It seems there’s an inevitability that games that get to a certain level of popularity and saturation will eventually get spin-offs. Sushi Go! is no exception. The 2013 Phil Walker-Harding classic has seen itself get bigger and better with Sushi Go! Party, and saw itself get converted into a dice drafter in Sushi Roll.
The newest Sushi Go! spin-off has taken that nomenclature literally by making a game with a spinning plate. However, for this rollout, and for the first in the series, Walker-Harding is not the credited designer behind the wheel. Let’s see if this title can hold up to its namesakes, or if it will spin out of control into obscurity.
In Sushi Go!: Spin Some for Dim Sum, players will be playing as attendees of a dim sum dinner party who aim to grab exactly twelve items off of the serving plate to score the most points.
On a player’s turn, they can take the food item that is directly in front of their plate. This plate never moves, and simply marks which bowl location on the lazy Susan is that player’s to take from. In lieu of taking that item, however, players can drop chopstick tokens in bowls along the way to the item they wish to draft instead. If the bowl you choose from has a chopstick token in it, you get to add that token to your pool to use on a future round.
Once each player has chosen twelve items, scoring occurs. In the tradition of other drafting games, players are aiming to get sets of varying numbers of these different items for points. Some only score if you have exactly three of that item, some score if you have an odd number, some score logarithmically, etc. In addition, though, there are also additional goal cards that players can draft in order to score additional points for the cards they’re already drafting.
Choose carefully, spin the plate precisely, and maybe you can come out on top!
Let me preface all my thoughts with where I was at before playing this. I absolutely adore Sushi Go!. It is a perennial favorite of most groups I’ve been a part of and serves as a great warm-up / cooldown title. It’s a social game because so many people can play it, and it doesn’t require anyone to have to do calculus to complete a turn. There’s also immense satisfaction from getting some of the harder sets in the game.
Let me also add that I think Gamewright puts out some of the best family-weight games out there. Yes, Sushi Go!, but also Abandon All Artichokes, Forbidden Island (and its sequels), and Shifting Stones are all titles that I have introduced my family to and they fell in love with. They have a mixed record, sure, but I do look forward to their releases to see what they can come up with.
Unfortunately, Spin Some for Dim Sum is not one that’s making it to my family’s house.
First, the card count. One of the brilliant aspects of the more successful drafting games is that 80-90% of the cards in the game are going to be seen and/or drafted. This gives players hope! This makes each and every card and every strategy feel viable in every play of the game, as the leftover cards that will not be seen shouldn’t make an entire card type useless. In Spin Some for Dim Sum, however, out of the 105 cards, only 24/36/48/60/72 cards will be drafted (depending on player count). This leads to a large number of cards not to be seen at all. The first game I played there were two types that never even surfaced.
Ok, so if there are too many cards, then a higher player count must be the answer, right? Well, in my experience, this game is chaotic with more players. With a traditional drafting game, players can take simultaneous turns, but here, players have to wait. And, because everyone is always drafting from the same pool of cards, there’s no long-term strategy. That’s fine in and of itself, but what happens is that since the game state changes so fast, this causes players to not be able to think before their turns and leads to a hefty slowdown in what should be a fast game.
Unfortunately, these two design choices do not ever overlap and cancel each other out. In my opinion, even at four players where the plate is spinning more and the game doesn’t take as long, the tiny amount of cards seen just doesn’t cut it here.
To wrap up on a positive note, however, Gamewright did strike gold here with the production. Being able to take a simple game and add a toy element to it to get more people interested is always nice to see. A squishy dumpling, an actually spinning plate, little dim sum bowls to hold the cards… it really is a top-tier production effort.
Sushi Go!: Spin Some for Dim Sum comes up short of the other Sushi Go! titles. Instead of a tight decision space where drafting decisions matter, the randomness due to the lack of card throughput makes the game feel unfair. Instead of a short filler game, this title runs long because players cannot take simultaneous turns. Unless you’re a big fan of cute sushi drawings, or a die-hard fan of experimental drafting titles like 7 Wonders: Architects, stay away.
Final Score: 2 Stars: A fantastic production for a too-long, too-random game. Consider picking up on clearance for a cute dumpling squishy toy.
• Too long for its complexity
• Too large of a card pool
• Drafting feels flat