Waldami is a pattern recognition and hand management game.
Theme and What is it?
Theme? Play to recognize. Play to win. That is the closest to a theme as I can give Waldami from its box description. But it really doesn’t need one. Many abstract strategy games are completely devoid of theme and entirely about the gameplay. Waldami is a pattern recognition and hand management game.
There isn’t much I can say without essentially teaching the game. The next series of photos will be examples of each of these possible game actions. These are not from actual gameplay but are staged for teaching purposes and include more than one example per image. I will put the description of the action being displayed directly above each image regardless of the section heading. All game actions have to do with matching the features of a card in your hand with a card or cards in play. When you place a card into play it must match a valid pattern to each adjacent card.
The features present on the cards are an outside shape with a shade pattern and an inside shape with potentially a different shade type. With 3 shape types and 3 shade types in pairings of 4 features per card (outside shape, outside fill, inside shape, inside fill)
1. A single feature change. This type of play puts a card adjacent to another card where only one shade color or one shade type changes either in the outside or inside area.
I like abstract strategies well enough for how easy they usually are to learn and that they give several games of solid enjoyment while both players get the hang of things. I almost always get bored of them as soon as I start to gain proficiency in them. Their real benefit is to those willing to continue playing past the basics and engage in the depths of strategy they offer.
2. A single feature inversion. This is when the color of the inside and outside flipflop or the shape inside and outside flipflop.
Game Build Quality
The promo sample provided to me has an odd quality of card. They are not like cardboard punchboards and no where near that thick. But they are not at all what I think of as a card at all. They are so solid and of a small enough dimension that while you can intentionally bend a card you get nothing of a normal feel when shuffling the cards. Instead of using a slight elastic bend that snaps a riffle shuffle into place, I essentially am dropping cards into each other in order to achieve some sort of shuffle.
This is mildly irritating to me as I am used to having such great skills with shuffling cards quickly and efficiently without damaging them. But at the same time, I know this is an excellent quality for a game to have as it will never experience noticeable wear if handled correctly. Review wise, this deserves a high quality rating. Experiential wise, if you are a player who shuffles thousands of cards every day like I usually do… it might bug you irrationally as well.
3. Double Feature Inversion. This is where the inside shape and color becomes the outside shape and color while the outside shape and color becomes the inside shape and color. This requires all 4 characteristics to be different from the original card or it qualifies under a different category. This is a difficult enough feat to achieve that it provides a bonus in the form of another turn immediately.
The game is very aesthetically pleasing in its shape and pattern way. But it has no real artistic imaging going on. It is simply shapes and colors in a simple and satisfying form.
4. A uniform feature change. This is when the an identical shape inside and outside swap to a different identical shape for each with no change in color. Or, alternatively, when an identical color inside and outside becomes a different color with no shape change.
Waldami is all about the pitting of wills, skills, and available resources in hand against each other. The goal is to be the first player to run out of cards. Each turn you play a card. If you cannot play you instead draw a card and then discard a card. One of the more satisfying parts of the game is the corner combo explained below. When multiple cards will be adjacent to where you want to play, you must have a valid way to play with ALL adjacent cards. If you accomplish this successfully, all opponents draw a card (putting them at a disadvantage in getting rid of their cards first).
5. Corner Combo: You must use one of the 4 rules above to validly place a card next to more than one other card already on the table. You can use different rules for each adjacency and can even accomplish a double inversion in the process (in an ideal universe you will rarely see).
Age Range & Weight
The box has no listed age range. I am going to claim this to be an 10+ game. I can see teaching it to an 8 year old but the pattern matching wont always go perfectly for that young of a player. They could easily become frustrated with being told why they are attempting to play something invalidly. But 10+ should be able to grasp the rules solidly enough to fully engage with Waldami. You have already learned the entire game by this point in the review so I think you can understand it isn’t incredibly complex.
Like all abstract strategy games, this is for a select group of players who will absolutely love it. No one is going to despite playing a round of Waldami but there are plenty of people I know that wont be thrilled by the balance of strategy, luck of the draw, and the timing of when each player puts a card in a critical spot you had plans for. I find myself in the middle ground. I really enjoyed my first few games where both players had no idea what was about to happen.
But I find myself quickly getting into the realm of rationalizing trends in play as being more luck than strategy. I don’t think that is entirely warranted to the game but I don’t see myself playing enough more times to put the strategic depth to a real test. I can definitely say that the game will engage parts of the brain that deal with strategy and pattern recognition. This is always a good thing for an abstract game to accomplish.
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