22nd May2020

‘Sushi Roll’ Board Game Review

by Matthew Smail

With two young kids and a wife who is at best only interested in light to midweight games, dice chuckers are becoming increasingly important to us as a family. For me, however, they rarely satisfy my need for meaningful choices and interlocking, complex mechanics. Sushi Roll doesn’t quite reach the heights of the medium to heavy games that I really enjoy, but it is fun enough in its own right that I can enjoy it, whilst the rest of my family has an absolute blast.

Each game begins with the players being handed a thick cardboard menu and a conveyor belt. The menu explains the different ways in which a player can score points, laying out the simpler scoring options at the top and then generally displaying the more complex methods closer to the bottom. A bag is provided, and inside it the players will need to place the numerous custom dice that make up the main feature of the game.

These custom dice really steal the show. Each one is large and heavy, making a very satisfying clacking sound when rolled, and being of a size that makes the different colours and symbols very easily identifiable. Each round, the players will all roll a number of dice which will be set based on the number of players in the game. When this is done, those dice will be placed onto the conveyor belt in front of each player, and then everyone will draft (claim) one die from their own belt, to place on their menu for the rest of the game.

After this is done, the players will all pass their conveyor belts (including any dice on them) to the player on their left, and the process will be repeated. Some dice offer immediate benefits and aren’t added to the menu (such as providing a re-roll or a dice swap action) and these are resolved as soon as they are taken and swapped for the relevant token. Others are resolved at the end of a round (and swapped for either points or dumplings.)

The trick here of course is to make a decision each round to try and obtain the most points. This might simply be an immediate choice to take the highest value individual die, or it might be part of a longer term strategy. For example, do you want to have the most dumpling tokens at the end of the game? If so, you’ll gain points for doing so, but dumpling dice earn no points when taken individually. On the other hand, some of the fancier sushi dice offer large point rewards for multiples, but little or nothing for collecting an individual die.

The re-roll and swap tokens can come in handy here, with the swap allowing a player to pluck a die off another players conveyor belt (before choices are made) and swapping it with one of their own. The re-roll is obvious, and allows a player to re-roll the dice they already have. These features, in tandem with the general principle of observing which kinds of dice you’re likely to be passed on the following turns, makes up the decision aspect of the game, whilst obviously the luck of what is rolled kind of levels the playing field for players of all ages.

The main thing about Sushi Roll is without doubt how good it looks and the quality of the components. It is these things that will initially attract players to the game, and in my house, it’s also what keeps the kids coming back for more. The gameplay itself is very light and the luck factor could mean that it puts off serious hobby gamers, however in my view everyone who is going to make the move into heavier games has to start somewhere.

Sushi Roll is a gorgeous, fun and attractively priced game that can appeal to food fans, young players, casual gamers and anyone who takes a fairly relaxed attitude to their gaming. It’s a nice theme to put on a dice game and whilst I’m not a fan of sushi specifically, I understand the way in which the conveyor belt mechanic links to the real experience of eating at certain popular sushi restaurants. The combination of quality production, a fun design and a strong theme make Sushi Roll a pretty good addition to any shelf, and an excellent one to a casual or young players collection.

***½  3.5/5

A copy of Sushi Roll was provided by CoiledSpring Games for review.

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