Sushi Go Combines Cuteness and Strategy, Making It a Little Slice of Fun for Families – The New York Times

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By James Austin
James Austin is a writer covering games and hobbies, which means he is in a constant cycle of learning board games and teaching them to people.
Sushi Go is easy to learn but hard to master. It’s as fun to play at family game night as it is at a bar with friends.
As the person in my friend group who is usually the one introducing and explaining new games to the others, I appreciate a game that is light on setup and simple to learn. Sushi Go nails this. It requires a measure of luck and memorization, so it keeps both new and experienced players coming back for more.
This fast-paced card game is simple enough for kids to master yet tricky enough for adults to enjoy.
Sushi Go is a card-drafting game—meaning players are working to gather sets of cards worth different point totals. Instead of everyone drawing from one communal deck, each player starts with a hand of cards and picks one card to hold on to. Then they pass the remaining cards in the hand to the player on their left. This pass-and-play dynamic means you must keep track not only of the cards you have and need but also those your opponents have and need. What keeps this game maddeningly fun: predicting the cards your rivals want and spoiling their plans.
The objective of the game is simple: Score points. Each card is worth a certain number of points. Sometimes you need multiples of one card for it to be worth anything. That makes Sushi Go a game of dilemmas. Do you grab a shrimp tempura card knowing you still need one more? Do you let that delicious piece of sashimi go by so you can get more maki on your plate? What if another player grabs it before it has a chance to circle back? The internal dialogue is never ending.
The game ends after three complete rounds of passing hands around the group, which can consist of two to five players. Whoever has the most points at the end of three rounds is the winner; it’s usually a 20-minute endeavor. The quick gameplay makes Sushi Go perfect for filling time at a bar, where I first learned to play, and it is largely the reason my friends and I keep coming back to it.
Thanks to the charming art—sleepy dumplings and grinning sets of chopsticks—Sushi Go is a delight for players of all ages. Combined with its unique hand-passing component, Sushi Go genuinely gives you the feeling of sitting at a sushi bar, watching rolls pass by on a conveyor belt as you agonize over which ones to grab before someone else does.
Wirecutter senior writer Rose Maura Lorre says: “I keep a couple unopened sets of the game Sushi Go on hand year-round because it’s extremely affordable, practically pocket size, and truly fun for anyone. Though it’s billed for ages 8 and up, I’ve seen plenty of kids a couple years younger easily catch on to its pass-and-play conceit.”
Wirecutter has researched and tested more than 130 games to find ones we think would entertain everyone in your family. Sushi Go is one of the recommended family games in our guide to board games we love for kids. The lack of text on the cards makes Sushi Go accessible for younger children, while the mechanics of the game keep it fun and engaging for older kids and adults.
If you find yourself getting tired of the basic cards, or you have more than five people you want to play with, Sushi Go Party builds on the original game by adding a lot of new cards for players to choose from. Sushi Go Party is more than twice the size of the original. So it’s significantly less portable than the base game—but you’ll be able to accommodate up to eight players.
The game comes in a sturdy tin, so it is easy to store and to travel with. The tin won’t protect the cards during play, but fortunately you use only about half the deck during one round, so a few lost or damaged cards won’t ruin the fun. And if you do end up being a bit too rough on them, the game is really inexpensive.
The current version of this article was edited by Rachelle Bergstein and Erica Ogg.
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James Austin
James Austin is a staff writer currently covering games and hobbies, but he’s also worked on just about everything Wirecutter covers—from board games to umbrellas—and after being here for a few years he has gained approximate knowledge of many things. In his free time he enjoys taking photos, running D&D, and volunteering for a youth robotics competition.
Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).

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