Review – Iki

Edo Artisans compete on the streets of Old Tokyo.

iki box

 

Designer Koota Yamada

Artist David Sitbon

Publisher Sorry We Are French

Category Set-Collection, Prediction, Point Salad

Length 60-120min

Release Date 2021

Player Count 2-4

In Iki, players take on the roles of Edo artisans in Old Tokyo. Players will compete over 4 seasons via setting up shops, purchasing goods, retiring workers, gaining the most points, and avoiding the destructive fires. 

Review

Each player will choose their color and receive the related components. At the beginning of each round, the player with the most fire-fighting power will place their apprentice on the space that determines how many spaces their meeple can move (between 1 and 4). When all players have completed this task, the player who chose the space closest to the left will move first (usually the player with the lowest number of movement points, though there is a spot that lets you choose between 1 and 4 movement points, but that spot comes with restrictions in your turn later). 

On a turn, you can choose to gain 4 coins or buy a vendor. When you buy a vendor, you take 1 of your 4 workers and place the vendor on a space on the board. Each space on the board allows you to perform an action, and vendors allow you to perform an extra action at the space it’s on. Afterwards, you’ll move your meeple the designated number of spaces and perform the vendor actions, which could range from buying rice, wood, building materials, sushi, tobacco, or pipes, or you could be selling any number of those items for more coins. 

Oftentimes, you’ll have the option to perform those bonus actions from merchants controlled by other players. If you choose to take that bonus action, the owner of the merchant will move their worker up the track by 1, which means they’ll usually get more bonuses at the end of the season. Eventually, the workers at the merchants will retire, and the merchant will become a permanent part of the owner’s tableau, granting bonuses for the rest of the game. 

So the real meat of the game is trying to decide what merchants to buy and where to put them, while also jockeying for position so you can stop at all the best vendors on your way around the board. There’s a lot of ways to score points, and a lot of viable strategies, so it’s more about executing your strategy well than it is about having the best strategy. 

The components are excellent. Bright colors abound, and the art on each of the merchant cards is vibrant and soothing, contributing to the theme of bustling markets in Old Tokyo. The player pieces are wooden, and the game board itself is artsy without being overbusy. There are also rules for 2 players, including a different board (on the opposite side of the main board), ways to block certain movement spots, and neutral characters. It’s workable, but 3-4 players is much better. 

I enjoyed setting up merchants in ways that would score me points at the end of the seasons while also making sure that they would be attractive to other players. Jockeying with other players for the high-scoring sushi was enjoyable as well, and it’s satisfying watching other, less-prepared merchants burn up in the seasonal fires. Buying the merchants I thought other players would want to visit and putting them in the right spot was easily my favorite part of Iki.

Iki is a bit of an odd one for me. I will happily acknowledge that it is a good game while also confessing that I don’t like it too much. There are a lot of solid mechanisms in here, but the game is too long for me to want to play it often (or ever again). I prefer the mechanisms Iki uses (prediction, drafting, set-collection) to be pervasive in 30-45 minute games, not in 60-120 minute games. If I’m going to sit down for a longer game, I much prefer the grand strategy of Star Wars: Rebellion or Scythe or Root. Iki will be a great game for many people, it just wasn’t for me. Don’t let that stop you though. If set-collection, prediction, and drafting are your things, give Iki a try! 

Sorry We Are French kindly provided a review copy. 

The Bottom Line

Iki has come great game mechanics that for whatever reason didn't come together well for me.

 

5.5

Spencer Patterson

I'm a teacher, writer, and board game reviewer. I especially love board games that pull me in like a good book. My wife is my favorite gaming partner.