Full disclosure: A review copy of Sushi Roll was provided by Gamewright.
I’m making decent progress on Gen Con games; I’ve gotten through … I don’t know, 30? somewhere in that range, and it’s only been a few months. The fact that I have another 30+ in my queue is disturbing, and speaks to the idea of either starting to do microreviews of games or accepting fewer game review requests. But that’s a me problem for a later time. On the subject of Gen Con games, let’s talk about Sushi Roll, the latest in the sushi-themed game line from Gamewright.
In Sushi Roll, well, you’re back in one of those conveyor belt sushi places with your friends, but even you’re not sure what you’re going to get! Once you find out, you better claim it; your friends are, predictably, a bit grabby with their chopsticks, and if they don’t get what they want they might just order off the menu to save themselves some time. You’re okay with trusting luck for your dinner, though. Will you be able to have the best meal? Who will make it to dessert?
Alright, give each player a tray:
Give each player 2 Chopsticks:
And 3 Menus:
You can set the Pudding Tokens aside, for now:
You can also set aside the Scoring Tokens:
Give each player a Conveyor Belt; the player with the red-outlined one goes first:
Shake up the dice inside the bag and give each player some:
- 2 players: 8 dice
- 3 players: 7 dice
- 4 players: 6 dice
- 5 players: 5 dice
You should be all ready to start!
A game of Sushi Roll takes place over 3 rounds, in which each player takes several turns. At the start of a round, every player rolls their dice simultaneously. Then, starting with the player with the red conveyor belt, each player gets a turn, consisting of two actions:
- Use Menus and Chopsticks: Each player may use any number of Menu and Chopsticks tokens on their turn. That number can be 0. Those work as follows:
- Menus: You may spend a Menu token to reroll any number of your dice once.
- Chopsticks: You may spend a Chopsticks token to take a die from another player’s conveyor belt (not something they’ve claimed) and replace it with a die from your conveyor belt.
- Choose a die to keep. Pick one die on your conveyor belt and place it on your tray. Some have instant effects:
- Pudding (Pink): If you take a Pudding, take the same number of Pudding Tokens and keep them beside your tray. They will stay there until the end of the game.
- Menus / Chopsticks: Immediately take the number of tokens corresponding to the number of icons on the die. Note that there are 1 Chopsticks and 2 Chopsticks faces on the dice, but all Menus are 2 Menus.
- Nigiri + Wasabi Combo!: If you previously took Wasabi, place the next Nigiri (white) die on top of it. Only one Nigiri die can go on top of each Wasabi die, though.
After everyone has taken their action, if there are any dice left on the conveyor belts, pass them to the left and start again by rerolling your dice. After all the dice have been claimed, the round ends! Score and then start again.
After the round ends, score dice that you’ve kept in your tray.
- Maki: The player with the most Maki gains 6 points; the player with the second-most gains 3. If there are ties for either place, the tied players gain the full amount.
- Nigiri: Egg / Salmon / Squid Nigiri are worth 1 / 2 / 3 points. A Nigiri die on top of a Wasabi die is worth 3x its normal value.
- Dumplings: 1 / 2 / 3 Dumplings are worth 2 / 4 / 8 points.
- Tempura: 1 / 2 / 3 Tempura are worth 1 / 5 / 10 points.
- Sashimi: 1 / 2 / 3 Sashimi are worth 0 / 6 / 13 points. Better get more than one!
- Specials: All other dice are worth 0 points at the end of a round.
Place the dice back in the bag and reshuffle them. Give players the same number of dice and start a new round!
If you’re playing a 3 player game, also pass the conveyor belts to the left at the end of the round, so that the start player moves around.
End of Game
At the end of the game, total your scores. The player with the most pudding tokens gains an additional 6 points, while the player with the fewest pudding tokens loses 6 points. If players are tied, they gain or lose the full amount. Nice. In a two-player game, the player with fewer Pudding does not lose any points.
Also, give players 1 point for every pair of Menus and / or Chopsticks they have left. The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Not many, honestly. The big one is the dice. I think that it’s maybe a bit disappointing to get fewer dice at higher player counts, since that reduces your overall scoring threshold a pretty significant amount (good luck getting three sashimi at 5 players). The problem for me is that it’s pretty much entirely done in service of reducing downtime so that the game doesn’t take forever, but there’s still a lot of downtime, since there are more players that aren’t you, so naturally your individually turn will happen less as an overall percentage of the game. That said, the space of available choices (for an individual without Chopsticks) is substantially reduced, so it’s tough to say how much that does for reducing downtime. Either way, I’d say that I’d probably keep to the lower end of the player count range for this particular game.
- Use your chopsticks aggressively. Take everything! Give garbage back! It’s rude, but it’s how you gotta do. One of my personal favorite moves is to take a die from the player to my right and then return a die that I wish I had gotten a better roll on. It’s effectively a free reroll, one turn removed, since you’ll get to roll that one when they pass it. You can also snake your opponents by taking something that’s super valuable to them, but, honestly, that really only works in a 2P game; at higher player counts you’re just ensuring you’ll both lose (provided that die doesn’t benefit you).
- Also use your menus. Rerolling dice? In a dice drafting game? Sounds too good to be true. Or a standard part of gameplay for most games of this type. There’s a reason for that. Especially if you’re going after those appetizers, you’re going to want to reroll if you missed a sashimi or a tempura. It’s worth too many points not to go for it.
- Watch out for opponents that have taken wasabi, recently. One, it’s hot. Don’t love wasabi. But also, they’re going to be really eyeing anyone’s squid nigiri. Don’t let them have it. It’s worth 9 points to them, making the points per dice one of the highest in the game. If you can keep the nigiri away from them, I’d recommend trying to.
- It’s not worth fighting too much over maki. It’s diminishing returns. If you are the only person who goes for it, then one die is worth 6 points; the best return on dice in the game. But it basically subdivides as you take more and more until it’s essentially worthless.
- I find it’s often better to consistently not be the person with the least pudding, rather than trying to be the most. I mean, it’s worth more to have the most, but again, like maki, if you’re fighting over it, you’re just diminishing your individual return on your investment. If you just accept that you don’t want to take that -6, you might be able to hold them off.
- Watch your purple dice. They can really increase in value over time if you know what you’re doing. The problem is, usually, your opponents know what you’re doing as well, so they may try to steal some of your purple dice for themselves if you’re not careful. Or even if you are; Chopsticks are pretty good at just stealing sushi.
- If you have a squid nigiri, it’s sometimes just worth taking it. 3 points on a single die isn’t bad at all. Even if you got only that (somehow) you’d end up with 21 points in a 3-player game, which is a very respectable round. It’s decent if you feel you have no better options.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The dice are super nice. Always a fan of engraved dice. There’s some slight chance that you might be able to differentiate between them when drawing from the bag, but if you’re playing with someone who’s that committed to cheating, honestly, just let them; they’ve got a lot more going on than you and they’ve probably earned it in some weird way.
- The art remains cute. Really do love it. I do kind of wish my favorites were in here (the Eel!), but the egg nigiri is here and that’s one of my favorites, as well, so I’m placated. Still one of the cutest games in the entire board game industry, in my opinion.
- The player boards are really helpful, if you get how to read them. A lot of players think they’re supposed to place dice on the icons or that you need that many of a symbol to get those points. That’s not what’s happening. It’s showing you the probabilities of each dice face and then how many points that specific face is worth, which is nice.
- Pretty simple dice drafting game. Much much simpler than, say, Sagrada; this could be a pretty basic dice drafting game for most players. Definitely simple enough to be someone’s first, if they can understand the various scoring conditions without issue.
- The tension between players competing for the same die but not the same item is interesting. It makes the game tough when multiple players want the same die color for different reasons, but it’s definitely interesting. There’s a solid back-and-forth because of it that I kind of like, to be fair.
- I’m just glad it’s not in a tin this time. I say that, but my box did get dented (I’ve gotten much worse at shipping, post-Gen Con). I just really hate tins as a board game storage container.
- Passing the conveyor belts around is cute in theory and kind of a pain in practice. It ends up with dice falling off of things and getting dropped everywhere. At a certain point (especially in two-player games) you barely even want to keep track of the conveyor belts.
- There’s a lot of potential variance in score per round since so many dice are unused. This could be very good or very bad, especially if you’re having a good round with low variance or a bad round with high variance. It can be a bit of a toss-up.
- The names of things aren’t really printed anywhere so I’ve forgotten what most things are called. I really only realized that the green rectangles were Sashimi once I read the rules to write my review, which, whoops. It would be nice if they were on the trays.
- It seems pretty difficult to expand. Would they need more dice? I guess sub certain types of dice out? I think it would be interesting to have a few more options, at the least.
- It would have been nice to have new types of food (or new art from the same artist) rather than just reuse of existing Sushi Go! art. It makes me a bit sad, but I do love the original art. I just would like to think of this as a bit more than just “Sushi Go, but with dice”, and I think the heavy reuse of the same art doesn’t help me differentiate the two.
- Since every player has to take a full turn, you can feel the game take more time at higher player counts. Or, rather, since there are fewer dice, there’s more time where it’s not your turn at higher player counts, even if the game is shortened. The thing I liked about Sushi Go! Party is that you’re all playing simultaneously, so there’s no real downtime at any point, which is a real boon. I think that’s just a function of dealing with dice instead of cards.
Overall: 6.75 / 10
Overall, I mean, I think it’s pretty clear how it’s going to shake out for me, but I live in my own head so, it’s sometimes easier for me to access my inner thoughts. I worry a bit that I didn’t necessarily give this a fair shake compared to Sushi Go! Party, but, I think there are ways in which this will appeal to players the way that Sushi Go! Party did not. For one, it’s aggressively more durable than my beat-up Sushi Go! cards; the dice aren’t going to take damage at a particularly rapid rate; they’ll keep chugging forever out of spite, I’d wager. For another, there are just people who like dice more than cards, and so this will be right up their alley. For me, I think I’m too much a fan of Sushi Go! Party as Your First Drafting Game for this one to win out the inevitable comparison. That said, I don’t think too negatively of it! It’s a somewhat different game. And not just in the Duel Monsters to Dungeon Dice Monsters way (I really need to stop making this reference); I think that there are plenty of people looking for an introduction to dice drafting. If I’m being real, I think I may have been hoping this was going to be a roll-and-write, which might explain my lack of overwhelming enthusiasm, but I did enjoy my plays of it anyways. I just wish it had a bit more simultaneous play, like its predecessor. Either way, if you’re looking for an introductory dice drafting game with excellent components and you particularly love cute art, Sushi Roll might be right up your alley! As for me, I’ll probably stick with Sushi Go! Party.