Tanto Cuore or Dipping Into the Madness of Actually Playing Japanese Tabletop Games

So at Anime Expo there was this booth which hawked translated “tabletop” (I use the term in the context of tabletop gaming as found here, and not so much by definition) deck building game Tanto Cuore. It is appropriate to hawk that at an anime convention (but then again, AX is an all-kind-of-things convention when it comes to the dealer’s hall) because this deck building game features the artwork of a lot of pretty popular Japanese artists among anime/manga/game/whatever fans. The game comes in a cardboard box that houses all the cards (and some extra room if you want to sleeve them); about a little bigger than the one Aquarian Age (a semi-popular anime-style TCG from 10 years ago!) card box that I own from waaayyyyyy back. Funny thing is, Aoi Nanase’s characters adorned both of them. What are the odds? I don’t even like her stuff that much!

This particular booth belonged to a tabletop game retailer that is also footing the localization effort for Tanto Cuore, at least from what I can gather (I did not visit their booth). It is originally a Japanese game, and by all means a “maid” spin on the popular deck building game Dominion. For those familiar with Dominion, by “maid” it just means instead of kingdom cards, it’s maid cards. For those unfamiliar with either game, in a deck building game, you basically have a set of cards in which you treat as your “deck.” You then draw from it, and play the cards from the deck for what’s written on the cards. Usually these abilities allow you to add or subtract cards to your overall deck, and/or alter the victory status (get more victory points, change victory conditions, etc). Part of the game is upgrading your existing cards in the deck so you can draw better cards instead of worthless crap cards. Part of the game is playing versus other players and competing for those better cards to add to your deck. Part of the game is managing your deck so it is rid of useless cards, so you can pull off combos. There’s a lot of other stuff that you could do, too, and often times you’re doing several things simultaneously.

So in Tanto Cuore, you do this with maids. And with love. And with serving. And employment. It’s an oddish concept if you think about it. Yeah, look at me, the guy with 20 chambermaids. With a billion victory points. What does this mean? Do I live like a king, because I can afford a dozen employments a turn? Or I have a bottomless pool of love to spend every turn? Or because I have dozens of concubines? How about the maids in the deck but not in my chambers? Why aren’t there more Mariannes to buy? The mind boggles at the implications.

There isn’t a whole lot to this game in proper English yet. From what I can tell, there are 2 expansions released for this game, but in Japanese only. You can also get special promo stuff like this (or this, for the base set). There are character goods if you look at the usual places. At the same time, you can already get the translated rules and card list for the first and second expansions from the usual place, AND from Arclight’s site directly. The localization company wants to bring the expansion over, but only if the sales are good enough. Naturally like other newbie localization efforts they need a lot of marketing help. But there’s a strong board game tie-in demographic that is receptive of this Japanese fantasy lunacy, so the player base probably does exist. I’m just doing my part to get the word out–the game itself is solid, offers some refinement you don’t quite see elsewhere (in an elegant, simple, dare I say, Japanese maid kind of way), and it has the same grip on you that Dominion and its ilks do. It’s legit, even before the whole moe-moe-meido part of the game.

Again, the Japanese company publishing Tanto Cuore is Arclight. Arclight publishes also several other original games, as well as localized western favorites like Thunderstone and proper board games like Powergrid (mmm Funkenschlag). That idol game…seems pretty interesting! And I’ll take most non-Aoi Nanase cover artist any day. There’s also this Anime-Nazi-Bishoujo-Invades-Russia game, which also has translated texts for cards and rules. Tempting! Because it’ll probably never get published in the US LOL.

Last note, this is the romanized list of artists (and links) that worked on Tanto Cuore (base set). I don’t know why they didn’t romanize it on the English language site, because some of these guys are popular names, and BGG already has them listed:

CARNELIAN, COMTA, Takahito Ekuchi, Takuya Fujima, Takehito Harada, Akira Hayase, Kira Inugami, Ishigaa, kawaku, KEI, Souji Kusaka, Misa Matoki, Rin Minase, Miki Miyashita, Misoka Nagatsuki, Nana, Aoi Nanase, Hiroki Ozaki, Poyoyon Rock, Ruchie, Satoru Satou, Mushimaro Tachikawa, Yuiko Tokui, Ofuu Yamadori.

Even the official card lists on Arclight’s site have romanized artist names. What gives?

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10 responses to “Tanto Cuore or Dipping Into the Madness of Actually Playing Japanese Tabletop Games

  • yuyukos

    I remember this booth, I stopped by a few times to check out their selection of card sleeves and deck boxes. There were several groups of people playing it in the card game room as well when I stopped by there. It looked interesting, to say the least.

  • ToastCrust

    I bought my set of Tanto Cuore at Sakuracon!

    I actually found out about Arclight’s stuff earlier in the year when a friend of mine at the traditional games club I’m in jokingly mentioned it in a games request thread. I actually have Barbarossa sitting there sleeved up in Sora no Woto, haha.

    I was pretty excited to see legit localizations of it being distributed too, and it’s definitely good enough to be worth the money.

  • NegativeZero

    This looks interesting. Big fan of Dominion and used to be a big trading card game fan when I was younger as well. Intrigued. Looks like it will be incredibly hard to track down the English language release outside the US though. :(

  • omo

    @NegativeZero:
    If you want to import it from Amiami, you can, I’m sure they ship to anywhere. If you want the English version, Amazon US probably will ship to you. A lot of these board game stores also will stock/backorder them for you, and these are typically mom-and-pop type places where you can get them to ship anywhere as long as you can pay the cost and bear the risk of shipping.

    @ToastCrust
    By “sleeved up” you mean like
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Sora-no-Woto-Trading-Card-Sleeves-Kanata-Rio-/310216878530#ht_2903wt_1396
    ????? LOL.

    Yeah I need to get some sleeves. Maybe I’ll just add to my Amiami order yet again.

    @yuyukos
    Do give it a shot.

  • NegativeZero

    My Japanese isn’t remotely good enough to play with the Japanese version from Amiami, sadly – and even if it was, I’d be cutting out any chance of most of my friends being able to play it. Amazon US – or rather the third party selling it via Amazon – won’t ship to Australia.

    I might try contacting them directly and ask if they have a solution. Might also see if my usual board games retailer is able to get it.

  • omo

    The game rules and card text are all available in English from Arclight for even the base Tanto Cuore set.

    You really should just email some board game shops. I’m pretty sure the store I bought it from will consider it. Or ask on BGG forums.

  • NegativeZero

    Yeah, several of the US stores will ship it, but unfortunately due to the weight, the shipping to Australia is more than the game costs :( Managed to find a local retailer that lists it and they’re only about 20 minutes from where I live, but they’ve run out of stock. Will keep an eye out though.

  • omo

    Well, that’s good to know.

  • ToastCrust

    @omo: Yes, those exact sleeves! Haha. Tanto Cuore I have mostly in Maria Holic sleeves w/ Matsurika and Mariya

  • omo

    i ended up going cheap and just picked up some generic top deck stuff online. But maybe in the future I will weeaboo it up.

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