Sharpen your pencils and your mind, everybody, as we are arriving at Next Station Tokyo!
This is the latest fast playing flip and fill game from Blue Orange Games and Coiledspring and is the sequel to the awesome Next Station London,!
It’s another mini magnetic box of hyper colour happiness from Matthew Dunstan and yet again it has captured our hearts
In Next Station Tokyo you’re in charge of redesigning a 4 line underground system in, yep you guessed it, Tokyo! Tourists are eager beavers and want to see lots of places so you’ve got to get around the system in the way that hits as many of their must-sees as possible!
Points accumulate over the course of 4 rounds and you’ll get them based on a number of things; how many districts your line passes through multiplied by how many stations you connect into in your busiest district, how many 3+ line interchanges you establish, whether you interchange in an outer district, plus points if you achieve optional scoring objectives.
The rules are simple. Every round each player has one of the four coloured pencils (pink, purple, green, and blue) and you flip over cards from a small stack of station cards (green) and street (pink) cards. Note that a round only lasts as long as it takes to flip over the 5 station cards so there could be anywhere from 5 to 10 turns.
The 5 station cards show a shape symbol which everyone simultaneously uses to draw a connection from one end of their existing line – the first turn will be from the “departure station” matching your pencil colour.
You can only connect to a new station from either end of your line using the prescribed paths, and lines of different colour cannot cross. They can share stations (interchanges), but you must not get into a knot! You are also forbidden from making a complete circuit (i.e. going back through a station already forming part of that line) – I always knew the Circle Line in London was dodgy!
Some cards in Next Station Tokyo also give you the option to double up on an existing line which is handy as usually it’s one line per path! There are also wild options where you can connect into any station symbol from the end of the current line, and a special switch card that doubles up with a station or street card and lets you connect into a station from somewhere along the current line. It also results in 3 ends from which you can continue building out your line!
When the 5th Station card is flipped, you tot up your scores for the round and then the pencils are passed around from left to right (or any unused pencil from the right in a 2 player game). The first card on the freshly shuffled draw deck is flipped, and the next round begins! Whoever has the most points at the end of the 4th round is the Toppiest Tokyo Metro Maker!
As well as playing base game, there are two mini advanced modules that can be pick and mixed into the game play. One presents 2 randomly selected additional scoring objectives (from a total of 5) which are each worth 10 points to any player achieving them during the game. These are things like connecting into all 13 districts or achieving 4 line interchanges. The other, grants an ongoing bonus connected to one of the 4 shapes which you can use whenever that shape appears on a card (but not if you use a wild symbol as that shape).
The game includes a simple Beat Your Own Score solo mode. And although I usually like an AI to gun for, I am very happy simply trying to optimise my own network. There is a rule about subtracting 10 points from your score before comparing it to the table of achievements if you use an advanced module, however, so don’t gloat too soon! haha
Next Station Tokyo is an excellent sequel to Next Station London. It’s still a, quick, colourful, portable multiplayer solitaire game, but it has upped the synapse sizzle! There are fewer prescribed paths between stations, the green line inflicts negative points if any stations along it are left unvisited, and you now need at least 3 lines for interchanges to score. But, the outer district reward bonuses give an extra 5/10 points, and the new bonus powers are ongoing so there is help along the way! I’m still trying to work out a good strategy as I seem to neglect that green line and -3 for each untouched station around it soon adds up (-24 to start the game!)!
The components are also lovely – nice think double sided pad, sturdy, glossy cards, and a super magnetic catch box. There are lots of copies of the rules but they do fold out like an underground map which is cool! I think the only thing that would have been helpful would have been perhaps a little symbol on the top edge of each card so that when you flip cards over you could still see them without having to spread the used cards out to know which symbols are left to draw for the round.
This game is a perfectly portable efficiency puzzle. It has crunch but not one that breaks your brain. It feels more restricted than Next Station London but for me that just means I need to work harder for my points. And the more I play, the more I analyse the map layout, and see the potential in gunning for different strategies. The variable round length also adds an intensity to some rounds and can really amp up the pressure for your next line!
Luck is a factor when random card draws are in play. But with lots of station options, it is quite unusual to need to pass. But that is not to say passing itself isn’t a strategy - deciding whether a connection you can make is worth the round point(s) if it cuts off a longer or more valuable line later in the game is a delightful dilemma!
We love this little train themed game, and Next Station Tokyo is no exception. We loved its predecessor and are beginning to get our heads around what this colourful cruncher demands of us! For a flip and write to make me feel like I’m moving around the metro system on my turn is something special and so this little magnetic box of train based fun is definitely a keeper for us!