In my years of playing tabletop games, I’ll admit that I haven’t played many dexterity games. It’s not that I don’t have interest in them, it’s just that they don’t usually make their way to our gaming table. Since they are such a novelty in my home, I’m always excited to try a new one, and Mando Games’ Kushi Express was no different.
In Kushi Express, 2-4 players act as street food vendors serving Kushi, which is a Japanese BBQ skew. It’s a dexterity game where everyone is given four colored blocks that each represents a different food item. They are also given two cloth ribbons (Cheese and bacon) and a wooden skewer (Don’t worry it’s not sharp). All the components have holes in them so the player can insert them on the stick. A deck of cards will be placed at the middle of the table and on each round, a card will be flipped face-up for all the players to see. The card will have a kebab blueprint on it, and players will race to create that very same kebab with their ingredients.
The first player to put together the requested item will take the card, which has a point value assigned to it. The next card will be flipped, and players will race to fulfill the next order. This will continue until the closing card is flipped, which instantly ends the game. Whoever has the most points in the end wins.
The simplicity of Kushi Express makes it so that it is an ideal game for all ages. Children will love putting together the pieces while adults with finer motor skills will constantly be racing. The ingredient’s holes are just big enough for the stick to fit through, so putting the menu item together isn’t always the breeze that players would think it is. I found myself surprised at just how precise some movements need to be. Stumbling just a little bit will lead to someone finishing their item first.
Despite how simple the game is, there are still a few rules that make it a bit more competitive. The player that wins a round needs to leave their kebab on the plate in the middle of the table while the other players can start with a fresh set. This almost always puts the player at a disadvantage. Still, even with the mulligan given to other players, it’s not a significant difference. We had a few games where one player was just significantly better than the rest, leading to most players feeling a bit deflated. This won’t be a problem in every group, but it is something to consider. Like most dexterity games, Kushi Express just isn’t as accessible as other games are.
Kushi Express is a game about food, and the presentation couldn’t be any better. Every component looks great, adding a lot of charm to the experience. Kushi is full of bright colors with pieces that just fun to touch. The cards are plate-shaped too, which helps the gaming table transform into a dining table. Some of the gameplay mechanics help to bring the theme to life as well too. Players with finished dishes need to shout “Bon appetite” as they throw their dish at the middle of the table for their point to count. There are also cards in the deck that don’t have food on them at all. Instead of serving, players need to race to stand up and shout “Kushi” so that their customers will hear them. The first player to do so gets to steal a card from another player. The little touches help to make Kushi a much more dynamic and enjoyable experience.
Kushi Express is a great family game. It’s also a fun break from a night full of long strategy games. The simplicity allows for nearly everyone to enjoy the game. Some groups won’t have quite as much fun if there is a disparity in skill but that shouldn’t deter most from giving this a try. If you are looking for a lively addition to your gaming table, Kushi Express is a fine choice.
If you are looking for a lively addition to your gaming table, Kushi Express is a fine choice.