jikkuri Millet is the perfect game to talk about in that context! Let’s get to it.
In Jikkuri Millet, the name of the game is syncing up on feelings. The artist knows what mood they’re trying to convey, but a lot of art is subject to interpretation. Try not to overthink it, but you should try to figure out exactly what they’re trying to tell you about the scene, if you can. Will you be able to deduce the complexities inherent to the art? Or will you just find it inscrutable?
Not much to set up. Give each player a set of emotion cards:
Give the start player the frames:
Also, let them choose a piece of art. The game comes with some, but if you want, you can go online and look for some as well. The key is to find ones with a lot of people / animals / robots / whatever pretty clearly visible making some expressions:
And, of course, set out the point tokens:
Once you’ve done that, have the start player put the frame on one part of the art, and you’re ready to go!
So, in a given round, all players are trying to guess which emotion the start player (the “artist”) thinks best represents the framed scene. They indicate this by playing a card from their hand, face-down. Once players are confident (or after enough time passes), they also put a card from their hand face-down.
You can do the reveal in many ways. I personally think the funnest way is to have each player reveal their card and explain why they believe the card they chose best represents the scene. This leads up to the artist revealing theirs and explaining. All players who match the artist gets one point! All players take the played cards into their hand and discard the card matching the artist’s played card.
Repeat that round structure until only one card has not been played. Like Catalogue, it wouldn’t be very interesting to play this, so the game ends. The player(s) with the most roses win!
Player Count Differences
There aren’t really any, since the players play mostly independently. Even if one player gets really bad analysis paralysis, there’s no real meaningful change between that happening at two or happening at six. The game may take longer if you have every player explain and narrate their choice, but it will be much more involved and entertaining, so, win-win. I’d happily play this at any player count.
- This is one of those games that if you’re trying to play strategically, you may be missing out on the fundamental point of the game. This is much more of a storytelling game about trying to decide what ridiculous thing the artist sees in a photo and then telling a compelling narrative about it. I don’t really know how to improve your chances of success in the game beyond just knowing the player who is playing as the artist better than other players do? And even then, that might just get you mixed up.
- That said, you can usually eliminate a couple options. Usually. Just try to narrow it down, if you’re going to guess randomly. Narrow it down and make sure you have a good story prepared.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The rose tokens are so cool! They’re really nice. They’re even more intricate than the heart tokens in Catalogue or Hiktorune, but they’ve got a good cut, a good color, and a good texture to them. They’re definitely some really well-made game components, which is awesome. On the subject of components, the frames are also really nicely laser-cut.
- The art samples are a delight. They’re sort of that Vague Renaissance Art that you crave, with some drawings thrown in there for fun. I’m a huge fan of them and I wish I could find other ones that work well. If you can find anything online, please link me to them.
- The whole game is a great concept. I really like the communication and storytelling aspects of it, and I feel like it will play pretty wildly differently with different groups. I mean, at its core, it’s about art interpretation, right? That can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It’s great. Plus, it scales with player count nicely.
- It’s very easy to teach. You just need to guess the emotion in the scene I depict and hope it matches mine. There’s not much else to know about the game, which is nice. No surprises.
- Plays super quickly. Some games can literally take 5 minutes, if everyone knows how to play and the artist chooses frames pretty quickly. That’s awesome! Very quick.
- You really do need a few more art pieces. You may want to print some out; if you play with the same group a few times, they may start to remember who said what for what, kind of like Anomia.
- It’s kind of unclear if the artist can win. They don’t really have scoring rules, and I’m not a game designer. It’s not a huge deal, since they drive most of the game, but it would be nice if they had some incentive to not just go completely off the esoteric rails.
- I mean, this is definitely not a game that everyone is going to enjoy; it’s pretty specialized. I think the storytelling aspect alone is going to pretty aggressively relegate it to only being played at certain times. It’s kind of like Dinosaur Tea Party; you really need everyone to be into it or it isn’t going to land quite as well. But if everyone is into it, it’s a blast.
- Without the storytelling aspect, the game can feel like it kind of comes down to random chance. I mean if you don’t have a lot to go off of, you might just settle for playing randomly. That’s an unfortunate way to go, especially if it works out for you, since it probably won’t lead to a particularly satisfying gameplay outcome. But, it’s up to you.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, I actually like Jikkuri Millet a lot? I think that it gives players a lot of opportunities to be creative and silly, and the art in particular enhances that. I prefer it to Catalogue (marginally; it’s close) since I think it’s a bit more open-ended than “let’s get to know each other”, which doesn’t always particularly interest me (though I like the way that Catalogue does it well enough to consistently enjoy playing it). I think that the improvisational aspects you can add to this game really allow it to interact with the art and the players in a way that makes the entire experience more meaningful. That’s how I’d like for it to be, at least, and I’ve been fortunate enough in my plays that it’s consistently been that way. If you want to learn to appreciate art or learn to stop appreciating your friends interpretations of it, or you’re looking for a quick and neat party game with a little bit of improvisational storytelling, I’d recommend keeping an eye out for Jikkuri Millet! Assuming it ever comes fully stateside. I’ve had a lot of fun with it!