Play Journal #2 – Kodama: The Tree Spirits
In this play journal I will be playing Kodama: The Tree Spirits!
In Kodama your goal is to score the most points by being an expert caretaker of a growing tree. In it 2-5 players interact with their own trees by going through growing seasons. By collecting and attaching tree branches with Kodama that appear in their main tree trunk the players can score more points! But not every branch will have the Kodama you need to score points so things get tricky. In addition to knowing what Kodama are on your tree you are also dealt bonus cards that score you extra points at the end of every season. One may allow you to convert a Kodama to another(Firefly to Caterpillar) to score points. Points are awarded starting at the furthest arm off the trunk. Points are given out based on the number of Kodama on a branch every turn and by the bonus cards at the end of each season.
I played with two other people for a total of three players. It was all our first time and we had varied experience in playing board games before so it was easy to pick up on right out of the box. One aspect of this game that differed from previous card based games I’ve played is that tree branches could not overlap, what this meant was that when placing a branch on your base tree trunk you had to connect the art on the cards via the trunk. This added an additional level of difficult but a surprising amount of interesting gameplay. This physical interaction allowed for a truly interesting and genuine way for the game to mirror the growth of an actual tree.
The players play through thee seasons of adding branches to three main trunk card. At the end of each season we played our bonus cards. I ended up winning with 115 points with everyone else right behind me at 108 and 95. The interesting part though was the discussion we had about the rules and whether or not cards could touch in various places. We ultimately ended up following the directions provided as some decisions were made poorly due to do lack of knowledge about where branches could touch.
Kodama primarily operates on taking cues from the Kodama on your trunk card as well as the bonus cards you’ve been given. As discussed in the article How Video Game Might Actually Help Our Brain by Campbell-Dollaghan, cues allow for players to interact and expand their thought processing skills and engagement. Kodamas cue driven system allows for an easy interacted with concept game focused on scoring points of tree spirits and glorified botany. By cutting out bad decisions and pruning bad bets one can score the most points and become the victor of Kodama while increasing neural plasticity! Cues help us define patterns and find ways to better interact with current or future events. And as we read in the article also contribute to helping our brains become stimulated and engaged.
Thanks for reading!