Like I said in my previous post about Tanto Cuore, the game is all about collecting waifus. Seriously, that’s about it, but that’s just fine. The game is really playable, even if it isn’t that deep in mechanics or lore. Lore is pretty important to me when experiencing most things — tabletop games, video games, comic books — so Tanto Cuore’s lack of history and world-building bring down the score a bit for me. Nonetheless, it’s still a very playable game with just enough going on to bring out some competition among players. Oh, and the art is fantastic, so that really helps.
Title: Tanto Cuore
Creators: Japanime Games
What’s in the box?
Tanto Cuore (and each of its many expansions) comes with over 250 cards divided up into categories, like General Maids, Maid Chiefs and Love Cards (and if you get expansions, there are more categories, like Building Cards in the Expanding the House box). There is also a handy instruction manual, which you will need to refer to during your first few times playing, especially if you haven’t played a deck-building game before.
Additionally, there are thicker, cardboard versions of each card, which are placed on the table and designate where each card stack will go. So, when you’re setting up, you’ll place the cardboard placers down first, and then go through the giant deck of playing cards, placing each type on its cardboard placer. There are multiple identical cards (usually around 8, but sometimes more) for each maid, and you’re encouraged to buy more than one of each type if that maid scores well for points or has some ability you’d like to have in your hand.
That’s basically it for the product and the setup; just a ton of cards featuring cute or sexy anime girls in maid outfits, all laid out on a grid for you to lust after. There is definitely a lot of eye candy here.
How does it play?
After you get the playing space all set up and all of the maids are in their respective decks (we call the grid of maid decks “Town”), you deal each player their starting deck. This includes 3 starting Maids and 7 Love Cards, each worth 1 love. Love acts like currency in the game and is used to hire maids from town. So, any given maid costs so much love, and you’ll spend love to hire that maid, moving her from town and into your deck.
Players’ decks are face-down, and they draw 5 cards each time into their hand (unless a special maid card states that you may draw more). You’ll then look at your hand and decide how to utilize your 5 cards – you may have 5 Love and wish to spend that on maids, or you may have maids that allow you to “chamber” another maid, and you can then send her to your “Private Quarters.”
This is pretty much the whole game in a nutshell. Hire maids, utilize love and other abilities, ultimately trying to send as many maids as you can from your deck into your chamber. Each maid is worth so many Victory Points (VP) and you’ll count all of these up when the game ends. Whoever has the most VP in their chamber wins. It’s pretty simple really, and the only reason it may take a second to get familiar with is because some maids offer other special abilities (like drawing more cards into your hand, chambering multiple maids, allowing the player to hire more maids per turn, etc).
Tanto Cuore can get pretty competitive throughout the game, mostly because you can see the chamber belonging to the other player(s), and if they’re chambering maids like crazy, you feel the need to start chambering as well. Also, you only have so much love to spend per turn, and can typically only hire one maid per turn, so deciding which one can be difficult because there are so many with different properties.
If you want a bit of advice for starting off on a good foot, try spending your initial few hands of Love on more Love Cards. Yes, you can buy more Love Cards, and so if you would like to have more Love in your deck, which in turn would allow you to buy more maids more often, then get some more in your hand quick. Then, try to hire a couple maids that allow you to draw more cards into your hand, which allows you to have a bunch of cards to use each round, rather than the usual 5. More cards in your hand usually means more Love to spend, and that means you can hire more, higher priced maids earlier in the game. You’ll crush.
There is no lack of presentation in Tanto Cuore. While it’s true that it is only a game with a bunch of cards and no game board (you can buy a beautiful playmat, though), the art featured on the cards is top-notch. A lot of time, you see anime style art featured in tabletop games (or even video games) that sometimes looks more like fan art, which can be depressing. Tanto Cuore does not suffer from this—the cards are beautiful, and each Maid is drawn with care and precision by multiple professional artists who contribute cards to each box.
This is pretty much a must for a game about “hiring” beautiful maids to send to your “private quarters.” If the girls didn’t look cute, why would you even want them in your chamber in the first place? But seriously though, it does embrace the “pervy” aspect of scantily clad anime girls. When I was getting a review copy of the game, I was asked if I wanted “pervy” or “extra pervy?” Obviously, extra pervy was the only answer.
There is no nudity in the art, but it gets close (see Felicity Horn from the Expanding the House expansion). When I was sampling Tanto Cuore at Origins Game Fair, a father was walking up to the booth with his two smallish children in tow, and when he got a little closer he said to them, “uhhh, this might not be appropriate for you guys.” The woman teaching me how to play said, “It’s appropriate until the boys reach about 13.” So, so true.
Tanto Cuore is fun, but only in so much as it’s competitive and you get to stare at anime girls the whole time. The only thing that stops it from being really amazing is what I mentioned earlier, which is the lack of lore or world-building in the game. There is no real imagination happening where you can laugh with the other players about what’s going on in the game. Instead, most of you are keeping your face down and counting Love, or perusing the town for the next maid to collect.
However, this does lend itself to the perfect game to play at night with your roommate or significant other when your staying in and watching tv. Tanto Cuore has pretty much become the go-to game for my wife and me once our kid goes to sleep. We turn on Netflix or something and play a few rounds almost every night. So, I wouldn’t really recommend this game for, say, a party. There just isn’t enough boisterous play and interaction with other players; it’s just all about your hand and your chamber.
Tanto Cuore is a competitive game with great production value and enough interesting mechanic to keep you playing and actually wanting the expansions. It’s easy to set up and highly replayable, ending quickly enough for you to play a couple rounds at a time.
The only problem with the game is its lack of world-building and player interaction. Your mostly in your own head while playing, and you’ve little need to pay attention to what other’s are doing, focusing instead on your hand and how you’ll play it. If I wanted a solo experience, I would just keep playing video games (I heard through the grapevine that a Tanto Cuore video game is coming, so watch for news on that!)
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