SNAP Review – Yokai Sketch
[Anitra] Do you know what “yokai” are?
[Andrew] That’s the thing with the watches, right? The TV show our kids used to watch – that’s yokai, right?
[Anitra] Not exactly. Yokai is a Japanese term for supernatural beings. They’re monsters or spirits or demons whose existence provides an explanation for otherwise unexplainable phenomena.
[Andrew] Ok, so they’re like the creatures that appear in Japanese legends!
[Anitra] Yeah, the oni and all of those.
[Andrew] Oh, ok! Now we’re going to hunt down some yokai ourselves… but only to draw them and find out more about them.
This is a SNAP review for Yokai Sketch, a game for two players by Ignasi Ferré and published by Devir Games.
The box says it’s for ages 12+ and it plays in about 20 minutes.
Let’s talk about the art in this game.
It’s Vincent Dutrait. It’s beautiful. And his art leans into the “sketch” part of the name in Yokai Sketch.
The backs of the Sketch cards have a pencil-drawn look to them, with a young boy holding hands with a ape-like Yokai.
The fronts of them have bare line drawings of the different yokai types, with a different yokai on the two ends of the card. Each of the four yokai types gets its own background color with a distinct monochrome pattern.
There are also full-color illustrations of the four yokai on the Yokai card backs, using the same colors. The fronts of these cards have a more abbreviated version of the full-color portrait, with the same colors and the background patterns.
[Andrew] So Anitra, let’s talk about the mechanics of Yokai Sketch; how to play the game.
[Anitra] Why are there two kinds of cards, and what do you do with them?
[Andrew] In Yokai Sketch, you’re trying to attract the most valuable yokai cards to your “notebook”.
To setup, shuffle each type of Yokai card separately; then lay the four stacks of yokai out on the table between the two players. Deal each player three Sketch cards.
Start your turn by drawing a Sketch card. Then, you may play up to three cards from your hand. You are not required to play any Sketch cards unless you already have four in your hand.
Play a card next to a matching Yokai type, on your side of the table. Offset it from any other cards already committed to that yokai so you can see how many there are easily.
Then check the matching cards on both sides of the table. If the total number of cards both players have committed to that yokai are equal to or greater than the number currently showing on the stack, the player with more committed Sketch cards wins that Yokai card for their notebook. They take it and discard all their Sketch cards for that type. The other player’s Sketch cards get to stay, and can count towards the next Yokai card in the stack.
If both players are tied for the most cards, the yokai gets frightened and its card moves to the bottom of the stack. Both players discard all of their Sketch cards that are on there.
Some Sketch cards have special abilities, indicated on the middle white space of the card. If you play one of these, choose whether or not to use the ability immediately after playing the card.
The hand lets you call a yokai from a different stack and place it onto the current stack. You treat it as if it is now the same color as all the other yokai in that stack.
The rice ball lets you distract a yokai. Take the last Sketch card your opponent played, turn it around so the opposite side yokai is showing, and move it to the matching yokai stack…. maybe to make that stack score?
When at least one stack of Yokai cards has run out, the game ends. Whoever has more points on the Yokai cards they’ve collected, wins the game.
[Andrew] Well Anitra, what did we expect from Yokai Sketch?
[Anitra] We really like two player card games. They tend to be very tight and involve a lot of back-and-forth, which I like. I was a little skeptical of this one, though, because the theme is that we’re secretly sketching forest spirits. That seemed kidn of weird to me.
[Andrew] Truthfully, a lot of those games where you’re dealing with Bigfoot and stuff like that, they just aren’t very good. There was certainly a lot of skepticism here.
[Anitra] They just haven’t worked for us.
[Andrew] Yeah, they haven’t worked.
For me, it’s a two player game in a small box. You open it and it’s a deck of cards. I was expecting some kind of back and forth player duel.
[Andrew] But as always, we had some surprises.
[Anitra] So, the first thing that surprised me is that this game actually reminded me a lot of Voltage, which is an older two player game.
You’ve got the ability to shift the balance quickly for a specific yokai reward. And that keeps things interesting. I love that you can play up to three cards on your turn – but you really need to make sure they’re the right cards!
I especially liked figuring out how to use those special abilities to force my opponent to help me.
[Andrew] Yeah, this game also reminded me of Hanamikoji, which is a card-based two player game where you are sparring back and forth, trying to win geishas.
The next level strategy that you mentioned; it really comes from affecting two numbers in one turn. You place a [card] with a rice ball on it, you win the number that you’re on. But you can also use the rice ball to move the last card the opponent played to a different stack, which might be separate from where you are, and maybe you can win that one too. It’s a really interesting strategy for a game that’s literally just a deck of cards.
[Andrew] So Anitra, would we recommend Yokai Sketch?
[Anitra] As it says on the box, Yokai Sketch is best for older kids and adults. Although the rules are pretty easy to understand, younger kids are going to get focused on that one Yokai card they want, which can make the game really frustrating. This game is better for players who can stay flexible and keep multiple options open.
[Andrew] Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. So what do you think we should rate this game?
We’re going to rate Yokai Sketch 3½ drawings out of 5.
And that’s Yokai Sketch, in a SNAP!
Find it on Devir’s website.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Yokai Sketch from Devir for this review.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Number of Players: 2
Age Range: 12+
Playtime: 15 minutes