Now here’s a versus debate to ponder: Greek gods versus Norse gods; who would win? Normally these affairs would be fought out in endless forum debates. Sometimes a catchy song or rap would be written to play out the fight. However, any anime fan knows there’s only one way to settle a dispute: with a children’s card game! Enter Kanzume Goddess!
Kanzume Goddess is a competitive deck building game developed by Bianfeng Network Science and Technology, a Chinese gaming company (I guess). The game was localized for English speaking audiences by Japanime Games, who specializes in bringing anime-themed table top games to the masses. After a successful Kickstarter campaign and a wait longer then anyone would like, Kanzume Goddess reached the retail distribution chain. So, how does it stack up?
Quite well, in the literal sense. Being the only deck building game in existence to come in a can, you can quite easily stack them up one on top or another or in a pyramid. The can style packaging is compact enough to fit in any travel bag but sturdy enough to be a blunt weapon (Note: I have never used Kanzume Goddess’ packaging as a weapon nor do I endorse using it as one. Also, it may trigger metal detectors should you actually put in your travel bag during a flight). The fatal flaw in the can design is that it becomes inadequate should you decide to sleeve the game cards into card protectors. In that event, the packaging would have a good second life as a coin bank should you or a friend have any capability in metal working.
The art also stacks up; as in “Dang, all of this card art is full of stacked chicks!” If you want to look at well-drawn breast, then this is the card game to get! There’s side boob, under boob, big boobs, and just plain old boobs! The fanservice is strong with one. It’s so strongthat it’s the first thing a lot of new players tend to notice. In fact, I would say that it’s overpowering, even. Despite the mountains of cleavage to gawk at, there’s actually a respectable game behind all those giant peaks.
As I was playing, I got a huge déjà vu feeling from my causal Magic: The Gathering days. One of the play modes is “Individual Match” where you and up to five friends go royal rumble on each other until only one goddess remains standing. Deciding who to attack, weighing who the real threat is, and bluffing yourself out of other people’s radar is just some of the multiplayer mayhem you’ll experience as you play. The other mode is “Team Match” where your team wins by defeating the main god of the other team. The other players are support gods who run interference and/or defense depending on your taste. I never had the chance to run this mode, but it does remind me of the Emperor format. Emperor is quite fun if you can get through the logistical problem of finding three or five other people to play with.
This game also reminds of the Ascension deck building game. In that game, (most of) the cards you can recruit come from one common pool of cards that get replenished from a single pile. That’s a lot easier to set and clean up after then picking ten different card types to go through every single game like in Tanto Cuore. It also has the benefit of players competing over the choice cards because someone else just might take the card you want if you don’t get it first.
Kanzume Goddess is more then a retread of other deck building games though. One unique aspect is that you get to play as a goddess (or god). Each goddess comes with two or more special abilities. Some abilities are offensive, some are defensive, and some synergise quite well with another goddess. Each goddess’ unique set of powers encourages their own style of play, making each game a little different with their own personality and different match ups.
Another important thing to consider is the Color Restraint rule. Warrior cards are the things that win you games but you can normally only play one a turn. However, each warrior has a color and a color restraint. For example, a warrior’s color could be green and her color restraint is red. If you have a red warrior, you can play it for free after the first one because its color matches the color restraint. So you can play a red warrior after that, and then a sliver one because it matches the red’s color restraint, and then a yellow warrior because it matches the sliver one’s color restraint. Get what I’m saying? With some foresight and planning, you can create some powerful combos.
One very important thing to note is that you put cards you recruit on top of deck instead of in your discard pile. I’ve been playing it wrong the whole time! I just learned of that rule as I was writing this review! Man, I feel foolish and dumb. In most deck building games, you put the cards you recruited into your discard pile. Putting your recruited cards on top of your deck has profound tactical implications.
In light of this information, I need to reconsider my personal opinion of the game. In the couple of times I played it, I found the game to drag because attack cards were hard to come by and they kept getting blocked when ever I played them. Given a choice between this and Tanto Cuore, I would pick Tanto Cuore every time (I just can’t resist cute maids!). Having said all of that, I still recognize that Kanzume Goddess is a solid representative of the deck building genre. It’s a good game and many people will like it. I feel like I’m talking about a modern military shooter because even if it’s good, there are so many other options out there that are super good. It’s somewhere between good and great, and that’s close enough for me. I guess the only way to find out if this game really is for you is to play. I’m certainly willing to try this game, and you should too!