Tanto Cuore originally launched in 2009, and the deck builder has seen a number of additions since then, as well as making a move from Japan where it debuted to the English market.
The game relies heavily on the idea of Japanese-style manga or anime artwork, which out of the box will have players loving it, or turning their noses up at it. It is a style which tends to illicit fairly strong feelings one way or the other.
In general terms I’d say our group was somewhat surprisingly in the middle of the spectrum. We tend to have fairly strong opinions on many game elements, but the art was not one of them.
Now I should add here that was played Tanto Cuore: Winter Romance which is a sequel to Tanto Cuore for two to four players.
Like many game expansions Winter Romance can be played alone or with Tanto Cuore, Expanding the House, Romantic Vacation, Oktoberfest, or a mixture of them.
Now a bit about the theme of this one.
“Even in the cold of winter, burning love can bloom. As a master of the house, you will employ maids – and the newly-introduced butlers – building up your mansion (deck) as they serve you,” notes the rule set.
“When the game ends, the player who has the most victory points (YP) from the cards in their house is the “Ultimate Master” and the winner of the game.
“Also, this time your maids and butlers can mingle with those of other players and form couples that earn you more VP. For the purposes of this game, we will refer to maids and butlers as ‘maids’, although any reference to a maid, in this game or the previous sets, can be played or thought of as a reference to a butler as well.
“Get started on your own mansion full of maids and butlers.”
There is definite irony here that two gamers in their 50s were playing Winter Romance, and generally enjoying it.
The theme among deck builders, and there are literally dozens, is rather unique, which is a plus, and the art sets it apart from most as well.
There are however a few shortcomings.
The goal is to create couples, but once a couple are matched your opponents have the ability to break them up to deny you points. That is generally fine, but there are limited ways to protect your couple from being torn asunder. You need a particular card in hand, a card that you need to buy, and the cost is high enough that it is not a first choice to grab. The card is a ‘three-gold value money card’. A quick house rule patch is to allow any combo of cards with a three gold value to be used to fend off a break-up card.
The house rule would increase the enjoyment of the game significantly for me.
As it sits, the game is very much a middle of the pack deck builder, 21 of 34 on my personal list at the time of writing this. The house rule would jump is closer to top-12.
Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review.
For a bonus game review head to yorktonthisweek.com where a review of the game Castle Siege Chess has been posted this week.