NIYA is a classic strategy game that you win by connecting four tokens, or as The Artist calls it, “Connect Four on steroids”. The game play is quick and to win you have to think one step ahead of your opponent. While the kids love the game for the strategy, I love it for its quick play time and beautiful artwork.
NIYA is a game with a back story. There are two rival clans living in Japan’s Imperial Gardens and by planning your moves and placing your clan members (tokens) in advantageous positions you can rule the garden and Japan.
The game consists of 8 red tokens and 8 black tokens and 16 garden tiles. Each token has a face on it representing a clan member and each garden tile has two elements on it (sun, bird, pine tree, iris, cherry tree, poem, leaf, rain cloud).
Game play is straightforward and easy to learn, starting with each player picking a color and taking their tokens. Randomly lay the tiles out in a 4 x 4 square, the tiles are identical on both sides. The first player removes a tile to the side and places their token in that spot. The next player takes note of the elements on the tile that was removed and removes a tile that has one of the same elements as the previous card.
Player 1 removes a card with an iris and sun element. Player 2 can remove any tile as long as it has a sun or iris on it.
The player who first connects four tokens (horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or postage stamp) wins. You can also win by effectively blocking your opponent from placing their last token for a win, this is called a blockade.
The game comes in a metal storage tin and won’t take up much room on your game shelf, but it’s a game you’ll play again and again so don’t store it on a high shelf 😉 This is a great little game and the fact that we’ve played it at least 15 times today without getting bored speaks volumes!
Manufacturer: Blue Orange Games
Play time: 5-10 minutes
Numbers of players: 2
Reading level: N/A
Parental participation: unnecessary
Disclaimer: This review was unsolicited. This was a game I purchased for personal use and liked so much I decided to review it. I was not asked to do this review or compensated in any manner. But hey, Blue Orange, I’m here if you ever need more reviews, just email me 😉
Meg Grooms is a long-time homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle and currently call Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.