Cycle 6 – Play Journal: Tokaido
For this play journal we embark on a magical journey across the great trade route Marco Polo and many other traders and explorers endured. Tokaido is a game involving 2-5 players traveling across a great trade route making pit stops at various places while gathering points along the way. Along your way you collect art, food, blessings and knick-knacks to score achievement bonuses. At the very beginning of the game each player randomly receives a slight modifier avatar and this adds an element of variance to the game which is fun as it changes your play-style. The game won many awards for its design and wonderful art, unboxing it was a true joy as each of the player pieces are small finely crafted wood people. This is accompanied with thematic player avatar cards.
For this session of play I played with three players and the experience was enjoyable but confusing at first. About a quarter of the way down the trade route you start to catch on to what things are more valuable and whats worth collecting. The game rewards exploration of the trade routes pit stops and encourages the player to seek specific items. Some of the interactions about specific item bonuses can be confusing at first as the interactions are a little complicated the first time through. Thankfully we had an experienced player for our third wheel. As we went along new emergent game-play revealed itself as the trade routes linear progression became a focal point for screwing another player out of an item bonus. Players who over step their bounds usually end up gaining a bonus but sacrifice having ti wait for other players to pass them. Eventually you reach a half way point and have a big dinner where everyone randomly pulls a “ticket” revealing their meal which gives bonus points. Ultimately whomever gets the most of these meals wins the game unless another player can get achievements at the end which involve collecting items or art.
In the end I was second place with our experienced leader placing first and my partner third. We all immediately decided to play another game as we had quickly learned the inner workings of the game and had all decided that we were due another round. This was interesting because after most initial play through of games I usually want to try something else but Tokaido had the right mix of things to pull me back.
The game limits mobility in the game as everyone is pushed forward on the same road but allowed to move forward at any pace, granted if you moved right to the end you would have collected nothing and thus lost the game. This initially feels like a hindrance in the game but swiftly becomes a strategic element when trying to take things from other players. The games art is one of the centerpieces of the game and as we learned in our readings this week, wrapping your interactive experience in relatable media is key to engaging your players or students.