Dale Yu: 2 Reviews of card games from Blue Orange: Sushi Draft and Armadora

 

Sushi Draft

  • Designer: Takahiro
  • Publisher: Blue Orange
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Times played: >10 total, 3 with most recent version provided in review by Blue Orange

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Blue Orange has recently emerged on the scene with a new series of Euro-styled games, both full board games as well as small card games.  To jumpstart the series, they have reprinted a number of games – mostly French in origin, though not exclusively so.

Sushi Draft was originally released in 2012, and I picked up a copy from Japon Brand at Essen that year.  It hit the table a number of times as a nice filler, but like many filler games, it was quickly replaced with the “next thing” after a few months.  Of course, in the time that it was in rotation, it did get a number of plays due to its light nature and short playing time.

Sushi Draft is a drafting game, as the name would suggest. Over three rounds, players draft plates of sushi and try to use them to collect victory point tokens. The player with the most diverse menu in each round gets the dessert token!

Sushi Draft includes a deck of 32 sushi cards (8 ikura, 7 ebi, 6 maguro, 5 tamago, 4 kappa and 2 “wild” sushi variety plates) and 18 point tokens (three each for the five types of sushi and three for dessert).

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The point tokens range in value from 1-5, with the more plentiful sushi dishes being worth more points.

At the start of each round, players receive a hand of six cards. Players simultaneously draft a card from their hand and reveal it, placing it on the table. Once all of the kept cards arer seen, players then keep one card from the remaining hand, and then they pass the remainder to a neighbor, and draft and play again. This is slightly different from most drafting games because you have the ability to keep one additional card from round to round.

Once everyone has five cards in front of them, players receive victory point tokens – there is one available for each type of sushi.  The player who has the most sushi of each type draws a matching victory point token of that type; if players tie for the most of a type, however, then the player with the second most of that type draws the token instead. The VP marker is drawn at random, and it should be noted that there are different values on the back of the markers.  If all players are tied, then no one scores for that type of sushi.

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Finally, the player with the most different types of sushi scores a dessert token at random.  Again, if there is a tie for the most diverse menu, the player in second place then takes the VP token (unless he is also tied).

After three rounds, players tally their points, and whoever has the highest score wins!

The current version of the game comes in a nice metal tin.  It keeps the round cards of the original, but the overall packaging is much easier to store with other games than the wooden circular box of the original.

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The game offers a lot of strategy in the three short rounds.  As the round progresses, you can see what each player is trying to collect.  Seeing what other players have already played to the table may certainly influence what you choose to collect yourself.  In addition, the rule about ties makes it a worthwhile strategy to shoot for second place in case you can sneak in a surprise VP chip.

When drafting, you also get to keep an additional card before passing on your cards.  This can be an important strategic point – you can either choose to keep a card that you might want to play in the next round OR you might choose to keep a card that you know one of your opponents will want in order to deny it from them.  In either event, having the ability to hold onto this extra card gives you a little bit more control over the game.

The game is a very good filler, and now that it’s hit the table again, it makes me wonder why we let this one slip to the side in the first place.  This one is definitely worthy of a reprint, especially because the original version of the game did not end up with overly wide distribution.  Hopefully this new edition will give more people the chance to play this game.

Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers

Karen M: Any casual gamer can play Sushi Draft, but it also offers enough strategy to keep the more die-hard gamers interested. It’d be a good game to play at the pub or with family members of varying ages and gamer abilities.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y, Karen M
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

 

Armodöra

  • Designer: Christwart Conrad
  • Publisher: Blue Orange
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Times Played: 3, with review copy provided by Blue Orange

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This is another of the reprints in Blue Orange’s new Euro-themed line.  This game first hit the market over 12 years ago as Nuggets.  While I was well into the hobby by 2003, this one flew under my radar as I had never heard of it until I was doing research on Armodöra.

In this game, players play as orcs, elves, mages and goblins on the hunt for dwarven gold.  At the start of the game, each player chooses his race (player color) and takes a number of warrior chits – the numbers and values of which are determined by the number of players in the game.  These chits are hidden behind the player screen. The majority of these chits are valued 1, and there are many fewer worth 2, 3, 4 and even 5.

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There are 40 gold cubes in the game, and they are shuffled and then made into groups of 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, and 7.  These 8 groups are then placed one each onto the 8 Gold Mine zones on the board in a random fashion.

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On a turn, players have only two options: they can either place a Warrior chit or they can place up to two wooden Palisades to split up the 5×8 board up into multiple smaller territories.

When you place a Warrior chit – you simply put one from your supply face down on the board on any empty space (one that does not have gold nor another Warrior on it).  When you place Palisades, you place two wooden sticks on the board – though there are a few restrictions on placement.  You may not place them on the exterior border of the board nor can you place them in a way that would create an enclosed area of less than 4 board spaces.  Your two Palisades that you place this turn do NOT have to be adjacent to each other.

Play continues in this fashion until all players pass. At this point, all the Warrior tokens are now turned face up and the total value of chits is summed up in each territory.  The player who has the highest total of Warriors in a territory will win all the gold chits in that territory – it could be that a single territory has more than one gold mine space in it.  If there is a tie, the tied players split the gold evenly with any remainder gold being discarded.  The player with the most gold wins!

Armodöra also adds advanced rules to the game, with each player receiving one reinforcement token and 1-2 special power tokens. Instead of placing a warrior or erecting palisade), a player can place a reinforcement token on one of his warriors in a territory that’s not yet filled.  By doing this, he will boost the strength of that warrior by one.

Each player also gets special tokens – specific to each race. The Orc and Goblin each get one special token.  The Elf and Mage get two tokens each (as their special ability is weaker than that of the Orc and Goblin).  A player can use his special power before taking one of the normal actions.

  1. the Elf shoots an opposing warrior in an unfilled territory (lowering his strength by one)
  2. the Orc placing an additional palisade that turn
  3. the Goblin placing a second warrior (with this one being face-up)
  4. the Mage looking at the value of an already placed opponent’s warrior.

 

The game end and scoring is the same in either version of the game

My thoughts on the game

As I mentioned at the top, I’d not heard of the original version of the game, so I pretty much came into the game blind.   From my initial research on the Geek, I thought this was a curious choice for a reprint.  The original version was not a overwhelming success (as far as I could tell), and there were only about 500 BGG users claiming to own the game.

The game is low to mid weight in complexity, and I’ve had a fairly easy time teaching it to both my game group as well as the kids in the neighborhood.  In that regard, it does fit in well with the rest of the new Blue Orange series – as they all strive to be accessible, entry-level games.

Strategy in the game is all based on the timing of play.  As with most Euro abstracts, you will want to do multiple things each turn though you are limited to only choosing a single action each turn.  In order to claim the best gold spaces, you’ll need to get your valuable Warrior chits onto the board near the gold spaces.  However, if you don’t take the time to place some of the Palisades, you could end up wasting those Warriors as they might not end up controlling any gold at all!

The basic game takes about 20 minutes, and I prefer the base game to the advanced version.  There is already enough uncertainty in the game with the facedown tokens on the board and the asymmetrical powers of the advanced version feel un-necessary to me, adding more rules and randomness to the game than I prefer.

Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it.
  • Neutral. Dale Y
  • Not for me.

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dale Yu: 2 Reviews of card games from Blue Orange: Sushi Draft and Armadora

  1. Dan Blum says:

    I thought Sushi Draft was a perfectly decent filler when it came out, but with a problem: it’s very similar to Sushi Go and I like that better, as it’s got a little more to think about.

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