I first came across Sushi Go at an extended family gathering. We had just finished dinner and were transitioning to games when my cousin pulled out this small card game. It looked a little too simple for my liking, so I decided to lead another group in a game of Codenames. But I kept getting distracted by the loud outbursts at the other table. It sounded like they were having a blast. Had I unfairly misjudged Sushi Go?
Suggested Age: 8+
Number of Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 15 minutes
In Sushi Go, players will compete to make the best combinations of sushi dishes. They’ll earn points by doing things like getting the most maki rolls, collecting a full set of sashimi, or having the most puddings.
Everyone will begin the game with an equal number of cards (based on the number of players) in their hand. Each player will select a card from their hand, wait until everyone is ready, and then reveal their chosen card by placing it face-up on the table. The remaining cards in everyone’s hands are then passed to an adjacent player. This pick-and-pass process will continue until all cards have been played on the table, thus concluding the first round. Players will score points based on the sushi they collected that round and then discard all their cards except for their puddings (which are scored at the end of the game). The game ends after three rounds have been played, and whoever has the most points wins.
There are several ways you can earn points. Collecting a pair of tempuras or three sashimi will score you 5 and 10 points, respectively. Dumplings increase in value based on how many you accumulate (1/3/6/10/15 points for 1/2/3/4/5 dumplings). Scoring points for nigiri is super interesting. By themselves, they’re only worth 1-3 points. But if you place a nigiri on top of a previously played wasabi card, you’ll triple the value of that nigiri! You only get points for maki rolls if you own the most, or if you have the second-most, at the end of the round. Whoever amasses the most puddings at the end of the game will receive 6 points, but there’s also a twist – whoever has the least puddings at the end of the game will lose 6 points!
This game offers the perfect balance of simplicity and strategy. You’re basically trying to collect sets of different cards while also paying attention to what cards everyone else is taking. Maybe you’re collecting maki rolls and you notice someone else is collecting dumplings. Do you keep taking maki rolls, or do you instead switch to dumplings in order to slow your opponent’s progress? And what do you do about puddings? Do you take a long-term approach and grab as many as you can in the first or second round? Or do you just collect one and hope someone forgets to collect one by game’s end?
There’s also a decent amount of suspense in the game due to the fact that you never know which cards will show up each round. If you’re particularly attentive, you might be able to guess which cards will show up in the final round (based on what cards appeared or didn’t appear in the first two rounds). But usually you’ll never know what cards you’re working with in any given round until the cards have been passed around a few times.
It’s incredible simple and easy to learn. You can learn this game in two minutes. Seriously. I love how the game is essentially condensed to two actions. Just pick a card and then pass the leftover cards to the next player. At the same time, I also appreciate that there’s a good amount of strategy built into the game. Not only does it keep the game competitive, but it also gives players a reason to be invested in what everyone else is doing.
It plays extremely fast. One of the strengths of the game is that everyone plays their turn at the same time. You’ll be doing very little waiting in Sushi Go, unlike other games where players will take turns one at a time. Sure, there will probably be that one guy who winds up taking longer than everyone else to decide which card to pick. (I’m often guilty of this!) But even so, you’ll end up finishing the game and asking yourself, “Is it over already?” Every time I’ve played Sushi Go, we’ve always ended up playing two or three games.
The artwork is attractive and cute. I think this factor alone will make it an instant hit amongst families. I mean, let’s be honest, it’s just pretty to look at! Pull out this game at a party and you’ll find people will be drawn to this game simply because of its design.
It doesn’t play well with 2 players. Though the game rules include a 2-player variant, Sushi Go is really best played with 4 or 5 players. Part of what makes this game so much fun is competing for certain combinations of cards with your opponents. When there’s fewer players, you don’t get nearly the same feeling of excitement or sense of satisfaction when you do manage to acquire a certain selection of cards.
Sushi Go meets the criteria of a solid family game on so many levels. It’s easy to learn, the artwork is fun and attractive, and the gameplay is fast. I also need to mention that it often feels like a party game, since you’ll probably witness loud outbursts of joy when players acquire the cards they need (or cries of anguish when they see that someone else has taken the card they need). If you enjoy games that help create a lively atmosphere, definitely check this one out. And if you’d like to play this game in a larger group setting, then you should consider the recently released Sushi Go: Party!, which introduces new cards and can take up to 8 players.