Mel is more the board gamer in the relationship, but I do enjoy any complex card game that mixes chance with skill.
A few weeks back we went to downtown game bar Foonzo for cocktails (one of Mel’s friends tends bar there), and decided to pick at random one of their available games from their blackboard à la carte. Of course, being big sushi fans, we naturally gravitated towards the card game Sushi Go!, which has been out since 2013 but was new to us.
I’m almost embarrassed to say I had a blast playing a game supposedly designed for 8-year-olds (so says the box) and has a bunch of cutesy pictures of smiling sushi.
Sushi Go! is a pick-and-pass game at its core, where players pick a card from their hand and try their best to remember what’s in said hand before passing it off to their opponent. You pass the hands back and forth, picking a card each time, until there are no more cards.
Each card has a point score and directions on how to achieve that score. Some are straightforward in terms of points, like nigiris, but in the case of sashimis, you need three cards in order to receive the full 10 points, and you win nothing for having two or less. Dumpling cards multiply with each one collected, while the player with the most makis is given six points, regardless of how many they get. If you pick a wasabi card, the next nigiri you put down will be worth three times the points.
To win, you need to get the most points after three rounds. A combination of offence and defence is required, meaning every card you pick will either be about improving your stash or blocking your foe’s (like if they have two sashimi cards).
Where things get unpredictable is the chopsticks card. If you select one, it allows you to take two cards instead of one on a future turn (at which point you put the chopstick card back in the deck so you’re not left with an uneven number of cards at the end). This can come in really handy for completing sets or gobbling up the best cards quickly.
There are only 108 cards and a finite number of situations available, but it’s still a great game for testing your memory and oddsmaking skills. Like Texas Hold ‘Em, you have to keep in mind what you’ve seen and what your opponent could be thinking. So far we’ve only played with two players, but I can imagine with four or five it can be really difficult to anticipate every scenario.
We bought the regular version, but there’s a party edition with new card types for sale as well. The original Sushi Go! is almost pocket-sized, making it a convenient low-stakes game to bring on a trip. It took us a game or two to figure it out, and only because the chopstick rule is explained well in the manual.
If you’re like me and more into card games than board games, the inexpensive and clever Sushi Go! does a fine job of bridging that gap.