Yokohama Review by Eric Booth
Published by Tasty Minstrel Games
Plays 2-4 Players
Disclaimer: I was provided a free review copy of Yokohama from the publisher but this in no way influenced my final verdict on the game. If it's crap I'll let ya know it's crap.
Good evening folks. We are gathered here today to talk about a lovely game called Yokohama. A game that looks like a confusing mess on the table but plays as smooth as butter. Delicious, creamy butter. Umm. I'll be back. I need to get me some toast slathered in buttery goodness. OK. I'm back. That was delicious.
Oh yeah. Yokohama. What is Yokohama other than buttery goodness? I'll tell ya. It's a mid weight Euro game with an interesting twist on worker placement and movement which incorporates resource gathering, set collection, action taking, special powers, order filling and area majority. The first action you will be taking in Yokohama is worker placement. You'll either place 3 workers on 3 different tiles or 2 workers on 1 tile. Then you'll move onto the movement phase where you will be moving you president around the tiles following the path laid out by the placement of workers earlier. Then you will take the action on the tile where your president ended his movement. The action your president will be able to take will depend on your “power” on said tile. This power is calculated by how many workers and buildings of yours that are the tile. If you reach a power of 4 or 5 you have the option to build a building on the tile. So this kind of directs you to stack up workers on a tile over time to take a higher powered action. Then you move onto the Recovery step in which you'll pull all your workers off of the tile your President took his action on. If your opponent has a trade house on the tile where you took your action they will receive 1 coin from the bank as a reward. So this makes the placing of your Trade Houses a very strategic action as you will want to have these on tiles that you think will be popular for the players to use.
Now the question you might or, most likely, not asking is, where do you get these workers and buildings you'll need to do these actions and such? Well, you start off the game with a meager supply of buildings and workers and you will find yourself running through these fairly quickly. You'll need to make your way to the Employment Office tile to hire workers or make your different buildings available to build. Which can be a demoralizing thing as these unused, unavailable buildings and workers, stare at you in your warehouse as you keep getting blocked out of the Employment Office tile by your ungrateful opponents.
OK, I've think I've covered the worker placement part of Yokohama enough. Now let's talk about some more of Yokohama's buttery goodness, the Special Actions. These are actions you can take before and after you main actions. The first one is fulfilling orders. These are, If you haven't guessed, completed by your previous actions of collecting resources from around the various tiles by your President. Each order will require a certain number of different resources and will reward you with various cool things such as points and points are good, like butter. In addition to these rewards each order has 1 of 5 different country flags on them. And this brings me to the set collection part of the game. If you're able to acquire set of 5 different country symbols you will earn yourself a nice chunk of points at the end of the game. Plus if you can get a pair of these symbols you will get a Foreign Agent that you can use once per game during the special actions phase of your turn to take another action on a tile where you have at least one worker. This can be extremely powerful. And the last of the Special Actions you can take is to fulfill an Achievement. These include things like having a certain amount of money or resources or buildings in a certain areas and the like. I will tell you that these are the easiest things to forget about during game play and can cost you some serious points. So keep these in your head while playing.
In addition to orders you can collect there is also technology cards you can get that will give you some kind of special power, points or other ways to gain resources and money when you take certain actions. Each of these cards also include a country symbol that is used for the previously mentioned set collecting.
If all this wasn't enough there is the Church and Customs tiles which dish out big points and reward majority for end game scoring.
I know this all sounds like a lot to take in but when put all together the game plays extremely smooth and intuitively. Each action just seems to flow into the next and gives me the sense that I'm doing something and getting a just reward for doing it. Now there are times when you might find yourself taking a less then optimal action but it never feels like it's a wasted action. As with most Euro style games there are many paths to victory and changing up a strategy mid game is a very plausible course of action. Now I will admit wholeheartedly that the game all set out on the table can look like an intimidating mess but after a couple turns you'll have it down. Does Yokohama introduce anything groundbreaking to the genre? Not really but the way it's all incorporated together makes for a unique game play experience. Wow that sounded a lot like what a publisher would write into the description of the game. Anyways. I've played Yokohama with all player counts and it shines at all of them. I think this is one game that will be in my buttery library for a long buttery time. Oh, did I mention, butter.