by Chris Cormier
Tanto Cuore is a deck-building game about managing “your house” by hiring the right combinations of maids to take care of you and the house. The player with the most VP at the end of the game is the winner.
If you’ve never played a deck-building game before, it is basically a card game where each player starts with a deck of “weak” cards and play involves purchasing or gaining new “stronger” cards that let you do more things, buy even better cards and amass victory points.
I should start by saying that I am very much a newbie when it comes to Japanese film and television animation (aka Japanime or Anime)
Theme Does Matter
I should start this by saying that I am very much a newbie when it comes to Japanese film and television animation (aka Japanime or Anime) but there is a genre of Anime that features maids – mostly women and rarely men, who are employed to help cook, clean, run errands, etc. for their employer. The employer is often referred to as “The Master” (as in master of the house). This is the theme of Tanto Cuore.
From the Box Tanto Cuore 2-4 Players, ages 13+
Playing Time: 45 minutes
Designer: Masayuki Kudou
Artist: several (too many to mention!)
Published by: Japanime Games
As someone not familiar with the culture of Anime, I found the artwork at times surprising. Apparently the cards feature artwork from popular artists from Anime – and it appears that this sometimes means that maids are often wearing skimpy, sexy maid outfits. Because the artwork is moderately-to-overtly suggestive, however not explicit, I would probably not bring this out to play with a group of strangers (at a game convention for example).
In spite of her initial hesitations about some of the card art she was quickly converted to liking the game by the depth of options and different paths to victory.
I played the game with my wife and was curious about her opinion. In spite of her initial hesitations about some of the card art she was quickly converted to liking the game by the depth of options and different paths to victory. When it was done, she said, “Overlooking the artwork, I like this a lot better than Dominion,” and other similar deck-building games.
Behind the art and theme lies a very tight, excellent deck-building game with smooth, logical and elegant gameplay. The cards offer a wide range of strategic options and many cards provide a range of player interaction, unlike many of the other multi-player solitaire deck-building games out there.
Tanto Cuore is easy to learn, with straight-forward instructions and symbols on the cards. If you’re familiar with other deck-building games, like Dominion, then you’ll have no problem jumping right into play with this one.
The theme of the game is essentially harmless and would not evoke so much discussion if the cards featured artwork from Downton Abbey
In so many ways, Tanto Cuore is better (or at the very least, as good) as Dominion, the game that it is most-often compared with. First of all: this is a game with theme (something I’ve never been able to fully see in Dominion)! Overall, the theme of the game is essentially harmless and would not evoke so much discussion if the cards featured artwork from Downton Abbey (or maybe one my favourite movies, Remains of the Day). If you can look past the artwork - or imagine art from Downton Abbey, the theme of the game works at least as well, or better than, many deck-building games.
Many of the cards in the game give players the options to play them for the Actions that they provide in the game or to “chamber” them for points at the end of the game. When you chamber a maid card you get to remove that card (and any of its in-game benefits) from you deck until the very end of the game, when it will provide victory points. This makes your deck more efficient and lets the better cards come out more often.
This makes for a faster more exciting game of trying to develop card combinations and synergies that make Tanto Cuore more fun than similar deck-building games.
Like Dominion, you have a limited number of Actions you can take on your turn and playing 1 card might provide you with the ability to draw more cards, play more cards or “hire” new maids to help you in future turns.
I really like the option of “chambering” cards so that they are not clogging up space in your deck. This makes for a faster more exciting game of trying to develop card combinations and synergies that make Tanto Cuore more fun than similar deck-building games.
Knowing this is a sore point with some deck-building games, I should mention that the cards are extremely high quality. Thick and glossy these cards will hold up to a lot of shuffling. The box has lots of room for the cards once they are sleeved, cardboard spacer if you don’t end up sleeving your cards, and comes with a complete set of cardstock dividers for each type of card in the game.
Tanto Cuore doesn’t initially look like a game designed for everyone – but don’t be fooled by appearances! Tanto Cuore brings a lot to the table with player interaction, strategic options and lots of replayability.
If you like Dominion, or deck-building games in general and the art and/or theme of Tanto Cuore appeal to you, then getting this game is a no-brainer!
Tanto Cuore has a bunch of expansions! Watch for my up-coming reviews of them as well.
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