Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tanto Cuore, or Maid Dominion

Hello friends! Today I'm going to talk about a game you are maybe familiar with called Tanto Cuore. More specifically, I'll be talking about the first expansion, Expanding the House, which can be played either together with the original or as a stand-alone game (I've played it alone and with the second expansion, I haven't played it together with the base set yet, I only recently got my hands on the original set). So let me get on with my explanation!

Tanto Cuore is a deck building card game, very much in the vein of games like Dominion. If I am being honest, it is almost EXACTLY like Dominion, only if that game was all about stockpiling maids (which in my experience it has not been). For those of you who have never played Dominion, a quick primer. In Tanto Cuore you start with a small number of cards in your personal 'deck' (10 to be precise). You draw a hand of 5 each turn, and you use certain currency cards (in Tanto Cuore the currency is called 'love') to purchase new cards to add to your deck from a pool made up of various kinds of cards (pictured to the right is this area, called the 'town' in Tanto Cuore). Different cards do different things, so your goal is to acquire cards that help you to build an effective deck, that will allow you to basically out-buy your opponents, and stockpile more cards worth victory points than them, so you can win. Deck building is a delicate balance of having the right cards in the right proportion, so that you have a useful deck to play the game with. In Tanto Cuore your deck is made up of love cards, and then maid cards. Each turn a player can buy one card (called employment), and play one maid(called a serving, bear with me I know this game is ridiculous), though various cards give you extra employments and servings, as well as additional love and cards drawn. Still with me? sort of?

There are a few elements that this game introduces, that differentiate it from other deck building games I've played, such as the aforementioned Dominion. A big one is that buildings you buy don't go into your deck. Instead they are placed in your personal play zone (your 'private quarters') so you don't have to worry about your deck being choked up by them. The other is chambermaiding. Now normally in a deck building game, you either have a card, which means its in your deck, or you get rid of it, generally meaning you lose all benefits and also the victory points it's worth. In Tanto Cuore on the other hand, there are certain maids, who have the sub-type 'chambermaid'. These cards can be 'chambermaided' by using up a serving, instead of playing them with said serving. They're removed from your deck, and go into your 'private chambers'. Some cards only give victory points, or give extra victory points if you chambermaid multiple copies of them, and some grant benefits while they're the most recent card you've chambermaided. This is from my perspective (and I've played my share of deck building games) very interesting, because it means you can constantly work to cull the size of your deck, to maximize its effectiveness while scoring points. (You generally want your deck to be small enough that you can cycle through it to your best cards as fast as possible). There are also private maids you can buy, who occupy their own chambermaid stack in your 'private quarters' and usually grant passive benefits (such as letting you draw an extra card every turn)

The overall design of the game is, from what I've experienced, pretty great. Expanding the House comes with a total of 16 general maids, 9 private maids, and then two maid chiefs (who are mostly good only for scoring victory points) but you only play any given game with 10 of the general maids at a time (the picture to the right is all the cards that come with this expansion, including love cards and buildings). This gives the game a TON of replay value, especially when you take into consideration the original game, and the second expansion, which are of comparable size. Given that you can mix and match maids between the three, you can drastically change what sort of strategies work best to win, and that is the hallmark of a deck building game that will have lasting value (variety is the spice of life right?)

Of course, there is a major aspect of the game that I've sort of glossed over, that probably makes it not for everyone. This is of course that the game is about building your own personal dokidokiugu maid harem, and becoming the king of maids (see left, that's the actual rule book). While nothing on offer is explicitly H material (though things get pretty nippley in the island paradise expansion), I might feel awkward playing this game in public, and would think it was weird if someone took the 12 and up label literally. I mean, its a fun game and I don't see any real harm in that, but as a grown up I think you get put on some kind of list if you're playing this game with tweens, and I wouldn't recommend that (what're you doing hanging out with them anyway, you creep) Pervy maid fetishes aside, you might just think the whole maid aesthetic is simply too goofy to possibly stand, and if that is the case you will probably not enjoy the game. I had no problem with it, and so had a fantastic time playing this game. I can also say that the art is pretty excellent in general, though clearly there were multiple artists, as some cards do NOT look so great, especially in comparison.

One of the biggest problems you'll probably encounter is acquiring the game at a reasonable price. It's printed in fairly limited quantities, and retails for $50 to start with, so it might take some shopping before you can find a reasonably priced copy, but I can assure you that it's worth it. If you like this sort of card game, Tanto Cuore is totally worth your time! Also maids! Lots of them. So go out there and become the king of maids! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.

They will be mine.

1 comment:

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