Before I begin I was sent a copy of the game in exchange for an honest preview. This is not a paid preview. You can check out the video of this preview below and get your own copy here.
It is not often I am asked to review games by non-Euro or American designers. It just does not happen very often. That is not to say that I do not get requests to review games with themes from outside those regions, and there is always a question of have they done their due diligence on the study of the culture they are representing? So on the rare occasion that I am asked to do it, I pretty much always jump at the chance. Geisha’s Road was no different.
I was very much excited about the prospect of playing a game by a Taiwanese design team and publisher, themed around the Geisha history of Taiwan. Yes, I first thought “Isn’t that Japanese?” But with a little research I learned that there was, in fact a hot spot of Geishas in Taiwan, though the main history behind them is still Japanese.
Geisha’s Road is a two play only, area movement style game. To win you will need to score the most points (lanterns) in two out of three rounds. Each round you will play all four of your core actions. The core actions will allow you play cards from your hand, and in half the cases allow you opponent to play cards…also from your hand. Each of the played cards will move a matching colored Geisha around the rondel set up of Tea Houses a number of spaces equal to the number on the card.
Every time a Geisha lands on its home (matching color) tea house and stops there, points will be placed out on the board that will be able to be claimed by the player who plays the highest value cards of that color. Additionally, when using the customer expansion, playing cards numbered “1” or “2” will earn you customers which will be used for set collection scoring at the end of the round.
Each player will play their four actions, then you will determine who has won each set of lanterns that have been placed. Add those to the score for your set collection of customers. The player with the highest score wins that round, and the first to win two rounds wins the game.
So what do I think?
A fast, simple game that has a shocking amount of strategy to it. Because most of your actions involve giving cards to your opponent, cards that you are unable to choose yourself you constantly find yourself battling with what cards to play. I was consistently surprised by how hard I had to think to try to make my actions work out.
I also really like the customers mini expansion. That adds an element to the game that takes away the inherent extra value of the higher cards. Yes, they still are what let’s you win the lanterns at the end of the rounds, but that is very well balanced by the ability to collect the customer sets.
The art and components are lovely, but perhaps it would be nice for unique customers.
This is a two player only, 20 minute game. So if you are looking for anything other than that, then you have come to the wrong place. Additionally, it takes up a surprising amount of space on the table.
Bringing it all together
Geisha’s Road is a delightful two player game. It plays lightning fast, and has a shocking level of strategy to it. This may not be a game you are going to center a game day around, but in the world of quick two player games, there are not many better.
A 20 minute game should not have a 20 page review
* Super fast to learn and play
* Mini-expansion makes a good game better
* Far more strategy to this game than you would expect from the rules
* Takes up a lot of space on the table