Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
Artwork: Nan Rangsima, Tobias Schweiger, Phil Walker-Harding
Sushi Go! is an incredibly popular card game that works off the idea of patrons at a restaurant grabbing their sushi as it goes around to “score” the right meal. The game is really simple to understand, without a lot of reason or need to be referring back to the rules once you’re playing. The game is also quick to play, with each hand only taking a few minutes, and an entire game averaging around 15-20 minutes. Speed and ease of play are big selling points for a lot of gamers, whether because of the hectic demands of our day to day lives, or whether we like to use these as filler or party games, having a game that doesn’t require a lot of thought and strategy, and is fast, can be just what a group is after.
But although the game is uncomplicated and doesn’t get bogged down with strategies, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. In order to win, players need to play a card from their current hand, and then pass their cards to the next player, and also then receiving a new hand of cards from another player. Once more they play and pass, and so on. While some of the cards, like Maki Rolls and Dumplings can possibly score by being placed alone (although have the chance of better scores the more you place in later hands), Tempura and Sashimi require sets to score (meaning that you will need to get more of those cards from later hands to play otherwise they may end out scoring no points at all), and then Nigiri can either be placed alone for a small points value, or if you put down a Wasabi first and mix it with a Nigiri later it will be worth more (but Wasabi provides no points alone, if you don’t manage to get a Nigiri in later hands). Then, in addition to these choices and combos and more choices, the Chopsticks cards allow you to not place any Sushi from that hand, but in a later hand place two instead! And with all this going on, players still need to remember to put down Puddings, trying to remember who had played the least, because at the end of the game Puddings count, and if you have the least you actually lose points off your score (it’s all about the pudding! Well not really all, but pudding is always important).
With a lot of the high scoring cards requiring sets or combos, it is easy for players to overestimate the amount of certain cards that are available to complete their sets, especially when other players are trying to build the same sets, or simply playing cards from those sets in order to “block” the ones who are. Having an idea early on of what cards are plentiful and how best to score is pretty important in the game. But with other factors like the Chopsticks, the Puddings, and the random selection of cards available at the start of each round, it becomes very much a case of needing to strategise on the fly, while still keeping an eye on the endgame.
Personally I didn’t enjoy Sushi Go! the first few times that I played it, perhaps it was just my aversion for Sushi, but more likely those times I was just more in the mood for a game with a bit more substance. Sushi Go! is a quick and easy game, that’s its plan, it makes no pretence about being anything else. Sometimes that goes down great, sometimes players are in the mood for something else, often not all players will agree on what they would like to play at that time. But when fast and simple is what you’re in the mood for, then Sushi Go! is an excellent choice to be played.
Boardgame and graphic novel enthusiast. Marvel or DC? Image. Old-school gamer. Avid role-player. Kermit for president. I believe that werewolves will rule the world one day.
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