Designers: Dario Massarenti & Francesco Testini
Artist: Eveen Kwan
Playtime: 30-80 Minutes
Everyone at the table is hungry, and it’s time to eat some sushi. Everyone wants something different, so maybe we should do a conveyor belt instead and we can all get exactly what we want, right? Wrong. In Sushi Boat, players will be grabbing sushi to complete sets, but other players and their ability to remember what they have on their plates will get in their way.
A Brief How To Play
In Sushi Boat, players receive individual plates, and at the center of the table sits a large sushi boat with a conveyor belt. Each slot on the belt holds a dish, surrounded by seats where players place their tokens to claim pieces. Some slots offer special powers that players can use upon landing, adding strategic depth. Throughout the game, players acquire sushi dishes, each featuring a unique item and color, which they add to their plates. Unable to view covered items, players must rely on memory. Additionally, keeping track of occasionally hidden pieces on the conveyor belt presents an opportunity for extra points during challenges.
Sushi Boat is a set-collection game, and it requires players to optimize color stacking while diversifying their sushi collection. The player with the highest score at the end emerges as the winner.
Pacing and Interactivity
Sushi Boat has a nice brisk pace with actions that don’t take up much time. Once players get used to the cadence, games of Sushi Boat feel great to play. Moving the sushi around the conveyor belt doesn’t take up much time at all ensuring that no game of Sushi Boat has too much downtime, even at five players.
Increasing the number of players at the table does add more variability and competition for specific sushi pieces. There isn’t much interaction here, but players do have the opportunity to take seats at the belt that other players might need. This kind of interaction isn’t exactly direct, but it still allows for a few brutal plays for a table that likes to attack others. The problem with this kind of play is the player’s memory. Players already need to remember what is hidden on the board and their plate, so they aren’t likely to know what other players need to complete their sets outside of color, which is visible on the outside. The result is a game that just isn’t too interactive, much like Wingspan or roll and writes.
While the game has a nice flow, it’s missing something. The memory mechanics simply aren’t engaging, though they are always something for players to keep an eye on. Our table had enough fun, but the game never felt like a hit, and while it’s good for a memory game, it isn’t even the best sushi-themed board game (Sushi Go plays very differently, but it’s nearly always a hit).
Sushi Boat has so much randomness that it feels highly repayable for those who dig the gameplay. It’s lighter despite the way it looks, so players can get this at the table of casual players or family members. The order in which the sushi appears is random. The staff that join the game during setup is random. The actions of other players can be unpredictable. No game of Sushi Boat feels the same.
While the games have a good amount of variety from session to session, there isn’t enough here to make someone love Sushi Boat if they don’t already love its memory mechanics. It’s firmly fine, but those who are deep in the hobby will find that other games are just more engaging.
Theme and Components
Few games look as pretty as Sushi Boat does. The board is made of real wood and has that nice cutting board feel. The board is well decorated too, completing its presence. Players have nice little plates that don’t feel too cheap too, so it’s cute.
Not all of the components look stellar though. We found that multiple sushi discs lose their stickers and labels, but they can be easily reapplied. The rest of the components are standard, with cubes and cards that don’t stand out in any way.
It’s a pretty game with a box that will surely draw eyes, so it’s a shame that the gameplay can’t be as captivating.
Sushi Boat Is Great For Fans Of…
Sushi Boat heavily leans on its theme, so fans of sushi will be delighted at the idea of visiting a restaurant and picking their sushi. While Sushi Boat has some worker placement mechanisms in place, it is mostly a memory and set collection game. Players who enjoy memory games will enjoy Sushi Boat. Finally, if players like a game with great table presence like Queen By Midnight or Four Gardens, Sushi Boat is a safe choice.
Despite it's charming board and theme, Sushi Boat's lack of interaction and reliance on memory may leave players wanting more from their tabletop dining experience.
The board looks so good
- Has a nice flow
Memory games aren't for everyone
- The rest of the components aren't as great as the board
Pacing and Interaction
Theme and Components