“You will either build the biggest trading house, or you will build the best engine to grab victory points. Sometimes winning does not mean winning. The choices can be painful, and that is a delight.”
Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
Designer: Hisashi Hayashi
Artist: Hisashi Hayashi
Artist: Adam P. McIver
Artist: Ryo Nyamo
Initial Year of Release: 2016
Age Range: 14+
Expected Playtime: 90 Mins
Number of Players: 2-4
Game Type: Set Collection, Modular Board, Worker Placement, Asynchronous Scoring
Theme and What is it?
In the trade focused city of Yokohama, you are a merchant, that wants to help build the city into something better. As with any merchant, the only thing you truly have to throw at the problem is time, and as we know, time is money.
You will either build the biggest trading house, or you will build the best engine to grab victory points. Sometimes winning does not mean winning.
Welcome to Yokohama.
This is a non-exclusive spacing worker placement game that allows you to build an engine to either trade for bigger and better things, or to gain victory points based solely on your engine building prowess.
There are multiple paths to victory, but only the person with the most victory points at the end, will earn the coveted title of best trading house of Yokohama.
Each turn you have a plethora of actions you can take, but it really boils down to movement, and payment. First you will situate assistants on the board. Two in one location, or up to three in different locations, anywhere on the modular board.
You can then move your president of your trading company anywhere where the assistants are already situated, so long as the entire path has assistants along the path. If you pass through a trading area where another president is situated, you will pay him 1 yen.
Once you have landed where you want to be, you will take the trading action there. For example, if you have two assistants, a trading house, and the president, you will be able to trade at the power of four in the location. This will allow you to do the trade action, and build, if you are able. Since you used your assistants power, they will be transferred back to your hand.
You can then take a “additional action phase” turn. This is using a foreign agent, if you have earned one, fulfilling an achievement, or fulfilling an order.
At the end of the game, the person with the most victory points wins.
There is a LOT of stuff going on in Yokohama. I dreaded opening the box, because it just looks so overwhelming. The fine folks at TMG told me at various conventions that I was being overly cautious, and the game is actually quite welcoming and easy to play, though thinky.
In all fairness, I hear this regularly from publishers. Every game every publisher has ever published, in their eyes, it is easy and approachable, to play, though not necessarily to win.
Game Build Quality
Tasty Minstrel, makes good games. They just do. Their quality is always in my experience something I want to play with, to touch, to look at.
Yokohama is no exception. The game looks nice, as great table presence and looks like a game that will draw people to the table for the sheer bombacity of it. In my experience, in terms of quality, you cannot go wrong with Tasty Minstrel Games.
Yokohama is beautiful. The symbolism is legible and easy to understand, and the art just reminds me of something you would see in some prefecture of Japan.
The art does not scream at you, but rather welcomes you kindly in, to experience a trading game that builds upon itself into an engine building game. The art very much reminds me of Google Material Design, simple flat art, that tells you exactly what you are supposed to see purely by the symbolism. This is game art, done well.
I like the movement trading mechanic. This one has changed that a bit, by adding the assistants that necessarily changes the power of the movement, but that to me is a good thing.
I find when someone uses a tried and true mechanic, but does something to make it unique, it can add so much to the game. That is exactly what Yokohama has done, it makes using your tiles painful at times, because you don’t yet want to remove the assistants. You however do not get to make that choice. If you use the tile, you remove your assistants. The choices can be painful, and that is a delight.
Age Range & Weight
14+. This game does have a lot going on. It suggests 14+, and I tend to agree. I think a younger person could understand the game, but the strategy is several layers deep. That layering will likely make the game not a very enjoyable experience for anyone younger than 14. There are always exceptions to the rule, but this is not a game I would press on a younger audience.
I am glad I finally listened to TMG, and got this game to table. It is MUCH more approachable than I had given it credit for, and as such, earns high marks.
This game will easily go on my perma-shelf. My one worry, is that because it does look so heavy, other players may not choose this game without me persuading the, to do so. The game, truly is not as heavy as it looks.
If you only read one thing here, I would say the following to you; “This game is a delight, and plays much lighter than it looks though it has some well though heavier strategy elements. This game deserves your shelf space, and your time.”