#26 – Tokaido


At a Glance: Tokaido is a zen experience…

Tokaido is a game for 2-5 players who are traveling on the legendary eastern sea route in Japan from Kyoto to Edo. The Tokaido Road was in use as early as the 11th century. Along the road, there were 53 stations of rest and supply and these are approximated on the panoramic board. These locations include Farms, Temples, Hot Springs, Villages, and Inns. These provide things like coins or points in different ways. There are also Panoramas where players will try to collect sets of cards that form one long picture, and there are Encounters where players will run into different characters who provide aid in some way. Player movement is unique. The board is laid out in a linear fashion, like the road, and the player who is in last always goes next. On your turn, you can travel further down the road if you want, but that just means it may take a while before it’s your turn again. Each time you get to an inn, everyone must stop and you may choose to purchase a meal that will give you 6 points. In addition to scoring points as you travel, there are endgame awards for whoever eats the best food, visits the Hot Springs the most, encounters the most characters, and collects the most souvenirs. Also, players are awarded for how much they donated to the Temples as well. Whoever has the most points is the winner…but everyone wins in some way…

Tokaido is truly a unique experience. It is a zen experience. The way you move down the board is great. Don’t want to donate to the Temple? That’s fine. Skip it. You can try to soak in every Hot Spring you pass. Or you can stop in every Village and browse the souvenir shops. There are certainly times where you may want to block an opponent from a certain location, but the theme and the overall scope of the game is one of taking in the small moments, encountering unforgettable characters, and in a gaming world that focuses so often on speed, this game awards taking your time. The rules are pretty simple too. After a couple plays, the spaces and what they provide become more familiar. Each character comes with a special ability that does actually feel special. All the different facets come together in a great way.

The game looks stunning and the cards are decent, just a bit small. The graphic design is really well-done and it all adds to the peaceful atmosphere. Kudos to the designer Antoine Bauza, one of the best out there, for creating this unique gaming pilgrimage.

Check it out: https://amzn.to/2QkDzsv

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