Are we at the end of a Houkago Saikoro Club story arc? For the first 4 episodes, we’ve had a smattering of plot points and character backstories to plow through. And now, it looks like one character’s story has its proper denouement. Miki’s cast off the weighty chains of her bullied past by exploring hobby board games with a supportive group of friends.
The conclusion came to a head during a summer ryokan getaway. The three girls visited an inn run by Miki’s aunt. Their goal was to explore the city of Kanazawa, chill in a hot springs bath, and explore the beach. But when the weather turns sour, they did what I would do: break out the board games.
Houkago Saikoro Club’s Game of the Week: Goita
In this case, they delved into a Japanese game called Goita when Aya and Midori stumbled into some pieces in the ryokan’s common room. The pieces resemble Shogi pieces, but the game is closer to card games like Big 2/Pusoy Dos/Presidents, but with teams. The game is a local creation. So local that few people outside of the city of Kanazawa will have encountered it.
Nevertheless, the rules are pretty simple. The starting player leads off with a face-down piece, followed by an active, attacking piece. The person who follows match the attacking piece and then play another piece to be the new attacking piece. If the follower cannot play or chooses not to, they must pass and await their next turn. If no one elects to respond to the starting player, the starting player gets to play two new pieces. The person who discards all of their tiles first is the winner.
This game seems a lot lighter than many of the games I’m used to playing, but seeing how much mileage I’d get out of a 52-card deck when I was younger, it’s got to be sufficiently entertaining. At least, enough to where I’d be able to whittle an hour or two away.
How Goita ties into Miki’s past
We’re continually reminded that Miki’s past has given her a more empathetic outlook on life. She’s been bullied and been at the end of a verbal lashing, both of which makes her less confident as a person. But she also knows how it feels to be with friends who embrace her unconditionally. With this understanding, she was able to help guide a young boy through the game of Goita when he joined in.
The empathy is crucial to helping the boy to learn and enjoy Goita. When you’re playing a team game, it can be frustrating when you and your teammate aren’t on the same wavelength. So all the good plays you’re making can be undone when your partner makes a bad play.
Compounding that issue is if one of the partners is inexperienced. Screwing up isn’t fun either. And the nervousness from screwing up can lead to tentative playing. You’re so cautious and worried about what your partner thinks of you that it takes out all the joy of learning a new game.
I empathize with the new player mentality. Getting new players into a game requires a good amount of patience to guide them through to where the fun is. Midori wasn’t the best candidate to do so, but Miki was able to set the right tone through her positivity. The boy picked up on that, was better able to figure out the game, and had a great time.
The only gaming-related criticism I have of this episode is that Midori is uncharacteristically unprepared for a rainy day. In such cases, gaming is a must. When I’ve gone on vacation, I usually bring a game or two with me. You never know!
For the past couple of trips, my wife and I have spent the evenings playing games like Schotten Totten or Splendor. I favor those games because both have a relatively small footprint and both are fun!. Now, Splendor’s big box might be a pain to pack, but if you remove the components and place them in a Ziploc bag, transporting it around is easy peasy.
So whether I’m taking a road trip, hitting up a cruise ship experience, or jetting out to a different time zone, games are rarely more than a luggage zipper away. And when there’s downtime, that’s when you reach in, pull something out, and set yourself up for a good time! Midori would be wise to remember this for future trips.