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Kabuki: tile laying game with a japanese theatre theme.

8 replies [Last post]
Dstoll's picture
Joined: 05/19/2014

Hey there everybody,

I have been toying with the idea of making a tile-laying game centered around Japanese Kabuki Theatre. I'd like to use this thread as a sort of sounding board to bounce my ideas off of, until I can distill things down to a working game. I'd really love to hear some input from you guys, mainly about the following:

Is this idea original (enough)?
Do you think it would make for a fun experience ?
Is it obviously lacking something ?
Does it have enough elements? Or maybe far too many?
Any other suggestions.

Before I go into the mechanics as a whole I'd like to give a bit of background why I think this would be a very fun idea. The thing I thoroughly enjoy in (modern)Kabuki theatre is mainly the fast changing sets. This is usualy done by either: A rotating stage (showing two different scenes) or with platforms that ascend/descend (again showing different scenes). I think that incorporating this element to a tile laying game would make for a really nice visual presentation. One of the things I enjoy in gaming is ending a game with the feeling that I've built something. Exactly that feeling is what I want players to take away from this game.

With that out of the way, let's look at how I envision to accomplish this goal.

Each player has his own board in front of him, representing his initial stage/scene. The aim is to fill this stage with tiles, depicting several things:

special effects

Each of these things should offer different benefits (which I have yet to work out). What I'm thinking about is diffent prestige/money rewards for different combination of tiles.
After each round of play, I'd like there to be a phase where the players are able to adjust their stage by adding new sets/scenes. Here comes the tricky part: I'm looking for a mechanism that will showcase the quick chaning of scenes prevalent Kabuki. I could really use some input on how you guys would try to incorporate this feature in the game.

Another important factor in any tile laying game is off course the acquisition of the tiles themselves. For this I think I have a pretty nice idea. The start player draws an X amount of tiles from the bag (depending on the amount of players) and divides them into groups which are equal in number. The next player in turn order picks one of the groups and can purchase tiles from that group and so on, so that the player who divided the groups gets last pick.

One thing I've yet to work out in it's entirety is how I want scoring to work. A couple of things I've figured I wanted are the following:

Scoring between each round (both points and currency).
Scoring for different things each round (think Isle of skye)
Combo's coming off of having different 'complete' sets.
End scoring

That's basically all I have at this moment, but I think it's at least something to start from. The first thing I want to figure out is what I can do to make the whole visual aspect of the game shine.

Any thoughts or ideas are more then welcome, so please let me know what you guys think.

Thanks in advance,


Squinshee's picture
Joined: 10/17/2012
Hey Danny, I like the theme

Hey Danny,

I like the theme even though I'm not familiar with Kabuki, and I think there'd be an audience for something like this. Here are some stray thoughts on your concept:

• From what I gather, most of the player interaction comes from the start of each round where one player creates the piles of tiles. I like that idea (reminds me of Season's dice mechanic), but my concern with that is you could be creating a lot of potential options for one player to make that dictates how a round progresses, creating the potential for serious analysis paralysis.

• I like games that build on my previous efforts as well. Maybe each round is an "Act" with 5 in total, like in traditional Kabuki (how thematic!) and players earn Act cards based on how they performed during each act? I'm clearly spit-balling here. Keeping each round's tile board for each player and having each affect the next round could become too much, so maybe condensing each round's efforts would work better. Maybe you're vying for audience members? Critical praise? A certain narrative beat?

• As for the tiles, I'd stray away from players wanting to build strict sets (collect all 5 of the forest themed tiles, as an example) and focus more on interesting synergies and interplays between the tiles. You want players to explore your game, not just "collect all of the red ones!"

I hope my rambling here was helpful? Lolz.

Joined: 02/05/2016
Interesting idea

Just some initial thoughts...

How interactive do you want the game to be? It doesn't make much thematic sense for players to damage each other's sets, but I could see fierce competition for key resources. Do you want this to appeal to people who like to build something in relative peace, or players who like to screw someone else's plans?

The rotating stage idea could create some neat mechanisms. I picture some central board that literally rotates, and deciding when it rotates and which way is one of the things players have to worry about. You don't want pieces flying everywhere, so it could be the backdrop that rotates, or something that takes fairly easy-to-move pieces, such as one small row of tiles.

The idea of five acts sounds thematic, and could give players the option of trying to build something that fits with most of those acts, or something that will make them produce a game winning display in just one act. Would it make sense to have the rotating board itself consist of five acts, which go past players trying to build sets and also go past the audience? With points picked up during the audience phase, while the other acts are having tiles placed.

Apart from deciding which tile to play, what do you picture as being the key decisions a player would have to make? Do they spend on resources? Auction? Is their competition for roles?

The theme could be very strong for a game like this. Gameplay is obviously the main priority, but you would need exquisite art to make it really shine. Would you do your own art for the prototype, grab some placeholder art? Sometimes doing a bit of the art can get the creative juices flowing.

Tedthebug's picture
Joined: 01/17/2016
Is this a 2 player game?

I'm envisioning a round board, or even a round board pinned to a square board so it can be spun. Players are placing their tiles onto their half of the stage before it rotates. Once it has spun maybe they play the new stage a bit like a deck builder in that something from that scene must be left on stage while other items are swapped out.

You might be able to have the circle in quarters. For 2 players it would space out the tiles across 4 stages so timing may become a strategy, 3 players would have that extra stage collecting pieces, 4 players would use all of them.

If the game was a social game perhaps the players need to narrate each scene as they play it out.

Is there some sort of worker placement element using black ninja stage hands?

Dstoll's picture
Joined: 05/19/2014
Thanks for the initial input guys!

Hey guys,

I'd really like to thank you all for the input, it's helping form my vision of where I want this game to go. I'll take some of the comments and add my response.

From Squinshee:

On your first point I agree that it might induce AP in certain cases. I've been thinking of other ways for the players to interact (I'll touch on some of these points later.
I really like the idea about the different 'acts' and will use that in some way. Maybe in the first act, you introduce the actors/characters. These could function as a way to gather resources. Maybe each player could start with a lead actor, (drafted) who gives abilities/ scoring possibilities.
It wasn't my attention to have players simply collect sets, players should be rewarded for having interesting combination of tiles in their display.

From Arcuate:

I like interaction in games, but I don't inted this to turn out to be a 'srew your neighbour' game. Competition for tiles and possibly bonuses/resources should be fierce, but I think the interaction should stop there.

I like the idea of the physically rotating stage, but I'm not to keen on the central board for tile-play. Maybe each player board could have this rotating mechanic and maybe I should limit it to two different 'scences'.
I'm quite sold on the act Idea. Some games have a mechanic (signorie comes to mind) where whether to go for a round bonus or not is an important decision. Do you try and reach each round's goal (maybe using sub-optimal decisions) for a small bonus or do you build towards a great ending.
Like I said, apart from choosing (and paying for) tiles, Maybe there could be a draft for initial characters/lead actors. An other mechanic I like is giving the player the option in a phase where 'rewards' are collected to either choose between points or resources.
I'm not a stellar artist myself, but I'm blessed with a couple of friends who create very nice things. I've approached a couple of them with the idea, and one guy looks to be onboard with helping me out.

From tedthebug:

The game is not envisioned as a 2 player game, but I like the idea of a board rotating between 2 players.
I really wanted to shy away from worker placement as a mechanic for this game, but I have been thinking of adding additional ways for the players to interact with one andother.

If any of you have additional input, I'd be more then happy to hear it.

kind regards,


Tedthebug's picture
Joined: 01/17/2016
Does it need to be competitive?

If it was a co-op.......

Could the players draft the tiles then have to create a story as they play them in the stage area? Or maybe they draft tiles & the first person plays 2 tiles & tells the story so far. The other player plays 2 tiles on their stage & continues the story as if it is the second act. Each player plays like this then rotate the board one space & play a piece onto the stage in front of them & continue e story. The board rotates after each circuit of players. Maybe they play 2 tiles & remove 1 each turn they have.

Dstoll's picture
Joined: 05/19/2014
I find it really hard to

I find it really hard to answer these questions, as I don't see this game as a co-op at all.

I could understand the theme would work well as a co-operative story game, but I'll let someone else put their teeth into that.


Joined: 03/02/2014
I think that the theme is

I think that the theme is interesting, though I don't know much about it. It's exotic and interesting enough that I would probably pick it up to see how one made a game out of such an unusual subject. Also, the artwork could be fabulous.

What about a two-, three-, or four-sided stage made of concentric rings that can rotate independently?

The outer ring defines the players' stages, and doesn't move. However, it only has a few places to put props, actors, and decor. A smaller, middle ring also has several positions, and then an even smaller circle inside that has more.

During my move I can either place an item or rotate either the middle or inner ring by one position. All items on those rings move with them, creating new combos with the non-moved ring and the outer ring. Of course, it will create new combos for the opponent, as well. The strategy would be to try to build up combo starters in your base, the non-moving outer ring, such that you have good point production no matter what inner rings are turned towards you.

Dstoll's picture
Joined: 05/19/2014
That is actually a pretty

That is actually a pretty clever approach, one I haven't thought about myself. At this point, I haven't looked at a 'shared' board for players to build on. Even though it's not my preferred method, I think it would really pay off to investigate the idea.

I've played a game last weekend that has really inspired me: Animals on board. It uses a mechanic where there is a set amount of tiles available (all but one visisble). Players have two options in their turn; either split off one group and collect a resource (fruit) or take a group of tiles (paying one food for each tile in the group. I think this is a really interesting way of obtaining tiles.


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