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  • Writer's picturecraig duncton

Kodama Duo by indie boards and cards

‘It’s a brand new year in the forest of Kodama! Two new caretakers have a friendly competition over who can grow their saplings into verdant homies for the tree spirit.’

3 words to describe this game: cute, strategic and growth

Theme: In this two player game, you are competing with another play to grow your tree by placing branch cards in clever arrangements, making a happy home for your Kodama. You choose cards and place them on your existing branches to create chains of symbols contiguously allowing you to score points and fulfil objectives. Ultimately the person with the most points wins


The game plays over 3 seasons. Each season is comprised of 4 turns and then scoring. On each turn, one person is the splitter and one is the chooser. The splitter chooses how to split the cards and then the chooser chooses which set of cards they want. They then lay the cards on their trunk card or any branches already laid trying to get contiguous features on the tree from the trunk to the top of the branch. The Kodama cards indicate how you can score your tree and at the end of the season you score, start and new season and reveal a new decree to be followed by all players. At the end of the last season, the player with the greatest score is the winner.


Branch cards: these are added to your tree and contain an assortment of features - these are the features that you are trying to build up a contiguous line of to chain combos for scoring

Kodama cards: these are the way in which you choose to score your points at the end each season of play. I think after multiple plays, you will understand how to use these more effectively as some would score more or less points as you go through the game but on the first few playthroughs, I found it difficult to work out the optimum time to play each card

Trunk cards: the base of your tree, the artwork is cute and when you start to add the branch cards you see your tree coming to life

Spirit tokens: You can claim these if you are the player who was at a disadvantage when it comes to the split of the cards. One player is allowed to choose between two cards whilst the other player only one. To be fair, disadvantage may be the wrong word as it sometimes is very much to your advantage to take one card over the two as it may just be the card to fit with your objective etc.

Point tokens: Now this is the part of the game I dislike the most. Why they didn’t just make the scoring track longer I don’t know. When we have played it, we’ve always scored more than 50 points so have always had to use the point tokens so in some ways it would make more sense to just have a longer track. I appreciate it is probably to do with size and fitting in a smaller box, or for aesthetics but for some reason it just irritates me a little.

Score track: it’s a score track, nothing much to report there

Decree cards: these are common decrees for both players to follow based on the season, again artwork is cute

Splitter marker/Chooser marker: these are irritating, there are only two players and you switch quite quickly between players so it feels clunky to have to keep switching these tokens when it’s not that hard to remember who did what in the previous turn

Player tokens: cute artwork

Season token: cute artwork

Overall thoughts:

This is not the kind of game I usually play and had it not been gifted to me, I probably would not have ever chosen to buy this game. It’s cute and pretty and I can see people loving this game especially if you love puzzle/card laying games.

It’s cute and pretty and as you build your trees, you can see your choices unfolding and laid out on the table at the end of the game will be a beautiful tree full of tree spirits.

I like the idea that I’ve not seen before with other games but may well exist that this two player game can also be used to expand the original game; Kodama The Tree Spirits. I think it is neat because it allows the two player version to form two functions. I often wonder whether to buy two player version of things over the base game or vice versa if I have the base game would I buy a two player version but this makes sense in my mind if you enjoy the game. You can then add players or play a two player version of the game and it’s something that I haven’t come across before.

As a two player game, it’s a quick easy set up, it looks cute and there is a lot of strategy involved. It’s one that grows on you as you play more and more and the more you understand the game, the more you can strategise and stop your opponent from scoring points too.

I can’t comment on what the gameplay is like when you add a 5th and 6th player because we don’t have the original game. If you have any comments, feel free to let me know.

thanks to the team at indies boards & cards for sending this copy out for review.

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