Tuesday at Game Night, I got to try two new games that I really enjoyed. I'll review one today, and then the other hopefully tomorrow (but given that our office Xmas party is tomorrow, no promises…)
In my last review, I talked a little about luck games, and how a new wave of Eurogames have taken elements of luck and used them in interesting ways. Well, this time we have a game that is almost perfect information (especially if your memory is better than mine..) and leaves most of the components face up. It also has great design, incredible (almost gratutitous) bits and entertaining gameplay. Plus, you are making sushi! Ladies and Gentlemen, Wasabi.
In Wasabi, each player is a sushi chef in training. You are trying to not only use the right ingredients to make various rolls, but also make them with "style", or all the ingredients in a specific order. The ingredients are represented by solid tiles of various types ranging from rice and maki (most common) to blowfish and octopus (rarest) that are laid face up by the board.
Each player will always have 3 ingredients and 3 recipes. The recipes are the only hidden factor in the game, separated into piles based on how many ingredients the recipe requires (2 to 5 ingredients.) If you play a tile that completes one of your recipes you reveal the recipe, place one of your 10 scoring tokens on it, and score the points. If you completed the recipe in the exact order on the card, you finished with "style" and you get some bonus Wasabi cubes based on how long the recipe is.
For completing a recipe, you also draw an action card (10 cards that allow you to break the rules of the game in interesting ways) these cards are face up, so everyone knows which card you take. After you have played a tile, you draw back up to 3 recipes and ingredients, and that's pretty much a turn. The game ends when someone has played all 10 of their scoring tokens (which I cannot imagine!) or when the board is full.
I'm a sucker for tile-laying games, and this is also a darn good puzzle game to boot. The moving of tiles (special cards let you stack, switch, or remove tiles from the board) can totally change your strategy and trying to find a place to complete the larger recipes is definitely a challenge. There can be a little brain burning involved in trying to figure out where to play your tile, and it definitely pays to plan ahead. We played twice and both times had fun.
Special note needs to go to the design of the game. From the nice tiles and lovely board to the cool little menu screen you get to put your ingredients behind the graphics are clean and lovely. The little bowls you put your Wasabi cubes in are just like the little wasabi bowls at your local sushi place, which is a nice touch.
It's interesting to play this game, after the recent rush of more luck based games. I know just about everything all my fellow players have except for the specifics of their recipes. Shrewd players can no doubt use that to their advantage. It really didn't help me at all. Heh. Apparently I should stick to the luck games…
This game plays 2-4 players (with the only difference being the size of the board used for 2,3 or 4 players) and I can see it being an outstanding 2 player game. With only 2 players, everything you do is setting up your opponent, and the choices become even more difficult. Wasabi is a game that will be seeing play for many Tuesdays to come, I think. It's a little bit of a brain burner, but it's high qulaity production and theme make it an intriguing option as a gateway game, IMO. I highly recommend it.
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