Pretty sure I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. When hanging out with my real life friends, we don’t watch much anime. My real life friends and I are united by table top gaming. Back in the day we were all about Dungeons and Dragons, World of Darkness, and all that shit. I’ve even dabbled in LARPing (Think I’ve said I’d tell that story before, and I still need to tell it, but not today.) But yeah, we don’t have the time to concoct convoluted adventures, create maps, and all that stuff that goes into RPing. We still do it every now and then, but for the most part we stick with board games and card games when he do our weekly gaming night.
Since we do the table top gaming thing, I’m always looking for ways to connect that with my anime nerdiness. I’ve talked about a few other games that have bridged this gap before, but I found what may be the best example yet of melding otakudom with my other hobby: Tanto Cuore.
Tanto Cuore is what we gaming geeks like to call a deck-building game. If you’ve played Dominion or Thunderstone or the new Resident Evil card game, you’ve played this sort of game before. The catch being that instead of buying land, forming adventuring parties, or loading up on guns to kill zombies, you’re hiring maids to work in your luxurious mansion, and whoever does the best job of running their household wins the game.
Yeah. It’s a card game that effectively re-enacts a harem anime, except with the twist of competing with other players’ harems to see who is the awesomest harem constructor.
Anyway, for those of y’all that haven’t played one of these deck-building games, here’s the gist of it:
You start with a pre-determined deck of cards. You use these cards to:
- Buy more cards from a set pool that you add to your deck so you can use them later, and P
- Perform actions that net you victory points.
It’s all about trying to create a smooth-flowing deck that lets you do stuff to get victory points in an efficient manner. If you’ve ever played in a M:tG draft tournament, it’s kinda like that. The catch being that the drafting process is built into the mechanics of the actual game.
With Tanto, you start with a deck of 10 cards. Seven of these cards are Love cards. Love is the currency in the game. So yeah, according to this game, you aren’t exactly paying for these maids with cash. Nope. You’re basically using your inexplicable main character charms to make these maids fall in love with you, and thus do your chores and shit before you cast them out of the house after they’ve done what you need them to do(That is, discard them at the end of the turn.). It that regard the game is exactly like a harem anime, except chicks move in and out of your harem as you see fit. It’s a very practical way of hareming.
You use these Love cards to buy new cards from the general pool. You can buy larger denominations of Love (Each of your starting Love cards is worth 1 Love, and you can buy it in denominations of 2 and 3 as well.) or you can hire maids. When you use your Love to hire a maid (or almost any other card for that matter), it goes into your discard pile for later use. Once you run out of cards in your current deck, you shuffle your discard pile and make a new deck out of those cards. That way, your cards are constantly cycling through and you can get to those new cards you bought.
Those maid cards you buy let you do extra stuff during your turn. On your turn you start with five cards. In addition to that you can:
- Play one card from your hand, which in-game terms is called a “service” since it represents a maid doing some menial task for you like sewing something, doing your laundry, or slacking off and falling asleep in the courtyard.
- Buy one card from the general pool,which in-game terms is called “hiring.”
- Immediately draw one or more extra cards.
- Gain extra Love to buy stuff this turn.
- Perform additional “services” after this one.
- Hire additional maids from the pool.
- Some specified actions printed on the card.
So you buy maids with your Love, use these maids to buy even more maids, and essentially reap the rewards of their meager efforts all while trying to impress the other “masters” in the game with how well you run your house of moe moe indentured servants. It’s exactly like an anime.
It’s a pretty straightforward game once you see it in action. It’s all about streamlining your deck to do stuff that’ll net you victory points (Some maids give you VP for simply owning them, some give you VP if you have certain other cards or multiples, and so on.). Once so many cards have been bought from the pool, the game ends and you add your shit up.
The “charm” of the game comes from the theme. Like I’ve been saying, it’s all about buying maids with love. You get to play out your own generic harem storyline all in card form. All of the maids have a specialty written on their card. So the one that lets you take two additional “services” after playing her is the Sewing Maid. Because, I don’t know, she sews up a nice, new suit for you and it lets you impress the other maids so much that they’re more willing to do things for you this “turn.” Then there’s the Treasury Maid, who lets you draw more cards and buy more things. Maybe you’re using your meek charms to “cook the books,” so to speak, and she’s working things so that you can get to your inheritance easier or something like that.
My favorite card was the Sleeping Maid. That’s what it says on her card. The way I see it, you hire her thinking she’s gonna do shit for you, but once you have her perform a “service” she just goes out into the yard and falls asleep. That’s why she gives you three Love and allows you to buy one extra thing that turn. It isn’t because she’s helping you, it’s because you’re so pissed off that you feel compelled to hire more maids to pick up the slack, so you have to muster extra charm (the 3 love) to hire two maids to do what this one maid couldn’t do. Sure, the card may show the “master” laying in said sleeping maid’s lap, as if the extra love is supposed to represent that tender moment shared dozing under a cherry tree while looking at the cloudless sky, but screw that. This maid’s worthless and you need to find a replacement STAT!
My gaming buddies got a kick out of it. Most of them are used to the sort of cute-but-suggestive style of art that’s present in this genre of anime stuff, but they still laughed at things like the maids who just barely flash their panties or who are posed in such a way that it might not be all that innocent-seeming. They know the drill, but they aren’t deadened to it the way many of us are.
All in all, Tanto Cuore’s a pretty decent deck-building game. I think I like Thunderstone a bit more, but that’s because there’s a good bit of action in that game, but Tanto is amusing enough as is. Cracking jokes about the absurd nature of the game almost makes up for the lack of slicing minotaurs in half. Almost.