Table Top TableTopTakes

TableTopTakes: Ohanami by Pandasaurus

Build up your peaceful garden in Ohanami as you draft cards and try and score the most points in this game by Pandasaurus Games. What are my thoughts on this fast playing game with more strategy than it might look like at a first glance? I played three games of this over the holiday weekend with my wife and my parents. So for them, it was a great success.

The Game

In Ohanami, you draft two cards at a time and put them into up to three different columns. Splitting up the cards that you drafted is fine, but there are rules to placing in a column. The number you put down either is put at the top and has to be higher than the highest number in that column, or at the bottom and lower than the lowest. So you will end up with three different columns all in numerical order.

The scoring in this game is interesting. You play through three hands, the first hand you score all of your blue cards for three points each, then next hand as you continue to build the three columns in front of you, you score blues for three points each and green for four points. Finally in the third hand you score grey for seven points. As well at the end scoring pinks based off of how many pinks you’ve collected. The player with the most points wins.

What Doesn’t Work?

Honestly, I got nothing for this section. That isn’t to say that this is a perfect game. I think that everything works well and it is light fast fun. Jokingly, I wish I paid more attention to the artwork on the game. The game goes so fast that you don’t really have that much time to appreciate it.

Ohanami Cards
Image Source: Board Game Geek (@kalchoi)

What Works?

The drafting in this game works really well. 10 card hand would be a lot to draft from, but you draft two at a time. That means it goes by really quickly. The drafting is also extremely simple. Something like Sushi Go Party has a few more moving pieces to it and the scoring, here you simply draft two cards and add them to columns. Or you can toss a card if it doesn’t work for you. So there is some strategy in your drafting, but there is very little to no hate drafting in the game, because getting points yourself is better than taking an ideal card for someone else.

The scoring adds a lot of depth to this game. It seems pretty simple, but it does make what you draft matter. If you get blue cards in round one, let’s say 5 of them, that’s 15 points in round one, 15 points in round two, and 15 points in round three, assuming you don’t add any m ore. If you get them in round two, you miss out on the first 15, and so on. So while blues can score you the most points, 9 per blue card, that’s only if you get them early. So blues are worth the most in the first round, greens in the second and greys in the third. But you also have to think about pink, you can score a lot of points if you have a lot of them. A few pinks, say two or three will probably cost you point in the long run, but if you can get up to 6-7, now you’ll score a lot more points, and up to 10-12, way more points. So there is a balancing act, because pinks don’t score you points early.

And really, the time works so well for this game. After teaching it once, the subsequent games were 15-20 minutes, so extremely fast. That makes it a great filler and it should be a game that works well with less than four players, even though that’ll make it more random. Because you don’t know when you’ll see cards and who will see them first, you can’t fully strategize anyways, so the randomness at less than four won’t be a big deal. In fact, it can probably enhance some strategies if things shake out right and you’ll see your own hand again more often, in four players you only see two cards again. But no matter the play count the game shouldn’t balloon too much in length. It’ll take longer if you play with analysis paralysis prone players, but hopefully even they can play this game fast.

Final Thoughts

This is going to be a game that is good for a lot of people. The game play is so fast, and there are interesting decisions to be made as you go along. The scoring is what pushes those decisions but gives you flexibility to think about strategy and to think how much of a gap you want to create between numbers, do you want to throw away a card and things like that. And this is a good game for non-gamers and introducing them to an idea, such as drafting. This is as about as simple a drafting game as you can get, so even before something like Sushi Go or Sagrada, this game would work really well.

Overall Grade: A
Casual Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B

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