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Tokaido Boardgame Review

By Edited Oct 11, 2016 1 3
Tokaido

In Tokaido, you will take the role of a traveler in ancient Japan. You will walk the prestigious road called Tokaido. Your goal is to make the most of the travel experience and collect journey points. Unlike most trips, you do not follow an itinerary. You have to pass through as many scenic locations as you can, eat various culinary specialties, buy authentic souvenirs, enjoy the hot springs and be friendly with strangers you meet along the way.

Components

Tokaido Boardgame Components
  • 1 Game Board An elegant board game divided into 4 sections
  • 5 Traveler Pieces 5 different colored meeples are available to represent players on the board
  • 5 Travel Point Markers These tracks journey points 
  • 5 Player Color Tokens (Bags) Each traveler carries a bag to hold their loot. These colored bags also represent the color of a player's meeple on a Traveler card
  • 10 Traveler Tiles These are beautifully drawn character tiles
  • 50 Coins. This is the money for buying food and souvenirs, or to donate to the temple
  • 12 Hot Springs Cards A trip in Tokaido is not complete without having a relaxing soak in the springs
  • 60 Panorama Cards Panoramas are made of 3, 4, or 5 sections. These are scenic locations you uncover along the trip
  • 25 Meal Cards You do need to eat to travel
  • 24 Souvenir Cards Buy authentic Japanese goods to remind you of your trip
  • 14 Encounter Cards You make friends along the way. These characters make your trip worthwhile with gifts
  • 7 Achievement Cards Every accomplishment deserves a reward
  • 1 Rule Book An easy to understand, colorful rule book

Rules

  1. Each player can only move forward.
  2. Whoever is last on the road takes the next turn.
  3. A player can move to any space he wants, no matter how far it is, provided the space he lands on is free.
  4. When a traveler lands on a double space, he can occupy the space if it is free. Double spaces are used only in games with 4-5 players. Otherwise, the second space is canceled. The second space is considered to be farther down the road.
  5. All players are required to settle in the inn together before starting on the next segment of the journey.

The Spaces

Tokaido Board

Each move leaves a traveler to land on one of the 8 types of spaces or one of the inn spaces. Here are descriptions of actions involved for each space.

The Village

A player must have at least 1 coin to stop at a Village, but he is not required to buy any souvenirs. To buy souvenirs, the player draws the top 3 Souvenir cards from the pile and place them face up in front of him. He can buy one or more of these cards if he has the coins to buy them with. Unpurchased cards will return at the bottom of the Souvenir pile.

To score maximum number of journey points, players need to collect souvenir of each type to complete a set. A set compromises of cards with a fan icon, a food icon, a clothing icon, and a totem-like figure icon. A traveler may own several sets. It is not necessary to finish a set before starting a new one.

The Farm

The player gets 3 coins from the coin reserve and adds it to his money. This is his reward for helping out in the farm.

The Panoramas

When a player lands on a Panorama station and he doesn't have any panorama cards of this type, he takes a Panorama type of value 1. Otherwise, he takes the next number in ascending order. The player immediately scores the points equal to the value of the card. A player can only create a single Panorama of each type. Once a player completes a Panorama in his collection, he can no longer land on the same Panorama station.

The Hot Springs

The player takes a Hot Spring card from the pile and adds it to his collection. He immediately scores 2 points. If you're lucky, you soak in with a monkey, wherein you earn 3 points.

The Temple

The player donates 1, 2, or 3 coins to the Temple. The coins are placed on the Temple section on the board in the corresponding player's color. Each coin donation is equal to 1 journey point. A player who ends on the Temple must donate at least 1 coin. A player cannot donate more than 3 coins.

The Encounters

The player reveals the top card of the Encounter pile and applies the effect. After carrying out the effect, the players adds the card to his collection. An Encounter could be a traveling merchant gifting you a free souvenir, a samurai giving you 3 points, a noble offering you 3 coins, and others.

The Inns

The Inns are mandatory stopovers. No one can leave an inn until all players arrive. The first traveler occupies the space nearest the road. Later travelers form a line after him. The first player to arrive in the Inn draws as many Meal cards as there are players, plus 1. He looks at the cards making sure other players don't see them. He can buy only 1 Meal card. Each Meal card is worth 6 points. The remaining cards are placed next to the board, face down. The player immediate adds this points to his journey points once he adds it to his collection.

Once other players arrive at the inn, each can buy one Meal from the remaining Meal cards. Thus, the 1st player in the inn has more options to choose from. A player cannot taste the same Meal twice throughout his journey. A player has the option to not buy any Meal. This entails he will go hungry and not garner more points.

Unpurchased Meal cards must be returned face-down at the bottom of the Meal pile. When all players are done with their meals, the last traveler in the inn, the one farthest from the road, takes the next turn and starts out on the next segment of the journey.

How the Game Ends

When all players have arrived at the inn in Edo, the game ends. Achievement cards (Gourmet, Collector, Chatterbox, Bather, Panoramas) are awarded to players with the most number of appropriate cards. The players score additional points depending on their ranking as donors in the Temple. The player with the most journey points win.

My Opinion

Tokaido Board

Theme

I'm a fan of minimalism. I believe in elegance from simplicity and Tokaido is a perfect example of that. The almost stark-white box cover was a clear contrast among a shelf of highly colorful and detailed game boxes in the store. Beautiful doesn't describe the theme. I think the appropriate term is "lush" and "charming". The boardgame's design and gameplay are partly an epitome of the "zen" culture Japan is known for.

I say "partly" because even when you realize you can jump over several spaces to arrive at the inn first, you still need to be strategic on your pace to not miss out on scenic landscapes, awesome souvenirs, meeting friendly strangers (or monkeys) to score journey points. You might make enemies of other players from blocking or leapfrogging to spaces they had their eyes on, but that is what the game is all about. It is a competitive game minus the stress. This is all about squeezing the most experience in a journey without traveling too slow to arrive last in the mandatory inns.

Learning Curve and Replayability

For long-time board game players, this will be a jolt of precise design and gameplay. This game forces you to just bask in the notion of enjoying a game rather than strategizing how to disable a trap or kill the boss in the dungeon. You can finish the game in less than an hour. It's a relaxing game that even when you lose, you'll not mind it because it's the journey that counts.

This is a perfect entry game for beginner board game players. It isn't hard to follow the rules, but it isn't too easy to get bored with it fast. I'd recommend this game to everyone although I have to be honest about its lack of longevity. Once you've played this game a few times, you'll see most of what it has to offer, which is problematic for a game that relies on discovery and strategy. Although the Traveler tiles' special abilities don't drastically changes things, it pushes a player to change set-collection strategies that will work best for the Traveler tile's ability.

Good news is Tokaido came out with an expansion called The Crossroads. This expansion unveils more treasures and possibilities to make the players' journey richer and more strategic. You can enjoy cherry trees in full bloom, enter luxurious bathhouses, get good luck charms or legendary objects, or try gambling to risk earning more coins.

Conclusion

Tokaido cover

If you are a player who likes high value art in their game and prefers indirect confrontation, then this is the game for you. The game feels very "zen" because of its aesthetically pleasing artwork. There is player interaction here but no obvious player attacks and domination. I consider Tokaido as a "middle game" that can be played by both newbie and die-hard board gamers.

In some aspect, the gameplay puts into forefront a human need to enjoy everything in life minus time constrictions. The game teaches us to 'chill', to enjoy the sights, to take into consideration a momentary 'slow revolution' mindset and enjoy what life has to offer. It might not be possible for everyone realistically speaking, but this game is a good respite from our thoroughly scheduled living called 'life'.

Each Meal card is worth 6 points. 

Tokaido Chedie 2015-04-28 4.5 0 5
4.5/5
Tokaido Board Game
Amazon Price: $39.99 $25.00 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 11, 2016)
Each player is a traveler crossing the prestigious road called Tokaido. Your goal is to discover the most interesting and varied things in order to win the most journey points and win the game.

Tokaido Crossroads: The First Expansion

Tokaido Crossroads: The First Expansion
Amazon Price: $24.99 $15.83 Buy Now
(price as of Oct 11, 2016)
Discover more charming treasures and experience on Tokaido. View full bloom cherry blossoms, take a risk to win more coins, meet interesting characters and more!

Tokaido Trailer

View the official trailer of Tokaido.

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Comments

May 12, 2015 9:44am
HLesley
This sounds like an absolutely lovely game!
May 12, 2015 9:44am
chedie
It truly is! :D You should try it.
Jun 10, 2015 7:19am
vicdillinger
Board games seem to keep getting better and better. I like the Oriental feel here, too. Thumb.
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