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Board Game Review – Yomi

2011 September 10

Review copy kindly provided by Sirlin Games/Game Salute.

I’ve never considered games like Street Fighter to be more than a game of rock, paper and scissors, but they are, and in Yomi, you have a game similar to Street Fighter all wrapped up in a successful card game, by Sirlin Games.

Yomi by Sirlin Games

Yomi by Sirlin Games


Designer: David Sirlin

Number of players: 2

Age: 10+

Time: 30 minutes

What’s the game about?

A description from the publisher…

Yomi is a card game that simulates a fighting game. It tests your ability to predict how your opponents will act and your ability to judge the relative value of cards from one situation to the next. Also, it lets you do fun combos and be a panda. There are 10 characters to choose from, each with their own deck, abilities, and style. Each deck also doubles as a regular deck of playing cards with beautiful artwork (the complete game features a whopping 120 different character illustrations).

Basic idea in my own words…

Yomi is a card game that does a good job of simulating a 2 player electronic fighting game, such as street fighter or Mortal Kombat.  Each deck represents a different character to fight with. You may purchase 5 different packs, which contain two different character decks. Or you can get the big $100 deluxe box. But to get playing, all you need are two decks.

The characters in the game are from the fictional Fantasy Strike universe, and if you have read any of my previous reviews on Flash Duel or Puzzle Strike, I have no clue what this Fantasy Strike universe is, as far as it’s lore goes. But the artwork or stories behind the characters is not what interests me in this game, its the mechanism of the game play. I should mention though, that each character has his/her own slant and style of fighting, which helps make the game fun and unique.

How you play…

The front of the Yomi character tuck boxes

The front of the Yomi character tuck boxes

In Yomi, there are 4 card types, then the jokers. The core idea in the game is that Attack beats throw, Throw beats block or dodge, block/dodge beats attack.

On each turn, you must try and out guess your opponent (rock, paper, scissors) and throw the better card down. So what I mean is, if you think your opponent is going to throw, then you should throw an attack down.

Each character has a character card which gives info such as strength meters for different attributes, total combo points, special skill and health.  When you start the game, you should write down your characters total health on a piece of paper (yes you’ll need pen and paper), then as you get hit in the game, you will take off that amount of damage…and the winner is the player standing!

A game can last 5 minutes longer. The idea behind this is that you’ll probably be playing numerous rounds in one sitting, and possibly even play in tournaments! To me, this is a perfect filler game. Say I need to fill 5 minutes or 15 minutes, I think I’ll break out a game of Yomi, granted there’s an even amount of players waiting, and I have enough decks. I don’t know if it’s the intention of the designer of this game to be a filler game, but to me, it is. I don’t think I’d be interested in doing serious tournament play but it’s always an option.

Anatomy of a card

Take a look at the picture below, I’ll explain the anatomy of the card a bit…

Midori - a Yomi character

Midori - a Yomi character

The card above is Midori. In the center of the card its obviously just illustration for theme but at the top of the card is what’s important. I’ll go everything from left to right.

  • Standard Ace – Each deck doubles as a standard poker deck, neat idea, probably something I won’t use as I really don’t play traditional card games, but still a nice option. But this also has an effect in the game which I’ll explain later.
  • Small red arrow with ‘A’ in it, pointing downward. This means that the other side of the card, is an attack. Right now as the card stands, its a throw.
  • Card type – indicates what type the move is, in this case, a throw.
  • Final Dragon Buster – name of the card.
  • 20+16 – 20 hit points if the hit lands. +16 is an additional hit value that you can get on your opponent if you pay the respective additional card cost. With this card from the text and from the green banner graphic up top, in order to even play the card, you must discard an extra ace (thats where the aces importance comes in), and to actually get that extra 16 damage, you must discard an extra two aces, if you have them in your hand.
  • 0.0 in yellow – this is the move’s speed. Each move has a speed, this is important when you and your opponent both throw down the same move type, if you both throw a throw card down, whomever has the quicker speed (smaller number), will land the hit.
  • Can’t combo – means that this card cannot be included in a combo…more on combos in a bit.

So that is the anatomy of a card. On your beginning turn, I believe you’ll have 7 cards in your hand then once decided what card you wish to play, you play the side of the card you wish to play, face down, towards your opponent. When you’re both ready, you reveal, and then resolve damage. When you both have finished the attack phase, you may discard a pair in your hand to be able to sift through your discard or draw deck, for 1 ace, 3 of a kind, for two aces, and 4 of a kind for 4 aces. Then the round begins again, with each player drawing a new card off of your draw decks.

Yomi cards

Yomi cards


Yomi is big on combos. Each character has a combo limit, indicated on their character card. It’s the orange boxed section with filled in or not filled in circles. Say your character has 5 filled in circles in their combo limit, well that means you can play cards that are equal or less of 5 in a round.

Some cards will say something such as linker – this simply means it can be chained from or to, or in other words, can be the middle card of a combo.

Can’t combo – can’t use in a combo.

Starter – can only be the starting card in a combo.

Ender – can only be the finishing card of a combo.

You can also combo cards based off a straight. If you attack and land a damage with a 2, well, if you have a 3,4,5,6, etc, in your hand you can throw all those out, after a successful throw or attack on your opponent to land more damage.

There are more details of the game, but for the purposes of this review, I feel what I have presented is enough and should give you, the prospective buyer, a basic overview of the game.


Components: 1/5

I have the single deck versions…I do not have the big set, so for what it is…just cards with tuck boxes, I’m giving this a 1. That doesn’t mean the cards are shoddy. Its also just that my rating scale only goes from 1-5, so I don’t have much room to wiggle. But for what it is, the quality is good. But for what it is, a tuck box, that will eventually get beat up real quick, and cards that just fit in the box with the rulebook and have no room for sleeved cards – I’m giving it a 1. But don’t let this deter you from getting the game.

Theme: 3/5

I like the theme. I used to love Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat but I grew out of those. I have a friend that is obsessed with SF4 and he enjoyed the game. Again, I personally don’t care for anime at all, and the character world, I don’t care about but the character abilities and types are important. And the idea of playing a fighting game, with cards, is just awesome!

Luck Factor: 4/5

I’m sorry, I had to give this one a high luck count. 1 – you are shuffling cards and just drawing whats available to you, and 2 – its your job to read your opponent, but you truly can never know what he’s going to pull, 100%.

Strategy: 2/5

Now, I’m sure the designer and other hard core Yomi players out there will disagree with me, but I don’t find its a lot of strategy. Yes, sure there’s the whole strategy of trying to hold onto cards that could give you bigger attacks by needing to collect aces and whatnot, and there’s the nature of the game, to try and “read” your opponent but at it’s core, to me, personally, this is a filler game, that could or could not last all day, that is simple and doesn’t have a lot of strategy in it. Now I know two of my friends really love SF4, and play it for hours a day, and are involved in discussions of tactics and strategy, but to me, SF and other fighting games, are simple and almost brainless activities…but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun!

Overall Feelings: 3/5

I give Yomi a 3/5. It’s a fun game that can easily fill up time. And for me, that’s what it is. I would certainly recommend it, if you are into fighting games like Street Fighter and or are into anime or are just looking for a fun filler game. But I guess what’s also good about this game, is that it can be considered for serious tournament play – not for me, but for you, maybe. It’s definitely worth checking out though and you can decide if it’s for you.

One Response leave one →
  1. ds3272 permalink
    September 28, 2011

    2/5 for strategy? I’m no “hardcore” anything when it comes to gaming, but there is tremendous depth to this game. It works as intended: if you want to win, you must anticipate your opponent’s move and counter appropriately. And your opponent is trying to counter you. And you benefit by knowing what’s in the decks, and what the strengths & weaknesses are, and how much health & how many cards your opponent is holding… I reject your premise that you have to be “hardcore” to see the strategic depth of this wonderful game.


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