In order to produce a gameplay experience, a group of friends and I attempted to learn how to play the card game, Sushi Go. Sushi Go was created in 2013, designed by Phil Walker-Harding, intended to be played by older children and adults.
Upon just looking at the aesthetics of the game, I expected it to just be a simple, easy to learn and play card game. Boy was I wrong. When I first opened up the manual to have a look at the rules and mechanics of the game, I was completely overwhelmed. There was a range of playing cards that all had different meanings which I could not comprehend at all. From memory, I think it took me about 10 minutes and 5 read overs of the complete rulebook before even attempting the game.
Here is a video of us playing the game and an overview of its rules:
Despite our confusion, we decided to carry on with it and learn the game together as we go. The more we played Sushi Go, the more we were able to understand it, although we still couldn’t grasp it completely. The whole objective of the game is to score the most points with the best sushi combinations while also sabotaging other players and preventing them from scoring points. Seemingly, I would categorise Sushi Go as a ‘Euro game’ due to its rules and game mechanics. According to Wolfie, euro games have simpler, cohesive rule systems that allow strategic choices without having to remember a large chunk of rules, which accurately details the basis of Sushi Go. As well as this, Wolfie further explains,
“Euro games tend to place players on equal footing at the start of the game and provide branching paths for players to gain additional abilities of their choice.”Wolfie, 2013
This game mechanic, hand management is important as players are all dealt their own cards at the beginning of the game and have their own branching paths when they attempt to build the best combinations to score the most points. Although, as all players swap their cards after choosing their chosen card to build a combination, Sushi Go also reinforces aspects of probability as a player’s new deck of cards may not be suitable for a combination. This mechanic of Sushi Go is also known as card drafting, as players have the option of drawing from piles of cards. As well as this, Sushi Go can be described as a set collection game, as some players have an advantage over others due to having better cards. In addition, I observed that strategic thinking is a reinforcement that is critical to the game as it is essential for scoring the most points, further exemplifying Sushi Go as a euro game.
As the aesthetics and basis of the game revolves around sushi, it is a given that Sushi Go is categorised within the themes of food and cooking. Although, after playing the game several times, I believe that it may also fit into the theme of a party game. According to Moore and Hall, as themes of games are something that people buy into, players may or may not engage with it. Accordingly, party games usually do not necessarily have a theme for this particular reason, being suitable for all players. In addition to this, party games are designed for social gatherings to facilitate interaction and provide entertainment. They are also targeted to a more casual and mass market audience rather than a niche with simple game mechanics. As Sushi Go can be played in a party setting and has simple mechanics and rules, it may also be classified as a party game.
Here is the end of the first round, where we were adding up our combinations and points:
Although the rules were simple, some of the playing cards such as the chopsticks and puddings were still confusing to us even on the third attempt of playing it. As a result of this, we weren’t able to play the game like it was designed to be played. Instead of watching players and being strategic about our card placements, we were all too concentrated and focused on our own points, neglecting the fun, competitive nature of the game. While this was mostly due to our inability to completely understand the game, it could’ve also been the fact that it was a Friday afternoon, we all had a long week and we were pretty much ready for a nap. Perhaps if we were in a more motivated, energetic mood, my gameplay experience would’ve been completely different. Next time I play Sushi Go, I would love to be in a party setting where everyone is lively and enthusiastic for some gameplay.