I’m always on the lookout for good card games. I love board games, but card games are so much more portable. So, I wanted to take a look at a new one called Gosu.
Gosu (which stands for GOblin SUpremacy) was designed by Kim Satô, a Japanese-Korean teenager. I’m impressed by that, but it’s even more impressive that the game is getting a worldwide release by a major company like Asmodée. Art was done by Bertrand Benoit, Romain Gaschet, and Ian Parovel. The game is for 2-4 players, takes anywhere from 20-45 minutes, and is for ages 10 and up. Thematically, you’re be taking charge of a goblin army and trying to gain supremacy. Let’s take a look at how it works.
There’s not a ton of stuff in this game, which makes sense for what appears to be a relatively small box game. There are 100 cards, 8 activation tokens, 9 VP tokens, and 1 advantage token, as well as a 24 page rulebook. That seems like a lot, but again, it’s a smaller box. There are lots of well-illustrated examples, and there’s not a lot of information crammed on each page. The translation leaves a lot to be desired, but the PDF I’m looking at is not the Asmodée version, so maybe they fixed that.
In the deck, there are three types of goblin cards – 50 level one goblins (Bakutos – the footsoldiers), 35 level two goblins (Heroes – veterans), and 15 level three goblins (Ōzekis – generals). These types are evenly divided into five clans – Ancient Gobans (white), Alpha Goblins (green), Dark Goblins (black), Meka Goblins (blue), and Fire Goblins (red). This deck will be shuffled to form the draw pile, and each player will get seven to start. You should have at least one Bakuto in your hand; if not, discard your entire hand and draw a new one. Each player will choose a color and take the two corresponding activation tokens. One player will get the Advantage token (the rules suggest playing Rock-Paper-Scissors to decide), and you’re ready to go.
The game is played in rounds, with each player taking turns until everyone has passed. During a turn, you’ll take one action – play a goblin, mutate a goblin, draw a card (or three), activate a goblin, or pass.
You’ll be building your army by playing goblin cards. You’ll be playing into a theoretical grid of 15 spaces – three rows of five. The first goblin you play must be a Bakuto, and it go be at the bottom left of this grid. All future Bakutos will go from left to right, with Heroes in the second row and Ōzekis at the top. You can never have more than five goblins per row.
The first goblin you place is free. Other Bakutos from the same clan are also free, but Bakutos from other clans cost two cards (which you just discard, Race for the Galaxy style). To play a Hero, it must match one of the clans in the Bakuto row. There can’t be more Heroes in play than Bakutos. The same goes for Ōzekis – there can’t be more than Heroes, and they must match a clan present in both rows.
Mutation is another way to get goblins out. Pay the indicated cost in cards, discard the goblin and replace it with another of the same level from your hand. Clans don’t have to match, and you can mutate a Hero or Ōzeki into a goblin of a clan that wouldn’t be possible by just playing a card.
You can spend an Activation Token to draw one card, or spend both to draw three cards. You can also spend an Activation Token to activate a goblin power.
If you pass, you can’t play for the rest of the round. Once everyone has passed, it’s time for a Great Battle. Add up your military might with the winner gaining one VP. If there’s a tie, the player with the Advantage Token wins. If no tied player has the Advantage Token, both get a point. At first glance, it may seem that this is a lot of map, but it’s actually fairly simple. Bakutos give you a strength of 2, Heroes give you a strength of 3, and Ōzekis have a strength of 5. So if you have 4 Bakutos, 3 Heroes, and 2 Ōzekis, you have 27 points. There’s a maximum strength of 50 points.
If any player has three VPs at this point, they win. If not, another round is played, with all players collecting their activation tokens. The Advantage Token stays in place (it might switch through card play), and trapped cards are turned face up. There are a bunch of cards that can allow you to destroy the last card in a row, or that give you special victory conditions, or that give you other special powers, but I’m not going over those. Just wanted to give a basic overview.
The game seems very light and accessible. I’m not sure how much strategy there is, but then, I haven’t looked into finding out all the powers. That’s part of the fun of this type of game – finding out the combos that will be the most useful. It’s the same with similar games like Race for the Galaxy or Fairy Tale. I don’t know how much new this game has to offer, but I’m interested to play it and find out. At the very least, it seems like something fun that would probably fit in a pocket or backpack to be taken anywhere. It’s $30, so grab it if you’re interested.
Thanks for reading, and insert clever tagline here.