When watching any given show, I don’t typically elevate one character over another. But in this episode of Houkago Saikoro Club, Midori earns that top spot. It takes a skilled player of games to be able to set up a troll like that. But when she pulls it off, it’s glorious. And she does it using one of my favorite gateway party games: 6 Nimmt!
Houkago Saikoro Club’s Plot Still Eh
I feel like a broken record at this point. There’s not much more I can sound off on regarding Houkago Saikoro Club’s inventiveness, but that’s OK! The anime is moving along its slice of life rails, serving up the mundanity in a way that a hobby gamer can identify with. Sure, this latest episode brings a few nuggets to the table, but nothing so delicious that I’m finding myself enthralled and hyped by the non-board gaming things that happen.
The conflict brewing in this episode is over the upcoming school festival. Ren Shibusawa, the Vice President of the Student Council, is in charge, but struggles to come up with a compelling festival theme. The episode meanders a bit, telling us Ren’s backstory to make her appear sympathetic. It helps… somewhat. At least we see how her singular dedication to her student council work leaves little room to approach new experiences with an open mind.
Well, to get a working idea for the school festival, she tries to enlist Midori’s aid, but badmouths board gaming in the process. Midori, ever gracious, agrees to help out Ren… but only if Ren can win at a game of 6 Nimmt! Luckily for us, but unfortunately for Ren, she fails and winds up losing after falling into Midori’s trap.
So I can’t really say I care about Ren’s situation. But because the plot has been pretty predictable, I’ll bet we’ll see a board game-themed festival. I’m just curious as to how they’ll pull it off. Will there be a game library? Are we going to see something as solid as a board game cafe experience in the vein of Gamehaus? An Essen-lite event is fine too. We’ll find out soon enough!
Game of the Week: 6 Nimmt!
Without an engaging plot, we’re back to the gaming to hold my attention. And them bringing in 6 Nimmt! worked well to do that.
I like 6 Nimmt!. The first time I played it, I was won over by its cleverness. First off, it’s an easy game to learn to play. I’ve recently taught my office group how to play this and they’ve been quick to get up to speed. Secondly, there’s room for deviousness. You can plot how to navigate the hand of cards you’ve been dealt and puzzle through how to mitigate risks and lure other players into a trap. Houkago Saikoro Club touches upon that back and forth decision between setting up that trap and playing defensively. It’s that action that is what makes the game so enthralling.
As I explain in my video on how to play 6 Nimmt!, your goal is to accumulate as few points as possible. You’ll start with four rows consisting of one card in each row. Each turn, all players play a card and begin to fill the rows up number order. Every card is worth a certain amount of points and as the row fills up, the row accumulates points. The danger is when a row contains 5 cards. That row is now considered full. Play a card on a row that’s full and you’ll be forced to take that point-filled row, bringing you closer to losing.
What that means is that you’ll have to look at your hand and play cards that are safe, cards that will likely go through. But again, there are ways to lure an opponent into a trap. Midori pulls that off by making a row look safe, but playing a card that results in her taking a small-point row. But that small-point row was crucial to Ren staying safe. With that option stripped away, Ren is forced to play her card in a full row, thus getting her to take the cards and lose the game.
As someone who’s familiar with the game, being able to create that situation is immensely satisfying. The way Midori executes that strategy shows the devious planning that makes 6 Nimmt! fun. The game may start slowly, but as the rows fill up, the risk increases and the tension ratchets up with it. It only takes one person tripping a row to elicit screams of delight and sighs of relief.
Midori’s Gaming Background and Dream
As the episode comes to a close, Midori talks about her gaming background, which immediately drew comparisons to how I got into the hobby. Like her, my introduction into modern boardgaming was through Catan. Playing Catan opened the floodgates as I eagerly dived into the hobby to learn about all the other types of games out there. And like Midori, I’ve also brought more people along for the ride.
But where she and I differ is where we’re looking to go in the hobby. In the episode, Midori reveals that her goal is to become a board game designer. I, on the other hand, want to be a player of games who explores new mechanisms.
That’s not to say I haven’t thought about designing board games. I’ve tried that when I was younger. I’ve made prototypes of roll and moves (Monopoly, Parcheesi), a terrible Magic: the Gathering clone, and even a full-blown Civilization-builder.
But that dream has largely died. People will ask me from time to time whether I have any interest in making a board game. And my answer stays the same: Nope. One reason is because it’s hard to make a living making games. Another more important reason is because someone else has already made the game I’ve dreamed of making. Some of my favorite games are business or economic simulations and Food Chain Magnate is easily the best implementation I’ve seen.
But that’s just me right now. Midori should pursue her dream to the end. Female designers are already rare as it is and I’m interested to see what she comes up with. The fact that she’s a player of games means her designs comes from a position of being knowledgeable about what’s out there. Where the anime will take this, I don’t know, but I’m curious to find out. After all, it’s more refreshing than the typical Character wants to make a manga/anime show that’s so ubiquitous.