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Inoka Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look: Inoka

Designer: Noah Miller
Artist: Amy Nagi
Publisher: XYZ Game Labs
Year Published: 2018
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 6+
Playing Time: 5-7 minutes

From the publisher:
Long before the age of man, the most enlightened of the forest's creatures, the Inoka, competed in a contest of strategy and wits to determine who will be Nature's Emissary. 

Once every generation each village sends their brightest competitors to clash in a ceremonial game called ‘Achkai’. The winner is decided by retrieving the most sacred stones and claiming the Leaf Totem. The champion controls the ebb and flow nature itself by becoming Nature's Emissary.

Inoka is a portable, pocket-game for 2-4 players that combines roshambo, beautiful art, and a simple scoring system to create a fun, quick game that can be played anywhere and anytime.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Inoka. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. Inoka has a planned Kickstarter launch date of June 12, 2018.

Review: Inoka

Overview and Theme:

The theme of Inoka is a charming woodland world, before the age of man, when creatures (which here means chipmunk-esque warriors) compete to become the Nature's Spirit Guide for the coming year. The art on the cards, box, and instructions is rich and lavish and draws you into the world.

The game itself is quite simple - a take on the classic Roshambo or Rock-Paper-Scissors, played with cards and tokens.

Components and Setup:

Inoka contains 36 Tactic cards (nine of each type for up to four players), nine Sacred Stone cardboard tokens, and one wooden Leaf Totem token.

Setup is super fast - simply give each player one set of cards (three of each type: Attack, Block, and Taunt, at strengths 1, 2, and 3). Set the tokens nearby, and begin!

Game Play and Mechanics:

Anyone familiar with Rock-Paper-Scissors will be able to jump right into Inoka, especially at the two-player level. Here, players choose five of their cards to use this round, setting the others to the side. Then, players simultaneously reveal one card at a time to see whose card is victorious: Attack beats Taunt, Taunt beats Block, and Block beats Attack.

The symbols are included on each card to help you remember the hierarchy in each clash. If there's a tie, look to the strength marks (one, two, or three) on the cards played, as Attack-3 will beat Attack-2.

The winner of that clash takes the Leaf Totem to show they have gained advantage, and the next card is played. If one player wins a clash with an Attack card while they have the Leaf Totem, they win the round. If that doesn't happen, then the player in possession of the Leaf Totem at the end of the round wins.

The winner of the round takes one Sacred Stone token, and the first player to three tokens wins the game.

The gameplay for three or four players is a little more complex, but it also adds to the fun and theme of the game. First, there is an initial free-for-all round where everyone participates in a clash until one player is the clear winner of the Leaf Totem (instructions are given for potential ties in the free-for-all).

Once one player has the Leaf Totem, the game continues through a series of one-on-one challenge clashes with the player to their left. The winner keeps their Tactic card, and the loser must discard. A new Challenge Clash takes place between the new owner of the Leaf Totem and the player to their left. This continues with players being eliminated when they are down to just one Tactic Card in hand, until only one player remains to win the round.

The Good:

The artwork and theme in Inoka is amazing - my kids and their friends wanted to be warrior chipmunks, too! The styling is lovely here.

The three- and four-player game adds a nice level of strategy as you must decide which cards to take, which ones to use, and which ones to hang onto for later in the round. It builds off of a familiar game to take it to a new level of interest, but it's still quick and easy enough to play while waiting for an appointment, between activities, or in other snippets of time.

The Bad:

At two players, Inoka really just plays like an overly complicated game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. Without the interest of the challenge clashes, the theme falls away a bit and we found ourselves much less engaged. Inoka definitely shines at four players!

Players Who Like:

Players who enjoy a good game of Rock-Paper-Scissors or games like War, Top Trumps, and Bahoochie! will like the game play of Inoka. Families and friends who enjoy the natural setting and anthropomorphized animals of games like Mice and Mystics or Grimm Forest may find themselves enchanted by the theme of Inoka, as well.

Final Thoughts:

My family enjoys quick games that we can play in snippets of time between other activities, so Inoka will fit nicely in our bag of on-the-go games. It definitely shines with more players as the challenges play out, and it encourages the kids to delve into the fantastic world highlighted in the artwork and styling.

Check out Inoka on:


On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends July 14, 2018.

About the Author:

My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!
Inoka Kickstarter Preview Inoka Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on June 11, 2018 Rating: 5

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