Yomi Review

Yomi card game in play

A somewhat hotly debated board game that came out recently is Yomi.

Yomi is a fairly simple fighting game. Each player takes on a character and attempts to knock out his opponent. This consists of a series of rounds in which both players will play a card and (depending on what cards are played) one player will most likely take damage. Specifically, each player chooses a card (and a side of that card) to play each round. Both reveal at the same time, and there is a Rock/Paper/Scissors style resolution. Attacks beat Throws, Throws beat Blocks & Dodges, Blocks & Dodges beat Attacks. If both players play the same type of card, then the tie is broken based on the speed of the attacks. Once a player successfully scores a hit, depending on the Attack or Throw, they will probably be able to combo that attack to score more damage. His opponent has the opportunity to counter by playing a Joker, though - or to bluff and pretend that he is playing a Joker. If the person being attacked truly played a Joker, then all of the combo damage is deflected.  Otherwise, he takes all of the extra damage and loses the card he used to bluff!  Finally, both players have the opportunity to "Power Up" by discarding various poker hands to retrieve Aces (each character's super moves) from the discard pile and/or deck. Play continues in this manner until one of the characters is knocked out.

Now that you understand the rules of the game, it's time to discuss the crux of the game (I normally jump into pros and cons, but this is a much more topic in Yomi). The crux of the game is the Attack/Throw/Block (Rock/Paper/Scissors) mechanic. As opposed to standard Rock/Paper/Scissors, in Yomi you aren't just guessing at what the other person will play. You know enough information that you will be thinking, re-thinking, and over-thinking the situation. Each character has a different breakdown of cards in their deck (with a cheat sheet on their character card telling you this breakdown on a 0-5 scale). Therefore, you know if your opponent is more likely to have Attacks, Throws, Blocks, or Dodges. You also may know if they have a Block (if they have successfully Blocked previously). You also might know if they have some Aces, and if you paid attention, you'll know how that Ace can be played. But you also know that they know all of this. Therefore, the game of Yomi is truly a battle of wits against your opponent as you both try to stay one step ahead of each other as you try to outwit one another. If you like this type of mechanic, then you will absolutely love Yomi. If this sounds like something that you are uninterested in, then you should definitely stay away.

card from Yomi game
Characters add flavor
The first pro that I have found in Yomi is the different characters. This game could mechanically work with a standard deck of playing cards (where you make each suit a certain type of move), but it would have no flavor. Instead, with the characters, the differences in decks, and the different breakdown of moves, you truly get the feel that each character has a unique style that you need to embrace in order to win.  Along the lines of theme, the next pro that I have for Yomi is that I really enjoy the artwork. Whereas I don't often care much about the components in games (unless they are really good or really bad), I found the art in Yomi to be a definite highlight of the game.

Next, I really liked the fact that each card was double sided. This essentially doubles the possible plays that you have available. This is critical as you are trying to stay one step ahead of your opponent. If all of your cards were one-sided, then you would be more likely to guess what your opponent is going to play based on how many cards they have in their hand. However, with the double-sided cards, you are almost guaranteed that they at least have a chance of countering whatever card you are going to play.

double sided Yomi card
Double-sided cards add variety
When playing Yomi, however, I found that I was often frustrated by not having my deck "flow" well. I will freely admit that I have not played Yomi to the point where I consider myself a master at the game, and so this con may go away with continued play. However, I often found myself short on cards, which makes comboing and powering up very difficult (these actions both require several cards to perform). Without being able to combo, you are not able to hit your opponent for more than a few points each turn, which in turn leads to the pace of the game being much slower. Now, Blocks allow you to draw extra cards, so if you are very good at picking the right time to play a Block, you may not suffer from this problem - but it was frustrating in the games that I played.

My other con is really just a confession - I was not in love with the Attack/Throw/Block mechanic. I think that it works, but it wasn't something that captured my imagination and made me want to keep playing it. Since this is the crux of the game, you can imagine that the game didn't really click very well for me.

Overall, I give Yomi a 7.5/10. Even without being enamored with the key mechanic, I thought that it functioned well enough to give it a respectable score. The closest comparison that I know of is BattleCON, which I also gave a 7.5 to; however, in a direct comparison, I believe that Yomi would score the victory.  At $100 for the complete Yomi set, I would highly recommend trying out a friend's copy or buying some of the smaller sets before investing in buying the complete set.

Want some more opinions? You can read a review of Yomi at Play Board Games, or another , or another Yomi review at Games With Two.

I would like to thank Sirlin Games for providing me with a review copy of Yomi.


  1. You'll love it or...meh.
    I bought the whole PnP set for $15 and printed out a few of the decks, using come card sleeves and old CCG cards as backs. That's probably as far as I'll ever go with Yomi.

    Nice review!

  2. You could have also mentioned that the game is available for everyone to try out and play for free on Sirlin's website. I've played there for a while and do enjoy the game, but just wouldn't have anyone locally to play it with hardcore so the website version is awesome.

  3. Thanks a lot for the review Josh. The game looks good, but I can see if you dislike the game mechanic how you could not enjoy it.