• Julie

Kodama Forest

Kodama Forest is a tile laying game that incorporates math. Math skills include geometry (due to the geometric shapes and puzzle aspects of the tiles) and basic addition (1's, 5's, and 10's). The way the rules are stated and the way I have played this game in my game school are different. I will tell you about both and you can decide how you would best like to play it.

Kodama Forest was designed as a semi-cooperative game. That means that while you are working together, you still ultimately want to be the sole winner of the game. As a semi-cooperative game, it is designed for 3-6 players. There is a two player variant, but I have not looked into it. In this version, the boards are between players, and each player is thus working on two different boards. On your turn, you have three forest tiles. You place one on the board to your left and on on the board to your right and then draw two more tiles. If you cannot place a tile, you may exchange it for a butterfly and place that instead.

When placing tiles, if you place a bamboo forest half next to a bamboo forest half already on the board, thus making a full bamboo forest, you get to immediately place a panda tile anywhere on the board.

Likewise, if you complete a pond, you get to immediately place a frog tile anywhere on the board, and if you complete a flower, you get to place a butterfly tile on the board. The game ends when one board has no more 5's or 10's showing. To score, you add up the points on all the dirt squares not covered on both the board to your right and the board to your left.. Blank dirt patches are worth 1, and patches with a 5 or 10 written on them are worth the number of points indicated. The player with the lowest score wins.

I have played this version with friends and was not impressed. It just doesn't work very well when it comes to scoring and determining the winner, in my opinion. For my game school class, I had already determined that I was going to have each player have their own board to work on. The rest of the rules stayed the same. They had three forest tiles, placed two of them on their board, and drew two to replace them. They could still turn in a tile for a butterfly piece and place that instead. This gave the players more control over their boards and led to a more obvious winner. It also easily allows for a two player game.The only other change I made was that I omitted the frames around the boards. They are not neccesary, and are more of a nuisance than anything. They don't really contribute anything to the game.

The better the player is at the puzzle aspect of the game, the less addition they have to perform at the scoring phase. I think this is just fine for game school. By the time a player is able to do that well putting tiles on their board to cover the majority of it, they likely no longer need practice counting by 1's, 5's, or 10's.

I really enjoy the art, theme, and puzzle aspect to Kodama Forest, and so did my students. I just like it more when played in a fully competative style, instead of the semi-cooperative style written in the rules. I bet a fully cooperative style would work well too. If the children were all working together to do the best they could on a number of boards in the center of the table. If you'd like to give Kodama Forest a try, you can purchase on Amazon.

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