Mangaka is billed as “The fast & furious game of drawing comics” from Mock Man Press. Manga is Japanese for comics, and a Mangaka is a comic artist. In the game you, and up to 8 players, are comic artists vying for fame and fortune.
Over the course of four timed rounds, players will draw ever more challenging comics using three Theme Cards that stay with each player throughout the game and an increasing number of Trend Cards that changes each round. In the first round players draw two panels, then four, six, and finally eight in the final round. Here’s the best part: the scoring is largely objective. It isn’t all about how well you draw, but how well you express your individual Theme Cards and challenges presented by the Trend Cards. I am NOT an artist, and I intentionally played with two VERY good (non-comic book) artists who compete in timed Art Battles, and I didn’t get destroyed.
Something that is always a challenge for games that use single-use components is: what do you do when you run out? Yes Mangaka’s website is a great resource, and has copies you can print out, as well as music suggestions (including a spotify playlist), and other assorted stuff. It wasn’t the most user friendly site I’ve been on, but I appreciate that it even exists.
Really, the only thing i didn’t like about this game was the packaging. The plastic insert was poorly designed for storage, allowing the 2 decks of cards to mix together, and there was really nowhere for tokens to go. I pulled the insert, and it was still hard to fit the cards in any sort of organized way. I ended up using a cheap light bulb box, which still didn’t fit until we had played enough to reduce the size of the pad of paper game pages. I went into this game with more than a little apprehension (see previous comment about NOT being an artist) but ended up having a lot of fun.
The game claims to support 1-8 players, with slightly different rules for solo mode, but with extra time and supplies (again, printable online) you could easily run more people. If I ever have the time at a convention, I’m tempted to run a large scale version on whiteboards. I feel this game could be a harder sell for many “gamers” but is a great option if your group is so inclined.
Originality: 4 / 5
Visual Appeal: 4 / 5
Ease of Play: 4 / 5
Strategic Challenge: 5 / 5
Total expressed as a percentage of the Ultimate Question: 40.4%