se·ri·ous·ly – with earnest intent
snap·py – cleverly concise | ru·mi·na·tions – deep or considered thoughts

> Pleasant, map-building card game piques interest with challenge to arrange cards for maximum points.
Colorful theme compliments straightforward game play.

Honshu is a tile-laying game using cards instead of tiles to build personal maps depicting purposefully arranged features, viz. cities, forests, resource collection and production areas, lakes and deserts. Over twelve rounds players bid with numbered map cards from their hand which then are claimed by players and used to extend their maps, overlapping cards with each new placement. Cards depict a grid of six landscape squares representing but a few of the available features. Since adding to a map requires covering one or more landscape squares on a card, the real challenge comes from determining how best to arrange the features on newly added cards into one’s map to score the most points at game’s end.

There’s a certain satisfaction in building ones’s map and watching it grow card by card, coupled with simmering anticipation to claim cards with desired features as rounds progress. The bidding system to determine turn order for selecting cards (not exactly trick-taking) seems rather arbitrary at first glance since several serviceable cards are typically available each round, but it can be useful in obtaining the right card at the right time. Plus, the opportunity to augment one’s bid with gained resources provides an additional, thoughtful choice in a game that rewards subtle advantages. A short play time keeps the simple, procedural decisions of this game interesting in the half hour or so it takes to complete. Optional rules for scoring variants are an added bonus to vary play from game to game.

+ Simple rules and iconography make game easy to learn/teach.
+ Puzzle-like aspect to building map is engaging.
– General tendency for bidding and card passing to be anticlimactic.
* Cards included to alter scoring with optional variants.

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Seriously Snappy Ruminations on Honshu

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