July Spotlight - Sushi Go Party!
Every month at For The Win Board Cafe, we'll be spotlighting a game of our choice. We'll give an in-depth look at either a new release or a game we feel very passionate about.
This month, we're looking at the freshly served Sushi Go Party! Fans of the original Sushi Go! will be treated to familiar faces and introduced to a whole new array of Japanese cuisine.
Sushi Go Party! is a card-drafting game. Players are given a set number of cards and will select one to keep, while passing the rest of the cards clockwise or counter-clockwise (depending on the round). The process is repeated until all cards have been selected. Each card has a specific set of conditions that determine how many points it will be worth at the end of the round. At the end of three rounds, the player with the highest point total is declared the winner.
At its core, the game plays the same as the original. The major difference in Sushi Go Party! is that before the drafting even begins, players can select how to configure what items will be on the menu throughout the game. The rulebook does a great job at suggesting different setups based on what you're looking for. There's a configuration for first-timers, experienced veterans, cutthroats, big groups and two-players.
Using their suggested setups, the games we played felt well-balanced and good for the group size. It's hard to imagine playing the original game with just two players, but here they're able to make it work. To ensure the game remains balanced in most situations, the game requires you to select a set amount of cards under each category. Nigiri cards are in every game and the other 7 slots are for 1 rolls card, 3 appetizer cards, 2 special cards and 1 dessert card.
The illustrator of the original game Nan Rangsima returns to design all the new cards, and he once again knocks it out of the park. The cute aesthetic holds strong and every card was a delight to see. At times it's almost a distraction, when selecting from a hand of cards you've never played with before. The illustrations take up a great majority of the card, while the text is cleverly condensed, keeping everything looking clean.
Many games suffer from bloated instruction manuals, but Sushi Go Party! is able to explain the basic concepts of the game with just a few simple instructions. The directions are concise and quick. Each card is given a more detailed explanation, along solutions to potential scenarios that may come up as you play.
Each card is given its own cardboard cutout that slots in and out of the game's board easily. The cutouts provide a nice summary of what the card does, to provide a visual reference for everyone playing the game. Along the outside of the board is a score-tracker, like Ticket to Ride, which is a nice addition considering the original required you to have a pen & paper ready. Player score-markers are miniature coloured soy sauce bottles, a nice touch.
Perhaps the only gripe I have with the design is the insert. While it's able to neatly hold all the components of the game, it's a bit tight. Some kind of divider system like Legendary or Smash Up Big Geeky Box would have done a better job at organizing and easily finding cards. As it stands, the slots are not wide enough to fit sleeved cards of any quality. For a game with as much shuffling and handling, sleeves are almost necessary. The rulebook also doesn't fit without bending the corners, because of the rounded edges of the the tin.
Overall the aesthetic of the game contributes strongly to the theme of everything and ties it altogether in a neatly packed bento box.
With so much more to offer, does Sushi Go Party! replace the need for Sushi Go! entirely? Well no, not necessarily. The tin is significantly bigger, closer to the size of Forbidden Island. The original was a nice travel option, and the new one doesn't really lend itself to that category. One thing that you can do, if you own both, is select a setup of cards that you like to play with most, and put it into the original tin for travelling. And you can always swap things in and out. You'll miss out on the board, but it's still playable.
Sushi Go Party! is everything you wanted in a potential Sushi Go! sequel and more. If you love the original, you will love this. If you've never played the original, chances are you'll still love this. It's a light affair, and the new cards don't add anything overly complicated. A great filler game, now with the possibility of getting an extra play-through or two in your gaming sessions. I'm a lover of all things sushi, and Sushi Go Party! definitely falls into that category.