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Tokaido App


Antoine Bauza


No. of Players:



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

In 2012 FUNFORGE published Antoine Bauza’s Tokaido, a game with outstanding artwork and a simple, sophisticated game concept. In the game the players pilgrim the traditional East Sea Road from Kyoto to Edo and on their journey they collect journey points for various actions. Now it is already the 5th anniversary of the game, and as a present FUNFORGE has released an app for our mobile devices, which transfers the boardgame in the digital era. For me, as for the whole Kulkmann’s G@mebox crew, this is new territory. But don’t worry, we won’t change to PC monsters. To the contrary, we will treat this app as if it was a boardgame, so we retain the affinity with our origin.

First of all, let us register, that the app is indeed very close to the boardgame. This is a surprise to me, as most mobile apps adopting boardgames I have seen so far, are more or a less trimmed versions of the original games. Of course, there are some exceptions like the great Star Realms, but most boardgame apps sooner or later loose its charm, because they simplify the games too much. This does not apply for the Tokaido app. As a result, I can refer to our review to learn more about the game itself. Let us concentrate on the specifics, the functionality and the operability in this review.

Let us start with the operability: after I had some problems in the first months after the release, the app now, after two updates, runs smoothly. You can play it either offline in a solo or multiplayer variant, or it can be played as a multiplayer game with fellow players from the wild world web. In the offline variant, you either play against a neutral computer player that plays comparable harmless. Remember that the most important task to win the game is to score as high as possible for your own character, while at the same time you deny other players to access to locations that would be good for their scoring. The neutral player does not really keep the last aspect in mind, so it is not too difficult to beat him.

In case you play the app offline with more than one player, you pass the mobile device from one player to the next in the order it is their turn. As in the boardgame, it is always the player, who is furthest back on the road, who may take the next turn. Therefore, a player can sometimes play several turns, but in most cases, the mobile device is passed to the next player. As a result, the offline modus does not really differ from the real boardgame, with the exception that you can add a computer player in the multiplayer variant, too. All this is nice and good for journeys, but to my taste, in most cases it is better do have the real boardgame for that purpose. Don’t get me wrong, the artwork and the design of the app is really good, but if you play offline, I think it is much better to get rid of the permanent focus on our mobile devices.

This does not apply for the online modus. In this modus the app demonstrates its real strengths. You can challenge players from the whole world to play with you. For their turns, the players can take their time. The next player’s turn does not begin, before the previous player has ended. And if your opponents needs hours, you have too wait. Therefore a game of Tokaido app can take much more time than in the boardgame, but that does also have its positive effects: one of the biggest nuisances in the boardgame, to my mind, were long pauses for reflection, especially in the end game. Every player has to calculate the best ways to score and – on the same time – deny the fellow players to score themselves. In the online variant you do not really feel this time (sometimes a day or more), because you do not really wait for you opponent to act. You just do your turn and then you do something else. The mobile device will remind you when your opponent has finished his turn and when it is up to you to do something again…

In the end, Tokaido app does more or less the same as the original board game. OK, there is a neutral player and you can play solo, but to my taste, this is more a learning variant. However, the online variant is really great to play with other players from far away. The artwork again is outstanding and you can even play on a small mobile phone, because there are only little details (like the help signs that explain the meanings of the locations) to activate in the game. Mostly, you just put your finger on the next location you want to enter, and your character begins to move. In the end I think the online modus overcomes one of the weaker elements in the boardgame. That is why I give the app one more point in the overall evaluation, but that does not count for the offline modus, which I more or less see as a learning modus or something for travelling.

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Copyright © 2017 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany