24th Jun2021

‘Sushi Go Party!’ Card Game Review

by Matthew Smail

During 2020, I found myself playing more and more games with family. This meant a need to find games that could appeal to both my wife, children and other close relatives or friends who, at various points, were able to visit us. My main gaming groups were largely unable to meet and so the games that I typically play – heavier thematic or euro games – were largely left on the shelf. Thankfully, games like Sushi Go Party! were a boon during this time, offering gameplay that the kids could (mostly) understand, whilst also offering a theme that my wife was interested in.

Sushi Go Party! is a super, super simple card drafting game that uses the theme of being at a sushi restaurant to enhance its mechanic. The central board is presented as a conveyor belt that also doubles as the scoreboard. The scoring tokens that each player uses to track their score? A miniature bottle of soy-sauce. In the middle of this board, the players will set out their menu, almost always featuring eight different dishes from the twenty-odd available in the box. Maki rolls, tempura prawns, tofu, eels, miso soup and many more are included, with some special options like spoons, soy sauce and pudding adding interesting rules variations.

With the menu set out in this way, one player will take the stacks of cards associated with each menu item and shuffle them all together. If pudding is on the menu, then only a set number of pudding cards will be shuffled in at this point, with the rest set aside for the later rounds. When this is done, the cards will be dealt out to each player evenly, and a round of drafting will begin. Each player then chooses one card and places it face-down on the table. When this is done, everyone hands the cards that remain in their hand onto the next player, and then flips over the card that they chose.

In this way, players build up a selection of cards in front of them from the ever-smaller hands that are passed to them. The reason they do this is because each card is worth points – either individually or when collected with other cards. Bog standard nigiri rolls are worth 1, 2 or 3 points as shown and require no other support, whilst an eel card is worth minus 3 points on its own, or 7 if you can gain two or more. Soy sauce gives a bonus to the player with the most colour variation among all other cards in front of them, whilst the spoon allows a player to announce a card, which must then be swapped for the spoon card by the first player (to the left) who has the requested card.

When all cards are drafted and scored, players advance their soy sauce bottles accordingly and all cards are then prepared and reshuffled except pudding cards. Any puddings are retained until the end of the final round, at which point the player with the most will score 6, whilst the player with the least will score minus 6. At the end of the last round, having scored all previous rounds as they ended and then taken into account any pudding cards (or potentially other end game scoring), the player with the most points will win the game.

There are a few things that work really well in favour of Sushi Go Party! Firstly, this is a really good-looking game that captures the Kawaii art style nicely and appeals to kids and adult fans of the style really well. The different foods on offer are characterised by little faces that bring an otherwise dry subject matter to life, and there are lots of little details on the cards that add interest whilst the brief time between decisions needs to be filled. Simplicity is also a friend to Sushi Go Party! because as along as the players can read and do basic maths (different sums adding up to no more than about 10), just about anyone can play. Variability across the twenty-something menu items is also useful.

On the downside, this simplicity is also a bit of a problem for a gamer like me, who really does miss those heavier experiences and bigger decisions that I mentioned in my opening paragraph. I see Sushi Go Party! very much as an opener or a warm-up game, whilst my family see it as the main event. One or two games of this is just enough to remind me of how much fun games are, but it usually leaves me wanting to play something with a little more depth. That said, seeing the kids happy (and quite burned out, such is their age and the amount of numbers they need to crunch) is always a pleasure, and if nothing else Sushi Go Party! is a game that we can all enjoy together.

***½  3.5/5

A copy of Sushi Go Party! was provided for review by CoiledSpring Games. You can order a copy right now from Amazon and help out our site at the same time!

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