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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Monday 14 October 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Sushi Roll

Game: Sushi Roll

Publisher: Gamewright

Designer: Phil Walker-Harding

Year: 2019

Sushi Go was probably one of the early games I played. It was certainly my introduction to drafting and it's a game that we still have in our collection. I still pull it out, especially to play with friends and colleagues, who are definitely drawn in by the cute sushi and really get into the simple and satisfying gameplay.

Of course, many games are spinning off with smaller dice versions and card versions. But Sushi Roll bucks the trend and goes bigger with its dice version. Plus it's not a roll and write like you might expect many dice versions to be these days. Players who have played Sushi Go will be very familiar with the rules of Sushi Roll, with dice simply standing in for cards in the drafting and a few rules and scoring tweaks. Your cute sushi friends are back, and perhaps even a little cuter on their colourful custom dice, but even if you love the pun, do you need this game?


Every round in Sushi Roll works the same way. You roll a number of dice, place them on the conveyor belt mat and then in player order pick one. You then pass these mats on so the dice you rolled are in front of the next player. You should now hopefully have a new set of dice in front of you which you pick up, roll, choose one and then pass on and so on. On top of this basic gameplay you also have 2 consumable items: chopsticks and menus. Chopsticks lets you swap one of your dice from someone else's before picking your die, while menus let you re-roll all your dice in the hope of better results.

The dice in Sushi Go are inspired by categories of items in Sushi Roll and, by and large, share the same, or very similar, scoring mechanisms. The white dice will always roll a nigiri, with the 2 and 3 point forms being rarer than the 1 point version. The red die will always roll a varying number of maki rolls. Maki rolls give points to the player with the most and second most at the end of the round.Blue dice will always give you one of the 3 set collection items: dumplings, tempura and sashimi, with the rarer rolls giving higher risk/reward. Green dice will give you Wasabi (which doubles the value of the next nigiri you take) or menus or chopsticks. Finally pink dice will reward puddings, at the end of the game the player with the most puddings gains points and the leas loses points.

A game of Sushi Roll is played over 3 rounds, each of which has a fresh set of dice drawn blind from a bag before drafting. At the end of each round players assess their points, take point and pudding tokens and then discard their dice. At the end of round 3 you assess who has the most puddings and then the player with the most points wins.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Forget everything you knew about card drafting because dice drafting is here! And it's totally, mostly, the same thing. The game works on the same 'take 1 thing pass the rest on' mechanism that we've all come to know and love. But now the things you pass are dice which results in an important distinction. As you roll the dice after every pass how good they are changes. This further complicates the decision making, do you take an die now even though it's sub-par, or wait for it to come back round to re-roll. But if you do so do you run the risk of giving an opponent a die that you would have been quite happy with if you'd only spend that re-roll?

The addition of menus, and more so chopsticks adds an extra layer of depth to the formula. Chopsticks let you swap dice around, which seems obviously useful when you are first player as you get to pick any die rolled that round. But they are equally useful in last place in the player order, you might not be getting first pick, but since you swap a die you an ensure that you will get that die back for next turn's roll. Essentially giving you a free re-roll with every chopstick!

Sushi Roll actually manages to outshine Sushi Go thanks to the new dynamics available with dice rolling, however it does suffer from a lack of sushi types. Where are the Edamame or Eel which are shown on the front cover of the game? A couple more die types would have done wonders for replayability, even if you picked 5 of 8 to play with each time. As is, this leaves Sushi Go Party as my Japanese-food family-weight drafting game of choice. However, if you are looking for a fast, easy to teach dice-rolling game you can't go wrong with Sushi Roll!

Fi’s Final Thoughts

One of my favourite things about Sushi Roll is that each round you'll be able to see all of the dice laid out on the sushi conveyor belt right at the start. If there's not many purple dice, then maybe sashimi isn't a good bet this round. This is the kind of decision you can't make in Sushi Go, where you don't see what's in other people's hand until those cards come to you. Additionally, at the end of each round all of the dice go back into the bag, so a big pudding round in round 1 doesn't mean that there will be none available in future rounds.

The dice rolling every single turn, certainly adds an element of luck to the game, which can't be mitigated with the small number of re-roll tokens. Sometimes this can really hurt, but I'm glad that tempura and sashimi in particular are not all or nothing - this is a good adaptation of Sushi Go to account for the element of luck. The swap token might also hurt you as someone swoops in and takes your dice, but it does almost work as some luck mitigation too, because you're able to capitalise on the rolls of other people as well as your own. These elements certainly add a little complexity compared to Sushi Go, but nothing that I think would diminish Sushi Roll's accessibility.

Sushi rolls are something I'll eat, but I'm never going to request to go out for sushi and I feel like of the same about this game. I'll take it to work board game night, people will have fun, and heck, I will have fun too, but it doesn't really grab me. Sushi Go would still be my go-to because it's just more portable and a slightly easier teach for me. Sushi Roll is a great family game. The tactility and fun of rolling dice might be what gets it to the table more for family gamers, but it doesn't do enough for me.

You Might Like...
  • Great component quality, with a brilliant thematic touch.
  • Visibility of all of the available resources in each round, unlike in Sushi Go.
  • Fun strategies around the dice, using the menu that gives 100% insight into your chances of rolling the result you need.
You Might Not Like...
  • Dice luck can undermine you completely on the difficulty sets like sashimi.
  • The ability to steal makes it a meaner game than Sushi Go with more than just your standard drafting denial.

The Verdict
6.5/10 Sushi Roll is a great family game. The artwork and overall production are so endearing, making Sushi Roll a game that will stand out and get plenty of time off the shelf in a family environment. Whilst we have a few opportunities to introduce short, lighter games to friends, Sushi Go is more likely to remain as our go-to, but Sushi Roll is a more eye-catching alternative.

Sushi Roll was a review copy kindly provided to us by CoiledSpring Games.

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