The Shukaku Game

The Shukaku Game is a short puzzle game for two players in which you brew a cup of tea and transform to accommodate its flavours. Players take on the role of Shukaku, a Tanuki who masquerades as a human monk in order to serve delicious tea.

The Shukaku game combines puzzle, roleplaying and taste-based mechanics to create a unique tabletop experience. This game is GM-less, requires no prep, and is playable in about 30 minutes. It is easy to learn and great for people with minimal board game experience!

I created this game as part of a course at the University of Chicago called “Yokai Media” taught by Professor Thomas Lamarre. At the beginning of the course, we each chose a Yokai, or Japanese spirit, to study and work with throughout the entire semester, as we learned about the history of Yokai and the roles they play in Japan’s media landscape. My goal with this project was to design a game that would reflect my Yokai not only on the level of representation, but through the game mechanics.

I was inspired by the way that descriptions of taste and descriptions of aesthetics often sound similar: words like “flowery,” “zesty” and “overpowering” can be used for food or fashion to equally evocative effect. The Shukaku Game leverages this by asking players to use these words both to determine the flavours of their brew, and to transform themselves through fashion. The result is a quirky but very fun little game!

You can download and play the Shukaku game on my itch page here.

Playtested with the help of Andrew Tran.