At Gen Con 2010 I demoed a game, Wasabi. It was a game about making sushi. You had to line up the ingredients on the board in order to create different kinds of rolls and score points. The guy showed us how a couple of hands would play out, and then wrapped up the demo with info on how the game ends and how much we could purchase it for. My initial reaction was simply “Meh, I suppose I’ve played worse games”. Remembering that initial response to the game, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy when a close friend brought over the game and said it was one they loved and really wanted to play.
After some initial setup the rules were reexplained to me. The first couple of hands were about what I remembered. Play a sushi ingredient tile, draw another one. Very simple “play one, draw one” mechanics. It wasn’t until I made my first sushi roll that things got interesting. What the demo had failed to really demonstrate was the careful dance that takes place using the special abilities you receive for finishing each goal.
Every time you finish a goal, you get to pick a card that has one of a few different abilities. There are some rules governing which card you can pick, such as you can’t pick the card you used last and you can’t select a duplicate of one you already have. You can play this card on any future turn to perform it’s ability. Some common ones were “Chop” (remove one ingredient from the board), “Spicy” (play two ingredients this turn), and “Switch” (switch two adjacent ingredients). This allowed for the board to change in pretty dramatic ways, thus removing some of the grind from the game and really adding an element of strategic planning.
For a game with some strategy, it really fit nicely into my ideal time frame. The game took us about an hour. Much shorter and it wouldn’t have felt satisfying. Too much longer and you breach the realm of “Are we done yet?”.
Our game ended up being extremely close. I won by a single point, with two opponents right behind me. The game actually came down to a crafty two point play on my final turn that utilized one of those special ability cards (Chop to be specific).
Overall, my first full game of this was much much better then the demo that I was given. I would play this again, and will be requesting it for future nights of gaming. Don’t let the demo fool you, this is a game with more going on than meets the eye.
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