*About 45 Minutes
Tokaido is a game where you are journeying through Japan. Along the way, you can stop at villages, temples, farms, hot springs, have encounters with people, paint panoramas, and spend 3 nights at an inn. The person farthest back goes next until someone else is behind them. At each place you stop, you get to do an activity. At the village you get to look at 3 items to buy and choose which, if any, you want to buy and then your score victory points for them immediately. At a temple you give 1-3 coins to the temple and score 1 point immediately for the number of coins you give. At the farms you gain 3 coins from the reserve. At the hot springs you draw a card and score either 2 or 3 victory points immediately. When you have an encounter with someone on the journey you draw a card and get whatever it shows; ie 3 coins, the next section of a certain panorama, the top village card, 3 victory points, or a donation of 1 coin to the temple. You can paint a panorama on which ever color you land by taking the next section of the painting and immediately score the victory points. And lastly you end the round at 1 of 4 inns, where you draw cards equal to the number of players plus 1 and starting with the first person at the inn, everyone chooses a meal paying it's cost and scoring 6 victory points immediately if you bought food. Then the next round starts with the player last to enter the inn and play continues this way until the end of your journey. At the last inn, you score the bonus for who completed each panorama first, who spent the most money on food, who had the most encounters, hot springs, and village cards. Also you score who gave the most to the temple. The player with the most points wins.
Favorite Number To Play With: I really like this as a 3 player game best. You have enough people that you don't have to have a neutral player, and there are less people on the board, so you get to go to more places on the board.
Favorite Character And Why: Satsuki, who lets you eat at the inn for free, so I don't have to worry about saving up money for food and can use it for other things. Chuubei, who give you an encounter card before you eat at the inn, or Hiroshige, who gives you a piece to one of the paintings.
Least Favorite Character And Why: Kinko, who lets you buy food at the inn for one less coin.
Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I enjoy that there are so many choices that you have to make in this game. Do you go to every available space, or do you skip a couple of spaces to make sure you get that one space you really want? Those decisions that you make are always important, because it either leaves spaces open to your opponents to use, or you risk them taking spaces you really want.
Favorite Art Or Pieces: The characters cards! They are each so unique!
Strategies: I try to plan my strategy around the character that I get. If it's one that's good with encounters, then I try to get to as many encounters as I can. If it's one that's good with shopping, then that is what I try to get the most points in.
Final Thoughts: This is a really fun game, and it's easy enough to teach and understand for people who haven't played it before.
6 out of 10 Stars
Favorite Number To Play With: 2 or 4 players I think works best because when competing for spaces it works better.
Favorite Character And Why: Hiroshige the artist because I think it is powerful that you can 3 free pieces of art even if you don't eat, which could be 3-11 points, and no one can block you from getting your special. Also in turn, this in someone else's hands this is my least favorite.
Least Favorite Character And Why: Multiple of them have specials for when you land on a certain space (villiage, temple, hot spring, and encounters) and many times if people realize you have to land on the space to use your character's special they will block you.
Mechanics I Like And Dislike: I like that different spots do different things. Like at the hot springs you are always hoping for monkeys because that means more victory points or that on encounters you could get victory points, money, a village card, a section of panorama, or money that goes to the temple. I dislike that their aren't a few added spots for a 3 player game, like that they could have stair stepped the spots for 2, 3, 4, and 5 players.
Favorite Art Or Pieces: I like all the food cards, I think Asian food always looks more appetizing and artsy than American food.
Strategies: Don't skip spots, unless you have already completed that panorama or you really need money at the bank. Try and complete as many panorama's as you can and be the first to get the bonus! Pay attention to the symbols on your village cards you buy to maximize your victory points.
Final Thoughts: I like that they do try to balance character's specials with the amount of money they start the game with. I like that you have to weigh your options and plan out your activities like "ok the farm isn't available so I need to decided if I go to this village how much can I spend and still get to eat at the next inn?!"
6 out of 10 Stars