One of the contenders for “Most Adorable Game in the Universe” is (without a doubt) Sushi Go!.
Almost a little too cute… I don’t think I can eat sushi anymore without feeling guilty.
Originally published in 2013, Sushi Go! has been a quirky addition to many game shelves, and delighting audiences with its amazing artwork and simple mechanics. If you find your palate hungering for more Sushi Go!, then Sushi Go! Party adds multiple new sets of cards and the chance to customize your conveyor belt sushi by choosing a la carte options to add to your gaming experience.
A fun, simple, and inexpensive game, Sushi Go! Party even made it onto our round-up of best cheap board games out there.
A Brief Overview of Sushi Go! Party
It’s dinner time and you and your friends are at the hottest new conveyor-belt sushi bar. Sushi Go! Party, at its core, is the same game as original Sushi Go!, but jam-packed full of new options.
In Sushi Go! Party, all players will get a handful of cards and choose one to score. When finished choosing, players take turns revealing their chosen cards and pass their hand to the left. The round ends when all the cards are gone. One full game lasts 3 rounds.
The original Sushi Go! can be played with 2-5 players and Sushi Go! Party can have up to 8 players. I personally think that the 2-player options in Sushi Go! Party are more balanced than the original, so if you’re a duo, then Sushi Go! Party may be a better option.
Versions & Expansions
Unboxing Sushi Go! Party
The Sushi Go! Party box is very fancy. The newest version comes in a sturdy tin that looks adorable on a shelf (who would have thought?).
The major change you’ll first notice is that there is a board included in the Party version. The small board serves as a holder for the game’s menu, showing the type of cards in play.
The production value is top notch, which is impressive because there’s really shouldn’t be a whole lot of components for such a simple game.
The cards are well-made and I’m sure I’ll mention how cute and adorable the artwork is at least 5 more times. The menu board is well-designed and has slots for the cardboard menu pieces that fit well.
I really like the score tokens. They’re designed to look like mini soy sauce containers. Seriously, who designs this stuff? It’s Nan Rangsima… I checked.
The best thing about the box is that everything fits perfectly. No aftermarket organizer needed here. All of the cards have individual slots to organize them, so setting up is a snap, and all of the scoring tokens have individual spots too. I’m such a weirdo when it comes to board game storage and I love it when everything is nice and neat.
How to Play Sushi Go! Party [Rules]
Every game has 8 cards of the following types:
If you’re familiar with Sushi Go!, the Party version will be very familiar. The first thing you’ll need to do is decide which cards you want to play with.
The instructions come with several setup suggestions, but there’s always the option to randomize if you’re looking for some chaos in your game.
There are 8 suggested setups included in the rules. Just to give you an idea here’s the 4 that I like best:
MY FIRST MEAL
A mellow menu that goes down easy for first-time players.
This is a nice intro to the game. It’s not as complicated and allows new players to jump right in, throwing down cards, and having a party.
The classic menu from the original game.
You can actually recreate the original experience here with all of the same cards.
Taste what’s new in Sushi Go! Party
The Party Sampler setup is nice for players who have played the original and want to see what some of the new cards do. It’s a good introduction to the new cards and scoring mechanics.
DINNER FOR TWO
Works well with 2 players.
This one is a little bit simpler version that’s designed to work well with 2 players. Kendra and I often find ourselves traveling together, so it’s nice to pop into a cafe on a warm day and play a round or two to cool off on a summer day.
First, take all of the sushi cards in play and shuffle them together (except for dessert cards)
Sushi Go! Party is played in 3 rounds. At the beginning of each round, you’ll need to shuffle in dessert cards (the exact number depends on the number of players) and then deal out cards to every player (also depends on the number of players).
Each player will have a handful of cards and will choose one to place in front of them for scoring. Players will take turns revealing their cards and showing what they’ve scored, and then they’ll pass their entire hand to the left.
This continues until there are no cards left and the round ends.
That’s basically it. Shuffle cards in, play one (sometimes more) and pass it to the left.
Why the heck is this so popular? Why is it fun?
Let’s look at your first game and find out.
Your First Game of Sushi Go! Party
If you’re not familiar with Sushi Go! or you just want to ease yourself into it, the “My First Meal” setup is a good place to start.
The cards you’ll need are:
Nigiri: Each one scores 1 – 3 points depending upon which type of Nigiri.
Maki Rolls: The player who scores the most will get 6 points at the end of the round, and the second highest gets 3 points.
Tempura: For each pair scored, Tempura is worth 5 points. Players won’t get any points for odd-numbered Tempura.
Sashimi: Sashimi is scored in sets of 3, similar to Tempura. For every 3 Sashimi, a player has scored it will be worth a whopping 10 points. Anything scored outside of a set of 3 is worth 0.
Miso Soup: Miso is worth 3 points when scored. If on one turn (TURN not round) more than 1 Miso soup is played, all Miso soups for that turn are discarded and nobody gets anything.
Wasabi: Wasabi is a score multiplier for Nigiri. On the turn that Wasabi is scored, nothing happens, but the next Nigiri played is worth triple the points. So if you play Wasabi on one turn and the next you play a Squid Nigiri, it will be worth 9 points instead of 3. That’s a huge boost and not to be underestimated.
Tea: Tea is a little trickier to explain. At the end of a round, Tea is worth 1 point per card in your largest set. For example, if a player had scored 3 different Nigiri and a Wasabi as their largest set, each tea scored would be worth 4 points.
Green Tea Ice Cream: Every 4 Green Tea Ice Cream cards scored are worth 12 points. Having 1-3 gets you nothing. You can score multiple sets, so if you manage to get up to 8, you’ll receive 24 points.
Desserts: Desserts are always scored at the end of the game, so if you’re using the Green Tea Ice Cream, fruit, or pudding, keep track of who has what for final scoring. Make sure you’re not reshuffling them into the deck.
How does it play?
At first glance, it’s hard to see why this game is so popular.
- Play a card.
- Pass your hand.
Once you get into it, you’ll see that there’s quite a bit more to it.
The first round everyone will have a ton of cards and be smiling at the cute pictures. “Oooh, look at this dumpling!” “It’s so cute!”
Then after a round or two, you’ll go full Rain Man and try counting cards.
“If I play a Tempura now and the next one won’t come for 2 more turns, I could possibly still get the points, but the Maki rolls are here now and I have a chance at getting highest Maki, or is it not worth the points, and with the end of the round coming I need to worry about scoring Desserts or I’ll be left behind?”
As you can see there are a lot of different options every round and it’s constantly shifting.
I love the player interactions in Sushi Go! The first few turns of a round, everyone is laughing and talking. Each hand of cards is full of options and possibilities and players are planning grandiose strategies of how they’re going to score over 25 points in the first round… as long as that one card comes back around to them.
It never does.
When the final turn of a round hits, players usually pass their final cards with a sheepish shrug while mouthing the word “sorry” or press their card firmly into the next player’s hand with joyful glee. Either way, by the time players get to the final turn in the round, the cards are crap. The grandiose strategy has been trampled to dust and typically everyone is scrambling to squeeze out the last few points out of their cards before the end of the game.
Card Drafting & Set Collection
One of the reasons why Sushi Go! Has become so popular and successful is that it’s a party game that’s actually well-designed. When you have a game designed for larger groups of people, one of the biggest concerns is downtime between turns. “What will everyone be doing while waiting for their turn?”. Sushi Go! doesn’t suffer from this problem because players are constantly playing. The only time players will need to stop and wait for another player is during the reveal phase, and that only takes a few seconds per person.
There are really only 2 major mechanics built into the game; card drafting and set collection.
On paper, it sounds kind of boring, but in practice, it’s a stupid amount of fun. Especially competitive players will find themselves trying to think 3-4 moves ahead to try and block other players. Whereas those that focus only on their own scores will still find themselves scrambling and throwing monkey wrenches into their opponents’ plans.
Pros & Cons of Sushi Go! Party
- Adorable artwork
- Functional Artwork
- Great for adults and children
- Still fun at only 2 players
- Great gateway game
- Is not a complete replacement for the original
- Can be a bit light
- Setup takes slightly longer than the original
- Can get repetitive
- Is not a complete replacement for the original
Let’s tackle the cons first.
“Setup takes slightly longer”
I’m honestly not trying to be super nitpicky. The original Sushi Go! is probably one of the best gateway games on the market today. You shuffle, you deal, and you start playing some cards. It’s streamlined and clean. The extra setup required in Sushi Go! Party might keep it on the shelf in favor of something quicker, or even the original. Part of the original’s charm was how easy and simple everything was to set up and play. However, the Party edition adds more depth and options but slows down the start of the game.
It’s not necessarily a deal breaker but as a gateway game, simply having a deck of cards in the box is very non-threatening. Brand new players can look at it, and most will think “Oh, that’s not so bad. I can learn this.” For veteran gamers, it’s nothing, but a complete newbie may be more turned off on the idea. It’s a very small point, but worth noting.
I’ve been gushing about how cute and adorable the artwork is in Sushi Go! but I haven’t really got into how functional it is. The scoring mechanisms and point values are clearly printed on the cards. That may sound like a “duh” moment, but you would be surprised how many symbols and weird hieroglyphics you’ll sometimes have to puzzle out in order to play a game. Sushi Go! makes it super simple. If there’s a point value, it will clearly be stated on the card. If a card has a higher value (like with the Maki Rolls), the value is clear at a glance. This is super important for a gateway game. It keeps the flow moving quickly and lets players focus on enjoying the game.
Sushi Go! Party is an excellent party game for groups and beginners. It’s very easy to pick up and play and also easy to teach beginners and children.
The Party version doesn’t necessarily replace the original. It adds more depth and options, but the original is much easier to pull off the shelf and jump right into a game.
The artwork is great and it’s quickly become a staple for gamers of all levels.
Simplicity is key.
Sushi Go! has quickly become a household board game and it’s done so without a ton of detailed miniatures, immersive story, or memorable characters.
It’s always fun looking at all of the new innovative mechanisms and themes coming down the pipeline on Kickstarter but at the end of the day, the game still needs to be fun to play. Sushi Go! took one simple concept, conveyor belt sushi restaurants and added 2 game mechanics to it; card drafting & set collection. At its core, that’s all it is. Play a card, pass your hand.
In this particular case, less is more. The entire experience is not only streamlined but extremely polished. I don’t think I’ve ever brought it to the table and had a player go, “F#&% that game”.
Everything from production value, artwork, and rule set are just clean and solidly executed. There are games out that I really like that are flawed, have terrible rule sets, or imbalanced play (Betrayal, I’m looking at you), but I can forgive because they’re innovative or different enough to keep my interest. Sushi Go! distills the entire experience down into its core parts and leaves you with a pure gaming experience.
Original vs. Party
Between the two versions, I’m actually still a little bit torn. I love the game, but I don’t necessarily think Sushi Go! Party is better than the original. If you like more variety and just want more of the game, Sushi Go! Party is the clear winner. By adding variety, you also start to water down what made Sushi Go! great in the first place. One of the best parts was being able to pull it off the shelf and be in the game within seconds. It may seem like I’m really harping on minor technical issues (I am a little bit) but the additional cards change the dynamic of the game. It’s not a replacement for the original, but a natural progression if you really enjoy the game.
If you’ve never played and are looking for something quick, fun, and portable, give the original a try. After that, if you feel you want more adorable sushi, then get the Party version.
If you’re truly a monster and absolutely hate the artwork, you can always try to find the Zoch Verlag Edition. It’s all in German and has a completely different feel for the artwork. It’s actually pretty horrifying to look at.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Sushi Go! Party.
Love it? Hate it? Leave a comment below.