Designer: Antoine Bauza
Artist: Xavier Gueniffey Durin
Publisher: Fun Forge (+ others)
Year Published: 2012
No. of Players: 2–5
Playing Time: 45 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Variable characters, set collection, worker placement / Travelling a road
The destination isn’t always what you should be considering, pay attention to the journey you’re on.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
Tokaido is designed to be about the journey and not just a race to the finish line. Along the way there are a number of different types of places you can stop. Each player is a unique character who takes advantage of different parts of the game.
There are a number of expansions available for Tokaido; however, we played the base game with no expansions.
Gameplay and Mechanisms:
Players start with taking on a quality of a unique traveler that gives them a particular ability. The travelers begin at the first inn and play begins. There are no dice or cards to determine how far or to where a player can move. The player at the back, or in last position on the board, moves. This doesn’t start a rotation; the next move is taken by the person furthest "behind", even if that person just moved, to fill an available space.
On your turn you can move as far as you want, up to the next inn, and take the action for the location at which you stop. The sole limitation is that only one player can stop on a space, unless there are enough players where the secondary road makes that space available.
The order the players enter the inns determines who gets to buy their meal first and then who gets to leave first after everyone has made it to the inn. This provides a great balance for the game as the last to enter is the first to leave. You can’t start on the next length of the journey until everyone is ready to go. But racing to the end isn’t the objective.
Tokaido has a balanced gameplay matching the theme. You can play Tokaido at a relaxed pace that reflects the journey of the travelers along the road.
Each stop represents an activity. You may shop, visit a hot spring, help a farmer, or paint, among other activities. You earn points based on the activities you do and the number of times you do them. Some have limitations and others gain a bonus if you did it the most. How you take your journey determines your score at the end of the game when everyone makes it to the final inn.
Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout
The look of Tokaido is colorful with great designs to represent the choices available during play. The cards are easy to read and are recognizable for what they represent. Xavier Gueniffey Durin did a great job of making the art to help create the overall feel of the concept.
Inclusivity and Accessibility:
Tokaido uses cards, coins, and tokens. The cards are differentiated by both design and color.
Tokaido is a wonderfully pleasant game for relaxing at the game table while socializing with friends. There is strategy involved in determining where you move for the activities available. You can also block players from a stop along the road.
The rules are available online from Fun Forge (link).
The other players were experienced players, one had played with several of the expansions and Tokaido is one of their go-to games. The ease of learning and elegance of simplistic play makes Tokaido a great game for new board-gamers. I enjoyed our game and the relaxed feel we had with the conversation that could take place while play continued.
I recommend Tokaido for players who like a well-balanced, light-strategy game.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.com.