Madoshi: Priests of the Sun and Moon Game Review – Two player spirit hunting

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My wife and I love playing board games and are always on the lookout for 2-player games. Madoshi: Priests of the Sun and Moon is a game releasing in March (off of a successful Kickstarter campaign) that fits the bill.

Components: My review copy components, despite being only ‘near production’ quality were top notch. Components include a thick game board, 26 cards (which includes 2 reference cards and 2 player marker cards), and the star of the show, 25 element tokens. These hefty wooden pieces are printed on both sides. They have a great feel in your hand. All of this fits in a box that is quite portable.

Theme: In Madoshi you play as a set of worshippers of the Sun or Moon, and the moves you make allow you to catch Yokai, depicted by beautiful art on the cards. The art has a classic Asian art theme, with Japanese calligraphy on the tokens and cards. The theme is consistent across all of the components and gameplay, which is a nice touch.

Gameplay: Themes are great, but don’t really mean much if the game isn’t fun. So, how does game play? Madoshi is at its core a two player puzzle game. It reminds me a lot of a game called Element that we love (the tokens reminded me of Chinese Chess). A strength of this game is how easy it is to set up and learn. Set up took about two minutes and it took about 5 to figure out the rules together. This is a great game to play with a friend or family member who doesn’t like overly complicated games with long set up times.

But don’t let the ease of learning fool you. Back in the day, I remember Othello commercials where they said “A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” This game could easily steal that tagline because it can scale in complexity quite well. You can simply work on your puzzles and try to earn the most points that you can. During our first playthrough, my wife and I picked up the game pretty quickly and had a fun time. We then realized how much more strategic we could get by increasing our scope to mess with the other players’ goals as well.

Our games lasted between 18-23 minutes.

There is also a one player mode.

Replayability: Another cool part about Madoshi is each player has three options to try to achieve at any time, and those three options are different from the other players. The options change with each card that is collected, so no two games will likely ever be the same. A few plays in and I don’t see one strategy that can ‘break’ the game and always win.

Who will like it: Madoshi is a very tactile game, with strong strategic puzzle elements. The cards are beautiful, but the wood tokens are the star of the show. Many games can accommodate two players but are better with larger groups. Madoshi is perfectly designed for two and given the seemingly infinite ways it can play out, it won’t wear out its welcome after multiple games. Fans of Bumuntu, Element, and Hive will really like Madoshi.

When and where can you get it: Madoshi’s MSRP is $24.99 and it will be available in early March from the DPH games website. A few months later, it will be more widely available.

Q&A with Dan Hundycz, President DPH Games

The Convention Collective: Is there any story behind how you arrived at the theme? 

Dan Hundycz: The idea for the game came from Stephen Bonzo who used to run a game store in Rochester N.Y. The original concept was based on a style of video games that he would play. The game evolved in development to be a bit different than the original concept, but that’s a normal part of development.

TCC: What can you tell me about the calligraphy in the game?

Dan: It’s actually Japanese. We were actually fortunate enough to find Kyoko Sawyers to create the authentic calligraphy that is seen on the box and each of the Yokai cards.

TCC: Who would you say the game is geared towards?

Dan: Generally, casual gamers. It’s easy enough to learn, but there is depth that can be challenging enough for experienced gamers. We had a tournament at a local game store (pre-Covid) and these two guys EACH scored higher than I ever had. I would also say it is for gamers that like pattern matching and puzzle style games. 

Thank you to DPH Games for providing a review copy of the game.

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