Do you have the stones to pit your wit and skills against a deadly opponent in hand to hand combat? Do you have the speed of a falcon, the strength of a lion, and the cunning of a fox? Test yourself in the card game Yomi, a 2-player card game that attempts to emulate a street-fighter style martial arts competition. You’ll need to hit your opponent fast and hard, but you’ll also need to read your opponent and guess their next move, or you may find yourself on the wrong end of a knockout blow.
You may recognize the setting, as this game is based in the Fantasy Strike universe, sharing the scene with such games as Puzzle Strike and Flash Duel.
How It Plays
In Yomi, each player has a set of cards corresponding to one of the 10 characters. Each set is equivalent to a standard playing card deck, with an extra Character card and Rules card. Of course, in Yomi the cards feature character art and cards have extra stats and special abilities.
Players start with 7 cards in their hand. Each turn, players draw 1 card, then simulatenously choose 1 card to play. When both cards are chosen, they reveal their cards.
Combat is resolved in a rock-paper-scissors manor. That is, Block/Dodge beats Attack, Attack beats Throw, and Throw beats Block/Dodge. If players both play attacks or both play throws, whoever played the attack with the highest speed wins. If they both play dodges, nothing happens and they continue on to the next round.
A player who succeeds with an Attack or Throw can start a Combo. Normal attacks can be combo’d in sequence (that is, if you play a “3” attack you can combo a 4, then a 5). The face cards (J, Q, K , A) have tags indicating if they are “linkers” (can be played at any point in a Combo), Starters (can only start a combo), and Enders (Can be played at any time during a combo, but ends the combo).
However, a Combo isn’t a free reign to lay on the damage. Each character has a combo limit. In addition, a player on the receiving end of a combo can play a face-down defensive card at the start of the combo, and reveal it when the combo is finished. If it’s a Joker, it cancels all of the damage of that combo.
At the end of a turn, each player has the opportunity to discard sets of cards from their hands to search their deck/discard for Aces, the most powerful cards.
Many cards also have special abilities that allow players to manipulate their hands, gain extra attack powers, and a variety of other things depending on what character is in play.
Whoever is reduced to 0 hit points first loses, and the standing player is declared the victor!
As long as Yomi’s pace is kept up, it’s a pretty decent diversion and an interesting 2-player game.
I always have a little trouble explaining the rules to this game quickly; it’s strange, because it’s actually a pretty straightforward game. The Rock-Paper-Scissors format is familiar, and it’s not difficult to remember what beats what, and the player aid has a nice large diagram to remind you if you forget. It just seems like there are a lot of details that are important to know before you start, details that almost seem clumsy; but once you finally get started, everything falls into place.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that every card has icons to reference as well as a textual description of what it can combo into, or what happens in situations specific to that card (for example, playing a Block versus an Attack lets you draw an extra card, while playing Dodge against Attack lets you hit back with one attack card), so if you’re trying to figure out your best combo, you have a convenient reference.
And the game plays very quickly; at 90 hit points, you have enough to sustain a few hits; but the hits do come strong and hard. It’s all about trying to set up a massive attack and then really laying out the smackdown at your first opportunity. These things generally take 2-3 turns or so, so like I said, the game clips along with massive hits every few turns while allowing enough leeway to come back from a rough turn.
The primary decision element of the game is simply choosing which card to play. It may at first seem like you’re just picking randomly and hoping you get through, but the core mechanism isn’t really “playing a card” it’s “guessing what card your opponent is playing.” Some turns will be a toss-up, but guessing is made possible by context. Your opponent is running low on cards; will they block in hopes to draw more cards, or play an attack guessing that you’ll play a throw in hopes to steamroller through their block?
But, you can’t spend too long trying to figure it out, or the game will drag. It’s meant to simulate a fast-paced martial arts contest, and you’ve got to keep the energy up. Each turn should take a few seconds; once an attack lands, you just have to decide if you’re going to do a combo or not; your hand size is small enough and combos limited enough that you won’t have a lot of options with your combos. Chances are more likely that you’ll try to build up one of your special attacks (your facecards often allow you to discard extra copies of the same card to do massive damage that doesn’t count as a combo), or discard for Aces.
One thing I noticed about this game is that hand sizes tend to dwindle. Barring special abilities on cards, the only way to draw new cards is by playing a block; and then, only if your opponent plays an attack. You do have the benefit of taking a block card back to your hand if it succeeds, but if you’re running low on cards your opponent will probably try to throw you a lot so your blocks will do no good. Discarding pairs and triples for Aces is an important part of setting up bigger attacks, but you always trade down in volume. New players will frequently find themselves with only 1 card in hand to play, which really limits their options; and you can’t choose NOT to play a card, so if you can’t succeed on a block or draw a special ability that lets you draw more cards, you’re going to get stuck, which is less than exciting. That’s all the more reason to play fast and plan your attacks carefully; you want to use up your cards only when you can do something awesome, or when you can KO your opponent. You also want to play Blocks when you can BEFORE your hand size shrinks to small, so your enemy can’t trap you.
The fast-paced nature of the game does evoke the street-fighter-ish theme, which is cool. There are 10 different characters (which you can purchase individually, or you can just buy the master set with all 10 characters, and you still get individual card boxes for each character), and they all have slightly different numbers of blocks, attacks, throws, etc. They also have different special abilities, different character abilities, and different special attacks. However, perhaps to keep the game balanced, these special abilities don’t change the game all that much. I didn’t feel like I had a big difference in strategy between Jefferson DeGrey, the “ghostly diplomat,” and Max Geiger, the “Precise Watchmaker.” There were a few differences, different cool powers to use on occasion, but mostly it was all about guessing my opponents moves and trying to keep my hand size up. Sitll, at least you can play with different card art, and perhaps as you explore the game more deeply, you’ll be able to take advantage of character’s abilities in more unique ways. On the plus side, you won’t need to study each character and learn obscure rules for each one.
So, lets round this up. Yomi isn’t a strategic game; it’s barely a tactical one. It’s about guessing your opponents moves, or “reading” him or her to counter them perfectly. (Apparently “Yomi” is Japanese for “Reading”). It will appeal to someone looking for a fast-paced 2-player gmae with direct conflict; It’s a decent portrayal of a 2-D fighting video game for the tabletop. It has some depth you could definitely explore with the different characters and powers, and it plays very quickly. You can get individual packs or buy the whole master set, but either way you have an easy-to-learn, portable, non-collectible card game that’s pretty fun.