Review: “Madoshi” Board Game – Harness the Power

Harness the Power of the Sun and the Moon to Capture Yokai

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Game Summary

Number of players: 2
Time: 30 minutes
Ages: 8+
Game type: casual
Gamer type: strategy
Complexity: 4

If you’re familiar with the gaming world, there is always that danger that a particular game will become too complex. Game designers often attempt to make games “new” by increasing the difficulty level. Sometimes, however, mixing elements in a new way creates a much better game. This is what DPH Games, Inc., has accomplished in creating Madoshi: Priests of the Sun and Moon, a fun strategy game that anyone can learn to play.


Since Madoshi is an enhanced card/tile game, art work is important. The board is reminiscent of a wood-grain playing surface, but since it is synthetic, it comes without the price. The cards are well crafted in traditional Japanese style which adds to the authentic feel of the game. The elemental tokens — the drivers of the action — allow players to identify and use them while still keeping withing the spirit of the game. Hence, the art score is 7.5 of 10.


The story is generally the classic “you need to beat the other player” narrative. One player is the sun priest, the other is the moon priest. The goal of the game is to summon the most spirits to help you in your quest to rule the day. While the story is not complex, it draws imagery from ancient Japanese lore, which makes it cool. Story score: 6.5 out of 10.

From the publisher’s description: “Play occurs on a 5×5 grid with players swapping one token to create a pattern of elements matching that on the available Yokai cards. More power is gained with matches in the source element. After capture, there is a release of magical energy and the field of battle will change as a result. Voids are created, wild magic appears, or the universe could shift.

“Three levels of Yokai cards are placed next to the game board, and when one of the decks has been depleted, the game ends. Whoever earns the most points wins.”


The mechanics of the game revolve around two elements: tile placement and cards earned. Tile placement is vital to earn the cards, which gives you the ability to control and counterbalance the game against your opponent. It is a basic flip-and-swap method of tile control. You can’t move the same two tiles that your opponent did last turn, which prevents stalemates.

The card mechanics are interesting. If you earn a card using random tokens, it is just a card for points at the end of the game. If you earn a card using its own element tokens, you earn more points, plus the ability to use the card in the play. This creates a much deeper strategy toward the end when you get compile abilities (and a plan for your opponents abilities). For mechanics, Madoshi scores 7 out of 10.

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This is a classic strategy game where you can build an engine with the cards you purchase. The rules provide a limited ability to “rush” your opponent by trying to gain multiple low-cost cards with their own elements to earn more abilities. Offense and defense run along the chess style; they are integrated because you need to assume your opponents next move.

One interesting element is that you can earn cards that allow a player to rotate the board. This feature can completely change the strategy because everybody is playing from their own side of the board; patterns are reliant on how the board is situated toward each player. This adds another element to the streamlined strategy. As such, Madoshi earns a strategy score of 5.5 out of 10.


The artwork, the mechanics, and the strategy all contribute to a simple but novel game. To the credit of DPH Games, this is very difficult to do. Uncomplicated to play, Madoshi is a board game that you’ll want to enjoy with your friends. It earns a novelty score of 7.5 out of 10.

The quick playability and solo ability of this game really make it shine (no pun intended). As alluded to above, everybody can benefit from a tabletop game like Madoshi that they can play quickly with their friends. With a total score of 34 out of 50, this is a top-notch, straightforward way to introduce your friends to a fun card-and-board game.

Christopher W Smithmyer
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