A Memorable Journey Through Historic Japan
Life is a journey, so they say. And there aren’t many more interesting places to journey through than old Japan (Tokugawa era for anyone who cares). There’s just so much to see and to do, it’s hard to cram it in—especially with all those other players in your way!
Welcome to Tokaido, the famous East-West Road. Part of what makes this game so brilliant is that there is no direct competition of any kind. You’re not fighting for resources or jockeying for position; all you’re trying to do is have memorable experiences. The more memorable the encounter (or scenery, or souvenir, or food), the more points it’s worth. And that’s it!
In Tokaido, it’s not about who gets there first. It’s about who has the most memorable experiences along the way. Sure, you can always zoom ahead on the path to get a few more coins, but you will probably lose more than you gain in the long run.
- Decisions: 4/5. Tokaido in many ways is a perfect blend of skill and sheer dumb luck. Tactically, you are always free to move as many spaces as you want, and the only way to block an opponent from visiting a given locale is to go there yourself. But your luck determines which cards you draw and has a huge effect on your final score.
- Artwork: 5/5. If I could give this game a six out of five, I would. The art is amazing—beautiful but also very culturally accurate. And as someone who has studied Japan for many years, I feel I can say that with some authority. Even the gold coins have holes in them!
- Replayability: 4/5. Since the board is linear by design, you really only have two choices: start at Kyoto and go to Edo, or start at Edo and go to Kyoto. But play this with differing numbers of people, and it’s a totally different game!
- Awesomeness: 5/5. This game has it all. It’s elegant, easy to play, satisfyingly rich, and a tribute to all that is amazing about Japan. What more could you want?
TOTAL SCORE: 18/20
Even if you don’t love Japan like I do, chances are you will highly enjoy this game. If 7 Wonders (another Antoine Bauza game) is too complex for you, give Tokaido a go. Memorable journeys to all of you!