You should play Yomi right now.

So I haven’t written much on games in a while, and there are some good reasons for that. The biggest one is that with a wee one around, I just don’t have much time for it anymore. I usually get one night a week, and usually some more games on the weekend. Many people would kill to get that much gaming in, but it’s not a lot if you plan on writing things on new games. But I have a new game you should definitely check out.

You definitely need to try Yomi.


The fancy deluxe edition

Designed by David Sirlin, Yomi is basically Street Fighter in card game format. The game is composed of ten characters, set in Sirlin’s own “Fantasy Strike” universe. Each character gets their own 54-card deck, with a range of moves. Two opposing players each pick a character, and then select a card from their hand. There are four basic kinds of moves: attacks, throws, dodges, and blocks. As you can see from the illustration below, each move works like a “rock-paper-scissors” kind of thing. The winning move deals damage, or avoids it in the case of blocks. If you successfully attacked or threw someone, you can then combo on more cards after that successful card, and deal even more damage.

Yomi Chart

The circle of life. Or in this case, fighting.

That right there is basically the entire ruleset. There are some more nuances, like how you can knock people over or how much each character is actually allowed to combo, but the rules really are basically advanced Rock-Paper-Scissors. The really great part of the game comes in the ten characters. Each one feels very different, from the ninja Setsuki, who can draw tons of cards if her hand gets low, to the rock golem Rook, who pounds people with powerful throws. There’s also a guy who turns into a dragon, and a gambling panda! Each of these character work very differently, and part of the joy of Yomi is that it allows you to find “your” character. I’ve become partial to Rook, myself.

The idea of being advanced rock-paper-scissors may be a turn-off to some, but it really makes for a very intense game, full of double-guessing. The key to Yomi (which is a Japanese word for “reading,” as in the mind of your opponent) is anticipating what your opponent will do next. Obviously, you won’t do that 100% of the time, but the more you play the game, especially against the same people.

If you check out the Sirlin Games website you’ll see that the complete published game of Yomi will set you back $100. Obviously, that isn’t cheap. For what it’s worth, Sirlin designed the game more as a non-collectible CCG. When you frame it that way, $100 for a complete card game seems like a pretty good deal. Of course, a c-note is a c-note, and I sure didn’t have money like that. Luckily, he’s given us some options. You can by characters in pairs for $25 each. If you get them all that way, you’ll pay more, but it’s good for someone who doesn’t need to own them all. Or you could go the route I did, and download the $15 print-and-play version. It takes some good color-printing capabilities and a lot of patience, but the PDFs are really great quality, and you can print out a couple at a time, as the mood strikes you. Best of all, there’s a great online version that is totally free. You can play it by going to the Fantasy Strike server and just jumping in. You’ll have to read the rules for yourself, but it works really well, and there’s a pretty active community there already.

I still haven’t played all of the characters in the game, but it’s been a really fun experience to get to know the game. I can’t emphasize enough that the game really does feel like Street Fighter or Tekken. You can almost feel the punches landing, and the combos racking up. If you’ve ever gotten any enjoyment out of games like Virtua Fighter, you really need to try Yomi. I think you’ll be really pleased that you did.

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