Sushi Go! Review

Sushi Go card game in play

An interesting little drafting game that Gamewright sent my way is called Sushi Go!

In Sushi Go!, each player is attempting to make the best overall Sushi dishes to serve their patrons, in order to become the best sushi restaurant in town!  This consists of three rounds of drafting cards.  The different cards that are taken are worth points, but only if they are played correctly.  For example, Tempura only score points for each pair of them that you have, Sashimi requires sets of three, and Wasabi is only valuable if you draft a Nigiri after you've already played it.  After three rounds of drafting, whichever player has the most points is the winner!

My first pro for Sushi Go! is that I really enjoy the concept of Chopsticks.  Chopsticks are the only card in the game that cannot be worth points.  However, what they allow you to do is break the rules of drafting.  If I have a Chopsticks card in front of me, then whenever I choose which card to keep, I can choose to play my Chopsticks, and keep two cards.  In place of the second card, I pass the Chopsticks card.  Which means that the next player can draft it and get this same ability.  Whereas I initially thought that this was the best card in the game (I no longer think that), it is at least the best new addition to the drafting genre that Sushi Go! incorporates - in my opinion, of course.

Sushi Go card examples
Helpful information on each card
The next pro that I have for Sushi Go! is how easy it is to teach - to anybody. The prototypical drafting game, 7 Wonders, is not terribly complicated, but because of the number of icons and how different cards interact, it can be fairly overwhelming to someone when they are just learning it.  Especially if they haven't had much exposure to drafting games or strategy board games.  Sushi Go!, on the other hand, is really easy to teach to anybody.  One of the people that I played with has only dabbled in board games and had never heard of "drafting."  (Drafting is when you have a hand full of cards, and you select one while passing the rest of them.  You continue doing this until you have a pile of cards that you have selected, which consists of cards from each of the original piles on the table.)  Yet, she was able to learn Sushi Go! within a few minutes, and if she ever had a question, then the cards themselves were generally able to answer it, as all of the scoring information is printed on the cards.

One thing to be aware of when considering Sushi Go! is that it is a bit more tactical than strategic.  What I mean is this - you deal cards off the top of a single deck to make the players' hands, instead of having set cards that are dealt out.  This means that you do not know the available cards.  Therefore, when choosing a Sashimi card (which requires three copies in order to score), you are not even guaranteed that there are three copies of Sashimi available in that round.  Ultimately, this makes the drafting much more similar to a Magic: The Gathering booster draft (where you open packs and have random cards to draft from) than it is to 7 Wonders (in which there are specific cards that are always available each Age).  This isn't really a good thing or a bad thing - some people will prefer it, and some people will prefer to know what is available.

Wasabi example in Sushi Go
Salmon Nigiri on Wasabi!
The next thing that you should be aware of is that in Sushi Go!, the game doesn't really build upon itself.  What I mean is that the cards that you build in the first round do not really affect any decisions that you make in the second or third round.  This is not strictly true, as there is a card, Pudding, that only scores at the very end of the game.  (The person with the most Pudding gets points, and the player with the least Pudding loses points.)  However, there aren't prerequisites, cards don't get better, and you see the same options in round three as you did in round one.  Ultimately, if you dealt out all of the cards for each of the three rounds before starting, it doesn't matter if you grab the cards for "round one" or "round three."  There is no difference.  Whereas some people will want a deeper strategic experience where they can be planning ahead, this is the trade-off for how easy the game is to teach.

The only con that I have for Sushi Go! is that I dislike that you play every card - specifically the last card.  I prefer 7 Wonders' rule in which you discard the very last card every round.  One of the reasons that I don't like being forced to play the last card is that sometimes you can guarantee that the person you pass to will score no points (by playing your Chopsticks).  Ultimately, though, whether the last card is helpful or not feels much more like blind luck than strategic gameplay, so I'd prefer that you simply stopped at the next to last card each round.  (Granted, this con isn't a big deal, since if it really bothers you, you can easily just play how you want.)

Overall, I like Sushi Go! a lot, and I give it an 8.0/10.  It hasn't revolutionized anything for me, but I like the addition of Chopsticks, and the ease of teaching the game should help me to be able to keep getting it played.

If Sushi Go! sounds interesting, you should also check out 7 Wonders (obviously), as well as Biblios and Scallywags.

I would like to thank Gamewright for providing me with a review copy of Sushi Go!

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