SNAP Review – Inoka
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.
In Inoka, competitors clash to collect sacred stones. the first player to earn 3 is declared the winner!
Inoka is a game for 2-4 players, ages 6 and up. It was designed by Noah Miller with art by Amy Nagi, and published by XYZ Game Labs (I recently reviewed their game Robot Lab).
Hear me discuss the game with my son and daughter, or read on below.
Give each player a set of tactic cards, 3 attack, 3 taunt and 3 block. Each card has a strength value 1, 2, or 3.
Place sacred stones and leaf totem in the middle of the table so everyone can reach.
How to Play
Players start by choosing 5 tactic cards from their hand of 9. Unused cards go facedown to their discard pile for use in the next round.
Players then select a tactic card and play it face down to use in the clash. When everyone is ready, the flip their card over and resolve to decide who’s victorious that round.
When played, tactic cards resolve like this: Attack beats Taunt, Taunt beats Block, Block beats Attack. In the event of a tie between players the tactic card with the higher strength wins.
The winner of the clash receives the leaf totem.
If two identical tactic cards played, then the clash is ruled a tie. The leaf totem doesn’t move, and play proceeds with the next clash.
If a player with the leaf totem wins by playing an attack card, they win the round immediately and take a Sacred Stone. Otherwise, players continue clashing until each player has played all 5 of their cards. Whoever has control of the leaf totem after the last clash gains a Sacred Stone.
At the end of a round, players take all their tactic cards back, choose another five cards, and clashes start again. Continue playing rounds until a player has collected 3 Sacred Stones.
Inoka has two options when playing with more than two players: Free-for-all mode and Challenge mode.
In Free-for-all, everyone clashes at once. Compare tactics: the player with the most wins, receives the leaf totem.
In Challenge mode, players face off in a series of duels to determine a winner. Then play continues around the table clockwise with different challengers.
Inoka is portable and easy to play anywhere. I think it plays best at three players. With two players there ends up being lots of ties in our experience, but that’s just the way we played, you might take a different approach to card selection.
The game is basically rock paper scissors with beautiful art.
There is so much detail in the card art. It really looks like it right out of the pages of a comic book. It reminds me of a series I read called Squarriors, a post-apocalyptic comic about intelligent animals that fight for resources and dominance in the forest. Izzy loved that the “chipmunks are wearing costumes.”
Inoka is kid friendly. The cards are big and easy to hold, and it plays quickly. Izzy picked up on it quick and we taught her brother who’s almost 6 and he got it. He just needed some intital guidance on picking the right strength (2s and 3s).
For me the game was really light and I felt like I didn’t have that many choices to make. I’m just trying to outwit my opponent by guessing what they’d play and trying for the win with an attack card when I hold the leaf totem.
Sometimes the clashes could end up being pretty predicable. If I have the leaf totem, I’m either playing the highest attack card I have, or bluffing if I don’t think the opposing player has the block card. If I know what they have, its even easier.
Now with that said, its rock-paper-scissors with a theme and story applied to it. So that gives Inoka a few bonus points in coolness factor and kids will dig that.
What we wish Inoka did differently
I wish the rules were organized to explain the game in phases or steps. I ended up re-reading sections several times to understand the flow of the game.
I still don’t understand why anyone would choose the lower number tactic cards. In most of our games, no one ever played a 1 strength card. To circumvent the advantage of the leaf totem, players just need to play Block cards in hopes that the other player will choose Attack.
Inoka left me wanting more. Maybe a special player power or a way to surprise my opponent when it looks like I’m behind. But that’s just me and I know there are plenty of people who enjoy this style of game and for them it will be a huge hit.
In the end, we enjoy Inoka, but we’d only play it with three or more players. We rate it 3 out of 5 spears.
Inoka is available now from Amazon.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
The Family Gamers received a copy of Inoka from XYZ Game Labs for this review.
Number of Players: 2-4 players
Age Range: 6+
Playtime: 5-20 minutes