It’s Sushi Go! time! I’ve had this game for a while now, never feeling quite ready to give up a review slot for it simply because it feels like a game most folks have already enjoyed. While Sushi Go! isn’t quite as ubiquitous as something like Cards Against Humanity, it’s pretty up there. If you have a gamer in your life or spend any time in gaming stores or cafes, you’ve at least seen its tin box and cute sushi artwork.
And that popularity is well deserved. Sushi Go! is a perfect way to pass some time with family and friends. It’s fast, easy and doesn’t have any of those dirty bits that make you squeamish when playing with your mom. The game’s only downside is that it will make you very hungry, but if you have good, accessible sushi around, that’s really more of an upside.
You and your friends - three-to-five of you, though there is a two-player method if needed - each take a particular number of sushi cards. The number changes depending on how many players you have. Each person takes a gander at their hand, picks one card to keep, and then passes the hand to the player on their left. This repeats until all the cards are played, after which you count up your shit and make fun of whoever lost.
But which cards are you putting down? That’s up to you and the method you choose for scoring. There are eight different kinds of cards and they all get counted in different ways. For maki rolls, you simply want to have more than your fellow players. For tempura to count, you need two pieces. For sashimi, you need three. Dumplings go up in value exponentially. For the various nigiri to work in your favor, they each need to be paired with a wasabi card. Chopsticks let you take two cards. And then there is pudding, the game’s balancing masterstroke. If you have the most, you get a nice bonus. But if you have the least, you actually lose points.
You’ll have to pick a few schemes early on, especially if you’re trying to stack up maki and dumplings. You can get by with just a couple puddings if you want, but keep an eye out. You don’t want to suddenly be stuck with too few. It usually takes me a long time to achieve that beautiful level of board game strategy in which I start factoring my opponents’ situation instead of just paying attention to my own. Sushi Go! gets you to that level right away. It will quickly become apparent which scoring methods are being swallowed up by someone else, leading you to choose whether to forge your own, different path, or take cards specifically to fuck up their day.
There isn’t much depth to Sushi Go! and there isn’t supposed to be. It’s a cute game for folks of all ages to help spend some time together while waiting for food to cook or discussing real estate or whatever humans do together. The absolute ideal would be to play it at a sushi restaurant with real food instead of cards but we can’t have everything.