The Genji and the Heike clan are competing for power at the Japanese court. And what’s the best place to show that you are the most important clan? A pretty, picturesque garden, of course. Among the flowers in bloom, the chirping birds and the maple leaves, you will try to seize control of the court.
What do you get for your money?
In the box you find: 16 Clan tokens (8 red, 8 black), 16 Garden tiles and the rules.
How do you play the game?
Both players receive eight disks in their colour. On your turn you have to place one disk on a spot in a four by four tile grid, randomly placed on the table. The first player places his or her first disk on a spot on the edge of the grid. After the first turn, you only have to stick to one rule; you have to place your disk on a tile with one symbol that matches a symbol on the previous tile.
On every tile you will find two symbols. There are eight different symbols in the game: a rain cloud, a pine tree, a cherry tree, a poem flag, a bird, an iris, maple leaves and a rising sun.
So, the first player places her disk on the outer rim and after that you can make your own decisions. You goal is either to create a row of four of your own disks, or a two by two square of your disks, or make sure that your opponent can’t make a legal move. The later means that there are no symbols left that match one of the symbols on the tile you removed.
Niya is a pretty simple game. It looks that way and it is. A four by four grid and you have to place your disk on a tile with one symbol that matches one of the symbols of the last tile. That’s about the only rule and therefore this game is very accessible.
You have to connect four of your own disks. So, is it Connect Four for gamers? No, I do no think so. The fact that one of the ways to win is to make a line of four of your disks is the only connection to that game. The grid is also different every game, so you’ll won’t go through the same first moves every game.
The first couple of turns aren’t that interesting, there are simply too much possibilities to predict what your opponent might do and which possibilities lie ahead for yourself.
Along the way the game gets tighter and you can try to force your opponent in a certain direction. His only option is to do this and then you can claim that spot you wanted.
That’s the only really interesting part of this game really.
In conclusion: the beginning feels very random, later on it gets better. With every tile you claim, early in the game, you give your opponent about six new options. Along the way there will be fewer and fewer options available and by that time you can start playing a bit more tactical.
No theme. This is a pure abstract game.
The game looks pretty good. The illustrations are nice and clean. The tokens or disks, with a head of a clan member on the front and the game logo on the back, give the game a good look. But it’s not only nice to look at, but it gives you something to hold in your hands while playing.
Quality of the game parts:
Very good quality. Nice cardboard tiles and very sturdy plastic disks.
This is a pretty fun game. However, don’t expect much of it. It’s a two-player abstract game that takes about ten minutes. So, quick, easy to learn and easy to play, but not very deep. Therefore, a nice little filler or a nice travel game.
I’d give it about 6.5, but I think this game doesn’t have a reasonable replay value. At least not because of the mechanisms. So, therefore I give it a six. However, because it’s such a portable and quick game it might end up in my gaming bag more than I would currently think. Who knows?