Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Patrick Gere & Nico Pirard

Morning Players

No. of Players:
2 or 4

G@mebox Star



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

When I first read about the upcoming game Kumo Hogosha by MORNING PLAYERS I felt that this game could be something special. The whole game, beginning with the game box and ending with the smaller game pieces, is a brilliant work of art - clever, sophisticated, elaborate and extremely well illustrated. If this review was not about playing the game, I would say that everybody would have the need to get the game, just because of the great artwork. But let us see how the game works, before I come back to this aspect.

A Kumo Hogosha is a "Guardian of the Clouds", an extremely skilled man who is selected by the gods to become a kind of demigod. But how does this work? How do the gods find men of such power? Well, this is quite simple: they just set up a tournament in which all the strong volunteers, at this time still called Kumotori, fight against each other to prove their strength and to show their skills to the gods.


Kumo Hogosha actually is the first self-published game of French publisher MORNING PLAYERS. Some of you might wonder why is it their first game? Maybe you already have seen a lot of games by MORNING PLAYERS in the last years? Indeed, the publisher is one of the bigger gaming companies in France, but up to now they were only distributing games. Kumo Hogosha is the first game that was fully developed by themselves, so it is their journeyman's piece and for this I think it is a damn good one!

The game can be played either by two or four players. So, either you play 1 on 1, or you play in teams. In the latter case, the two players facing each other form a team respectively and can win or loose the game together.


It's in the impressively designed arenas where we find our playing pieces, and each player has his own area in form of a small player board where he places his Kumotori at the beginning of the game. In the game these warriors are represented by six-sided dice, each side showing a different symbol. These warriors are sent to the main arena, a rotating board of 9x9 square spaces, with each space big enough for one die. Once a Kumotori is placed in the arena, the upper side of a die determines the possible advanced movement of this warrior.

At the beginning of the game a Stone of Balance is placed on the central space of the arena board. It is the aim of each player to push this Stone of Balance (a clay cuboid) outside the arena into an opponent's camp. That sounds rather unspectacular, but easier said than done.

To push the stone the players have to enter the arena with their Kumotori, reach the stone and push it further into the other player's camp. But of course the opposing players are trying the same (only that they want to push the Stone in the other direction), so the signs are quickly pointing to a battle of strengths. Each turn, a player has five actions. Most important, of course, is the movement. For this a player can either move a Kumotori the simple way (move to an adjacent space) or he can use the advanced movement which is determined by the symbol displayed on the upper side of a Kumotori die. And indeed, there exist some rather interesting advanced movements to push the stone and fight your competitors.

So, with one symbol the Kumotori can run, moving two fields with a single action, whereas another can be used to jump over one or more other Komotori, and still another allows the Kumotori to block an opponent Kumotori by placing his dice on top of the other one. In the core game of Kumo Hogosha each player has the set of dice of the same clan, so that every player has the same choices of movement. But for the future expansions other clans are planned, giving more varieties for the advanced movements.


If a player manages to push or throw an opponent's Kumotori over the edge of the board into his own player area, this Kumotori die is sent to prison. This is a quite useful move, because a player gets an additional action for every Kumotori in his prison zone. On the other hand, opponent players are handicapped, not only because they have one Kumotori less to move, but also because it takes them one action to release the game piece again and get it back onto the main board (but it must still enter from the edge of the board, so it can be a long way back to the fighting zone). As a result, a player whose Kumotori is captured looses a lot of speed. Of course it is also possible to change the active side of a die for a different advanced movement, but this also counts as an action, so it will take some time, too.

All of this could already make an interesting game, but what still ransacks my brain is the fact that you also can (and even must at least once during your turn) rotate the whole arena by 90 degrees for one action each. So, you will see yourself confronted with a totally new game situation a moment after your turn has ended, since the zones into which the stone needs to be pushed now will be located at different sides of the arena. This challenges the players to position their Kumotori in a way to make best use of the arena rotations, and it also sets an incentive to plan far ahead and guess what their opponents will do under these new circumstances.

As already said, Kumo Hogosha looks really impressive, but its attractiveness does not stop with the design of the playing components. As far as the game-play is concerned, Kumo Hogosha is one of the games that needs to be played several times to get a good grip on the mechanism and the possible strategic implications. It is a very abstract game, and like Chess it is necessary to fully understand and analyze your available movements in a given situation. The first game is just for learning, but you can already start to plan ahead in your second game, and from that point onwards playing Kumo Hogosha will be easy-doing - at least concerning the rules. On the tactical level the game remains rather challenging, and for me this was an experience I would not have liked to miss, expecially because of the rather brain-teasing rotating arena board. On a sidenote, it is also quite interesting to see that more and more games use dice as game pieces and not for rolling, and in this new category of games Kumo Hogosha outshines games like Unita with its elegant simplicity.

With all elements fitting well in place, the game is getting a G@mebox Star from me. I must confess that I am already keen for more clans to be released!

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Copyright © 2015 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany