The Basics of Tanto Cuore

Tanto Cuore Logo Basics

Since Dave currently has my copy of Doki Doki Romantic Vacation hostage, my project on explaining the last part of Motto Tanto Cuore is currently stalled. In the meantime, I guess I’ll take this opportunity to begin talking about the very, very basics of Tanto Cuore. Yeah, it’s kind of odd that this should’ve been the very first post in this series of blog posts, but it’s better late than never, right?

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At its core, Tanto Cuore is a deck building card game, a genre that isn’t really familiar with a lot of people because the more popular trading card games like Magic: The Gathering and Yughioh eclipse them. So here’s a quick list of what makes them different:

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You pay a moderately large sum of money (in Tanto Cuore’s case anyway) to get a box of around 200-300 cards which will be used by all of the players in the game. You could also pay $300+ for a brand-spanking new iOS device so you can get this game for $4.00 on the App Store. Either choice is a good one but both are expensive.

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Unlike trading card games, the cards inside each box will always be the same. In Tanto Cuore’s case however, there are unique individual cards in the later sets that can only be obtained as a promotional card. Doki Doki Romantic Vacation has 4 of these. I’d show these to you, except Dave kidnapped my copy of this set at the time of this writing.

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Each player will start off with the same cards. In Tanto Cuore’s case, it’s 10 cards consisting of seven 1 Love cards (a resource used to purchase cards) and three Chambermaid Chief cards.

At this point the trading card gamer’s head might explode because the concept of starting off a deck with such a small number of cards is outright suicidal since the rules in those games state that a player instantly loses the moment they have to draw a card but can’t because they have an empty deck. They might even stare at you in disbelief when you tell them that every turn you have to take everything that you played as well as whatever’s left in your hand at the end of your turn and throw them into your discard pile while taking out another set of five cards from your deck (there are exceptions to this rule of course).

And this is where another defining trait deck building card games come into play: when you have to draw a card from your deck but there’s nothing left, all you need to do is simply reshuffle your discard pile, which then becomes your deck to draw your cards from. This all sounds confusing just trying to explain it to you with words, so here’s a video that summarizes how drawing cards work in this game:

The reason why each player’s deck starts off so small is because they use their initial Love cards to purchase other cards, most of which will be added to the player’s existing deck, which then brings us to the next unique trait of a deck building card game: The majority of the other cards which are multiple copies of the same type are arranged in a specific order in the center of the table (which the game rules call “The Town”) that all of the players huddle around.  Here’s a screenshot of a sample arrangement as stated by the game’s official rules:

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The backbone of Tanto Cuore’s game mechanics lie in the 5 resources that the player needs to balance over the course of the game, and experienced players will have a good idea of what cards they need to buy in order to construct a winning deck almost every single time:

Love- I briefly mentioned earlier that Love cards are used to purchase things, more specifically anything that’s available at the Town. Any Love cards currently in your hand can be used during the Employment Phase to purchase stuff without requiring you to do anything else. If a General Maid says they can provide you with additional Love, you must play them from your hand (or serve you as the game’s lexicon states) to acquire that additional Love. As a matter of fact, the 4 other resources found in this game comes primarily through the General Maids:

Ophelia Diagram

There’s one very important thing to know about this resource: any unused Love IS NOT carried over to the next turn, so the typical behavior for most players upon hearing this rule is trying to acquire the most expensive card they can afford so they don’t feel like they let a lot of excess Love go to waste.

Servings- You always have one Service point every turn. Without it, you couldn’t play a General Maid from your hand. Maids who provide this resource to you allows you to play more than one General Maid from your hand if you so choose, so this resource is extremely important once you start seeing more than one General Maid appearing in your hand every turn. As with Love, any unused Servings do not carry over to your next turn.

Draw Cards- Self-explanatory. Upon playing a maid with this ability from your hand, you must take that many number of cards from the top of your deck. No exceptions unless this is triggered by a Private Maid, which usually says you “may” decide to use it.

This resource is a double-edged sword, however: if you end up spending your last Service point on a General Maid that allows you to draw additional cards but doesn’t provide you with an additional Service and you end up with someone like Ophelia in your hand, well… that’s your own fault. However, if your only draws were Love Cards, then that was an excellent decision you made.

Employments- Like with Servings, you always start off the turn with one of these, as without any Employment points, you couldn’t purchase any cards from the Town. Later on in the game, having additional Employment points might be a concern for you as if you build your deck properly, you’ll be stockpiling around 10+ Love per turn and you can only buy ONE THING from the Town with it. As with Servings and Love, any unspent Employment points do not carry over to your next turn.

Victory Points- This is the most important resource in the game as the player with the highest number of Victory Points at the end of the game is the winner. Victory Points are only acquired in the Core set by either buying cards that automatically give you Victory Points once they’re in your possession (e.g.- a Maid that says it has one Victory Point doesn’t mean it will keep giving you 1 VP every time she serves you) or by meeting certain requirements as stated on the card itself, which in this set mostly revolve around a process called chambermaiding.

So with these resources out of the way, what does each type of maid do for you?

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The Maid Chiefs do absolutely nothing useful for you while you’re in the middle of a game session, and do you know why? A side-by-side comparison to a General Maid might give you a good idea:

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The Maid Chiefs are missing the bonuses that a General Maid can provide when you choose to play them from your hand! The only redeeming feature is the fact that the Maid Chiefs single-handedly give you the highest number of Victory Points in any set they’re found in. However, Arclight Games doesn’t want you to really use Maid Chiefs to win most of the games you play. No, they want you to take advantage of a game mechanic that I haven’t talked about yet: chambermaiding.

There are only three types of cards that can be chambermaided in Tanto Cuore: Chambermaid Chiefs, Chambermaids, and Private Maids.

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Colette is a Chambermaid Chief and there’s always three of them in your starting deck.

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Chambermaids are General Maids that bear the “Chambermaid” title right above their name.

To chambermaid a Chambermaid Chief or a Chambermaid, you need to declare that you’re going to be spending your Service points to chambermaid them. Outside of specific abilities found on certain cards in this series, a Chambermaid Chief always costs 2 Service points to get this accomplished (because Arclight really wants to see you suffer with Colettes in your deck for several turns) while regular Chambermaids cost only 1 Service point to do the same thing.

So what happens when you chambermaid a card? Instead of playing them normally from your hand, they go to a specific spot in your playing area called the Private Quarters:

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Once they’re there, they never enter your deck again as chambermaiding prevents the card from being thrown into your discard pile at the end of the turn.  Once you chambermaid someone, they do not provide you with one last set of Services bonuses if you played them from your hand normally (Love, extra Services, Draw Cards, Employments); from here on they only give you the bonus as outlined right below the spot that says “Chambermaid Bonus:”

Chambermaid Bonus

So why is it important to Chambermaid cards? There’s several reasons:

If you chambermaid Colette, she never pops up in your hand again. The screenshot below should explain clearly why this is important:

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I’ve seen similar situations like these happen to me several times already, and it drives me up a wall sometimes.

You can generate some really crazy Victory Point totals through Chambermaiding… Chambermaids. Let’s take a good look at Safran’s Chambermaid bonus for example:

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The math is pretty simple on this one. Chambermaid one Safran, and you get nothing. Chambermaid a set of two and you get 4 Victory Points. Chambermaid three Safrans in a row and you get a total of 8 Victory Points. That’s more than buying one Marianne Soleil! Not only that, Safran is also a cheaper alternative to a 2 Love card (which costs 4 Love to purchase) if all you have is one Safran in your deck. What’s even more crazy is that you can chambermaid a set of 4 Safrans to get a total of 12 Victory Points!

As you can see, that’s a lot faster than stockpiling a lot of Love just to buy the entire stack of Marianne. And it’s a lot more effective too since chambermaiding Safrans also thins out your deck!

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So the last step on our Chambermaiding journey is covering the Private Maids, which I’ve saved for last with good reason. Unlike Chambermaids and Chambermaid Chiefs, a Private Maid has its own set of special rules:

Unlike any other Maids that you can Employ from the town, there is only one copy of a Private Maid available, so once a player acquires a certain Private Maid from town, the opportunity for another player to acquire that same Private Maid is lost forever.

All of the Private Maids are placed in a stack with the front facing down in the Town:

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The top two cards of the Private Maid stack are then flipped over and placed face up to the right of the stack and are the only ones available to purchase from the Town during the player’s Employ Phase. Once a Private Maid is purchased, another Private Maid from the stack replaces the spot that the previous one was occupying.

When you purchase any maid from the Town, they first go into your Discard Pile and you have to wait for your deck to cycle again before you can use them. However, Private Maids are automatically chambermaided the moment you purchase one from the Town. Thus their abilities are ready for use immediately on your next turn.

The abilities of a Private Maid don’t trigger normally like the General Maids do during the Serving Phase. Most of the time, they trigger during the Starting Phase (the beginning of your turn), or when you play certain General Maids that grant you specific Bonuses (like drawing a card).

If you purchase another Private Maid, the previous Private Maid’s abilities are shut down for the rest of the game. You cannot decide later on that you want to make the previous Private Maid active while shutting down your most recent Private Maid later on in the game, so purchasing another Private Maid is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

It is possible to win the game without hiring a single Private Maid, but having one in your Private Quarters never hurts, especially if you know how they will benefit the strategy you have in building your deck. However, when to get a Private Maid is beyond the scope of this guide, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

To summarize everything I’ve haphazardly covered so far, here are two videos. The first covers the first two Phases of a player’s turn:

While this other video covers the second half of their turn:

And that should cover almost everything that’s essential to getting started with playing Tanto Cuore. Now I just need to get Dave to give me back that copy of Doki Doki Romantic Vacation so I can finish that guide on Motto already…

-Carl Dayagdag

On a side note, if you want more information on how not to build a deck in this game, you can check out this guide right here.

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