Sushi Go Review – The Most Fun You Can Have With Food Without Throwing It
Sushi Go. I can’t believe we have never reviewed Sushi Go on this blog! It is one of the quintessential hand drafting games, and has become such an icon in the gaming industry, and yet we have never reviewed Sushi Go!
Well today, we have to rectify that. Sushi Go is a classic of the modern age and one of the games that truly got my partner into gaming. It is quick and it is cute. What is more, it teaches you about Sushi so you never need to draw a blank when ordering in a Sushi restaurant ever again. Win, win, and double win.
Today, let’s take a look at Sushi Go in all of its glory.
Sushi Go Review: What is Sushi Go? How do you play it?
Sushi Go is a hand drafting card game, designed by Phil Walker-Harding and released in 2013. With artwork by Nan Rangsima, Tobias Schweiger, and Phil Walker-Harding, Sushi Go is one of those games that really capitalises on a singular game mechanic. It is incredibly simple and it is quick to play, making it one of the perfect games to introduce new players to. For us, it was a gateway game, and we would recommend it as that kind of level.
So, how do you play Sushi Go?
Well, Sushi Go is really very easy to get the hang of. First, you shuffle a pile of cards, and then you split them out between 2 to 5 players. If in a two player game, each player gets 10 cards. With three players, each player gets 9 cards. With four players, each gets 8, and with five players each gets 7.
Those hands are made up out of 8 Sushi related cards. They could be Maki Rolls, Tempura, Sashimi, Dumplings, Nugiri, Wasabi, Chopsticks, or Puddings.
Turns happen simultaneously. You draw a card from your hand, and pass the hand to your left (or right, depending on the round). Everyone then plays that card in front of them, in their own play area, to make their own meal.
The game is played over three courses (rounds), and the person who has the most points after three courses wins.
What are the cards in Sushi Go?
Since the rules are so simple, a lot comes down to what is actually on the cards. Each piece of Sushi, or Sushi related object, has its own rules.
- The person who collects the most Maki Rolls in a course/round gets 6 points. The person who collects second most gets 3 points. Third (or more) most gets no points.
- Tempura are worth nothing on their own, but two get you 5 points.
- Sashimi are also worth nothing, but get a set of three and they are worth a staggering 10 points.
- Dumplings have a multiplier. The first is worth 1 point. The second is worth 3 points. The third dumpling is worth 6 points. This goes up to five plus dumplings being worth 15 points.
- Nigiri have a points value printed on them depending on if they are Egg Nigiri (1 point), Salmon Nigiri (2 points), or Squid Nigiri (3 points).
- Wasabi triples the value of the next Nigiri chosen.
- Chopsticks are taken out of the hand to later be traded for two cards at a later date.
- Finally, Puddings are points at the very end of the game. After three courses the number of puddings you have are counted up, and the player with the most gets 6 points. The player with the least gets -6.
Now you know everything you need to in order to play Sushi Go.
What is it like playing Sushi Go?
I mentioned earlier that Sushi Go is one of those games that aims to do one thing and do it very well. It does that, and, if I am completely honest, it smashes card drafting out of the park. Sushi Go is such a good introduction to card drafting that it isn’t a huge jump from there to 7 Wonders and from 7 Wonders to more complex games like Blood Rage. Sushi Go does card drafting magnificently.
That doesn’t really answer what playing Sushi Go is really like though. Well, the way I would describe it is that Sushi Go is an after dinner game.
By calling Sushi Go an after dinner game is kind of ironic seeing what the theme is. I wanted to come up with something to say that wasn’t that Sushi Go makes a good filler game. It does do that, and when having a fairly heavy gaming day, a game like Sushi Go can really break the tension – however, that doesn’t do the game justice.
Instead, Sushi Go is the kind of game to relax with. It doesn’t require too much thought, and is the perfect way to wind down an evening. It can be as competitive as you, as a group, want it to be. You get out what you put in. You can enjoy it with wine and cheese supping and holding polite conversation (like a dinner party for instance), or you can slam your hand down on the table and laugh at your neighbour as your block their last Sashimi. Sushi Go is nothing if not versatile.
7 Wonders, a slightly heavier game and one with a more intense theme, was released in 2010 and became one of the must have board games of all time. In 2013, along comes Sushi Go and makes that same mechanic more accessible. It helped open doors to the mechanic.
Even now, 6 years later (that reference will really date this article for anyone in the future reading it – hello future gamers!) we hear the name of Sushi Go echoed around gaming conventions, stores, and workplaces. It came and it stayed, and it made its mark.
Sushi Go is, at its heart, a set collecting game using card drafting as a mechanic to facilitate the card collection. What this means is that it involves a small amount of remembering what is in each hand as it goes past, mixed with excitement and hope, and then a small amount of disappointment as someone steals the last Sashimi. There is some forward planning and strategy, however, the majority of the strategy revolves around trying to figure out what cards are most likely to come your way based on what others are playing.
You’ll notice that throughout this article I have been referring to Sushi Go as a gateway game or introductory game or great game for opening doors. This is simply because it is all of those things. That being said, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer anything for more hardcore gamers.
Sushi Go offers the kind of game we all need on our shelves. Yes, it is easy and simple, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer a hugely repayable game. It reminds us that games are meant to be light and fun as much as they are meant to be tough and challenging.
There may be a chance that if you started with 7 Wonders then you may find Sushi Go too simple, and you may find that after playing Sushi Go you may want something a bit more challenging and so upgrade to 7 Wonders. That isn’t a criticism of Sushi Go, but more an observation. Some gamers may find it too simple, and that is fine, but I still think Sushi Go deserves a place on the shelf. It is quick and simple and can be pulled out and played incredibly quickly.
Whether you want a quick fuller game between two heavier games, or whether you just want a quiet way to end the evening; whether you want a quick game to take on the run or something to break out after dinner, then Sushi Go has something for you.
TL;DR – The Good, The Bad, and The Sashimi
Like with all games we can break it down into its core components – what are the good, bad and neutral points about playing Sushi Go?
- The artwork in Sushi Go is amazing. It is adorable and sets the right tone for the game.
- It is a fantastic introductory game both into the gaming hobby and card drafting mechanic.
- Sushi Go can be as strategic as you want it to be. You can make it light and fluffy, or you can make it more complex with more advanced strategies.
- Sushi Go is a brilliant filler game whilst also offering more in regards to being able to be used to neatly wrap an evening up.
- Teaches you about sushi.
- Sushi Go is very nicely presented in a tin box.
- Although I probably shouldn’t include this on a list of positives of the game, Sushi Go is for 2-5 players; however, there is a bigger version for up to 10 players called Sushi Go Party.
- There is some frustration attached to the game surrounding the Puddings and Sashimi. They definitely require a bit of balancing to deal with.
- Again, this may not be a bad, but Sushi Go is an incredibly simple game. That fact may put some players off. If you enjoy 7 Wonders already then Sushi Go could offer something like a 7 Wonders Lite; however, if you want something heavier then Sushi Go is not for you.
Conclusion: Sushi Go Review
Just in case you hadn’t guessed by now, yes, we recommend Sushi Go. It is a brilliant and light game, and even to this day we still enjoy bringing Sushi Go to the table. It is a perfect way to end an evening.
So, what are your thoughts? Have you played Sushi Go? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.