Tokaido: A walk on the gentle side

3 11 2012

Age: 8+
Players: 2-5 players
Duration: 45 minutes

The man behind boardgaming hits such as 7 Wonders and Ghost Stories, Antoine Bauza, revealed a much more genteel game at Essen 2012: Tokaido.
This game was high on the ‘want’ list for many Essen-goers and I’m sure the gloriously beautiful artwork by French artist Naïade played a keen part in this.

The game sees 2-5 players embarking on the ancient journey to Edo and are trying to make this as pleasurable a journey as can be. They do this by virtue of making various ‘stops’ along the way. This can be to sample hot springs, to make donations at local temples, to sample the wonderful panoramic views, eat tasty meals at the many inns, buy souvenirs or simply have encounters which bring a variety of benefits. These benefits bring either VIPs, coins and/or can contribute to bonus VIPs at game end.

Beautiful board/art/pieces

One of the game’s strengths is the turn order mechanism. There is no ‘follow clockwise around the table’ to be found. Quite simply, the player who is furthest back on the path to Edo is the player whose turn is next. This brings us to the next mechanic of how far along the road a player may move. Again, in a twist, a player can move as far along the road they want (at least until the next inn).

Rushing ahead has a variety of benefits, such as enabling players to have the best pick of the options available on that section of the road, and can guarantee a spot rather than get blocked out. Reaching the inn first also gives access to the widest choice of meals. However, the player who jumps ahead will miss out on many of the other delights to be had. Also, the mechanics mentioned previously will result in the players further behind being able to mop up everything that was left behind. If these players are quite far back then it will be quite a wait until that player gets another turn. So there’s a balance to be had. Does slow and steady win the race, or does he who snooze, lose?

Each player also has a choice of two characters at the start of the game who offer a special ability to that player only, such as discounted meals or souvenirs.

Game artist Naïade illustrating copies of the box at Essen Spiel 2012

Player interaction isn’t high in this game. Other than blocking spaces you can see your opponents may want, or reaching spaces before they do in order to claim bonuses, there are no attacking options to harm other players. However, the game doesn’t set itself out to be that type of game. It is all about the journey.

For gamers who are after ‘meat’ they will find this game doesn’t have it. Everything is light, gentle and you won’t find yourself spending ages deliberating your next move. The game’s age range and playing time recommendations back this up (8+ and 45minutes respectively).

We have played this 4 times now: once as a 2-player, twice as a 4-player and once as a 5-player. In the 2-player game you play with an Alhambra-esque ‘Dirk’-type 3rd player who is controlled by the player farthest along the road. We didn’t find this worked badly at all.
In each of the games, one of the concerns has been that there wasn’t much of an urge to forge ahead and skip places, so most players felt that choosing the next space (or 2) ahead of them was the only viable option to take. Which in fact, felt like it amounted to a lack of choice. Many found the bonus values in each area (3pts) were not significant enough to encourage them to skip ahead to complete panoramas, etc. Out of the many players, one said that they never wanted to play again, but in contrast, there were others who were very much looking forward to doing so.

All that being said, there is no doubt to the appeal of the game. In Essen, the game had many many pre-orders and sold out during the show. We found that there was always a large gathering at the FunForge stand, and indeed, back at the hotel after the show, we had plenty of people show an interest when we were playing.

For me, it is a game I will definitely keep as I had fun playing it and I think it shows off the hobby in a good light. I believe it will be one of the gateway games I will turn to to help introduce new people to the world of non-mainstream games.

If ever the world runs out of Enigma songs, joss sticks or herbal oils, there’s always Tokaido to turn to for some gentle relaxation!

Game in play


3 11 2012

Interesting read from a game designer who attended Essen Spiel 2012.

The Opinionated Gamers

„Most of the public doesn’t know the other side of Essen,“ reflected Michael as he, Bernd and I compared our own conversations with those we’d had with other fair attendees.  Bernd was managing his Irongames booth again, content to sell remaining stock of his previous releases along with some new expansions for those games.  Michael was collecting games from publishers for the library at his Spielwiese gaming cafe.  And I was rolling  my carry-on suitcase full of prototypes through the crowds from one appointment with publishers to the other.

There really are two sides to the fair, and it is difficult to experience each one equally.  Last year was my first time here, and I chose to see it from the perspective of an attendee.  I had a great time bumping into well-known game designers, meeting many gaming jounalists and bloggers for the first time, and seeing friends from other…

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Card City Expansions?

31 10 2012


I just noticed the innocuous-looking ‘1’ on the side of the Card City box. This doesn’t appear on the box front. I’m assuming this means this is likely to either have expansions in the future, or will be #1 in a series of games by the author/publisher. “Curiouser and Curiouser,” said Alice….

Pasteboard and Plastic XIX

30 10 2012

Just a reminder that Pasteboard and Plastic XIX takes place on Saturday, November 10th at Saltdean Scout Hut, Saltdean.
This is usually from 10am to late, with a small entry free that grants free tea/coffee all day, but allows the profits to go to the Scouts. See the website in the following link for further details:
Pasteboard and Plastic (Yahoo group)

Which game is your banner picture from?

30 10 2012

I’ve been often asked since starting this blog, “Which game is being portrayed in the header banner for the site?”

I haven’t.

But just in case anyone does become inquisitive, this is the main image I took it from:
And the name of the game?
Carcassonne Mayflower (or New World: A Carcassonne Game as it’s more commonly known in England). This is a standalone game from the Carcassonne range which we picked up last year in Germany. A review will follow once we have gotten through all the new (to us) games first!

Card City

29 10 2012

Card City
Age: 12+
Players: 2-4 players
Duration: 15 to 45 minutes

Mrs Boxfart and I have been suffering with bouts of whatever name it is for what’s going around. In need of some entertainment after a day of lethargically doing nothing other than recharging the batteries (not literally; now that would be dull), we decided on playing something which involved minimal movement from the sofa.

Card City by Alban Biard appeared to fit the bill:

  • Small enough to fit on the coffee table
  • Plays with two
  • New one from Essen
  • Within easy reach
  • Short enough that we wouldn’t have to give up due to feeling bleugghhh

This is a game for 2 to 4 players who each take on the role of mayor. Each has to

“encourage the growth of the residential, commercial, industrial and cultural districts that make up your home, and to satisfy the demands of the city’s residents”

Each player begins the game with 3 coins and a starting card, the city hall. There are various cards:
-Two types of development building: Commercial and Residential
-Two types of cultural buildings: City Hall and Leisure
-Two types of other buildings: Industrial and Parking

A set quantity of each of these cards are mixed to form the draw deck and the game begins.
A nice mechanic involves drawing twice the number of cards as players and the start player ‘offers’ two of these face-up to the next player. The remaining cards are shown half face-up and half face-down. If the player being offered takes the face up cards, the same process occurs for the next player. However if the player chooses the half up/down cards then it is the offering player who must take the cards.

I won’t go into all of the rules as these can be found here, but needless to say it’s not as simple as just laying cards out willy-nilly due to the construction restrictions, such as residential buildings being unable to be sited next to industrial ones.

Prior to an income phase there is a city expansion phase which, again subject to rules, allows your city to grow. In essence, commercial buildings earn you income throughout the game, residential earn you VIPs at the end of the game.

Close up of a city

Our game
In our game this evening we found that for a small, short card game, there were a fair number of items to take into consideration and remember.
I seemed to struggle initially as just couldn’t get my hands on any residential or leisure buildings, whereas Mrs Boxfart couldn’t acquire Commercial or Industrial ones, but seemed to have no problem in gaining the near-useless Parking buildings. Nevertheless, we each made progress in our own cities.

In the end, Mrs Boxfart’s residential blocks scored multiple VIPs compared to my lacklustre 5! She had to lose 3pts (and I, 1pt) due to gaps in our 5×5 sized cities. However, my many and large Commercial districts left me with much income left over, and at 1pt for each 5 coins, I managed to win the game by 5 or so VIPs.

Despite its small size, there’s a lot of game held in the little box. There’s just enough interaction so it doesn’t feel completely solo in building your own cities. The playing time is great and there’s enough to remember in the rules with regards placement and development so you don’t just feel you’re playing a puzzle game. It played fine with two people with no changes to standard rules, however we felt that the drafting-type phase was better with 4.

We bought the game at Essen Spieltage 2012 and got a promo card which we have yet to play with. At €15 (about £13.50) we feel the game was priced just right for what it is and are certainly pleased with our purchase!

Ludibay shop Promo card
Ludibay shop Promo card

4 player game at hotel in Essen 2012

Essen 2012 – Games haul

28 10 2012

Here is a quick picture showing our haul from Essen 2012.
It is a mainly medium/medium-light mix gaming weight-wise, with a few expansions/promos thrown in for good measure.
I will, of course, explain the choices and gameplay as this blog goes on. Am currently under the weather, so will update shortly!

Also, I will update on my general thoughts on this year’s Essen Spiel (my second).


Edit: have noticed Hotel Samoa and Snowdonia are missing from the pic! They were last minute purchases! Will have to update picture (or get working on photoshop skills!)

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