July 4, 2015
Sushi Draft is a fun, fast, and simple little card game from San Francisco’s own Blue Orange, the makers of the smash hits Spot It! and Gobblet. The general goal of the game is to “eat” the most of as many different types of sushi as possible in order to collect points. At the end of three rounds, the player with the most points wins. If only eating huge amounts of sushi were actually a game…
There are two components to Sushi Draft: pretty round cards and cardboard scoring tokens. The thirty Sushi cards depict five varieties of sushi (tamago, maguro, kappa, ebi, and ikura), as well as two Wild cards that can represent any of the sushi types. Eighteen scoring tokens correspond to the different types of sushi with three others that are specifically for Dessert. To set up the game, the scoring tokens are sorted into their varietal piles and placed with their number values face-down within everyone’s reach. The Sushi cards get shuffled and three rounds of play begin.
During each round, all the players will be dealt a hand of six cards. Players immediately pick one of their cards to “eat” and place it face-down in front of them. When everyone has picked, all face-down cards are revealed at the same time. Players then choose another card to keep and pass the rest to their left. They repeat the process of selecting one card to eat, simultaneously revealing it, selecting another card to hold, and passing the rest. Each time this happens the players will obviously be holding one less card. When everyone has five cards in front of them, the drafting round is over. The last card in everyone’s hands gets discarded and is not factored into scoring.
Have a look at what each player has eaten to score the round. The player with the most of each variety of sushi takes one random scoring token of that type. If there is a tie amongst any of the types of sushi, those quantities cancel each other and the player with the next highest total gets a token instead. Finally, the player with the largest assortment of different sushi types gets one Dessert token. Values on the scoring tokens stay hidden until the end of the game, so players must rely on their memory to track how everyone is doing. After three rounds, the player with the highest total of points as shown by their scoring tokens wins the game.
While a very quick and simple game, Sushi Draft’s strategy comes into play when taking into account there are differing numbers of Sushi cards for each variety and also differing scores on both the standard and Dessert scoring tokens. All sushi is not created equal! A number printed on each Sushi card shows how many of that variety is in the game, and the more plentiful varieties also provide more points on their corresponding scoring tokens. The Dessert tokens, which are given out for having the greatest number of different sushi in each hand, are generally worth less. This means that collecting the higher-scoring sushi varieties will generally be harder to do (as there are more of that type of card available) but will yield the greatest reward. Alternately, the lower-scoring varieties of sushi are easier to collect (as there are fewer cards available) which lets you go for a wider variety of cards. This can also net you Dessert tokens, which can go some way in making up for lower sushi points. As well, the way ties are resolved means you can knock players out of the running for particular scoring tokens by tracking their cards and trying to match their hands. Of course, you can ignore these ramblings and just enjoy picking Sushi cards and develop your own strategies!
Despite the simple rules there is some good depth of strategy here and the game is a lot of fun to learn and play. Sushi Draft can accommodate three to five players of around ages 8 and up. A game takes about fifteen minutes, so you’ll have time to run through a few hands in a sitting. It comes in a nice metal tin and the round cards are handsome and fun to pass around. Like so many of Blue Orange’s family-style games, Sushi Draft is a great casual hit that is good enough be on everyone’s shelves.