My Wife Always Wins - An Uphill Battle in Boardgaming! - Sushi Go

Brian Shabbott
March 31, 2017

My father’s pastime of choice was hunting, and bowling was my mom’s favorite thing to do. I’m pretty sure my father never bowled, and I’m certain my mother never hunted. Some days, I think about – and really appreciate – the fact that gaming is the favorite activity of both my wife, Lyndsey, and myself. Today is not one of those days.

You see, while I know a joy my parents never did – namely that of sharing in your favorite thing with your favorite person – they knew a greater joy that I do not. Doing something that got them out of the house (and away from each other). Sure, I can go down to FlipSide and play with other people (and sometimes I do), but for the most part my gaming is done with my wife. 

So what is one to do when he wants to game, doesn’t feel like leaving the house, but also doesn’t want to see his significant other’s annoying face? Well, I experienced this conundrum this week and grabbed Sushi Go! It’s a fun game, only ten minutes long, and would send Lyndsey on her way and out of mine. If I was going to lose anyway, Sushi Go! seemed like a great way to minimize the pain to minute ratio that comes with most of my defeats at Lyndsey’s hands.


The Basics

Sushi Go! is a drafting game where players collect a pool of adorable sushi ingredients, each worth a certain number of points, across three rounds. At the end of the third round, the player with the most points wins. Simplicity at its finest.

If you aren’t familiar with drafting games, the mechanic surrounds a shared community of cards from which all players draw. In a two player game, each player gets a hand of ten cards to start each round. Player one picks a card from his hand to start, and player two likewise picks one from hers. They then pass their hands to the next player, and draw from the new hands. The round ends when there are no more cards to pick.

Some cards are worth a set amount of points. For example, egg, salmon, and squid nigiri are worth one, two, and three points, respectively. A wasabi card will multiply the value of your next nigiri by three, however. Other cards are scored as sets. A set of two tempura will get you five points, while one tempura nets zero points. Likewise, three tempura is still worth only five. Dumplings are progressively worth more: one dumpling is worth one point, two is worth three, and five or more is worth fifteen. Scoring is done per round, so two dumplings in round one are scored separately from any you may pick up in later rounds. The maki rolls and puddings grant bonuses (or penalties) at round end and game end, respectively.

Chopsticks are the unique mechanic which can really change the face of the game. A player who has chopsticks may put that card back in her hand, and draw two sushi cards that round instead of just one. Knowing when to use chopsticks could really give players the boost they need for victory.

Read the rules here.


Time to Play

I looked at my starting hand. There were three sashimi, and a set of three would net ten points. That’s a big haul, and if Lyndsey passed me a sashimi, I’d pretty much be guaranteed my set, since at least one of the three in my hand would be passed back to me after Lyndsey took a card. I grabbed the first sashimi.

Don’t count your chickens, and all that. Lyndsey’s first pick was the chopsticks. When I passed her my hand, she exchanged the chopsticks to pick both sashimi. It was only the second turn of the game, and already my strategy was a flop. There were also two sashimi in the hand Lyndsey passed me, which meant she was guaranteed those ten points on turn three. I took a tempura and passed it on.

I got my tempura set, which offset some of the damage done by Lyndsey’s sashimi set, but not by much. By the end of the round, She had the most maki rolls, giving her six extra points (I got three by default, for having the second most). She collected a pudding for the endgame scoring, and two wasabi and salmon nigiri for 12 more points. I got stuck with two chopsticks, which are useful during the round, but score no points. At the end of round one, Lyndsey had 28 points, to my 14, a nearly insurmountable gap.

“Insurmountable” is actually the perfect term. Lyndsey picked up small points for the rest of the game. Nigiri here, dumpling there. She never broke 15 points in a round the rest of the way. But she didn’t need to. I even beat her in the last two rounds. But her slow play was able to capitalize on the points where they counted – blocking me from getting pudding bonuses, or making sets of tempura or sashimi. I closed the gap from 14 to six by the end of the game. Except that she had the most puddings, which sent her back up to 12.

Terrible. She doesn’t even eat sushi.

Final Thoughts

In my intro, I suggested that a shorter game would lessen the amount of pain Lyndsey could deliver. Boy was I wrong. Even though the clock confirmed only ten minutes had passed during our game, it seemed like I burned my whole Saturday afternoon. What’s the point in a ten minute game, if an eternity passes during the losses?

Joking aside, this is a great game. The art is cute, and the mechanics are simple, but still allow for strategy. And again, something is to be said for a ten minute game. The tin that holds the cards can fit in even Lyndsey’s smallest purse, and we carry it everywhere we go. There are no real constraints for time or space. Ten minutes early to a dinner reservation? Play it in the car. Somebody new can learn to play the game in about forty seconds, too. The game will run you about ten bucks, and take you ten minutes to play. Even if it was terrible (and it’s not) what harm would there be in picking it up?

One more benefit: As I’ve harped upon, it’s a short game. Short game equals short article. Which means I didn’t have to spend as much time reflecting on my loss as I usually have to do. The less time I can spend reliving my defeats, the better.

About Brian:

Brian Shabbott is a 31 year old aspiring writer.  Brian spends much of his time playing games with friends and family. Brian loves to compete and play games he loves - but he never wins against his wife! Brian is looking forward to introducing himself as a writer and producer for you!

Follow Brian on Twitter @heyshabbott