Who doesn't love cute faces on their food?
|Sushi Go! / Sushi Go Party! (2013/2016)|
|Designer(s)||Phil Walker-Harding||Artist(s)||Nan Rangsima, Tobias Schweiger, Phil Walker-Harding||Publisher||
There are games that just seem to work very well in certain groups of friends while not being suitable for playing with your family; there are games that are fun for families that aren't fun for friends. Occasionally, you will find a game that is so adaptable that most people can enjoy and easily learn while not being void of strategy. Sushi Go is one example of such a game. Sushi Go is a card drafting game that combines easy to learn mechanics with poker like strategy and light bluffing. In Sushi Go, players will receive a hand of cards each round and will be drafting cards (selecting one card and passing the rest to a neighboring player) while trying to collect cards worth the most points. Some cards score you big points by collecting a lot of them, others by collecting a specific number, others offering points based on the number currently in play, and other unique scoring criteria. So I would say the gameplay is very simple but with strategy that can be very cutthroat at times.
There are two versions of Sushi Go that play virtually the same but offer a slightly different experience. Sushi Go is a version that has everything needed to play the game and requires very little setup because there is only one Menu (selection of cards for the game) to play; the game is also very portable due to its small size. However, Sushi Go Party offers the base game menu and additional items that can be swapped in place of courses in the meal, and it can be played with up to 8 players. You can think of the extra items in Sushi Go Party as expansions that just happens to be included with the base components, a score board, score markers, and a larger tin that can hold all of the components. Since these games are so similar, I will talk mostly through Sushi Party Go's components and will simply mark components that are part of Sushi Go.
Box and Components
Because Sushi Go has been around for over 8 years, I cannot be certain that components in different print runs will be the same so I will simply say that the cards I have used in my versions and other people's copies have been very good with no issues. Even after many, many games played, the cards have held up very well especially since the cards trade hands and are shuffled often.
The boxes for each version is different. Sushi Go comes in a metal tin sized just for the cards, a plastic insert, and rules specific to that version; Sushi Go Party comes in a larger tin that has a plastic insert for the cards to fit. From what I have read, there are at least 2 versions of this insert; one that separates each unique card type and another by portions of the meal. I have the individually sorted one, but from the pictures, I believe the variant by meal is likely more useful and would allow for promo cards to be added as well.
Here is what comes in the box: (SG) are the components provided in the base Sushi Go game.
- Rulebook (SG)
- 1 Game Board: Board with points wrapping around the edge from 0 to 59. There are indents in the center where the Menu Tiles can be placed so everyone can use it as a reference to what cards are in play and how they are scored. During each game, there will be a selection of cards with the following breakdown: all of the Nigiri, one Roll, two Specials, three Appetizers, and one Dessert. There are even labels on the board as a reminder of this breakdown.
- 8 Score Pawns: Each player will get one of these and will be used to mark their score throughout the game.
- 22 Menu Tiles: There are 23 possible menu items (Nigiri is printed on the Game Board), these are used to create a unique menu each game and used as reference for what cards are in the deck. They also list the portion of the meal they represent at the top of the card.
- 23 Menu Item Card Sets: There are 23 unique menu items and each set of cards comes with a varying number of cards.
Nigiri: These are used in every game and offer raw points at the end of each round.
- Egg Nigiri (SG)
- Salmon Nigiri (SG)
- Squid Nigiri (SG)
Rolls: These have icons at the top of their cards that are added together and offer different points based on who has the most/least or who reaches a specific amount first.
- Maki Rolls (SG)
Desserts: These are collected throughout the entire game and are scored at the end of the final round.
- Green Tea Ice Cream
- Pudding (SG)
- Dumplings (SG)
- Miso Soup
- Sashimi (SG)
- Tempura (SG)
Specials: Many of these cards offer unique abilities such as swapping cards, asking for cards from other players, drawing from the unused cards, and more.
- Chops Sticks (SG)
- Soy Sauce
- Special Order
- Takeout Box
- Wasabi (SG)
The kawaii style artwork is my favorite thing about this game; everything is so adorable and give the cards so much character. Kawaii is Japanese for "Cute" and typically involves giant eyes and lots of round shapes; this art style is often used in Japanese cartoons and manga for children. To be honest, it is what made me pick up the game initially and is probably what caused me to buy this game that I had never played before. At the very reasonable price of the game, even if I didn't love the mechanics, I was still very pleased with the artwork and theme...luckily, I love the mechanics as well.
As touched on above, the mechanics are very simple; strategy and the breakdown of the selected menu is where the game can be more complex. I will talk through a 2-5 player game for simplicity's sake; some numbers will be different for 6-8 player games and are outlined in the rules.
- Lay out the game board and hand each player a Score Pawn.
- Decide on what the menu will be for the game. The breakdown should include all of the Nigiri cards, one type of Roll, two types of Specials, three types of Appetizers, and one type of Desert. To show this, place the Menu Tiles on the game board in their respective spots. The game also provides recommendations for Menus with unique combined mechanics.
- Collect all cards for the selected menu (except the dessert) and shuffle them together. Place the dessert cards to the side; a specific number of these will be added to the deck each round.
At the start of each round, add the following number of dessert cards to the deck:
- Round 1: 5 Desserts
- Round 2: 3 Desserts
- Round 3: 2 Desserts
Deal cards to each player (10 cards [2-3 players] or 9 cards [4-5 players]). Since gameplay happens simultaneously, there is no start player.
Turns are played simultaneously and follow the same basic pattern.
- Players will select one card from their hand to place face down in front of themselves and place the rest of the hand of cards between them the player they are passing to (clockwise when not using variant rules).
- Players will reveal their kept cards and resolve any immediate effects those cards may have. If there are multiple cards that have effects, these trigger in order based on the number shown on the lower right of the card.
Players pick up the cards passed to them and repeat. The round will end once there are no more cards to pass along.
End of Round Scoring
Each player will score points based on the criteria listed on the card, which may involve just counting numbers based on cards you own or it could also involve comparing counts of cards with other players. I will touch on some of the scoring in a later section. Once all points are calculated, move the Score Pawns to the respective current totals adding to any previously earned points.
Collect all cards except the claimed desserts; desserts remain with players until the end of the game. Shuffle all collected cards and undealt cards together while also tossing in the necessary additional dessert cards for that round. Deal out the starting round cards and begin the new round.
After 3 rounds, players will look at the scoring criteria of the dessert menu item, award/deduct points based on that criteria.
Once the final scores have been calculated, whoever has the most points is the winner!
I won't go over how each of the cards is scored because that is well explained in the rules; I will touch on a few of the common scoring criteria used in the game. I also won't go over the abilities of the Special Cards since they each very unique; that said, they are pretty straight forward to follow once you have used them in a game. Most of the Specials allow you to have additional selection options whether that is in the form of drawing from the undealt cards, asking other players for specific cards, or even taking a second card from your current hand by swapping in a card in its place.
The Nigiri are currently the only cards that offer raw points per card and show the number of points beside the card's name ranging from one to three points.
Some cards will say Most followed by numbers, Least followed by numbers, or a combination with both Most and Least. At the end of the round, you will count up the number of symbols shown on the top of all of your cards of that type, add them together, and award points based on who has the most/least per the card's point breakdown. Some will offer points for the first and second of those categories.
Points by Count (#, #, #, #, ...)
Some cards score more points based on the exact number you have. The first number shown is how much you get for having exactly one, the second number is for having exactly two, and so on.
Points by Sets (x# = #)
Some cards score by having specific numbers of the card; so you may see something like "x# = #" where "x#" is how many of the card you have and "= x" is how many points you will earn for that set. If it shows only a single "x# = #", you can earn those points for each set you have; if it has multiple "x# = #", you may only early one of those set points based on which you have fulfilled.
- x2 = 5: This means for each pair of that card, you will earn 5 points. So having four of that card would award 10 points total.
- x1 = 2, x2 = 6, x3+ = 0: This means you will earn 2 points for having exactly one, 6 points for having exactly two, and 0 points if you have three or more.
Digital Sovranti Version
This game is available on the online Sovranti platform. This digital implementation of the game is fully scripted and is a great implementation of the game. Here is our review of the Sovranti platform. Also, feel free to join us on Game Night to learn this game from the designer, Sovranti staff, or Envoy team. This version also provides the pre-configured decks as outlined in the Sushi Go Party rules, which means you can quickly jump into a game if you don't want to customize the menu.
A popular house rule variant regulars play is the "Golf" variant (also referred to as Sushi No) where instead of trying to score the most points, you are trying to score the least. Depending on the number of players joining in, there is even a team option. The scoring is currently not automated for these specific mode, but they are working behind the scenes to incorporate these mode into the system.
This game is very popular among the Sovranti community and is almost always played by at least one group during the Game Nights.
These pictures were taken during a Game Masters tournament. Everyone had a lot of fun playing the Golf variant of the game.
We love Sushi Go! I would say it is in our top 5 most frequently played games along with Ticket to Ride (all maps) and Splendor. It is a great gateway game introducing players to the card drafting mechanic. The artwork is very appealing to most people, and the way cards are scored and used are very easy to understand (especially the base games menu). With Sushi Go Party, you can expand the fun to a group of 8 people, which is very useful for family gatherings. The game's length is predictable with most games taking under 30 minutes since play happens simultaneously.
The expanded menu in Sushi Go Party presents so many unique combinations that can be played as well; specifically, 14,112 thanks to math. Obviously, some combinations will be less fun than others, but groups are able to experiment and discover this for themselves.
We fully expect this is going to be a game like Uno that will be around in 10-15 years and still be very popular. The series has already spawned the Party version, promo menu items that can be found via the Board Game Geek Store, and Sushi Roll, which is a version that involves drafting dice with menu items on each side; I will probably do a review of Sushi Roll at some point as well. I fully expect there will be other variants of the game as well.
This is a series of games I can easily recommend to be people; they are priced very reasonably and pay for themselves with how often these games are typically played. It won't be a game that all people love, but I am confident in saying the vast majority of people who play it will play it again.
We received the product in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.
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