Board Game First Impressions: Yokohama

Yokohama is a game I’ve had my eyes on since it came out, but it’s never been in the budget to get. Recently, it was added to Board Game Arena to play online. My friend and I gave it a whirl and enjoyed it. The second time we played was with two strangers. Three of us were new to the game, but one guy was secretly experienced and ruined the experience. But now that we’re playing in person again, we got the real thing to the table for a 3-player game.

While the setup is a bit with shuffling and placing tiles, then shuffling and placing cards, then shuffling and placing more cards, it does make every game a bit different. And it might look intimidating, but you quickly get the hang of it, and then it’s easy to understand all the information.

The movement mechanic is interesting and makes every turn a little puzzle. It’s very similar to Istanbul but with more meat on the bones. It’s very rewarding when you build up to a big turn, and the use of Foreign Agents to provide bonus actions helps with that sense of comboing. But it’s flexible enough that you can often jump at opportunities when they appear. I especially appreciate Euros that have special powers or asymmetrical player abilities that help each player feel different and reward different strategies.

There are several ways for the game-end to trigger, so you always need to watch the game state and what other players are doing, on top of them being able to get in your way (on accident or purpose). In our game, I had a chance to end the game and should have. Letting it play a few rounds longer definitely lost me the game as my opponents scored much more than I did in those extra rounds. I blame my brother. The tie-breaker is a bit strange, though. If multiple players are tied in score, it goes to whoever is closest to the start player. So if 1st player is one of those tied players, they win. But this seems kind of odd since going first in Yokohama seems to be an advantage; your first action in the game is completely unimpeded, no one else is on the board yet.

I look forward to more plays.

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