Monday, June 24, 2024

Let's Go To Japan

This weekend Julie and I played: Let's Go To Japan. It's a card drafting game and a fairly recent acquisition. It wasn't included in my Top 100 because we didn't own the game at the time that I made that list. If we had, I'm sure that Let's Go To Japan would have landed in the top 20 if not the top 10. I really like it.


In Let's Go To Japan players draft cards showing locations and activities in the cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. The different cards have symbols showing the type of experience that the location or activity has to offer as well as a description of the activity or location itself. All of these are based on the actual things that people might plan to do should they take a trip to Japan.

Each player has a board that shows 6 days of the week, Monday through Saturday. It's your job to fill your vacation itinerary, assigning 3 cards to each day. The days themselves are each assigned a random "theme." That's the symbols on the cards that I mention above. Playing cards that match the day's theme to that day will give you bonuses.


This part of the puzzle is complicated by the fact that the cards also score bonuses based on these symbols. Such cards are looking for the symbols played previously in your itinerary timeline. Getting the right combination of bonuses from cards and from matching a day's planned theme is at the core of Let's Go To Japan's puzzle. 

Further complicating things is the fact that switching between cards based in Tokyo and those based in Kyoto requires taking a train. Careful planning that allows you to claim a train ticket as one of your bonuses will score you points. But if you have to take a train ride that you haven't planned ahead for will give you negative points. 


Julie and I don't generally like closed draft style card games because they don't play well at 2 players. Let's Go To Japan is an exception. A special turn track shows which cards each player will take and how many to pass to their opponent. However, when you pass cards to your opponent, you are placing them into their discard pile. 

This streamlines things immensely, and means that you are really focused on making your choices. You don't have to wait on your opponent to finish or worry about what they have chosen. You can focus on your own options and just discard the cards you don't want. It doesn't really "feel" like a closed card draft at all, but it is.


The turn track changes up the draft from turn to turn, indicating when to draw cards from the card decks and when to take up the cards in your discard pile. It's very organized and easy and makes the whole process seamless and quick. We have only played the game at 2 players, but I imagine that the whole process would work just as well at 4 without adding any length to the game's play time.

Let's Go To Japan gives me Trekking Through History vibes in the best possible way. If you like that game, you will like this one. I think I might actually like the puzzle in Let's Go To Japan more. And the theme of planning a vacation? Well, let's just say, "That's Julie's happy place." If you get the chance, give Let's Go To Japan a try. It's awesome!


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