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Kodama, the tree spirits – Review

Action Phase Games / £18 – £20 / 2 – 5 Players / 30 – 40 mins / Age 14+ 

The forest is growing fast! As caretakers for Kodama, the tree spirits, you must keep the forest a healthy and lush home for your little friends. Over three growing seasons, you must cultivate trees with the right mix of flowers, insects, and branch arrangements to make your Kodama as happy as possible. Whoever cares for their Kodama best will be remembered for generations! – Action Phase Games

I found this game on Kickstarter. I was just searching through one day and was taken by the cute artwork for Kodama. After a quick look at the campaign I fell in love with the little tree spirits and backed it straight away. This game really does have lovely illustrations and artwork.

Now, as this game was kickstarted the component quality is only reasonable. The cards are nice and thick, but no linen finish so they need protectors, especially the branch and objective cards that see a lot of handling. The wooden tokens were supplied with stickers, not the best as you apply them yourself. I was also one of the lucky ones as my little wooden Kodama starter player token made it in one piece. Overall the quality is good, just a few areas it could have been better, but for a kickstarted game it was good.

Kodama is one of those rare big games in a small box. So you get lots of gameplay and save on shelf space 🙂 The object of Kodama is to start with your base tree trunk card and grow your tree over the seasons to score points, based on the items it contains. If you score the most points your tree is visited by the Kodama tree spirits. At the beginning of the game  you are given Kodama cards, these are objectives to help score more points. Have a good read of these and think about when to use them. Some pay to play in the first season, others wait until you have a bigger tree, so keep thinking about these objectives as you play. Many times I have scored loads of points or been let down by when I use these Kodama objective cards.

Mike and I are very exclusive with this game, we have only ever played it together! I have said before we should share the love with this game, but we don’t! This is a cute game, maybe not the easiest to learn, but adorable none the less. If you want to encourage your girlfriend/partner/wife, even daughter to play more boardgames with you – this game is great. I would not recommend introducing the hobby with this game, but certainly after a few new mechanics have been conquered. The rules are easy enough to learn, but it does take a few plays to get to grips with the strategy needed to successfully play. It has to be said this game takes a bit of thinking. We tend to play it on a weekend when we can give it the brain power and time to do it justice and really enjoy playing Kodama.

So why do  we keep this game in our collection?  The beautiful artwork is  a bonus, the small box is appreciated, but it is the gameplay that keeps us coming back. The premise of scoring points depending on how you grow a tree may be simple, but the Kodama/objective cards make it different and interesting each time. Add the seasonal decrees of spring, summer and fall to the mix and your strategy’s are changed mid-game so you have to change tactics to score the most points. The seasonal decrees are randomly picked and may add another way to score points. There is some luck involved with the branch card deck, but it is also up to you to make the most of the cards available.

It is often exciting choosing branch cards, because you know the other player can choose from the same selection. Are you taking the one they need or leaving them the best choice? The Kodama/objective cards are kept a secret, but the seasonal decrees are announced to all players. Scoring is tracked as you go on a separate scoring board. So you see where you are in relation to other players at all times. We tend to stick close to each others scores when we play. However at the end of each season we have a bit scoring round. It can get tense as one person can score high whilst you have nothing! You can make up for it easily with good choices of objectives and growing your tree the next round.

It feels great to win Kodama. You get a ‘winner’ card and some Kodama tokens to place on your winning tree. The card even encourages you to share your tree across social media – something I enjoy doing! It is lovely creating a beautiful tree full of flowers, stars, clouds, firefly’s, worms and mushrooms.


If you like the cuteness of Takenoko this is a great game for your collection. Do you play any games based on cute artwork alone? Let us know in the comments below –


For more information check out:

Kodama – Action Phase Games

Kodama – Board Game Geek

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Reference Pig Time!

As a thank you for reading our review of Kodama, here is Buddy and Scampi giving it a piggie chew of approval!

Published inBoardgame Reviews

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