Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over 18 months and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every other Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 25 July 2017

I dreamed a dream in times gone by:- The Ravens of Thri Sahashri

GameThe Ravens of Thri Sahashri

Publisher: Osprey Games

DesignerKuro
 
Year20
13

The Ravens of Thri Sahashri is an asymmetrical cooperative card game in which you attempt to bring back a girl from a coma using psychic powers to piece her mind back together. One player acts as Feth, the psychic boy, providing the other player with cards which they can use to complete their dreams. The other player acts as Ren, the comatose girl, who must try and help the psychic boy understand what cards they need without speaking. It's actually another nice interpretation of psychic powers, as you really do have to try and get inside the other players head and work out why they are doing what they are doing.

Okay so the theme is... interesting... It’s very anime inspired which is followed through with beautiful drawn art on all of the cards depicting the Ren’s past, the cards actually do a good job of silenty telling of Ren’s hard life through some of the more concerning pictures. Putting the theme aside you are left with a devilishly clever, and devilishly difficult cooperative experience  where you must work together  for a common goal despite having completely different abilities.

The game set up ready to play, Ren on the left with her 4 starting dream cards known only to her. Feth on the right with his pile of cards to select from. and the atman in the middle which both players must manipulate to win.

The Ravens of Thri Sahashri has Feth drawing cards which are put into a central pool known as the “atman”. There are restrictions on how these cards can be placed, and if you can’t add a card each turn then it’s game over. Feth can draw as many cards as he wants, but hidden in the draw deck are the titular ravens which will only make your life harder, so you don’t want to draw too deep. Once Feth has placed a card Ren can take one card, which may then cause the Atman to collapse allowing her to discard additional cards. Ren must complete a type of Japanese poem which has a 7,7,7,5 pattern, to do this she must make piles of cards add up to 7,7,7 and 5. She starts with 4 random cards that only she knows the value to, and then adds cards from the centre until she reaches 7, she then moves on to the next card, tries to get the total of that pile to 7 and so on.

At the end of each round the atman must only contain cards that match the colour of the cards that Ren has face-down. This can be tricky as Feth doesn’t know these colours, you have to hint to the Feth player what colours you need. Each player also has ways of revealing Ren’s dream cards, so you can get help that way. In addition cards that Ren has taken to add to her dreams all have powers, some for Feth only and some for both players, which can be an enormous help. And you’ll need help, because as soon as you find a raven things can start going downhill fast, the ravens will consume discarded cards of their matching colour if they haven’t been chased off by the end of the round, removing the cards from the game. Feth can chase them off by making groups of the corresponding colour in the atman that add to 7, but this is harder than you might think. Each game has you playing 3 rounds, with the difficulty ramped up on the final round as you have to complete each poem in 1 turn!

A selection of game cards, the art tells Ren's past, and it doesn't tell a particularly happy tale! When placing cards you must place dark areas on dark and light on light, which means you can't always add the cards you want to the atman!


If it seemed like a difficult game to explain, that’s because it is. The first major flaw in the game is the instruction book. While it technically does mention all of the rules you need to play, they aren’t laid out clearly and a lot of very important rules are just mentioned in throwaway lines. I’m pretty sure that every time we have played this game we’ve been playing it slightly differently. This isn’t helped by the game being brutally difficult (though admittedly easier than we first through, seriously read the rules 3 times over and make sure you understand them). The Ravens of Thri Sahashri really is a 2-player puzzle game and it doesn’t believe on making things easy for you. In case you do find the game too easy, the first time you win you actually unlock a new page of rules which, big surprise, makes the game harder! There are 2 more envelopes should you complete the game with this extra difficulty, I presume these do similar things, but we’ve not managed to complete envelope 1!

Once you look past the bad rulebook and the difficulty barrier you are left with an incredibly unique experience for a card game. Asymmetrical games are hard to balance without one player being more powerful, but when you make the game a co-op then there’s no such worries. It’s simply a wonderful thing and I wish more people would follow suite. The Ravens of Thri Sahashri is an incredibly deep game for something that you can fit in your pocket, and for a game that constantly hands my my ass, it’s surprisingly addictive, I think it might be one of the best 2-player games I’ve played, it’s a shame that the rulebook lets it down.

7.5/10
 

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