Since I'm all about travel this month, I thought the perfect game to review would be Tokaido. This is one of my favorite games and it centers around players competing to see who has the be trip as they travel along the legendary East Sea Road connecting Kyoto to Edo. In this game, it is all about the journey.
The set up isn't crazy, but it can take a minute to get all the pieces out. There are a few decks that you need to have on the board, and while I love the design of this game, the box doesn't really help you keep the pieces to it very organized. Once you set up and randomly select your players (each character you can play has different advantages and starting out money), it's time to start your travel.
There is a two-player variant to this game, in which you have a "third player" that the two real players take turns controlling. Mr. LL and I found this to be tedious and never play this way. We play with just the two of us just fine. Things get a bit more cut throat with just two players though because you KNOW where the other one wants to go.
You get points along the way for buying souvenirs, eating delicious food (but never the same dish twice!), visiting temples, meeting fellow travelers, going to hot springs and painting the scenery around you. If you run out of money, you could even work for turn to get some coins to spend along your journey. Not only do you get points for all these things, but you also are rewarding for doing them better than your other players. If you complete a landscape first (of which there are three), then you get a bonus. If you eat the most expensive foods, you get the Gourmet bonus. If you have the most complete sets of souvenirs, you get the Collector bonus. If you had the most encounters with fellow travelers, you get the Chatter box bonus; and finally, if you visited the most hot springs you get the Bather bonus.
This game takes some strategy so you can make sure you get the most out of your journey to Edo. I'll admit, none of my strategies work and Mr. LL always wins. Always. But I still have a great time playing it and love this addition to our collection.