Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 1 January 2019

Life is a Highway:- Tokyo Highway

Game: Tokyo Highway

Publisher: itten

Designer:  Naotaka Shimamoto, Yoshiaki Tomioka

Year: 2016

Tokyo Highway is a 2-4 player dexterity game in which players attempt to be the first to place out all their cars before they run out of building materials. As the highways get busier it becomes harder to place new roads without interfering with the old ones, and if you knock anything over you'll have to pay a fine, lowering your supply of construction materials.

A turn of Tokyo Highway is simple: add a stack of wooden cylinders to the board, and then a lollypop stick to connect the new stack with your last one. Your new stack of cylinders must be 1 higher or lower than the previous one. However, this alone scores you no points, you get to place out one of your cars only if your new road crosses over another road that has not been crossed over before, or goes under another road that has not been built under before. You must also achieve this without going directly over any of the cylinder stacks and without touching any other road.

Should your construction attempt cause damage to your own road structure, no problem, simply rebuild it and carry on. But should you knock over something belonging to someone else, then you must pay a fine of cylinders or sticks for each piece knocked over *and* rebuild it how it was. If you do not have any cylinders or sticks on your turn then you will lose. This helps encourage you not to simply build sky high as you will quickly run out of materials that way. If you ever find yourself stuck you can use one of your limited supply of yellow cylinders to build a road at a steeper angle, though the road needs to still be structurally stable. In addition you can build a fork in the road using your yellow cylinders, so place them at opportune locations to surprise your opponents!

All of this goes to create a chaotic multi-level dexterity game with little forgiveness for mistakes. If you build too recklessly then you'll soon knock something over and have to pay the price, but should you build too predictably then you'll be giving your opponents too many chances to place out their cars. Particularly in a two-player game the tactics become almost abstract-game like, with mistakes being pounced upon.

Tokyo Highway is a strangely beautiful game, especially for a bunch of grey sticks and cylinders with the occasional coloured car. At the end of every game you end up with something that looks like a piece of abstract art, a window into the soul of the chaotic life of the motorway commuter, or a bundle of sticks on the floor because someone messed up real bad! The game itself does have some flaws; its chaotic nature can make it very hard to see where you can build to place cars, especially as you can't score off your own roads. Playing 2 player simply exacerbates this issue as there are that many less opportunities on the board, which makes the game much more tactical.

Whether you are looking for a surprisingly strategic dexterity game for 2 players, or a chaotic mess of roads in a 4-player game Tokyo Highway delivers a unique gaming experience.


Tokyo Highway was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £34.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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