Kakeguri is a thriller anime that pits characters against one another in high stakes gambles. The show is filled with bold moves and complex strategies to keep the main character Yumiko Jabami on top. Cheating isn’t just allowed, it’s openly encouraged.
So with that in mind, can you actually play any of the games?
We had two Geek Gals writers and two of their friends get together and play as many of the games as they could in one night. The results were a real wild card.
For liability purposes, we couldn’t play any of the games involving bodily harm. That means no Finger Guillotine or ESP Game. We also took out games that weren’t gambling, like the Idol Challenge. We also had to modify one of the games, Life or Death, to make it actually work.
This left us with eight games to test out, most of which were from season one. These were mostly card games, but we did manage to play one involving dice.
We had four players with a range of skills, from “decent at poker” to “doesn’t know the difference between spades and clubs.” Throughout eight games, skills seemed to be irrelevant as luck played a greater role.
What were the best games
The best games were card games that involved some amount of skill. The group liked games like Indian poker and Nym Type Zero. These games involved strategies and were, at least in the anime, the easiest to cheat at. We didn’t, because we aren’t at Yumiko levels of skill.
Indian poker was the favorite of the night. In this game, players are given two cards. They’re allowed to look at one card, while they place the other on their forehead without looking. Players then bet on whether they think they have the best hand. This game includes a fair deal of bluffing, but also makes the player consider their odds.
Nym Type Zero
Nym Type Zero is a team game. Players are given four cards marked zero to four. The object of the game is to get the pot, cards placed down in the middle, to nine without going over. The player that makes the pot total over nine busts and loses the round for their team.
Soixant-Trois was another one that the group enjoyed. Players place cards face down in the middle of the table and announce their value. They can lie about the amount. The object is to reach a total sum of 63. Players fold when they think the pot has reached 63. They’re allowed to fold at any point. The player that gets closest to 63 without going over wins.
It involved both deductions to see if someone was lying and skill to count and keep track of numbers. We played this game last to specifically be an upset, basically to shift the chips around, and it was a good equalizer.
We actually found most of the games to be enjoyable. While we couldn’t play anything that involved complex builds or bodily harm, card games were relatively safe. The anime bases most of these games off actual poker games, so they were indeed playable.
The mid-tier games
Ballot Rock-Paper-Scissors is the first game in the anime, and as such it really establishes the tone of the whole anime. While we enjoyed this game, it got lost in the shuffle. In this game, everyone at the table gets three pieces of paper. They’re given a few moments to draw rock, paper or scissors onto their ballots. All ballots are collected and then shuffled. Two players pull three ballots from the box and use them to play rock-paper-scissors, betting on each round.
As one of the games unique to the anime and manga, it had issues with how it’s realistically played without cheating. If we had more people, this might’ve been more enjoyable.
Life or Death
Another game that wasn’t bad but wasn’t good was Life or Death. This game had to be modified, mostly because we didn’t own 30 small swords. The game involves a dealer tossing 30 small swords into a cup and tossing them down onto a board marked one to thirty. Players bet on what numbers the swords will land on, and if their guesses were correct, they win chips.
To play in real life, we had to switch out swords for 20 sided dice. This meant we didn’t get the flare of a life or death outcome to increase our rewards and losses. If we could play Life or Death the way it was meant to be played, we might’ve enjoyed it better. However, this game is slightly impractical to make in real life.
Choice Poker was also a game that was middle of the road. In this game, players are given five cards. Before betting, players are allowed to exchange cards by showing what they want to exchange to the table. The player that bets the most in the betting period is allowed to pick which hand will win, the strongest or the weakest. The joker is shuffled into the deck, and if a player pulls the joker it’s an automatic victory.
The idea of the game is very fun, but when it comes down to it, the presence of the joker makes this game hard to really get into. Because the joker is an automatic win, having it basically destroys the tension. If there wasn’t a joker, maybe this game would be a little more fun. As is, it was pretty boring.
The worst games
There were two games which were pretty disliked in the group. The first was Double Concentration. If we played the game correctly, we would’ve been at the table for five hours. As it was, we set a timer so we didn’t spend all night on a very unenjoyable game.
To play, two decks are placed face down on a flat surface. Players take turns trying to make matches by flipping cards. Having 104 cards that you have to match perfectly is the least fun a card game can get. Without cheating the way they did in the anime it’s basically the worst game in the show.
Tarot Cards of Fate
The other game was Tarot Cards of Fate. In this game, players shuffle and place tarot cards in a circle and select a card for the past, present, and future. If the card is facing the players, it’s positive. If it faces away from the player, it’s a negative. One player, who pulls the ‘past’ card, wins if the total sum of the cards is negative. The other player, the ‘present’, wins if it’s positive. A neutral moderator, the ‘future,’ pulls the last card. If the Fool card is pulled, the player that pulls it automatically wins.
This game is played with the major arcana of a deck of tarot cards, and it criminally underutilizes that. It’s a game that’s entirely based on luck, and one that draws in a third player that can’t even win. It’s a game with strange rules and a boring play style.
Gambling looks incredibly fun in Kakeguri because people like to take risks. These games, in the show, are very risky. When you’re playing for bragging rights with friends, it’s better to have a game that takes some skill to win. If those skills are lying or cheating, that’s up to the players at home to roll the dice on.
What’s your favorite gamble from Kakeguri? Let us know by tweeting us @geekgalsco!
Featured image credit: Netflix