In Seikatsu you take turns placing beautiful tiles showcasing birds and flowers onto the garden, trying to score points by matching birds while at the same time keeping in mind the end-game scoring for flowers in your columns. Simple mechanics matched with two types of scoring makes for an elegant strategy game that will appeal to many as a gateway, filler, or family game.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this game to review. There are affiliate links in this post. If you purchase something from an affiliate link, I receive a small percentage.
Designer: Matt Loomis, Isaac Shalev
Artist: Peter Wocken
Publisher: IDW Games
Type: Abstract strategy, Tile placement
1-4 players, 15-30 minutes, ages 10+
2-4 players, 15-30 minutes, ages 7+
Gorgeous with satisfying components, quick to teach and play, streamlined with a bit of depth makes it great as a gateway or family game.
In the Box
- 1 game board
- 3 scoring pawns
- 32 garden tiles
- 4 koi pond tiles
- 1 cloth bag
This game is stunning. I’ve said this several times across social media, and I will mention it again here, I would love the tile art in a big enough format to hang on my walls. The art alone will draw many people to this game.
The tiles are weighty acrylic that feel satisfying in your hand. This may not sound like something special, but if you’ve played the original Splendor with their gem tokens, you know what I’m talking about. For those who enjoy the tactile experience of a game, you’ll like the tiles in Seikatsu.
Each player has a hand of two tiles. On your turn you place a tile adjacent to a tile already on the garden board, score the tile if applicable, then draw a new tile from the bag. In placing your tile you will be trying to make matches with the birds (scored immediately) while also trying to get as many flowers of the same type in the columns facing your personal pagoda (scored at game’s end).
I played Seikatsu at every player count and each time it was a quick-paced game. The standard game is for 2 or 3 players, with the 4 player game using 2 pagodas and splitting you into teams. It was an easy game to teach with players picking up the nuances within a round or two, whether they were children or adults.
As you take your turns you are weighing placing tiles to match birds against placing them to get more flower points at the end. And then there is your opponent to think about. You can choose to ignore in them in hopes that you can simply outscore them, or try to thwart them by placing tiles to lower their scoring chances. Although simple on paper, there is more thought in this game than it lets on.
No doubt about it, this is a light strategy game. It does not have the same depth as say Tak or Duke. If you need something that makes you sweat, this isn’t it. Instead, this is the game that you take when you’re meeting up with friends for coffee. Fun to play, but light enough where you can easily hold a conversation while playing.
Although the box says ages 10 and up, my 8-year-old caught on and played easily. I am calling it at 7 and up, but I’m sure there are younger children with strategy experience that could play this game as well.
On solo play:
The solo variant I feel is a throwaway. There are three levels: easy, normal, and hard, the difference being how you score the birds. I played once, keeping track of the bird score, to see how it would differ at the various levels. Even on hard mode I would have won by a landslide. It is just too easy to be fun. Actually, I’ve played solo a few more times and I’ve changed my mind. I must have got pretty lucky the first time I played solo (and this is why we need to play every variant multiple times before a review). I’ve played three more times on hard mode, winning once and losing twice. The challenge is definitely there. It made me think, perhaps even a little more than the multiplayer game. The limitations put upon you in the solo variant do stretch you a bit more.
For a quick abstract strategy game, I really enjoy it. I can see us playing it as a quick game before bed with the kids, with non-gaming family and friends, or as something to set up and play while cooking dinner. The 4-player game is perfect for families since it is teams, you can pair younger children with adults to level the playing field.
If you enjoy games outdoors, this is perfect. Nothing is going to blow away, and the tiles are easy to wipe down if they get dropped on the ground.
I have a list of games that I have my kids play for school. Seikatsu will definitely be added to it. As a lighter strategy, it will be great for the kids to play and master over time. And, because it doesn’t take very long to play, I don’t have to worry about it taking over our entire afternoon.
Seikatsu is available now at Gen Con, or can be pre-ordered at Amazon.