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Three Purchases That Will Make You Love These Popular Board Games Even More


Everdell, Ticket to Ride and Sushi Go!: all widely-loved games. What made them EVEN better for me was Everdell’s Newleaf expansion, Ticket to Ride’s Nordic Countries and Sushi Go! Party.


There is so much to love about Everdell: the popular worker-placement game where resources are collected to pay for critter and construction cards, to earn victory points and score bonus points through events.

Sensory appeal:

The common theme in popular board games tends to be the tactile, immersive sensory experience that gives us respite from staring at our phones. Admittedly, Newleaf has quite a tough act to follow from the base game on this front. The base game provides shiny, orange morsels made to look like they have been hand-sourced by critters in the resin refinery. These resin resources have uneven sides that feel rather therapeutic when held and moved between thumb and forefinger (for any of you who have played Century Golem edition, they are structurally similar to the gems, but orange and small!). Of course, not forgetting the berries- slightly squidgy in texture- so addictive and satisfying! And when piled up at setup, they playfully tend to roll away like the real things! But Newleaf arguably matches this appeal, providing 3D bold red, smooth-sided reserve tokens in a royal red drawstring bag, that create the effect of a wax stamp fit to seal an important envelope. Not forgetting the aged-effect, beloved train tickets which facilitate worker deployment, and adorable visitor cards, for example the mouse couple from the ‘Farm’ in the base game, and a hedgehog in a scarf. More about what these cards do, shortly.

As the game develops, and each player’s city grows towards 15+ cards, the table looks quite full and complex, but this is balanced out by the calming forest theme, creating a cosy escapists’ utopia. The base game has an autumnal feel, and Newleaf compliments this by introducing beautiful sparks of spring and summer. Of the 59 new critter and construction cards (including repeats) in Newleaf, and the 4 new workers, the Newleaf colour palate celebrates bright and light colours, for example the ‘Poet’ and the ‘Greenhouse’ cards, and the yellow bee and the lilac snail workers.

More on visual satisfaction: the Newleaf components seamlessly fit into the base game board: the cards, events and the train board extension lining up with each-other to the exact millimetre to extend the visuals. With thoughtful attention to detail: every tiny critter-trodden path lining up with each-other. The Newleaf train track lines up perfectly at the side of the base board and Newleaf’s basic event, ‘Scenic Flight’, floats a hot air balloon through the misty spray from the waterfall on the base board. Likewise, when a worker visits the train station, an adorable visitor card is discarded, the art fitting the station design perfectly when it is flipped over, creating an ‘ahhhh’ moment.

How the gameplay gets even more loveable:

Not only do the red reserve tokens look and feel like even more Everdell treasure, they also provide more confident gameplay; every season, a card can be reserved by a player whilst they collect the required resources, eliminating the risk of another player snatching it in the process.

For the purpose of cards that are available to play, the new station cards are treated as an extension of the meadow, increasing the choice on the board from 15 to 18 cards. On the topic of increasing card limits, the ‘Main Road’ and the ‘Greenhouse’ cards allow even more than 15 cards per city, and the ‘Bank’ card increases the hand limit above 8! Back to station cards: Picking a station card also has an added bonus of earning that player a resource item from the train, from the corresponding train carriage the resource was snugly tucked into. The option to ‘knoll’ adds even more choice, allowing the player to discard 3 cards from the board, replace with 3 and draw 3.

Another way the station component enhances the game is through the cute visitor cards, which players can draw when visiting the station location. They act in a similar way to events, stating a criteria to be achieved in exchange for the sought-after reward: victory points. Some of these relate to the number of types of card in city, or events achieved, and some use up leftover resources e.g ‘Sir Trivle’, a fox who provides 7 victory points if at least one resource of each type is leftover.

Newleaf also gives each player three golden leaf occupied tokens: special Newleaf tokens which allow up to three Newleaf cards to occupy-or be occupied by- other cards, eliminating the need to collect all of the required resources. To many players’ relief, there are not one, but several cards that each Newleaf card can occupy or be occupied by, making this much less difficult to achieve. For example, the ‘Main Road’ can be occupied by any common critter and the ‘Mayor’ can occupy any unique constriction. Whilst this adds ease and more options to the gameplay, the 3 token limit maintains Everdell’s sense of challenge.

Final thoughts on Newleaf:

This expansion truly boosts the woodland magic of Everdell even more. If you like Everdell, you’ll love Newleaf. Just make sure you have a big table! And if you love Newleaf, why not get Bellfaire? It adds a generous selection of gameplay-enhancing player power cards, plus a market feature for purchasing and swapping resources and gaining victory points. Even more, it introduces a new, colourful event to be achieved: the flower festival. Finally, it also provides beautiful placemats for resources and workers, and most importantly, it increases the player limit up to 6!


Ticket to Ride: an ‘all-rounder’ board game that combines luck with planning and strategy. A game that can convert a person from an occasional Cluedo and Monopoly player, to a regular at board game events and the Zatu Games website. Maybe you’ve played the Europe or U.S. version and given it a thumbs up, but what you really need to try is Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries!

Sensory appeal

Ticket to Ride’s train cars: the miniature train carriages that each player uses to occupy their routes. With 45 being allocated to each starting player, they dictate the end of the game when one players’ supply dwindles down to two or less. They boast 3D details, and make a satisfying tinkling sound when they are tipped out of their bag. Are you a liner-upper or a messy pile-r? Either way, you’ll be pleased to see the additional counter colours to choose: purple and white. These 2 exclusively coloured counters match the beautiful snowflake- scattered board (depicting Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway), against a festive purple background. Winter-themed details subtly adorn the board in a light ink, including a snowy cottage and a reindeer. These compliment the bolder board aesthetics, for example the golden scoring area on each corner of the board, embellished with a sprig of holly.

Admittedly, the Ticket to Ride train cards are beautiful as they are, before they turned Nordic. On the Europe map, the pink train cards bring to mind a train carrying Barbies on an outing to a pastel-pink sweetshop filled with strawberry bon-bons, marshmallows and candy floss. Of course, not forgetting the vibrant rainbow wild cards. But just when it seems these cards could not get any more lovely, the Nordic Countries edition coats each train with a thick dusting of snow! The red train looks fit to transport coal for father Christmas’ fireplace, and the wildcards look like a snapshot from a Christmas railway illumination show.


In comparison to Ticket to Ride: Europe, the Nordic map has several different rules which adds variety to the gameplay and makes players think. Perhaps the biggest difference in the Nordic map is the player limit, which disappointingly is just 3 players. This seems a real shame, since Ticket to Ride is a versatile family/group game.

Another gameplay difference is that once the number of train cars played exceeds 3, the number of carriages per route, and therefore the scoring, is different. The Europe map scores 7 points for 4 cars, 15 for 6 and 21 for 8, whilst the Nordic map offers 5, 6 and 9 car-length routes, earning players 10, 15 and 27 points respectively. The opportunity to score an extra 6 points for a single route is exciting, and makes this route even more of a potential game-changer to aim for.

Another significant difference is the Locomotives (the rainbow wildcards). Whilst in Ticket to Ride: Europe, the wildcards can be used on all type of routes, on the Nordic map, they can only be used for ferries or tunnels! Not only this, but two face-up locomotive cards can actually be picked up on the Nordic map. The combination of these two changes to the role of the locomotives creates an effect where the locomotives are easier to come by, but frustratingly, less useful. This makes it more difficult to produce the cards required to take regular routes, however, there is another twist that helps to compensate for this. For ferry routes, when players do not have the required train cards or locomotives, any 3 cards can be used to place each train carriage.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries: a summary

The real pull to this is the aesthetic; it is a truly beautiful version of Ticket To Ride. And if a larger group of players wish to play, there is of course the option to use the beautiful snowy cards on the Europe and U.S map (instead of the boards’ respective intended train car cards). If you like Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, you might just love Ticket to Ride: India/Switzerland, a double-sided board that takes players to new geographical heights!


Sensory appeal:

There’s nothing not to love about this colourful, kawaii, fast-paced ‘pick and pass’ card game. Perfect for children and adults alike. Just when it couldn’t get much cuter, Sushi Go! Party came along. Adorable additions include ‘Special Order’ cards, a smiley, rosy-cheeked sushi snack under a cloche, with an equally joyful rainbow background. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the game is the Dessert cards, which, at the end of each round, are stored in an imaginary fridge, and scored at the end of the game. Sushi Go! Party introduces fruit salad and cherry blossom-topped ‘Green Tea Ice Cream’, super sweet friends to keep original ‘Pudding’s some company.

There is a large added component in Sushi Go! Party, and that is the scoring board. Players each choose a brightly-coloured mini sushi bottle, and move it around a restaurant-style conveyer serving belt as they score at the end of each round. This adds to the immersive experience of this game, where players can imagine they’re enjoying a selection of sushi for real.


The introduction of ‘Special’s, a new type of card, which include the ‘Special Order’ (for 2-6 players) and the ‘Menu’, mix things up, for example the ‘Special Order’ allows a card to be copied and the ‘Menu’ allows 4 cards to be drawn, one of which can be kept. This gives those who love classic Sushi Go! some extra fun with new twists to have on their radar.

The board edition adds a central element to the game, and enables scores to be tracked with much more ease. Perhaps the most loveable additions to this game are the ‘Green Tea Ice Cream’ cards. Not only are these heart warming, they provide 12 extra points at the end of the game if 4 are collected, which could just be the difference in winning or not!

The additional cards massively make the game much more re-playable. There are smaller, thicker cards that slot into the centre of the new board, guiding the set up (setting out which cards are to be drawn for each starting game, i.e which 1 type of dessert cards, which type of rolls etc). What’s so versatile and re-playable about this is there are numerous possible combinations of cards, for example a ‘Big Banquet’ featuring ‘Chopsticks’ and the ‘Green Tea Ice Cream’, and ‘Points Platter’ featuring ‘Tea’ and the ‘Special Order’.

Finally, the increase in player limit to 8 makes this a fantastic group game, great when socialising with a larger group and being a starting game on a games night, before splitting off into smaller groups for other games.

Summing up the sushi!:

Overall, this is a must-have for Sushi Go! lovers. And if you liked this, have a look at Sushi Go!: Spin Some Din Sum, another twist on the original game which offers 3D sushi pieces!