Sushi Dice: Get Your Yucks in and Roll Your Way to Fun!
Sushi Dice is a fun, fast-paced dice-matching game for 2 to 6 players, designed by Henri Kermarrec. For this review, we heavily “kid-tested” the game, with good results. I’m a parent who approves, so it’s got to be good.
Sushi Dice has simple, short rules (Note: this review is longer than the game rules). It usually only takes 1-3 minutes to explain, and there’s usually very little in-game correction needed, even with kids, because the game is very straight-forward.
Each round is a duel, where two players receive a set of 6 dice. Every die has 5 sushi shapes and either a wild yellow star or a black yuck (poison) symbol. Players roll their dice continuously until all their dice match one of the sushi platter cards. The sushi platter cards have either 6 identical symbols, or a “combo platter” containing one of each sushi type and the wild star. As they roll, they can set aside any number of dice and keep them while they continue to roll the remaining dice. Once a player’s dice match a card, they ring the bell, winning the round.
Each round is a flurry of continuous rolling, deciding, re-rolling, and deciding, based on incremental results.
Play becomes more interactive because of the yuck symbol. The two players in the duel can watch each other’s rolls and anytime there is a visible yuck symbol, they yell “Yuck!” If they catch their opponent with a yuck symbol exposed, all other saved dice need to be re-rolled. This keeps players’ focus split between their dice and their opponent’s.
Other players not currently in the duel can also get involved. If they can catch both players with yuck symbols at the same time, they yell “Chop!” and the duel stops. The player who yelled “Chop!” gets one set of dice, and the player with the least platter cards gets the other set. Those two players begin the next duel.
After every round, the dice pass one player to the left, so all players get a chance to play twice in a row (unless the “Chop!” is used to interrupt normal turn order). Play continues until one player collects a certain number of sushi platter cards, and they become the winner.
Wide-spread Appeal and Strategy
We’ve played this game with adults and various groups of kids with strong positive feedback. The biggest games have been with 4th and 5th graders in an after-school game club. They loved it! There was only one copy of the game, and they couldn’t wait for their turn to play.
There are multiple ways to roll and play. One boy had a unique strategy: he would only roll two dice at a time. Once he achieved the right symbols, he would move on to more dice, but he never rolled more than two at a time. It was easier to for him to handle just examining those two dice by themselves, and it was an effective winning strategy versus his peers.
In general, rolling quickly is important, but examining and deciding what to do with those rolls is key to success. And so far, age hasn’t been a major deciding factor in our games; anyone has a chance to win.
Sushi platter cards need some additional variety, because they are either a single sushi type or a combo platter. This means there are only six possible platters, often leading to repeats in each round. Adding half-and-half cards or other combinations would greatly increase variety. A card with yuck symbols would also make things very interesting (this idea came from the kids group): you would have to roll the yuck(s) last, of course, to avoid being forced to re-roll.
Dice color and clarity could be improved. The two sets of dice are nearly identical shades of white, so they can get mixed up if rolling close to an opponent. Also, the wild yellow star is very small, compared to all other symbols. If dice were more clearly colored and the wild yellow star was enlarged, the dice would be easier to use. Providing a clear separation between sets of dice could facilitate a possible game tweak to combine two games to be played at the same time. Interestingly, the small yellow star was an issue for the adults, but the kids didn’t even notice until it was brought to their attention; even then, they didn’t consider it a problem.
One tricky detail not explained in the rules is that each die only contains one of the special symbols: either star or yuck. This can make getting a combo plate impossible if you need a wild symbols from dice that don’t have one and the player can lose before realizing the problem. Marking the dice to show them as either containing wild or yuck and mentioning the issue in the rules would help.
Overall, Sushi Dice is easy to learn for all ages, quick and fun to play, with only minor hiccups. It keeps all players in the game and looking for their chance to jump in. Roll your way to fun at Amazon or your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers were provided a complimentary copy of Sushi Dice for review.