By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on October 30, 2020
At times when the ancient Samurai were not slicing enemies into teeny-tiny pieces with their razor-sharp katana, they tended to play a game for relaxation and, in doing so, also trained their reflexes and dexterity. The game in question was a game that involved dice and the occasional losing of a finger or two. This is where the ever-handy katana come into the game. The game slash training is called Tatamokatsu.
Tatamokatsu is a dexterity-dice-throwing-party game, and originated from the minds of Helvetiq. The game itself is inspired by ancient samurai training. It's a fast game, in which you'll need a keen eye, decent tallying skills, flexible fingers and good reflexes. In the box there are three eight-sided dice that feature the numbers one to six, as well as two special faces. Two dice will show something like X1 and its value is one or ten. Players may choose its value. The third die shows a T. Now, this might seem a bit strange, but don't despair; I will explain later.
In Tatamokatsu, players roll the three dice and have to call the sum of the three dice out loud. With the outcome of the sum, comes a corresponding action. For the setup you will have to take the dice out of the box and put them on the table. All players will choose one of their hands and they may only use that hand during the whole game.
As already mentioned, the actions are dependent on the result of the dice roll. For instance; when the sum of the dice is 10 or 17; it is Tatamokatsu and you have to be the first one to say Tatamokatsu. If you manage to do so, you may choose an opponent, who now "loses" a finger of their own choice, which means they cannot use that finger for the duration of the game, unless they get the chance to recover said finger. You see, when you are the first to yell Tatamokatsu, you can also choose to recover a lost finger of your own, instead of forcing an opponent to lose one of theirs.
Of course, not every roll will result in a score of 10 or 17, so here are some other examples of outcomes and the corresponding actions. When the sum of the dice is under 10; the active player loses one finger of their own choice. When the sum of the dice is between 11 and 16; all players must salute their opponents. When the sum of the dice is above 17; the rolling player may choose an opponent who will lose a finger and may even choose the finger as well.
That was it for the mathematics class, I didn't know Samurai also needed to know math. Apart from the actions triggered by specific values, there are two special actions you'll need to know about. When the three dice are identical, it triggers a Katana attack and all players have to hit the table with the side of their hand. The last one to do a Katana, loses a finger. The other special action is when the T appears on the table (I told you I'd come back to that, didn't I?). The first player to grab the die and shout Tatamokatsu gets the Tatamokatsu action. When a player has lost all their fingers, they can use the Dragon Resurrection action by grabbing the die with the T on it, using only their little finger. The game ends when all except one player have lost all their fingers. The last player to have any fingers left is declared the winner of the game and may proudly wear the title of Samurai.
One of the good things about Tatamokatsu is that the freaking Samurai used to play this in the old days. Do I need to say more? Yes, I should? Oh, a;right then! Tatamokatsu is minimalistic, just a box, dice and a paper page with the rules. I cannot help but start to wonder if this was one of those games that was played everywhere, with every other town having their own set of rules. It all comes down to those three dice and the fun and frustration of losing fingers. It is also definitely a party game, with voices sure to be raised in either exhilaration or frustration when you are nearing the end of the game. Another fun thing about Tatamokatsu is the fact that every round is different, so the game doesn't get boring quickly.
When you really don't like rolling dice, this game is definitely not for you, although I do believe you could have figured that out for yourself by now. There are quite some rules, but you will learn them while losing fingers. Losing fingers is shitty, cramps are always lurking due to the strange positions you will try to bend your hand in, in order to still be able to pick up those dice. The dice could have been a little bit chunkier, but that is probably intended, to accelerate those cramps attacks in your hand.
Tatamokatsu is fast and we often play a couple of rounds consecutively. It is one of those games you can easily play to start a game night while you still are waiting for others to arrive or in between the more time-consuming games. It's a real filler game and wears that name proudly. Especially when people start running out of fingers after a while, things will get extremely funny as the attempts to pick up the three dice become increasingly clumsier. You will get frustrated, I can promise you that. It is at those times that it is good to remember that the actual goal of Samurai is keeping the peace!
Year of release: 2020
Designer: The Ancient Samurai
Artist: Odile Sageat
Players: 2 - 5 players, ages 8 & up
Playtime: approx. 15 minutes