Dale Yu: Review of Sushi Roll

Sushi Roll

  • Designer: Phil Walker-Harding
  • Publisher: Gamewright
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Gamewright

Sushi Roll is a new dice based version of Sushi Go!, one of my favorite drafting card games.  The theme is the same – you are in a sushi restaurant trying to pick the best dishes as they pass by.  Unlike the original game which used cards, this game uses dice. There are a few different types of dice: a white nigiri dice, a salmon maki die, a purple appetizer die, a green wasabi die and a pink pudding die.

All of the dice are kept in a small bag, and at the start of each of the three rounds in the game, players take their allotment of dice from the bag.  Each player does get their own tray card to start the game which gives you an area to place dice as well as a reference to the possible sides of the dice.  Each player also starts with 2 chopstick tokens and 3 menu tokens. All players are randomly dealt a conveyor belt chit; whoever gets the one with a red border is the first start player.

In each turn, players roll all the dice available to them and then place them (without changing their faces) onto the conveyor belt section in front of them.  Now, the player with the red bordered conveyor belt goes first. He can use any of his menu or chopstick tokens. A menu token can be used to re-roll any number of dice from your own conveyor belt area.  A chopsticks token can be used to choose any die from any opponent’s conveyor belt and replace it with one from your own.

Once the active player has spent all the tokens that he wants, he chooses any die from his conveyor belt and places it on his tray; making sure to not change the face showing on that die.  If you take a pudding die, take a matching number of pudding tokens from the supply. You will need to track this for the endgame. If you choose a green die with menus or chopsticks, take the matching number of appropriate tokens from the supply.  Note that if you choose a Nigiri AND you already have a wasabi die in your area, you must place the Nigiri on top of the Wasabi.

The next player in clockwise order then takes their turn, and so on, until all players have had a chance to take a turn.  Then, all players slide their conveyor belts to the player on their left. All players re-roll the dice newly given to them and then replace them on the conveyor belt.   Another turn is taken. This continues until all the dice have been chosen.

Then, it is time for the end-of-round interim scoring.  First, players compare the number of Maki rolls they have collected on the salmon colored die.  The player(s) with the most gets 6 points and the player(s) with second most get 3 points. Next, players score their Nigiri – making sure to triple the value of any Nigiri which is stacked on a Wasabi die.  Finally, the blue appetizers are scored. Reminders of all of the scoring rules are printed right on the player board.

The dice are replaced in the  bag and another two rounds are played in the same fashion.  At the end of the third round, you still have regular end-of-round scoring, and then there is a bit of final scoring.  Players count up their pudding tokens. The player(s) with the most puddings score 5 points and the player(s) with the fewest pudding tokens take a 6 point penalty.  Finally, players get 1 point for every 2 unused Chopstick and/or Menu tokens. The player with the most points wins. Ties are broken in favor of the player with the most pudding tokens.

My thoughts on the game

Well, I should start by saying that I really love Sushi Go.  It is one of the most accessible drafting games I own, and one that I often use to introduce that concept to new gamers.  I have played that game a lot, and any related game has a high bar to reach for. In this case, I think Sushi Roll is a decent game, but it is nearly impossible to not compare it to Sushi Go, and it’s hard to find reasons to choose the dice over the cards.

The theme here is nearly identical, with the main difference being the use of dice instead of cards.  I realize the in order for the game to feel different, a decision was made to allow the dice to be rerolled at the start of each turn; but what I have found is that this significantly alters the feel of the game.  Since the die faces change each round, there is less a sense of relationship between my choice on the current turn and how that will affect my left hand opponent on the next turn. It’s much harder to make a defensive play when the dice are just going to get re-rolled anyways after I choose whatever I need this turn.

The other change which I’m not a big fan of is the targeted nature of the chopsticks.  Now, I know that I sound like a broken record when I keep saying that I do not like targeted attacks, but it just bothers me.  Here, all the players can see what everyone is collecting as well as what is in their pool of dice that they are choosing from.  In crunch time, players can use their chopsticks to deny a certain player of a result or a type of die. Sure, unless you then choose that die, it could be stolen back on that other player’s turn, but the whole die stealing aspect feels like it adds a lot of time to what is an otherwise simple game as well as possibly being inequitable if everyone dogpiles on a particular player.

Beyond that, the collection of stuff is the same, and the scoring is very similar.  From round to round, there is the same possible race for the nice 6pt maki bonus – though ties here are friendlier.   Here, you collect appetizers (dumpling, tempura and sashimi) but again the scoring is mildly different. Finally, the pudding scoring at the end is the same.  Thus, it really feels like it’s the same game but with different material, but somehow here, with all of the re-rolling, it feels less compelling.

Sushi Roll is a quick playing game that likely will work for the same groups that like Sushi Go – the rolling of dice helps add a bit of variance to the game which most people will find an exciting thing.  For folks who haven’t yet played the original, this could be a fine entry to the system. That being said, I don’t know if I’d recommend this to anyone who already has Sushi Go. There maybe isn’t enough different here, and the overall package in the card game just plays better.

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it.
  • Neutral. Dale
  • Not for me… Craig V.

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.
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