Brother Ming Games
Play Time: 60-90 Minutes
Coming off the success of Anna’s Roundtable, Brother Ming Games returns for Genshin Tarot, the latest fan-made board game inspired by Genshin Impact. Genshin Tarot is a 1-4 player cooperative game in which the players team up to take down one of the game’s three bosses. Unsurprisingly, the Genshin Tarot draws from the setting, characters, and mechanics of the video game that inspired it.
“Step inside weary Traveler, you look like you’re in need of a break. Why don’t you join me for a quick game?”
A Brief How To Play
Setup involves the players’ selecting the boss that they want to confront. A few royal and basic enemies are arranged in a brick pattern, with the royal enemies at the bottom of the pattern. Each player receives 5 character cards and selects 4 of them to form a party with. The appropriate action cards for each character are gathered and form a deck. Each player will get a board for tracking resources and the corresponding tokens, and the remaining cards and tokens will be placed around the board.
After each player draws their cards and the first enemy is revealed, play will begin.
I won’t get too deep into the details of how to set up and rules of Genshin Tarot, as the publisher has created a fine video that quickly goes through the rules. You can watch this video below:
Play consists of a player phase in which players can conduct actions such as spending action points to perform actions from their deck and using Mona to upgrade their actions. After each player has simultaneously performed the player phase, they discard their hands and draw a new one. An enemy phase then begins in which enemies attack the players. If the players don’t have any guard, they will lose HP. As enemies are cleared, new ones will be revealed when unobstructed by the cards above them.
Eventually, the boss will be revealed and players will have to deal with any remaining enemies plus the boss’s attacks and abilities, which are determined by dice rolls.
If the boss is defeated, the players win. If any players run out of HP or if the players run out of turns, they lose.
Pacing and Interactivity
One thing that is common in cooperative games is a player or two having much more knowledge about the game than other players. This can lead to some handholding, which is important sometimes, but it can also lead to a few negative interactions as well. In most cases, one player will try to enforce what others do since that player assumes that they know what is best for the group. A player can easily feel like they aren’t actually playing when this happens.
The nature of Genshin Tarot prevents this kind of negative interactivity. Sure, players are working together to take out enemies and keep their parties healthy, but each player has plenty to keep track of. With everyone having a party of four and their own unique decks, it’s a little more difficult for one player to railroad everyone else. Instead, everyone feels like they are playing the supporting role in Genshin Tarot, leading to tons of positive player interactions. It feels good and rewarding to work together here.
Every player has their own enemies in their own zones, and if any player finishes defeating all of their enemies, the boss is revealed and attacks all players. This leads to players needing to pace themselves some and help their teammates with their enemies. For example, Genshin Tarot has an element mechanic in which applying two different elements to an enemy will trigger a unique elemental reaction and break the enemy’s guard. Players can apply elements to the enemies of other players as some additional support.
Since every player is working together and taking turns simultaneously, Genshin Tarot does a solid job of minimizing downtime. Like the video game, Genshin Tarot gives every player the opportunity to contribute and work together. Games don’t overstay their welcome and can typically be finished in a little more than an hour. As the turn counter progresses and HP gets lower, things get more intense, making Genshin Tarot feel faster than it is due to the sense of urgency.
With over 22 characters in the base game, numerous enemy combinations, and three bosses, Genshin Tarot is a game that will last. Fans of the franchise will obviously get more mileage out of Genshin Tarot since they have a connection to the characters and gameplay mechanics. Still, those who only have little knowledge of Genshin Tarot (Like two of the three players at our table) will still find themselves able to enjoy countless games of Genshin Tarot. Even without the theme, it plays like a fine cooperative game with solid deck-building mechanics.
Unlike Anna’s Roundtable, Genshin Tarot only has one mode to play with. This isn’t necessarily a negative, since Genshin Tarot does this one thing well, but it certainly isn’t as flexible as the developer’s previous outing. Don’t get it wrong though, there is plenty to enjoy in Genshin Tarot if players buy into the theme or enjoy the core gameplay loop. There are various handicaps and challenges to tweak the experience for the player, not to mention the expansions that add more characters to explore.
Theme and Components
As solid as the gameplay is, we all know the main draw of Genshin Tarot. This game is catered specifically for Genshin Impact fans, and it’s immediately obvious upon opening the box that this game was made with love for the franchise. The game’s rules fit right in with the game’s gameplay mechanics. The transition isn’t as seamless as it was for the Fire Emblem and Persona 5 fan games since those both adapted turn-based experiences, but it still feels good to play Genshin Tarot. The abilities are appropriate for each character, and the elemental reaction mechanic is astoundingly well implemented.
Genshin Tarot features 22 major arcana cards and over 250 playable cards. As a result, players are treated to many gorgeous takes on their favorite characters. The tarot cards are authentic and nothing short of gorgeous. Getting tarot cards that look like this would be a win in itself, but getting a fully realized board game built around it is an incredible bonus. For those who are curious about the minor arcana cards, there are expansions being released that will cover these. These expansions will be covered as they are released, but expect them to have the same quality as the cards in the base game.
Like previous projects by Brother Ming Games, the components are of excellent quality. The player boards look excellent with tracks that are both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Anyone who has played The Great Split will know what kind of quality to expect from the player boards. For every cardboard component is something that looks remarkable like the dice. It’s another well-designed fan game that is a testament to what fan projects are capable of when they put a little love behind their work.
Genshin Tarot Is Great For Fans Of…
This one is for the fans. As a Genshin Impact game, Genshin Tarot is an excellent translation of the cooperative mode. As a collector’s piece, it is the perfect conversation starter between fans. Any Genshin Impact fan will look at this set with pride every time they walk by it.
Still, this game will likely appeal to deck-building and cooperative fans too. It won’t give non-fans the hit of serotonin that most fan projects rely on, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun. Anyone can enjoy this one at the table, even if they aren’t the type to buy this kind of package, and that’s more than you can say for most licensed board games.
Genshin Tarot is available on the Brother Ming Games website and on Etsy.
Genshin Impact makes a nearly seamless transition to the tabletop in this thematic cooperative experience.