Review – Kobayakawa

Posted on by Jesta

A bluffing and betting card game.

Title: Kobayakawa

Year Published: 2013

Designer: Jun Sasaki

Publisher: IELLO

Players: 3-6

Game Time: ~15 Mins

Set-up Time: >5 Mins

Ages: 8+

Theme: Abstract

Mechanic: Betting, Deduction.

How to win: Win the most Kamons (Coins) over 7 rounds.

Game Description

Kobayakawa is a game of bluffing and deduction, and the player that ends up with the highest numbered card wins the round. In this stylish new game from Jun Sasaki, components are kept at a minimum – there are only 15 cards and a handful of crest tokens.

Set Up & Game Play

Give 4 Kamons for each player, then put 8 Kamons on the table, 1 for rounds 1-6 and 2 for round 7.

Kobayakawa Kamons

Shuffle the deck and give a card to each player, put the rest of the deck into a draw pile. Turn over the top card of the deck, this is known as the Kobayakawa card.

Kobayakawa Card

Game Play

Rounds 1-6 repeat in the following way…

Draw Phase
Starting with the first player, either…
Draw a card and discard either card from your hand in front of you face up or…
Turn over the top card of the deck into the discard pile, creating a new Kobayakawa card.

KobayaKawa Discarded Card

The player draws a card and discards an 11. An earlier player turned over a new Kobayakawa.

Once everyone has had one action, this phase ends.

Fighting Phase
Starting with the first player, either…
Stay and Fight by placing one of your Kamons on your card or…
Pass and drop out.

Once everyone has had one turn, this phase ends.

Everyone reveals their card, the player with the lowest card adds the value of the Kobayakawa to their total. The highest value wins and takes all the Kamons bet plus the Kamon for the round.

Kobayakawa Winning Hand

Two players stay in… The right player has a 15! the highest card… But the player on the left adds the Kobayakawa to their card for a total of 16… winner!

Ties are given to the player closest to the start player. Then, the winner of the round becomes the new start player.

In the 7th Round, You MUST bid 2 Kamons to fight but you take the 2 Kamons from the round for winning. If you only have 1 Kamon left, you can fight with just 1.

Game End

Most Kamons wins

Round Up

The way this games plays is great. Draw and discard or flip once each, that’s it. Then pass or fight, that’s it. It’s very quick. The idea that your 1 or 2 can beat a 14 or 15 is really fun, especially when it pays off.

But, there is a major flaw in the game… In rounds 1-6 you can win 2-5 Kamons usually. Sometimes more, sometimes less…

In the final round everyone with nothing to lose will just ‘go in’ and cross their fingers. This round on its own can be worth around 12 Kamons and usually the winner of this round is the winner of the game.

So, you can lose 3 rounds, pass 3 rounds, win the 7th and win the game… That’s not good.

I’ve looked on forums and checked the rule book and I 99% sure I’m playing it right…

The ONLY thing I can see is the rulebook does state that the winner receives 2 Kamons for winning the round, it doesn’t say you take the other players bets…. Maybe that’s it? I’m not sure, it’s a shame as it does put me off playing it.


A very simple to play bluffing game that would be an 8, if it wasn’t for that 7th round.

I give it 6/10

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