Seikatsu: The Art of Token Placement in an Abstract Garden
Create patterns of birds and flowers in a peaceful Japanese garden surrounded by beautiful pagodas in Seikatsu.
Birds and gardens?! I was drawn to the aesthetic of Seikatsu as soon as I spotted it. With simple rules and a selection of colorful tokens to arrange, it looked like a solo game that could easily fit into my collection of lightweight titles. But it was really the birds I was drawn to… Always love seeing them in different games, and these ones were simply adorable!
Tokens consist of birds and flowers, which play into different scoring elements. The different pagodas form the patterns for victory points, which are all straight lines. Gameplay is very quick and relaxing as the garden takes shape from the placement choices and considerations.
November 11, 2022
November 11, 2022
24" x 20"
Simple Garden Fun
The board features clear spaces for the tokens, but the most important element has to do with the pagodas. For me, I scored based on straight lines from top to bottom.
As for the solo opponent, it collected victory points based on 2 sets of diagonal lines starting in the upper left and upper right. No worries: This was easy after playing once!
Each token had to be placed adjacent to my most recently placed token, and bird and flower types affected scoring.
Special koi tokens allowed me to move around freely, although these wild options were very limited.
Flying with the Birds
Part of my plan had to do with creating flocks of birds. In other words, similar tokens scored immediate victory points for having the same type of bird. Excellent!
Yet the flower types were even more vital, as these were more about long-term victory points. A play only took about 5 minutes, so not exactly long-term… Ha ha!
I struggled to see some of the differences in colors at times, and found myself not considering all of the scoring.
Still, it was lovely to place these lightweight but high-quality tokens all over the garden. So many cheery birds!
From the lovely included draw bag, I had a lot of fun simply finding out what my new option was each turn! The wild tokens certainly helped out, though.
Most important of all was the fact that the board could end up only partially filled. Not only did I need to keep an eye on scoring, but I had to avoid dead ends.
Some of my moves were sub-optimal only so I could keep placing tokens for some more scoring opportunities!
Had I felt like a more complex puzzle, I might have counted the flowers and tried to end early… Interesting!
A Happy Little Garden
My finished board always looked so cozy and happy! Only once did I manage to place all of the tokens, and I still wonder if that may or may not have been the best decision.
Although I enjoyed the overall game, it felt a little too abstract for me. These sorts of patterns can also be a hit or miss for me, just with the way I process busy artwork.
Ultimately, I thought it was a pleasant solo experience that didn’t click for me… But that doesn’t make it bad!
I think this would be a fantastic choice for those who enjoy diving into these kinds of abstract, pattern-based games.
Deciding When to Let a Game Go to a New Home
As I’ve continued to collect more and more solo games, it’s now gotten to a point where I’m running out of space! And as much as I would love to say I play all the time, there’s no way I can come remotely close to playing all of the games I own on a semi-regular basis. In the past, I’ve held onto practically every solo game in the hopes that it will improve.
No longer! I’ve learned a lot about my tastes, and when something doesn’t bring me enjoyment, there’s no sense in trying to force it. There are exceptions, of course, especially when I find a new unofficial solo variant or have a kind soul point out my rules mistakes. For the most part, though, decent games fall just shy of what I would choose to play.
This is also why there are so many games out there: Everyone has a different collection. A decent game in my opinion might be a great or excellent game for someone else… And that’s precisely why I feel OK moving some of my games on. Just leaving a beautiful game like this on my shelf means it will never get played. But maybe someone else will enjoy it!
My idea of what makes a game excellent is also entirely subjective and not at all something to apply universally. I have some odd tastes, and that’s what makes my collection my own. Those games that don’t stick around still have their positives: See below! It’s simply that each game has its own audience, and I’m never going to love every game out there.
Play Number: 1-4
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Easy and Normal Difficulty Levels
Outcome: 106-67, 102-83, 61-68, 110-125 (2 W & 2 L)
I bumped up the difficulty level, which definitely added to the challenge! The entire board was simply lovely, and I decided that I just loved the atmosphere around the blue pagoda. Pretty! Although I decided that the game wasn’t quite for me, this was still a quick and enjoyable session. I appreciate the game for what it is, and hope that my copy goes to a home where it will bring lots of fun and joy!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- All of the artwork is lovely and relaxing in a way that matches the theme perfectly with cozy birds and flowers.
- The difficulty level is simple to adjust during setup with the way bird flocks score during the course of play.
- Placing each token isn’t always as clear as it seems, especially since getting locked into an area can happen.
- Victory points can be picked up either immediately with birds, or earned at the end based on lines of flowers.
- Play time flies by in a matter of minutes, yet there are a lot of interesting and quick decisions to make each turn.
- Wild koi tokens offer opportunities to move around the board, yet also play into flower scoring opportunities.
– Cons (Negatives)
- It can be a little tricky to tell the different flower types apart, especially the pink and purple varieties.
- Although very light, the most optimal choices require a lot of calculations and placement considerations.
- Scores typically go above the maximum on the board at least twice, yet there are no markers to indicate this.
- There really isn’t much of a theme beyond the artwork, and the abstract nature of gameplay isn’t for everyone.
Score the Most Points
- Overall Goal Progress 67% 67%
Goals and Milestones
Place all of the tokens in at least 1 game.
Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.
Win at least 1 game at the normal difficulty level.
Continue the Conversation
Have you ever played Seikatsu? What are some of your other favorite solo abstract games? I don’t believe the genre quite works for me, only because I often struggle to figure out all of the patterns. And as I mentioned, this one might not be for me, yet it’s a very pleasant game with a lot going for it! Definitely hope it’s fun for those who love it!