Explore feudal Japan in Philosophia: Floating World

September 1, 2020 - 10:30pm

Philosophia box cover

“Welcome to the Floating World. In this game you will travel back to feudal Japan, taking on the role of a character from that era, each with a unique set of skills and a terrible secret! Your aim is to demonstrate Ganbaru 頑張る, the ability to commit oneself fully and see a task through to the end.”

Game publisher Cogito Ergo Meeple and designer/owners Joseph N and Madeleine Adams have started a Kickstarter campaign for their second game, Philosophia: Floating World. Their first foray into the gaming side of philosophy resulted in the successful 2019 Kickstarter project Philosophia: Dare to be Wise. Dare to be Wise used Greek Philosophy in an action-selection, area control game, all while featuring real figures from the Hellenistic golden age of philosophy.

In Floating World, the philosophy lessons have now moved to feudal Japan. 1-6 Players take on the roles of Ronin, Kabuki, Sumo, Samurai, Geisha and more, interacting with schools of thought such as Shinto, Zen, Confucianism, and Daoism. More importantly, the game is entirely simultaneous – each phase, players perform all of their actions at the same time. If any conflict arises, a dynamic influence track determines who gets precedence. Each player starts with a character board and two random location tiles from the 20 cities on the board: one for their hidden stronghold and one that acts as a clever decoy. The game play itself is a unique blend of deck-building and “I split - you choose”. Players draw 6 cards from their deck and pass them to the player on the left. This neighbor chooses one card to discard, splits the remaining five into a set of 3 and a set of 2, then returns the cards. The player then must pick one set to use and the other to discard.

Cards benefit the player in multiple ways – resources (time, money and builders) are gained from symbols in the lower left of the cards. Players can then use resources to perform actions shown on the lower right of their cards and on their player boards. Actions include purchasing items to fight legendary monsters, buying new cards for your deck, moving around the map, constructing shrines and pagodas in the various cities, and studying wisdom from the 4 philosophies. Another action includes searching opponents’ bases, using a Clue-like mechanic to eliminate potential cities. Clever players can bring large festivals to town, places to convert time into cold hard cash, but also making searches impossible. Players earn victory conditions, or Ganbaru, by excelling at these actions – killing monsters, collecting sets of wisdom cards, or building sets of structures. Four Ganbaru, or less if a secret base is discovered, ensures a player victory.

Philosophia: Floating World has options for unique player powers and player boards, a teapot expansion, and a solo mode. The game also showcases over 250 beautifully restored pieces of Ukiyo-e artwork from artists Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai. Philosophia: Floating World comes with 6 double sided player boards, double sided game board, over 200 tarot sized cards, 41 mini cards, 48 wooden tokens, 144 game tokens, 12 detailed miniatures, and a delightful metal teapot token. The Kickstarter Campaign for Philosophia continues through October 1, and the game is expected to deliver to backers in June 2021. For more details, check out the designers’ webpage here.

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