A Thinking Man’s Game Review: Koryo – Order and Action in 8 Seasons

ToysBulletin.com reviews a new release from Moonster Games and Asmodee.Koryo2“Koryo” may be the fastest card game we have ever played.  A typical game lasts from 10-20 minutes and it plays just as quickly whether you have 2, 3 or 4 players.“Koryo” is a strategic card game, suggested for ages 14 years and up, that includes 45 character cards (representing 9 different families), 10 event cards, 8 season cards, 8 victory point tokens, a turn token and a rulebook.

Koryo1According to the publisher, Moonster Games, “Koryo takes place in an uchronic and politico-steampunk universe, rooted in the lands of 10th century Great Korea.”  Wow, the Toys Bulletin staff was not sure what that really meant, but we sure wanted to play.  The object of the game is to build the most influence with the nine families during 8 turns (seasons).  The player with the most influence, measured in points, is declared the winner.

We have to admit that the rules are written in such a way as to make “Koryo” appear to be much more complicated than it really is.  The game is basically decided based on collecting more family character cards than your opponents, thus accumulating more influence and winning the game.

The game is played in 8 short turns or seasons.  Before each turn, a season card is turned over which reveals how many character and event cards are dealt to each player, and how many of these cards can be played and displayed at the end of each turn.  Each subsequent turn reduces the number of cards dealt and increases the number that can be displayed.

Koryo3To begin play, the character cards and event cards are shuffled together, and dealt to each player according to the instructions on the first of the eight season cards, as described above.  There are 4 phases on each turn for every player.  First is Card Distribution, which is basically turning over the next season card and dealing the cards to each player.  Second is the Order Phase, in which players can play one or more cards face down in front of them.  In most cases, only identical cards can be played.  Third is the Action Phase where each player turns over their face down cards and takes actions if desired.  The Fourth Phase completes the turn by having players discard face up cards to meet the display requirements set out at the beginning of the turn and returning all unused cards in their hand back to the deck.

The character and event cards have names and numbers.  For example, a Banker is a number 6 character card, which means there are 6 Banker cards in the deck, and it has an influence of 6 points.  The player with the majority of Banker (#6) cards on display can use the Banker’s special power, which enables that player to take one of the victory point tokens from the bank during his turn.  An example of an event card is the Barbarian, which is a negative 1 card.  Although it can reduce the number of influence points at the end of the game, it also has the ability to destroy another player’s character card.

Players with the majority of any specific character card on display in front of them are allowed to take the action or power attributed to that character.  The powers of various cards include obtaining or stealing a victory point token, receiving additional cards during Card Distribution, displaying more cards at the end of a turn, playing two different types of cards in the Order Phase, destroying an event card or providing protection from a Barbarian attack.  There is even a character card (The Omniscient) that can be used as a tie-breaker to gain the majority of a specific character and use its special power during the game.

After 8 turns (seasons), the player holding the majority of each card gets the points assigned to that character.  For example, if one player had three of the Banker cards (#6) on display and two other players had two of the Banker cards in front of them, the player with three would receive 6 points.  If two players are tied for the majority of a specific card at the end of the game, neither player receives the points.  The Omniscient card cannot break a tie when totaling points at the end of the game.  Event cards with a negative value are deducted from a player’s points, if still on display at the end of the game.  The highest point total wins the game.

Koryo4A small drawing in the center bottom of each card depicts the power given to each character and event card, but we have to admit, newer players may have difficulty interpreting the meaning.  As an alternative, we actually found several sources on the Internet that provided a player’s aid card with an easy to follow description of the special powers associated with each numbered card.  With that information in front of every player, there were far fewer questions and the game did not stop, while players looked in the rules to determine the powers of various cards.

This game plays much easier than it sounds, and actually became quite addictive around our office.  Even if you lose a game, you can play another and redeem yourself in just 10-20 minutes.  Each time the game is played, you get a better understanding of how and when to play various cards to gain maximum advantage, especially as relates to the all-important point total at the end of the game.

“Koryo” retails for $22.99 and can be purchased at Amazon.com.

— RJ Cullen


Posted in Card Games

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