Tokaido is a set-building game about traveling the eastern sea road in Japan from Kyoto to Edo. You'll be playing the part of one of 10 different characters with unique powers, vying to have the most fulfilling experience. During the trip, you'll have the opportunity to meet other travelers, buy souvenirs, visit hot springs, paint scenic vistas, donate to one of the many countryside temples, and if you're strapped for cash you can work on a farm for a day to earn a little spending cash. At the end of the day you'll check into the inn to enjoy a meal with your fellow travelers.
The movement mechanic is particularly interesting in that the player that is furthest back on the track goes next. There's a careful balance to strike when moving ahead to get what you want. For example, the last player to arrive at one of the three inns on the board goes first the next round, but getting into the inn first gives you pick of the few meal cards that are being served at the inn – if money is an object, you might want to get there before the cheap food is gone. Score is kept continuously across the top of the board during play, but at the end of the game, after everyone has dined at the last inn, there are several bonus awards for doing the most of something, or being in the ranking of donators to the temples.
Tokaido looks amazing. The art is particularly well done in this game. All of the details, right down to the colored disks adorned with bags that fit into the hole on your character card (to remind you which scoring token and player token are yours) make play a visually pleasing experience. The actual gameplay is easy to pick up and rewards forethought, but again, requires careful balance to make sure you're maximizing doing what you need to do during your turn. The character powers help give your strategy some direction as well, as they vary from getting items cheaper than you normally would, to taking time out to paint an additional panel of one of the sets at the inns. There's also support for a 2-player game involving a dummy player, or traveling the game in reverse, which provides a different order to the spaces. All in all, a fantastic looking and enjoyable game.
– James Orr
by Passport Game Studios
Ages 8 and up, 3-5 players