I've always liked the idea of wabi-sabi in card game design, but never had the guts to actually release a game that was that organic. After the positive response to the faux sumi-e art in Koi Pond, I knew I'd have to do it again in a new game and this seemed a nice pairing of aesthetic and design goals. So I got to tinkering with some loose ideas.
Mainly orbiting around the idea of a card-laying game in the spirit of Carcassonne, but not strictly limited to a hard grid. You've seen a similar mechanic in James Ernest's Agora/Camden, but I'm not sure if it's been used much elsewhere. So I made a quick prototype.
Each card shows a branch of a tree. The final art will show the branch entering the card from one edge, splitting and terminating into two, three or four smaller branches that do not extend off the edge of the card. The end that goes off the edge indicates the point of origin, which may have one, two, or three dots to indicate the weight of the limb.
On each card are also flowers, leaves, dragonflies, pollen and cherries. At least for now, these were just the first things I thought of and were easy to distinguish as icons.
Lastly, cards are double-sided because I just wanted to get as much variability out of the deck as I could.
Each player starts the game with one card face up in front of herself, indicating her tree. Each player also begins with one card in her hand.
On your turn, you may play a card onto any player's tree, extending an existing branch. In doing so, note the connected cards all the way down to the trunk of the tree. If these cards have matching features, score 1 pt per match. Then draw another card to end your turn.
If you placed a card that causes this limb to have more than three dots, remove cards going down the limb until the third dot is removed. If this causes other cards to be separated from the tree, they are removed as well.
At the end of the game, the player with the largest tree (most cards) gets 1 pt per card in her tree.
I'm trying to think of a title for this game. I was hoping for "tree" in Japanese, but it's too close to "Tsuro." Perhaps Sakura (Cherry Blossom)?