Get Zen: A Review of Tokaido Board Game

With a beautiful design and simplified gameplay, Tokaido may be one of the most zen board game experiences you’ll ever have. And, that’s fitting since the game is designed for players to travel the “East sea road,” one of the finest and most magnificent roads in Japan. The goal? To sample the food, meet new people, visit temples and other sites, collect items. The winner who has discovered the most beautiful sites and had the most interesting journey. So, it really pays to take your time and use the best strategy to win the game. In this review, we’ll learn a bit more about Tokaido board game, the pros and cons, and some of the reasons why Tokaido should be on your board game list.

Game Components

Like the game concept itself, Tokaido has a relatively easy going and zen set-up. A small game board is used to represent the road where players will begin and end their journey. On the game board are a series of actions, like Souvenir, Encounter, Meal, etc. These are placed on the board during gameplay. Players can also get Achievement Cards, and these are placed on the sides of the board. Players are represented by a “meeple,” to represent themselves, as well as a scoring marker. Players also choose traveler tiles. And, each player also has a special and unique ability. Lastly, players get coins to use on their travels based on the amounted shown on their traveler card. Now, it’s on to the journey.

Photo Copyright Cmglee / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

How to Play Takaido

The gameplay is fairly straight-forward. Players take turns moving across the board and taking actions. But, there’s one small catch. Players do not necessarily play in the usual clockwise order. That’s because the the gameplay turns are determined by the player farthest behind on the game board. And, this also means that a player can take several turns in a row. Once a player takes a turn and lands on a space, they have several actions that they can take including:

  • Village: Players collect Souvenir cards.
  • Farm: Players collect 3 coins.
  • Hot Springs: Players draw from a Hot Springs deck and add it to their collection.
  • Temple: Players can donate coins to the temple, which result in points at the end of hte game.
  • Panorama: Players get different types of Panorama cards, with the goal to collect as many as possible.
  • Encounters: Players draw an Encounter card and take different actions based on the card drawn.
  • Inns: Players must stop at each Inn on the game board. There, players draw Meal cards that they can purchase.

The game ends when all player have arrived at the last Inn on the board and purchase a final Meal card, if they wish. Scores are tallied based on the actions taken by each player throughout the journey.

If you like strategy games, then check out our Strategy Board Games Buying Guide!

The Best and Worst Features

Tokaido is a beautiful game. The board game design and overall gameplay make it an enjoyable and relaxing game experience. Players who are not fans of highly cooperative or games that require a lot of cut-throat strategy will appreciate the Tokaido board games’s straight-forward gameplay. This makes the overall appeal of Tokaido high for those who prefer a more laid-back game. It’s also fairly easy for kids ages 8 and up to learn. And, it’s good for medium sized groups of up to 5 players.

On the flip side, while Tokaido seems like an easy game, the rules can take a bit to learn. So, players need to refer to the manual quite a bit for guidance. Additionally, for those players who prefer more high strategy games, they may be prone to strategizing the game and making it less “zen” for the other players. The game board itself is also quite narrow. And the replayability may not be as enjoyable as other games.

Bottom Line

The Tokaido board game is a pleasant game to play. While, it doesn’t have any major stand-out features or gameplay, players will appreciate the beautifully designed game board and the overall game itself. If taking it easy and slow is your speed, then Tokaido is a game for you. We recommend for those who like to collect and for those who want to introduce non-gamers into a unique, well-made, and easy to play game.

If you like Tokaido, then you will enjoy playing Carcassonne.

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