Tanto Cuore (pronounced Tan-toe Coo-reh) is a two to four-player deck-builder card game from Japanime Games. It features cute anime maids that you hire and have serve you by giving you lots of love, some of them even stay in your chamber. Y’know, saying it out loud at all feels creepy, but this game is entirely innocent, I promise!
The core premise of the game is to build a deck of maids and earn victory points in a variety of different ways. You can have the most of a certain maid to get extra Victory points, you can focus on putting maids in your chamber, or getting only the maids that score you victory points, with so many ways to win, every person at the table could be doing something different. You can also make other people’s maids get illnesses, keeping them from earning VP or doing their special abilities.
I was given a copy of the Core set of Tanto Cuore from Japanime Games to review for you all. I’ll be reviewing this on several key factors, Play-ability, replay-ability both Long Term and Short Term, Look and Feel, and what I’ll call “Win-feel”.
Tanto Cuore looks intimidating, just watching it being played and there is a LOT going on. With 3 types of “love” card, the game’s currency, 10 maids, 2 chambermaids, and 3 private maids on the board at any given time, illness cards, and other cards with negative effects. It LOOKS extremely complex. (it looks a bit less complex with the playing mats you can purchase from Japanime Game’s Website)
When you open the game up there is a pamphlet that comes out, the rules are in very small type, with few to no pictures. You have to read through the whole pamphlet to understand the game, and some important information isn’t laid out entirely well.
Explaining and teaching the game to new players is also very difficult. (or you could watch This video on how to play Tanto Cuore by Geek and Sundry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E94751B3Kg4 ) As each of the maid cards has a lot of information on it, from the different actions they can do, to their cost and if they are worth any victory points. Some maids even have special abilities when they are bought or played. Each maid, with a few exceptions, can do at least one of the following things when you play them during your “serving” phase. (1) Draw one or more cards immediately when you play it, this is shows as the deck symbol at the bottom of the card. (2) Gain one or more “Love” to use during the employment phase. This is the heart symbol at the bottom of the card, this gives you extra currency to purchase with during the next phase of your turn. (3) Gain one or more “Servings” during this turn. This is the hand pointing icon at the bottom of the card. Normally during your “serving” phase you can only play one maid, but if you play a maid with this action, you can play more maids this turn. (4) Gain one or more Extra “employments” this turn. This is the symbol at the bottom of the card that looks like two cards and a heart. Normally during the employment phase, you can only employ one maid, or purchase one card (love, illness, etc.), but playing a maid with this symbol means you can employ or purchase more than once on your turn.
WHEW that is a lot of information (and there is still more, but I won’t bore you)! So, I’d say this game is extremely dense and rule filled, but after you play it once, you get the hang of it and it is very easy to play. I’m giving the game’s play-ability a 2 out of 5 for not being new-player friendly, but having all of the rules written and nothing left to the players to figure out on their own.
In a game of Tanto Cuore you play with 10 maids, not including the two chamber maids Collette and Marianne who are in every game, and the private maids. The box contains 16 maids total, meaning you can mix and match which maids you want to have in any given game. Want a particularly hard game this go around? Determine the different ways to earn victory points and make it particularly difficult. In one game perhaps no one will reach for an illness card, in another everyone is playing illnesses and bad habits.
Because of this ability to modify the game each time you play, I give the replay-ability a 5 out of 5 long term, but a 3 out of 5 short term. After one play-through I don’t much feel like sitting down and having another go at the game, normally I’m ready to move on.
Look and Feel
I had played Tanto Cuore and fallen in love with it a few years ago. There is something endearing about how the maids have different personalities and stories we never get to learn. My head often plays out reverse-harem anime-style scenarios with the maids in my deck as we play.
Between the beautiful art, and the ability to tell little stories with the game, this is such a rich experience. It is something you really need to see to understand. I give Tanto Cuore a 5 out 5 for its look and feel.
Well, what does that mean? What it FEELS like to win or lose this game. Many games have an issue that once someone starts to win, it is hard to catch up. Win-Feel is if the game feels fair when you win or lose.
Card games have a tendency to give one player a REALLY good hand, and it ruins it for everyone else the rest of the game. Tanto Cuore can suffer this as well, BUT, with so many different ways to build your deck, it is hard for this to happen. If you plan ahead and go into the game knowing what route you want to take, it isn’t that bad and you have a real chance to win. If two people are going to the same way to win, it can feel a bit unfair if someone gets to purchase a maid first, or their hands come out a bit better.
I’ll give Tanto Cuore a 4 out of 5 for Win-Feel, because it is nice counting up those maids at the end and revealing your master-plan.
This game gets a nice 3.8 averaged score from me.
So, you’ve just sat down to play your new copy of Tanto Cuore. What tips do I have for you?
~Take time to look at the cards BEFORE you start.
~Recognize two or three ways to win the game before you start and work towards one of these, but watch other players, they might be doing the same thing.
~Pay attention to what other players are doing. If they are stock piling Collettes and getting cards that give extra serves, you know what they are going to do to win. Think about taking Colletes, or gathering illnesses or bad habits to stop them, making their army of Collettes worthless.
~Play nice, at first. The moment ONE person gets an illness or a bad habit card, others will too. After that it is just a flame war.
~Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner Harem Anime Protagonist and romance some girls, warm the hearts of those Tsunderes, and give those adorable Kuundere’s soft pats on the head.
~Don’t Lewd the Loli. You’re gonna be tempted to. Don’t.
More information can be found on the official website.