By Andrew Joyce
Anybody hungry? Sushi Go party is a remix of the 2013 game Sushi Go!, which made a big splash with its fun, fast-paced card drafting. Sushi Go Party adds more types of cards, support for up to 8 players, and packages it all up in an equally appealing and accessible package as the original. But do the additions help or hinder the new game? Read on for more.
In Sushi Go Party, you will start the game with a hand of cards. Each turn, you will pick one card from your hand, and pass the remaining cards to the player on their left. Play continues until all cards have been picked, and then another round begins. The object of the game is to score points by various means, which vary depending on the card. Picked cards go face-up in front of you to form your personal meal, which will be scored at the end of the round for points. After three rounds, the victor is the person with the tastiest meal (and the most points).
Though the finer points of strategy may take a little while to figure out, the core mechanic of the game couldn’t be simpler: view your hand, pick a card, and play it in front of you. But the way all the different foods interact gives you some interesting choices to make, even within such simple gameplay.
What’s New in Party
Sushi Go never grabbed me, but when Party came out I gave the game a second look. This could be thought of as a standalone expansion, as Sushi Go Party includes the entirety of Sushi Go within itself. In Sushi Go, you would play with the same types of food every game, but the Party release shakes this up by including almost 30 different types of cards, all of which score in different ways, and can be mixed up to form different recipes. The rulebook comes with eight premade recipes, but you can also be inventive and try your own!
The new edition has the same adorable art as the original: a ton of cute faces pasted on maki rolls, tempura, and pudding. Not only are the cards fun, they’re just as functional as ever: each background is a solid color, which matches the scoring key, telling you how each card scores points. This is also written at the bottom of each card, so you can look at your hand and know exactly how each card works, even without having played the game.
We also get a central board with a score track and indents for each type of card in the game. This is equally helpful and unnecessary. It’s nice that it shows only the types of cards in that individual game, but players will want to spin it around so they can read the text – except it’s also the score track, so no spinning allowed. Honestly, I think the scoring reminders on each individual card would have been enough by themselves.
For the most part, I think of Sushi Go Party! as totally replacing Sushi Go. Unless your budget is super-super tight, you’ll want to spend the extra ten bucks and get the increased variety that Party offers.
The Magic of All-you-can-eat Sushi
Because there are different cards to include in different menus, you can tune the game to be cutthroat or forgiving, isolated or competitive, high-scoring or low-scoring. This is what makes Sushi Go Party my perfect game for new gamers. With only a few minutes of observing the people seated around my table, I make up an on-the-fly recipe that will suit everyone and be entertaining for twenty minutes.
The more we play Sushi Go, the more it’s become my ‘golden gateway’ game. If there’s someone over at my house who’s never played a game in their life, I’d pull out Sushi Go. If I were entertaining my grandmother, I’d pull out Sushi Go. If a bunch of experienced gamers wanted a quick filler to play before a longer, heavier game, I’d probably pull out Sushi Go.
I love this game because it introduces the idea of player interaction in such an elegant way. Sure, classic games like Monopoly, Sorry, and Trouble might include interaction, but this interaction is either completely random, or game-breakingly annoying. In Sushi Go, the interaction is all about paying attention to what you’re passing, trying to go for cards that are being ignored by other players, and building a tasty tableau in front of you, all at the same time. This isn’t innovative, but it is hugely catchy for new players.
The Tragedy of Card Organization
My main beef with Sushi Go is its setup time. Unlike Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, or Deep Sea Adventure, where setup is a matter of a minute or two, Sushi Go takes some time to set up. I keep each type of card separated and before the game starts I need to think of a menu, find the right cards for that menu, seed in the dessert cards throughout the game, and get everything set up as people mill around patiently.
It’s almost worth buying a second (or even third!) copy of the game, so that one could keep two or three pre-assembled ‘decks’ which would largely remain static. This might be a good solution for the uber-fan, but for the most part you’ll just be sorting and shuffling a lot of cards. For a game this short, that’s a big annoyance.
The other criticism that can be levelled against Sushi Go is its lack of depth – and yes, I won’t argue with you. Even games like 7 Wonders or Fairy Tale, both of which are still simple, features more strategic depth than Sushi Go. Though you have some interesting decisions here, this game won’t really satisfy the hardcore gamer crowd. But then, it’s not meant to do that. Sushi Go Party is successful exactly because it’s so simple and so accessible – I wouldn’t want more depth to it. I know that it will always have a place in my game collection for that reason.
In a sentence (or two):
Sushi Go Party! is a phenomenal gateway game that offers a great, interactive puzzle for players of all skill levels. Relative to its price, complexity, and length, Sushi Go Party offers a lot of fun in a small package.