Yokohama it was a small fishing village until the opening of its port in 1859, which radically changed the city's economy: from a small town it quickly became the main trading center of Japan. No wonder, therefore, that Hisashi Hayashi has chosen to set his commercial-themed board game in this place and in this period. After the presentation in Essen and a subsequent successful Kickstarter campaign by TMG, Skull Creations decided to localize Hayashi's game. What is it about?
The game in brief: a few words about dynamics
In Yokohama we will play the role of merchants committed to achieving fame and success by exporting goods, building markets and emporiums, learning new technologies. The mechanics, despite the amount of components, are quite simple; in fact, although dynamics of set collection e majorities, the main mechanic is the placement of workers, designed in a peculiar way. So let's see, in summary, what these particularities are.
- Modular map: The common map on which the actions are carried out is composed of squares that are arranged to form a triangle and represent the various districts of the city: the number of squares varies according to the number of players, therefore the map will be more or less narrow according to this. The districts each contain different actions to perform, even if in 4 players some are repeated. The actions, in summary, allow you to: produce resources, unlock assistants and buildings, acquire orders, earn money, exchange resources, learn new technologies and, finally, place your assistants on boards that will give points based on the majorities.
- President and assistants: not all workers are the same. Each has a chairman and 20 assistants (although initially only 8 of these will be available). Assistants are placed on the modular map. You can place, at each turn, two on the same place or three in different places, without any restrictions. The president is the worker who materially allows the action to be carried out and moves around the map. He can move (on adjacent squares) and carry out actions only in the districts where his assistants are present and, once the action has been carried out, the assistants present on the spot are taken back in hand and can be placed again in the next turn.
- "Intensity" of the action: another peculiarity of the game is the fact that the President will derive from the action carried out a benefit commensurate with the number of workers present on the chosen square / district. In other words, if in the district there are, in addition to the president, 4 assistants, the action will have a value of 5 (one for each worker, including the president) and will give the maximum benefit obtainable; otherwise, if there is only one assistant in the box together with the chairman, the action will have a value of 2 and therefore entail a much smaller advantage.
- The buildings: carrying out actions of intensity 4 or 5 confers the right to build (where possible) one of their buildings, which can be markets or emporiums. Each initially has only two markets, but additional buildings can be unlocked over the course of the game. Markets and emporiums built, in addition to giving an instant bonus, allow you to add intensity to the action carried out in the place where they are, exactly as if they were also workers.
- Set collection and foreign agents: there are order cards, that is, objectives that can be fulfilled to get points, and technology cards, that is, lasting bonuses. Both types of cards contain a box with a flag (Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands, France); at the end of the game, points will be scored based on the number of different flags owned. Two identical flags also allow you to get the "foreign agents" of the corresponding nation, which can be used to perform extra actions.
- Majorities: there are two boards on which it is possible to permanently place one's assistants and which award points at the end of the game to the two most present players.
Materials and graphics
Seeing Yokohama boarded up can confuse and lead you to believe that it is a complex game, given the amount of components present. In reality this impression is completely wrong, since the game itself is not at all complicated to learn, however profound. In my opinion, the graphics are functional, once you understand the rules and symbols, to identify your options during the game. The materials have been criticized in relation to the high price and, in fact, perhaps something more is expected from a game that costs almost 60 euros. However, the components perform their function, are of good quality and certainly suitable for the type of game.
Yokohama it is not a wild boar, but not even a filler. Requires some experience with eurogame in order to be played at its best and, despite the simple dynamics, a novice player may struggle to immediately develop a fruitful strategy. The interaction is indirect but present. The risk is almost non-existent. The map is composed on the basis of the number of players, so it is more or less narrow, so as to always allow, to some extent, to hinder the opponents during the course. Personally I found that in 3 players it performs at its best: in 2, in fact, it seemed to me that it becomes a rush to fulfill orders and ends too quickly, while in 4, on the contrary, times can get longer, especially during the last shifts. Once you have learned how to work, the game flows very smoothly and the graphics help you understand at a glance how to move, despite the grandeur of the map and the boards.
Definitely a nice game, simple and profound; to try.