Before I begin, I was provided a discount on this game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would like to check out a video of this review you can check it out below, and get your own copy here.
My first love in board games, after Mysterium and Red Dragon Inn, were adventure and dungeon crawl games. Recently I have been learning to love euro games. So when I learned a little about Fuji Koro which is an adventure game, with elements of euro games, from respected Euro game publisher Game Brewer I had to try it.
The conceit behind Fuji Koro is that Mount Fuji is on the verge of erupting, and you are being sent in to the mountain to recover sacred scrolls, monks and magical blueprints from the temple inside the mountain. If you are playing solo or co-op you also have to find the legendary white dragon and kill it dead!
To do this you will be collecting resources to create gear and weapons to allow you to survive dragon attacks, hit them harder, and move around on the very hot lava…cause the floor is lava! Everyone starts at the center of the board, and will slowly discover new tiles around them as they make their way to the temples. Each tile has resources on them, which may be wood, metal, scrolls, or monks. Oh yea. There might be dragons too.
A good portion of the game is spent on your character board. Each character has three (2-4 on the asymmetric sides of the boards) activations that they can use on three different actions. You can explore a new tile, which also refreshes resource tiles, you can move, or you can gather resources. Once you have used up your activations, you have to rest. Resting will allow you to craft one of your three item slots.
You will be trying to build specific items laid out at the beginning of the game. Doing this will give you permanent upgrades to your actions, and eventually you will claim magical blueprints will but you even more! Of course the best part about crafting those weapons is using them. You are able to battle the dragons on the board for the all important Dragon teeth. Defeat the dragon, claim some teeth and victory points.
First player to break 30 points begins the end game. The mountain begins to erupt and you have 8 turns to get out. The earlier you get out, the earlier you are able to present the Shogun with the cool stuff you found, which earns you more points than those that come after. High score wins.
So what do I think?
The game, even the non-deluxe game looks wonderful on the table. The 3-d elements are cool, and the dragons are great fun. I really enjoy the worker placement element on your board as you determine what actions to take each round, especially as you are able to upgrade your actions in subtle ways. However, what really makes it work, for me, is that when you are out of actions, and you pull things back you STILL get to do something. You get to craft.
Crafting your items is a fun little puzzle, mostly because it allows you to select what dice you will be using when you go to battle those dragons.
I also enjoy the endgame phase of the game. On those last 8 turns the lava is slowly rising which makes it harder for you to collect things that you might need, and at the same time if someone else has gotten out then they are taking advantage of the point bonuses for turning things in first. It is a great risk reward.
While combat is a lot of dice rolling goodness, with the cool mechanic of weapons and teeth breaking in combat, the game has clearly made it to where some of the more challenging dragons are virtually impossible to defeat on your own. This means that there are times when you must rely on your opponents to help you out, yes they are also rewarded, so there is very little reason not to help, but this could be a sticking point.
The game is a balance of euro and adventure game, and as a result it does not venture deeply into either of those genres. So those looking for a deep euro game, or adventure game will not be thrilled.
I enjoy the crafting and the dice rolling. However, there is no benefit really to creating a cool looking weapon except for the specific magical weapons you can grab. One you have done that there is no reason not to just pack on a giant blob of metal just to increase the dice. This seems like a missed opportunity.
I also feel like the rulebook is missing a few details, or at least they are hard to find. Finally when playing solo or co-op you lose some of the functionality of the game. With the exception of one or two scenarios victory points are meaningless which makes one of the upgrades to your actions less exciting.
Bringing it all together
Fuji Koro is not a euro game, nor is it a ameri game. It is something in between the two, it has elements of worker placement, and resource collections and turning stuff in for points…yet at the same time you roll so many dice! I guess that makes it a “Mid-Atlantic” Game? I dunno. If you are looking for either genre then you will be disappointed. HOWEVER, if you are looking for something that bridges the two genres, one that has elements of euro and elements of dice rolling smash-y goodness then this is a game for you. It looks great on the table, plays relatively quickly, and does quite a bit right.
Yeah…erupting volcano…can we get to the point?
* Looks great on the table
* Both co-op and competitive variants work
* There is some forced cooperation in the game, which might be a bummer
* The game is neither a euro nor ameri game. You have to like both light euros and light adventure games, if you do then you will like this one
* Does some really fun stuff with the two different phases of the game
* The asymmetric characters are just different enough to be interesting with out being difficult