Kayarath’s Adventures In Card Gaming

Posted on May 12 2011

Welcome to my review of Fruits Basket! No, I haven’t seen the Fruits Basket anime. No, this isn’t a review of the manga either. I haven’t finished it yet and Llian already did a manga review. This is a review of the Fruits Basket card game! No, you don’t decide the fate of the world through playing it. No, you don’t need to make ridiculous poses when you play it either. No, you don’t play this game while riding motorcycles! It may be better described as a board game that uses cards. (yes, I know that sounds very strange)

The Fruits Basket Card Game: Friends of the Zodiac takes place during the anime’s timeline which was also the first half of the manga. The purpose of the game is to follow Tohru around as she makes friends with all the Sohmas. You win the game by making the most friends. If you watched a lot of Fruits Basket, we’re sure you realized you’ve already “won” if you’re playing with your friends! (The last sentence was taken verbatim from the game’s manual)

Speaking of Tohru, here is her card!

If your sole criteria for stuff is how Fruits Baskety it is, then this product is for you! Practically every card has either a picture straight from the anime, a quote from a character, or is a reference to an event, plot point, or idea from Fruits Basket. The starting player is decided by your zodiac sign, with the rat going first. There’s even an in game mechanic for the Sohmas transforming to and from their animal forms! This card game is faithful to its source material, with one exception. Due to the fact that the last two zodiac members were never featured in the anime, they’re not in the card game either. They’re replaced with pictures of food and housing. I’ll blame the anime not covering the entire manga for that.

If you’re examining this game as a game, it works. I imagine that if you took all the Fruits Baskets flavor out of it, the game would stand up by itself. Manipulating Tohru’s position and the memory pool to your advantage instead of your friends is a constant challenge. However, I have not play tested it as extensively as I would like. I could only play this game a couple of times with some random gaming acquaintances. They were mostly put off by the Fruits Basketness of it all, but they never said the game was bad. I think part of it was due to my inability to explain stuff in general. I’m as good as explaining stuff as Hiro Yuy is at expressing emotion.

Come to think of it, I think part of the difficultly of learning the game is that it is fairly unique. I’ve played plenty of different games and I can’t come up with any game that is similar to The Fruits Basket Card Game. I played console video games, computer video games, tabletop role playing games, Euro board games, American board games (and there is a huge difference between American and Euro board games!), and even trading card games. Yet none of them are quite like making friends with the Zodiac.

Friendship is a idea that constantly get reinforced. There’s even a game variant that’s designed to enhance friendships by having the players answer questions like, “Who do you trust the most? Do they trust you?” and “ Is there someone you could help by learning a new skill?” For those of you not willing to share, there’s a co-operative mode for playing together instead of against each other. Another option is to play the long version so you can hang out with your friends more. There’s plenty of ways to have fun with Fruits Basket!

One interesting note is that all the friendship cards also double as a poker deck. They even used Saki and Arisa (Tohru’s best friends) as the Joker cards! It’s perfect for those of you who always wanted to have pics of Ayame near you while playing Texas Hold’em! To answer the question any Fruits Basket fan must already have, you can play Dai Hin Min (which means “Rich Man, Poor Man” in English I assume) with these cards. Rules for Dai Hin Min are already included in the game’s manual.

And here's Saki in card form!

Any Fruits Basket fan worth their onigiri should totally be getting this game. It’s also a worthy buy for the gamer looking for a unique card game that doesn’t mind a strong shojo flavoring. I like this game too and would recommend it to any person with friends to play it with. Than again, everything is better with friends!

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  • nerdwerld May 16, 2011 at 6:47 AM

    Cardgames in loose Japanese mythology references XP

  • Tempest Wind May 16, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Oh man, trading cards that double as playing cards? And it’s Furuba themed?? I’m SO THERE. Kayarath — I challenge you to strip poker!

    I would’ve said this reminds me of the .hack card game, with its ingenuity and anime references, except that I think the Fruits Basket cardgame takes it a few steps further.

    Where can I buy this delicious product?

  • Kayarath May 23, 2011 at 9:53 PM

    Well Tempest Wind, I’ll play your little game. However, I think I’ll have the advantage in it. We can play it at AnimeNEXT 2011! As for buying it, I can’t recommend any place because I brought my at a my local gaming store and I don’t know if it can get more…

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