In Japan, there are toy dispensers called Gashapons. They are similar to gumball machines, but with arguably cooler prizes than a standard American gumball machine. It’s been a while since I’ve used any of these kind of machines (do they still take a quarter?). But today we are going to look at Gasha, a new set collection game (from 25th Century Games, designed by Jason Levine) that will have you trying to collect sets of random toys from these famed dispensers.
During your turn, you’ll have two choices: Either draw 2 cards or trade in a set of Gasha cards for a reward card. If you are drawing cards, there will be 4 stacks of Gasha cards to choose from. The back of each card gives you a hint of which item might be on the face of that card.
When you’re ready to cash in a set of items, you discard those cards and claim the reward card, which is worth a number of victory points. Some cards also feature ticket halves. If you collect 2 ticket halves, you can also claim a bonus token, which will be worth bonus points or provide an ability to use. If both of your halves of the ticket are the same color, you also get to draw a free Gasha card.
The Game ends when either the reward cards or the bonus tokens are all claimed. The player with the most points wins.
Gasha is a filler game through and through, but that’s all right as long as you go in with that expectation. It’s a simple set collection game that has the benefit of being highly accessible—both in theme and in gameplay mechanics. In particular, the theme is really well implemented. You don’t always know what you are getting from a Gasha card, but the back gives you a hint, almost like you are peering through the glass on the machine trying to see what’s near the opening of the chute.
For the gameplay itself, Gasha is standard set collection fare. And that’s probably one of the biggest knocks you could make against the game. While it’s fun and looks pretty, there really isn’t anything here you haven’t seen before—probably a dozen or more times. You are collecting X to trade them in for Y, hopefully before someone else takes what you had your eye on. It’s Ticket To Ride without the board. Gasha also suffers from the sense the game just plays itself, with little chance for you to steer game play towards a chosen strategy. You draw cards, look to see if you’ve got a set for a reward card, and collect. If not, draw more.
But despite the lack of innovation, we still had fun playing the game. For a light filler to open or close a game night, it excels. Sometimes you just want to turn your brain off, collect some points, and take things casually. For times like that, you can grab Gasha for a play.
There really isn’t a ton else to say about Gasha. It’s a quick-playing game, with cute art and a well-implemented theme. Its price point of about $15 feels about right. Any more and I don’t think it’d hit the table enough to justify the cost. But being under $20, and taking up minimal shelf space, it’s a worthy filler to hold on to for when the neighbors come over for drinks or you want something light to play with family members. I don’t expect this one to get a lot of table time with my gaming group, but for when non-gamer friends come over, it’s a solid pull.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A light set collection game that, while it doesn’t tread any new ground, is still pretty fun.
• Not much new here
• Can feel like it plays itself