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Portable abstract area control tile placement card game

New for 2018, this pocket-sized abstract strategy game challenges you to build & control the board with a unique twist on placement classics like Go and Othello. It's an abstract strategy game that anyone can pick up.

  • Build the board as you play
  • 3 Different units
  • 40 Double-sided square 2 inch cards
  • Combine decks to make a bigger board
  • Simple rules
  • Deep strategy
2 player
20 min

How to Play

City FIRST place a city card. Split the rest of the cards by color and take turns placing them to build a 6×6 board.
Base ON YOUR TURN place a base card adjacent to any other card OR flip over one of your flag cards to make it a base.
Flag THEN place flag cards to mark any squares you control AND return any flag cards you contest to your opponent.

CONTROL or CONTEST a square by having more base cards adjacent to it:

The game ends when the 6×6 board is completely filled or a player runs out of cards to place. TO WIN fill the 6×6 board with more cards of your color OR run out of your color cards first.

Your game may end in a tie and we think that's good. That said, if you want to break a tie, we suggest the player with the most connected cards (orthagonally of course) of their color be declared the winner. Both players should agree to this tie-breaker before playing because it will affect decisions in the game.


Start Small

Practice by building a 5×5 board to shorten the game. This is a great way to learn the basics or play when you're short on time.

Go Big

Combine packs to build larger boards! If you and a friend each have a pack of Kuzushi cards, put them together to make a bigger board and a more challenging game.

1 Pack6×6 board20 min
2 Packs8×8 board30 min
3 Packs10×10 board45 min
4 Packs12×12 board60 min+

About Kuzushi

Kuzushi is a card-based area control abstract strategy game designed in 2017 by Dave Balmer Jr. It has all the elements of a classic strategy board game with a few unique characteristics. The board is collaboratively and competatively built by the players, area control rules are simple, and there is thought to be very balanced chances for both players.


What would become Kuzushi was first designed in 1995 and released as a computer game named Glass Bead Challenge. The original version was played on fixed boards and allowed for diagonal influence, but the basic design and area contol ideas were there. In 2007, the game was re-released as an iPhone app named Gobico and awarded Editor's Pick from Apple. The app introduced "cut-throat" rules which required players to place pieces next to an opponent's piece, and allowed for up to 4 players to play in a battle royale. Other versions included rule variations and a hexagonal grid option.

Kuzushi in its new form was adapted for tabletop play using double-sided markers (usually cards). Among other refinements, the game removed diagonal control areas to minimize placing and replacing flags. This change allowed for more intricate play on a smaller board. Replacing a fixed board with the new build & control concept also added an opening phase of the game that it sorely lacked. In fact, Kuzushi is now a story in thee acts. In the opening, players fight to establish the edges of the board in their favor. The mid-game features strategic setup and timing to gain positional advantage. The end game has more tactical opportunities to edge out your opponent.


We're working on new themed decks, testing 3-4 player rules and even looking at solitaire puzzles. For now, we've put our best foot forward with the first of what we hope are many future releases in the Kuzushi family.

While Kuzushi is a new a tabletop game, millions of simulated games have been played on computer to help perfect the rules and make it as balanced as possible. Hundreds of human games were played as well to make sure Kuzushi was ready for release. We hope you love it and look forward to hearing from you!


“Kuzushi is one of the best "pocket" games I have played. It would make a great "gateway abstract" to introduce people to the genre, who may be interested in abstract games, but don’t want to get into ones that have lots of rules or piece movement variations like Chess or Hive. Though let me say, even if you are into abstracts (like I am) that Kuzushi is still worth being added to your collection, as it is quick, very portable, and a great price.” — Ryan Sanders for The Inquisitive Meeple
“Just wanted to hit you up and say how much I love your game! ... I played it with my dad (who beat me his first two games) and I truly believe that this is an instant classic among such legends as chess or checkers.” — Trent F
“Kuzushi is a pleasantly peculiar example of smart design decisions. A true pocket-sized abstract strategy game is hard to come by (sorry, Hive) and Kuzushi is a lovely thing to pull out for those in-between times. If you enjoy abstract strategy games (or, like me, have an ongoing fascination with the very small) Kuzushi is a fun treat to add to your library.” — Kurt Refling for Meeple Mountain

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