Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest – Japanime Games – Review

Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest - Japanime Games - Review 1

This marks the 10th anniversary of Tanto Cuore!  Check out kickstarter to find the 10th anniversary special edition of the game!   

Joseph Summa

MeepleGamers

7/10
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Theme and What is it?

7/10

Tanto Cuore is a deck-building game where players employ cute maids to serve them.  The player with the most valuable collection of healthy maids at the end of the game is the perfect master and wins the game.  Tanto Cuore means “Much Heart” in Italian.  The entire game uses heavy thematic elements to explain normal deck-building mechanics established with Dominion. 

This marks the 10th anniversary of Tanto Cuore!  Check out kickstarter to find the 10th anniversary special edition of the game!   

Oktoberfest twists the maids of the house theme into running a tavern and hiring bar maids.  Many of the mechanics are designed specifically to fit within this thematic twist.

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Gameplay Mechanics

7/10

Players use their love points to employ new staff.  Only one new staff may be hired unless a current staff member has increased that limit.  Newly employed staff usually head to the kitchen entrance (discard pile).  The master of the house calls maids at his side (hand) to serve him during his turn.  Each player starts with one serving on a turn but some maids will generate extra servings to allow other maids to serve in the same turn.  

At the end of each turn, most cards return to the kitchen entrance and the master summons those in the waiting room (draw deck) to his side (hand).  If the waiting room is empty and the master needs to summon more to his side, all the staff in the kitchen entrance scramble to the waiting room in a jumble (shuffle) where they will enter in whatever order they ended up.  

To spice up the normal Tanto Cuore gameplay, Oktoberfest introduces a few new mechanics.  The Beer deck is chief among the new features.  Some of the cards in the game play off the end game alcohol value of your stash.  Other events allow you to steal the beer from your opponents unless they have protected it with beer fest buildings.  Some of the beer offer set collection scoring mechanisms.

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Initial Impressions

9/10

The 4th installment to the Tanto Cuore line brings a theme many are going to love to the game.  We were looking forward to what new twists it will bring.  The beer deck and some particular markets that interact more heavily with it than others are going to offer quite a few unique experiences to explore in the new gameplay.

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Game Build Quality

10/10

The cards are of quality construction and the dividers for the sets of cards are well organized.  The dividers also have numbers on them for a reasonable sorting order (descending cost).  The box was designed with sleeves in mind so that a cardboard spacer makes the game fit as packaged.  By flipping the spacer vertically, thin sleeved cards will fit snugly.  And premium thick sleeves with solid backing will still fit in the box by removing the spacer entirely.  

This is a very courteous step Japanime Games has taken.  It ensures players will be able to use the provided materials effectively regardless of how they protect the game.  I wish every company took the time to make sure their components will remain useful in the real world.

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Artistic Direction

8/10

As you would expect from Japanime Games, there is a HUGE anime theme to the art!  It looks straight out of a manga.  The maids are all intended to be in various cute clothing and poses.  Some of the art has more suggestive posturing or angles than others.  Where the line is between cute, overtly sexualized, and obscene is very different for different cultures and even individual players.  This set has a very strong emphasis on busty bar maids.  Just know that will be a notable feature in the artwork.

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Fun Factor

6/10

All deck-builders have a charm to the way everyone starts with the same opportunities and resources.  With the ability to only play a single maid in a hand early in the game, our plays have quickly diverged into drastically different tactical styles.  The maids that allow extra servings and combos are utilized by all players to open up more combination play potential.  

This set encourages players to explore the beer deck options and fight to collect the best set of brews.  This is totally different from the way most Tanto Cuore games have felt to me as a lot of the interesting tactical decisions end up being face down.  I didn’t enjoy the randomness of the beer deck as much as a carefully controlled deck balance and manipulation of hand activation order in the previous sets.

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Age Range & Weight

6/10

The rating is 13+.  Mechanically, players could learn deck-building games earlier than that.  Most of them have this same age range.  They have a barrier to entry getting used to the main mechanisms that are then very easy to swap between all the games within the genre.  Thematically, this game is worth parents considering if it is right for them.  Most people will not mind at all while some will find the theme offputting. 

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Conclusions

7/10

Tanto Cuore is going right next to my other favorite deck-building games.  It will come out on the table regularly.  Most deck-builders don’t even try to explain why you are buying cards, shuffling them together, playing those cards for effects, and buying more cards with them.  Tanto Cuore takes those mechanics and explains them soundly within its theme.  If you want to call it “actions” or “maid plays” to make your life easier than counting your remaining “servings”, feel free!  

The 4th sequel to the Tanto Cuore series, Oktoberfest was less well received with my players than the third set, Romantic Vacation (which was our favorite!).  I particularly enjoyed the chambermaid chief special ability and regularly swap it into play regardless of which sets we are using at the time.  The ability to choose the features you do and do not like and mix them between sets is definitely a strength of the Tanto Cuore family of games.

Don’t forget to check out the 10th anniversary kickstarter!  You will find some really special things there.

Tanto Cuore: Oktoberfest - Japanime Games - Review
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