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An International Classic - Hanafuda - Koi-Koi

Awesome Art Badge

Title: Hanafuda - Koi-Koi Game

Designed By: Eduardo Baraf

Solo Mode By: Bruno Cathala

Art By: Vincent Dutrait

Japanese History and Culture Consultant: Nancy Hamilton

Published By: Pencil First Games

Released: Coming to Kickstarter July 12, 2022

Player Count: 1-2

Time to Play: 30 Minutes

Ages: 14+

Hanafuda Deck Box


Pencil First Games has done it again! And by done it again, I mean created yet another game I love. For their latest Kickstarter they will be launching an expansion for The One Hundred Torii, as well as a Hanafuda Deck. I got the opportunity to check out the Hanafuda Deck which comes with rules for how to play a classic two-player set collection game called Koi-Koi.

Sample Sets of cards in Koi-Koi
Each row represents a sample of a set you could collect to score points in Koi-Koi.

For those like me, that had never heard of a Hanafuda Deck before, let me quickly explain what it is. The Hanafuda deck is a style of Japanese playing cards. The cards consist of 12 suits of four cards each. Each suit represents a month of the year and is designated with a specific flower. Cards also have four categories Hikari (Brights), Tane (Seeds), Tanzaku (Scrolls), and Kasu (Dregs).

Just like a standard American deck of playing cards, there are a bunch of different games you can play with the Hanafuda deck. For this review we are going to focus on Koi-Koi, a traditionally two-player game. Pencil First Games worked to provide a solo variant for Koi-Koi as well!

What's purr-ty cool:

Koi-Koi swt-up
This is a sample set-up of Koi-Koi. The 8 cards on the top and bottom are in player's hands and not normally revealed, but I wanted to show off the art here.

Art: If you have read any of our other Pencil First Games reviews, this will come as no surprise, but the art for this one is beautiful. In a Hanafuda deck, each suit represents a month of the year and is depicted by four cards who's picture's that go together to make a larger picture. Each month has a designated flower too. The card art is so pretty; it almost looks as though each card is mini painting. If you like pretty games, you will love this!

Ease of Access: My favorite thing about Koi-Koi is that it is the kind of game I could sit down and play with my mom. The rules are simple to understand and easy to teach. Each turn, players do just two things: play a card from their hand and then reveal a card from the deck with the hopes of matching cards so they can be collected and the player can work on getting sets of cards to score points. For fans of classic card games, like spades, rummy, etc, the Hanafuda deck offers a whole new world of easy to understand card games. It is really easy to imagine teaching Koi-Koi to someone who has only ever played classic American card games.

Koi-Koi collected cards

Solo Adaption: While Koi-Koi is traditionally a two-player only game, we love the adaption to make it into a solo game too. The solo mode gives the same feel as the multiplayer version, which is something I always look for in a solo mode. This variant would make a great option for anyone looking to play a relaxing game on a lunch break.

Hanafuda deck month sets.

Variants and Optional Rules: The last thing I want to touch on is that the Pencil First Games Hanafuda deck comes with a book of a bunch of optional rules that you can include in your Koi-Koi game to mix it up or add in new challenges. The book with these variants also has a cool section in the back with the history of the Hanafuda deck, which was really neat to learn about!

The cat's meow:

"These cards are cute and little, just like me!" - Pudgy Cat


Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.


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