Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A game review: Tokaido

Number of players: 2-5
Time: 20-30 minutes
Complexity: Low-Medium
Style of game: Set collection/point-to-point movement/racing (well, sort of)/meeple placement

The game is simple but a lot of fun.  During your turn, you place your meeple on an open tile and follow the instructions for the tile.  Whoever is in last place for the race gets to take their turn.  This makes for interesting gameplay.  Each tile on the board presents you with a different card (or manipulates your coins).  You can move as far ahead as you'd like, remembering to stop at the inns, but remember whoever is in last gets to go, again.  It is possible for you to take multiple turns in a row.  It is important to plan your turn so you can maximize your cards, coins, and points.  The different cards and to an extent your coins will give you points.  At the end of the game, whoever has the most points wins the game.

With two or three players in the game, you cannot stray off of the road to place your meeple on a space that is already occupied.  You do not have this issue in a four player game.  The black tile on the board is the souvenir shop.  When you land on this tile, you draw three cards from the souvenir card deck.  You can buy as many as you can afford.  There are four different types of souvenirs that you can purchase.  The souvenirs are part of sets that you complete.  You can only have one type of each souvenir in each set that you have.  If you purchase or acquire a souvenir of a type that you already have in a set, you begin a new set.  For one type of souvenir, you score one point, for your second type, you score 3 points, third type 5 points, and fourth type 7 points.  You score the points immediately after playing the souvenir type in your set collection.  That sounds really confusing but I assure you, it's not.

The temple tile allows you to place up to three coins in your color's temple.  You immediately score one point for each coin you put in the temple.  At the end of the game, the player with the most coins in the temple scores 10 points and so on (all written on the game board).  The farm tile allows you to take three coins from the bank.  The coins can be used later to purchase souvenirs, food, or can be placed in the temple.

The hot springs cards (tealish looking cards) are worth the victory points listed on the card and are scored immediately.  This brings us to the panorama cards; the cards are pasture, a mountain, or a beach.  When you place your meeple on one of the panorama tiles, you take the respective panorama card from the panorama deck.  You take them in ascending order and form a beautiful picture when completed.  The first time you land on the tile, you take the 1 panorama, 2nd time you take the 2 panorama, etc.  You score points immediately for taking the card equal to the panorama level you just played.

The encounter (pink cards) are actually pretty easy if you can handle the rest of the tiles.  When you draw a card, you follow what the card says.  Some of the cards would allow you to take the top card of the souvenir deck.  Or they let you put a coin from the bank into the temple.  Or they let you take a panorama card.  The point is you follow the card.

The inns are where you get to purchase your food.  On the board there are various inns in the middle of the gameboard on the way to your destination.  You have to stop at each of the inns on the board.  When each player on the board gets to the inn, you draw a number of cards equal to the number of players, plus one.  Each food is worth 6 points immediately.  They cost between one and three coins.  You can only have one of each of the foods in your collection at the end of the game.  The first player at the inn gets first choice and it goes in the order of who arrived at the end.

At the end of the game, you score achievement cards.  The achievement cards are given to who has the most encounter cards, hot springs cards, souvenir cards, and who spent the most on food at the inns.  The first person to complete each of the panoramas gets the achievement card for that panorama.  Each achievement card is worth 3 points.  The player with the most points wins.

At the beginning of the game, you can choose to play with the character cards.  The character cards allow for special bonuses for each player and determine how many coins you start you with for the game.  The special abilities may include getting to draw an encounter card when you reach the inn or acquiring a souvenir card for one coin on your turn.  We've always played with them and they do add quite a bit of enjoyment and strategy to the game.

Pros: The game is easy to teach.  Since the game revolves around very basic mechanics and what is on the tile, people are ready to play in a few minutes. The game is fairly quick, as well.  I've said it again in these reviews but I'll repeat it, I really enjoy this mechanic that changes which player's turn it is by the use of time or meeple placement.  Some people are not fond of games in which every action allows you to score points but I don't really mind that, in general, and think that this game allows you to try to maximize the number of points you score, fairly well.  The game also allows you to block your opponent from being able to place their meeple on certain actions.  This can make it more competitive and a little more strategic.

Cons: It doesn't play the greatest with two players.  The two player variant listed on the rule allows for an imaginary player who the player in the lead controls.  The game just doesn't seem to work that great.  The con is really a con on the fact that we have problems finding people to play this game with us.  The game can be a little luck driven.  If you can't find the right encounter card or if another player seems to be able to complete sets of their souvenirs, etc. I could see how that would be annoying but have not really run into that as much, so far.

Score: 84/100

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