Yamatai Specialists – Strategies and Synergies
There are some that would say that Yamatai, by Bruno Cathala and Marc Paquien, is a game of short term strategy. Each an every turn you have to reevaluate your options, you have to choose different Fleet Tiles, and each turn you are restricted based on the actions of other players. Do you go for Boat X, Boat Y, or Boat Z? Well, your opponent has already chosen one, so which do you choose?
And, you know what? Yamatai is a short term strategy game; however, it is a short term strategy with a couple of large caveats. There are moments within Yamatai where a long term strategy shines through clearer than day, and you just have to go with it. Those moments can come at numerous points in the game; however, none more so than with the Specialists.
Over the coming couple of weeks there are going to be a few articles about Yamatai Specialists as they are such an interesting part of the game. Every turn you can trade in Culture Tokens, taken from islands on the map, and purchase a Specialist. Those Specialists grant on-going bonuses that aid with the rest of the game.
Now here is where it gets cool. Where each of the Specialists can be seen as experts in their own right, there are a few that really synergise (yes, corporate jargon) together to create these awesome and amazing combos.
So, guess what we’re going to be talking about today? Yes! You guessed it – today we are going to look at three separate synergies that can be used to create these awesome combos when playing Yamatai and rule the archipelago once and for all. Today, we are going to match up some of the Yamatai specialists to see who goes well with whom.
Exploring the Yamatai Specialists
When you spend a while reading through the Yamatai Specialists, like I have done over the past couple of nights in preparation for writing this article, there are a few concepts that immediately jump to mind. First, there are the Specialists that aid with money generation.
Now, when we are talking about money generation within Yamatai we are talking about using money for two reasons. The first is to buy the boats you need within the game to achieve more or less anything no matter which Fleet Tile you pick. It is about enabling that freedom to do what you want.
Secondly, money is about getting points. At the end of the game you get one Prestige Point (PP, or “Victory Point” for when I inevitably forget what they are called) for every five coins.
Next we are looking at Building Synergies. These are Specialists who help with maximising the points gained from building buildings, as well as (yes, you guessed it) enabling the building of buildings.
Finally, we are looking at the boat trading synergies. These are synergies that allow for you to gain boats without having to actually pay for them.
Now these are all really nice strategies and synergies, so we’ll explore them a bit in more detail throughout the course of this article. There are 18 specialists, and we are going to talk about 12 in this article, so buckle up. There is a storm brewing.
The Money Specialist Synergies
There are, within Yamatai, four specialist that immediately stand out as money making machines. The first, and most basic of these is Izanagi.
Izanagi: Buy and Sell More
Izanagi is an incredibly useful Specialist within Yamatai because she allows for you to make an additional transaction per turn. What this means is if you find yourself in the situation where you are just picking boats up, you can sell one straight away and buy what you want. That is, of course,apart from gold boats.
By herself, Izanagi is a formidable Specialist card, and she even gives one Prestige Point at the end of the game – however, team her up with other Specialists and she can become part of an unstoppable engine.
Susanoo: Stone and Clay Boats are Worth More
From the outset it is clear why Susanoo goes well with Izanagi. Susanoo massively increases the value of Clay and Stone boats, making them worth a lot more. Stone goes from 3 coins to 5, and Clay goes from 4 to 6. Immediately, on a turn, just selling one Stone boat results in a victory point. Build in the same turn and it is a nice supplementary income in both coins and Victory Points.
Susanoo ups the stakes when getting boats, and he is incredibly useful to have.
Tomoe: Trader of Gold Boats
Tomoe has a very simple ability in Yamatai – she allows for gold boats to be traded. Unless otherwise stated, which if you have Izanagi has been otherwise stated, she can only allow one trade per turn, but gold boats may be bought or sold for 5 coins a piece.
Now…if only you were generating money and could buy/sell more? Oh…wait.
Fu Hsi: Coins are Worth More
The final piece to the puzzle is getting Fu Hsi.
At the end of any normal game of Yamatai coins are worth 1 PP per 5 coins. This, with a coin generation strategy, like with the above, is pretty good – however, it could be better. this is where Fu Hsi comes in. Fu Hsi makes it so that you get 1 PP per ever 3 coins at the end of the game. What this means is that, with Susanoo, Stone boats are worth 2 VP each, and you can sell two a turn with Izanagi.
Soon, you will be rolling in cash, and that is the beauty of the money synergies.
The Building Specialist Synergies
The second set of synergies only uses two Specialists and those are the building Specialists. These building Specialists use the abilities to make building easier.
Awashima: Prestige Building Bonuses
The first Specialist that makes buildings worthwhile is Awashima. Awashima is worth it if you really want to invest heavily in the high cost buildings of the game, and she makes it really worthwhile to build Prestige Buildings.
When building Prestige Buildings usually (ie. Palaces and Torii) you don’t usually get bonuses bar the points, and instead you get bonuses for building next to them. With Awashima you get bonuses for your Palaces and Torii as well as your normal buildings.
Kagutsuchi: Solo Buildings Are Worth More
Now Kagutsuchi is a bit of an interesting character because his ability seems a bit rubbish. Kagutsuchi gives the ability that you gain an additional 1 PP when you place a Standard Building on a region that is not adjacent to your other Standard Buildings. It seems a bit…well…just not very good.
That is until you team Kagutsuchi up with Awashima. Awashima lets you get bonuses from Prestige Buildings, and the Kagutsuchi allows for those bonuses to affect the Standard Building you are building, whilst not changing the fact it is a Standard Building on its own. Yes…super sneaky…but also really cool.
The “I Don’t Wanna Pay For That Boat” Specialist Synergies
The final set of synergies we are going to explore in this blog post today revolve around something completely different. These are specialists that, when put them together, mean you can get almost any boat you want at any point without having to pay for it. These are boat acquisition specialists.
Ebisu: Gaining Additional Culture Tokens
So, Ebisu is one of my favourite, if not my absolute favourite, specialist in Yamatai for a few reasons. Firstly, he is a Specialist hiring machine. You can almost always guarantee getting a pairing of culture tokens and thus have more left over when playing with Ebisu. Secondly, he also teams up nicely with a couple of other Specialists (Toyo Tama, for instance, who we will not be talking about in this article) to create truly amazing combos.
What does Ebisu do?
Once per turn, when you clear islands to take Culture Tokens, take one extra token from any island of the board.
Yes, super good. That is an awesome ability, and although it may be hard to see where it comes into the boat acquisition strategy, let me just explain one thing. The boat acquisition strategy is more linear than the other strategies. If you get these you can see a waterfall effect play out that is truly amazing to behold.
Let me show you…
Michimata: Trade Culture Tokens for Gold Boats
Michimata allows for you to trade one Culture Token per turn for a gold boat. Now this is brilliant, especially with Ebisu, as it doesn’t specify when in the turn you can use the ability.
It’s a very cool combo, and Michimata actually goes well with Tomoe, as explored earlier, as well.
Nakatsu: Trade 1 Gold Boat, For 2 Other Boats
And now we start to see the strategy come together. Now the synergies are becoming incredibly good, and we could actually stop here; however, for now, let’s keep going.
Nakatsu allows you to take the gold boat that you earned from Michimata and turn it into two more boats (that aren’t gold). Now you have a machine, with those three, where you can have any boat you want in your hand by the end of your turn. Again, this goes incredibly well with Izanagi, as you can trade a gold, and sell the two boats straight away.
Maybe you want to go one step further though…
Raijin: Trade 2 Boats, For 1 Gold Boat
Why not go for the reverse? Raijin allows for you to trade any two boats for a singular gold. This is useful when you have have boats left over from your previous Nakatsu trades, as you can use them up to get a gold if that is what you need.
Alternatively, and this is slightly cooler, you can take two bamboo boats (or lesser value boats) that you don’t want, and trade them into a gold boat, then use Nakatsu to trade that gold boat into two boats that you want. It becomes a true engine within the game.
Riu: Extra Space
Finally, the final Specialist with a synergy here that we are going to explore if Riu. Riu allows for you to have two more spaces in your harbour, allowing for you to carry over three boats per turn rather than just one. Riu allows for a bit more flexability, and so where she is isn’t necessarily essential to the strategy, she is nice to have.
Yamatai is a game of strategy. It is a game in which there are so many different combinations of Strategists that every single game can be different. For now though, this has been an exploration of three different sets of synergies and how they can be used in the game. It’s actually the second Yamatai article we have written, and you can see the first, a building exploration, here.
So, there we have it – a few ideas. What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy Yamatai? Who is your favourite Specialist? Let me know in the comments below.