Yomi review

yomi_boxshot5_medium[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

You’re holding the joystick so hard your knuckles go white. You press the button so hard it’s amazing they don’t scream at you in pain. Your fingers move so fast you don’t even see them going from one button to the next. Your mind so focussed on beating the machine in front of you, you look and see every little hint and clue of its next move in order to beat it. Your concentration so deep, if the building collapsed around you, you wouldn’t hear a thing.

And at the end of it all, the word “KO!” appears on the screen either to your delight or dismay. No middle ground here.

20 years ago, that was the world of games such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. We used to spend lots of time in arcades and playing these fighting games was the highlight of the day (or even week!) and we miss those days. Or I do.

So why the nostalgia attack? Because Yomi is the card game that replicates, to a tee those games from the late 80s and early 90s, and boy what an experience that is!

Now, to the beginning. This is the blurb from Sirlin Games:

“Yomi is a card game that simulates a fighting game. It tests your ability to predict how your opponents will act and your ability to judge the relative value of cards from one situation to the next. Also, it lets you do fun combos and be a panda.

You get to be a panda!!!!!! How freaking cool is that!?

Yomi is the Japanese for “reading”, but reading as in the mind of your opponent so you can pre-empt what he/she’s going to do. This is one of the key elements of playing Yomi and it makes it super fun to play.

yomi_contents1_web_grande[1]The Complete First Edition box comes with all the characters that have been released in a lovely box. Each character is a deck of cards of the Poker type – so much so that you can play Poker and other traditional card games with them. Each character has its strengths and weaknesses that work against other characters better than others. That makes exploring different fights a very enjoyable part of the game. The box also comes with great playing mats and four counters for the character’s hit points.

So what do you do with your character? The mechanics are extremely easy. These guys have re-invented Rock Paper Scissors and they’ve done it amazingly well. Players have four basic actions. Attack, Throw, Block and Dodge. Attack beats Throw. Throw beats Block or Dodges, and those two beat Attack. Depending on if you win or not, you get certain rewards.

Rewards can be things like getting an extra card, getting a card back to your hand, or beating your opponent to a pulp (which, I hasten to add, is VERY satisfying!). There are more things, but you need to buy the game to find out.

Each character gets a “power-up” grade. That means for every attack they manage to inflict on an enemy, they can keep adding cards to increase damage. To totally ridiculous levels, which is amazing.

The game is also very fast. With a fairly limited number of cards in each player’s hand, and only four moves, it is hardly a strain any anyone’s brain to decide what to do. Watching the enemy’s life counter getting lower and lower is a very, very satisfying experience (yes, I am gloating here… shoot me).

As you might have gathered, I love this game. However, there is one thing that did disappoint me. The rules are not very well written. It took a long time before I managed to understand the rules fully. For a game with such simple mechanics, the rules don’t leave everything clear enough to start playing right away. Lovingly laid-out as they are, they could be a lot simpler and more player friendly than they are.

Regardless, the game is so enjoyable that it’s worth going through the rules. Once you have, you’ll be playing in no time and every single game it’s terrific, so well worth buying. I would normally deduct some markings because of the rules, but this game is so excellent I will still give it a full 5 stars mark.

Yomi is available from:


At the time of writing this review, I don’t know where to get this in the UK. If you do know somewhere, please let me know.

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