August Game of the Month – Tokaido

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our libraries at Ravenwood Castle and The Malted Meeple. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it. This month’s Game of the Month is written by The Malted Meeple’s Head Game Master – and former Ravenwood Innkeeper – Karington Hess.

Game: Tokaido

Publisher: Passport Game Studios

Summer is a season of travel for many people, including those of us in the Malted Meeple and Ravenwood Castle family. We have been doing a lot of traveling lately. We’ve travelled for conventions, for weddings, and to see friends in faraway lands. On our journeys we sample the local fare, collect trinkets to remind us of our journeys, and take in the beautiful sights.

August’s Game of the Month, Tokaido, encapsulates everything we love about traveling. Designed by Antoine Bauza, the goal of Tokaido is to have the most fulfilling journey as you travel along the historical route connecting Kyoto to Edo (modern day Tokyo).

In Tokaido, players take on the roles of travelers making the 500km journey from Kyoto to Edo. Along the way, players will make stops to collect souvenirs, chat with people they meet, visit local attractions, or just take in the view. At the end of each leg of the journey, players sample the local fare as they rest for the evening. Unlike other games, the goal is not to reach the end of the journey first or even with the most money. The goal is to have the richest experience possible.

At the start of the game, players select a colored meeple and place it on the starting location at the first inn.  Each player also selects a traveler tile and places it in front of him or her.  This tile gives the player a special ability, such as drawing more cards at certain locations or purchasing cards for a discount. Finally, players receive their starting coins and the game is ready to begin.

An interesting twist in Tokaido is that the turn structure is based on the player who is the furthest behind. In other words if you are in last place, it is your turn.  So it is possible for a player to take multiple turns in a row!

On their turn a player places their meeple anywhere they would like along the path towards Edo – with a few stipulations. As you are on a journey, you cannot move backwards for any reason. Also, a player cannot occupy a location currently occupied by another player.

Once their meeple has been placed, the player takes the action associated with that location. Actions may include drawing cards, purchasing souvenirs or collecting coins. At the end of each leg, each player will have the chance to purchase a meal at the inn, scoring additional points.

After each traveler has reached their final destination (Edo), players total up their points. The player who has had the most fulfilling journey, reflected in the number of points, wins the game!

Tokaido’s game play is relatively simple, yet offers a satisfying challenge for veteran players. There are a variety of different strategies to explore, and each traveler adds new and interesting flavor. And the beautiful art reflecting various aspects of Japanese culture is an absolutely captivating bonus.

We love the theme of traveling the open road, meeting new and interesting people, experiencing local cuisine, and taking in the sights and sounds.

As you travel this summer, make Ravenwood Castle and the Malted Meeple one of your stops and be sure to give Tokaido a spin!

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.