- For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 2 to 5 players
- Approximately 10 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
The discipline of Horticulture is one part dedication and one part admiration. Flowers and other plants not only require time and attention, but also represent the colorful vibrancy and fragility of life. You don’t need to be a flower or gardening enthusiast to enjoy the smell of a Rose, the exploding colors of a Carnation, or the majesty of the Bird of Paradise. Take a moment to stop and smell the flowers, and ponder the best way to claim a beautiful victory in this colorful card game.
Yoiso Flowers, designed by Ikrano Theo and self-published through the Game Crafter, is comprised of 36 Combo cards, 16 Idem cards, 6 Honeybee cards, and 2 Starter cards for a total of 60 cards. The card layout and illustrations on the cards is very stylized and colorful with a feng shui like quality to it. Which is to say, the layout of the cards is both functional and artistic. In many ways, like a flower.
Preparing Your Flower Garden
To set up the game, first find and remove the 2 Starter cards. Place the two Starter cards face-down in the middle of the playing area in a row. These two cards start the play piles where the rest of the cards are placed during the game.
Second, shuffle the rest of the cards and deal out to each player 10 cards. Players should look at their cards, but keep them hidden from their opponents at all times.
Third, place the remaining cards, face-down, next to the 2 Starter cards. This is the draw deck.
That’s it for game set up. The opponent to the dealer’s left (going clockwise) is the first player.
Other than the 2 Starter cards, Yoiso Flowers has 3 different card types. These are the Idem, Honeybee, and Combo cards. Each of the card types has a different design and card layout, as well as the card type being spelled out on one edge of the card. Players need to be able to identify the 3 different card types because the rules require the players to use certain card types at certain times.
- Idem cards always have small and big flowers of the same color.
- Honeybee cards always have small flowers of mixed colors…and also a bee.
- Combo cards always have small and big flowers of mixed colors.
The basic rule of play is that players must always match the color of 1 bigger flower on one of the two cards that are face-up in the play piles with at least 1 smaller flower of the same color on a card in their hand. As there are two different play piles, the card played is always placed in the opposite play pile of the card being played to. Players never place their card on top of the card they are playing to. For example, if the current card being played to is on the player’s left, they would play their card on the play pile to their right. In this way, the play piles both get cards throughout the game.
But the game isn’t that simple.
There are three special plays that will create unique situations that provide the player benefits and possibly victory.
If a player is ever able to play the twin of another card (where the flower count and sizes are the same, but the colors are reversed), they automatically receive an extra move (which is not the same as a “free move”) that they must take immediately. The next card played must follow the same basic game rules. If the player cannot play a card, their turn is over. A player cannot claim the extra move provided by a twin if the twin was played during their free move or extra move, but they could claim a free move from a Honeybee card if played during their extra move.
The Honeybee card does not have a big flower on it. This means that only one of the two play piles can be played to (because small flowers must always follow big flowers using the same colors). If the player’s opponents, in turn order sequence, cannot play a card, then the player is given a free move (which is not the same as an “extra move”). A free move allows the player to place any card they like from their hand without following the game rules when it comes to flower size and color matching. The benefit is that the player is given a great deal of freedom to play whatever they like to either play pile, including another Honeybee card. The downside is that the player is not able to get the extra move from a twin or set a trap, even if the card played would normally trigger these special situations.
If a player is able to play an Idem card in one of the two play piles that matches the other Idem card color (identical flower count and size is not necessary), a trap has been set. All subsequent players must place an Idem card of the same color on their turn to avoid the trap. Failure to do so springs the trap. The player who springs the trap must draw 1 card from the draw deck and add it to their hand. The trap is no longer active and card play resumes using the basic game rules. A trap cannot be set if played during a player’s free move.
The game is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. Players will play 1 or more cards on their turn, depending on what is placed on the play piles.
The first and the second player’s turn use slightly different rules than the rest of the game.
The First Play
The first player must select one of the two face-down Starter cards and flip one over. That Starter card will reveal 2 big flowers. The first player now plays a card on top of the face-down Starter card. Again, the card that must be played must have at least 1 smaller flower that matches the color of at least 1 of the bigger flowers shown.
The Second Play
The second player must now play to the card the first player placed, not to the face-up Starter card. Nor can they flip over the face-down Starter card.
The Third Play and Beyond
After the first and the second plays have been placed, all subsequent plays can use either of the two play piles.
Winning the Game
The game continues until 1 player has places their last card from their hand to one of the two play piles. This player is the winner.
To learn more about Yoiso Flowers, visit the game’s web page on the Game Crafter.
Yoiso Flowers reads like a very simple color and pattern matching game with a few cards thrown in that would allow players to trip up an opponent. It should be well received by the Child and Parent Geeks, but I don’t see anything here that would appeal to the Gamer Geek elitists, despite there being some clever combos that could be set up during the game. For example, a player could play a twin and then play a Honeybee card. Or the player could play several Honeybee cards in a row. It all depends on the cards in the player’s hand and being fortunate enough to have opponents set up the play piles to allow for combos. Whatever cards the player is given at the start of the game defines the player’s choices. That will seem very limiting to the Gamer Geeks.
The game designer suggests that Yoiso Flowers can be taught in 3 or less minutes. This is absolutely true, but I suggest you take a whole 5 minutes to explain the game and go through a few examples of card plays. For example, what a twin and a trap are, and the differences between an extra move and a free move. Yoiso Flowers is not a difficult game, but the very concrete actions are created by very abstract card matching at times. It took a number of our players, especially the younger Child Geeks, a few examples to get it straight in their head.
Since there is no reading and the most basic requirement to play the game is to be able to recognize colors and sizes, I have no doubt my 5-year-old will be able to play Yoiso Flowers well. My 3-year-old will not, despite him being able to recognize colors and sizes with a high level of accuracy. This is because a player needs to have a solid grasp of the fundamentals of card timing, hand management, and the logical thinking that goes with both. My 3-year-old is simply not there yet – we’re still working through Go Fish and Old Maid. But my two oldest little geeks will be able to play Yoiso Flowers like a boss.
And so, after teaching the game to my two oldest little geeks, I asked them their thoughts on Yoiso Flowers so far.
“An easy game of size and color matching with flowers. Looks and smells good!” ~ Liam (age 8)
“I think the cards are pretty and the game sounds like fun.” ~ Nyhus (age 5)
Ah, such wit! It would be awesome if the cards were “Scratch ‘N Sniff”! Sadly, no… Let’s play Yoiso Flowers and see if the game is a winner or it should be left in the weeds.
The Child Geeks, once they understood the differences between normal card plays, twins, and traps, played Yoiso Flowers very well. Well enough, in fact, that a number of the Child Geeks won games that included members of the Parent Geek crowd…much to the Child Geeks’ delight. According to one Child Geek, “I like it because the game isn’t confusing.” But it did make the Child Geeks think. There were several games were the Child Geeks noticeably paused longer than expected when they were attempting to determine which cards to play. It should be noted that these moment of brief “analysis paralysis” only occurred about mid way through the game. During the first third and the last third, the number of available choices were either large enough to provide for easy choices or were small enough to make the right cards easy to spot. All the Child Geeks enjoyed Yoiso Flowers and voted to approve it.
The Parent Geeks also enjoyed the card game, and found it to be a lot of fun at their family gaming table and with their peers. “It’s a great game to play with my kids and with other adults when the kids are doing something else,” said one Parent Geek. The sentiment was shared by all. Even the non-gamers and the more traditional card players enjoyed their time with Yoiso Flowers, finding the game to be as clever as it was pretty. According to one Parent Geek, “The game is elegant and easy on the eyes.” All the Parent Geeks voted to approve the game.
The Gamer Geeks appreciated the game’s casual play, it’s combos, and the need for players to “think through” their moves, but didn’t believe any of that qualified it as a Gamer Geek’s game. “Not a bad game; it’s just not a game I would suggest playing with my gamer friends,” said one Gamer Geek. Another Gamer Geek added, “What this game is missing is longer length of play and more strategic depth – but let’s be honest – the game is good enough for what it is, too.” None of the Gamer Geeks had anything bad to say about Yoiso Flowers. In fact, they all agreed it would be a card game they’d be happy to play with the Parent Geeks and their Child Geeks. But openly welcomed at the most elitist of gaming tables? Never.
Yoiso Flowers is a well designed game that plays fast and does require its players to sit up and pay attention at the gaming table from start to finish. Having the ability to place cards to both play piles always gives the player a choice, but nothing in the making of the choice would suggest that there is a clear advantage in the long-term. Further more, players only need to come to a decision after the opponent to their right plays their card, which defines the cards the player can play to. I think Yoiso Flowers is about empowerment and it left all our players feeling good about the game and the way they played it.
Yoiso Flowers failed to please the Gamer Geeks, but that was hardly a surprise. The simplicity and ease of play that makes the game so welcoming to Child and Parent Geeks left the Gamer Geeks feeling the game was not deep or strategic enough to warrant their approval. Personally, I think the game designer focused on the right group because Yoiso Flowers can be easily taught, easily played, and easily enjoyed by families. If you are a fan of card games, be they classics using a standard deck of cards or looking for something new, do make room in your gaming garden for Yoiso Flowers.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.