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Subject: Character Ability Breakdown rss

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Mark Wilson
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Here's a list of every other strategy article I've written for the game, for the complete picture:

Tokaido:
Thoughts For Beginners
Tokaido Metadata and Representative Case Studies

Crossroads:
Beginner & Intermediate Strategies
Character Ability Breakdown (Crossroads)
Amulets, Legendaries, & Calligraphies
Tokaido Metadata (Crossroads)

Matsuri:
Tokaido: Matsuri Character Breakdown

I try to be as logical as possible with my opinions and ranks, but the subjective nature of this stuff will mean there are differences of opinion.

Lastly, this assumes basic knowledge of the base game.

General Concepts
1. The average starting coins for a random character is 5.5. This will allow us to establish above and below average starting values.
2. Think about an average final score; probably 60-100. Now think about how many coins you usually have over the course of a game (usually less than 20) and how many points those are parlayed into. Point being, 1 coin is typically worth more than 1 point. I don’t have an exact ratio, but this general principle is important to keep in mind.
3. Keeping that in mind, starting coins for characters isn’t the only consideration, but it’s a big one. I think you’ll see that reflected in my ranks.
4. I’ll refer to characters’ floors – i.e. the lower end of what they can do, depending on game flow, and their ceiling – their potential in an ideal game. High floor means they’re stable game to game. High ceiling means they have lots of potential, but potentially more volatility.
5. You'll see me refer to game flow a lot, which I consider to be very important. It's not considered in strictly mathematical analysis, but can greatly hinder certain character abilities.
6. You can win with anyone. I’ve seen players win with the character I rate the lowest, and come in last with the character I rate the highest. This is just one aspect among many in the game.

Characters are listed in the order that I rank them (best to worst)

Kinko the Ronin – 7 coins – Meals cost 1 less
First, 7 coins is pretty excellent. Second, and perhaps just as importantly, Kinko’s ability is probably the most versatile in the game. If two players have characters with Encounter-centric abilities, they’re in for a fight. But Kinko can slide into whatever works best, instead of having to depend on game flow. And the ability is always going to be worth 4 coins (unless you skip a meal). With many other abilities dependent on game flow, this makes Kinko one of the most consistently rich and versatile characters in the game.

Yoshiyasu the Functionary – 9 coins – Can choose between 2 cards at encounter stops
Not gonna lie, this is mostly about the coins. But given the versatile nature of encounter cards, there’s usually one that you REALLY need. So with enough stops or the right cards, Yoshiyasu can be very powerful. And a worst case scenario is still pretty ok due to the starting coins. He has a very high floor, and a reasonably enticing ceiling above that floor, which can’t be said for many characters.

Zen-emon the Merchant – 6 coins – Can purchase 1 souvenir for 1 coin at each village
As a Village-centric character, I vastly prefer him to Sasayakko (for reasons explained in more detail below). He has good starting coins, and it’s easy to see how his ability can be worth 3, 4, or more coins in a typical game.

Mitsukuni the Old Man – 6 coins – 1 point for hot springs and achievements
Seems reasonable on both ability and starting coins. If you’re going to win, you need to have at least a couple achievements anyway. It does push you toward hot springs, but it’s not too hard to drive away competition for the bonus if you prioritize a couple early.

Hirotada – 8 coins – 1 coin donation from bank to temple on temple stops
Hirotada has the second best starting coins, but a fairly terrible ability. More than a couple stops at the temple and you’re probably doing something wrong by prioritizing it over other important options. As with Yoshi, his floor is very high, but his ceiling is limited. I’ve seen players get 0 or 1 coin’s worth with his ability on several occasions.

Umegae the Street Entertainer – 5 coins – 1 point and 1 coin at encounter stops
I’m less enamored with the points, and it’s easy to see her ability only being good for a couple stops. Even with cautious estimates of point-to-coin value ratios, and generous estimates of how many encounter stops you’ll make, her upper ceiling is about where we’d expect characters like Kinko and Yoshiyasu to be every single game.

Chuubei the Messanger – 4 coins – Encounter at intermediate inns
I see a lot of love directed toward Chuubei, but I don’t share it. And it has to do almost entirely with the randomness of encounter cards. There’s usually an encounter card that is perfect for you, and one or more that are awful. I prefer to let others hope for luck, while I control as many variables as I can. And if you don’t get the right luck, you’re also stuck with below average starting coins. His upside is a near-guaranteed Chatterbox bonus, so he’s not terrible. But I can’t endorse him without reservations.

Sasayakko the Geisha – 5 coins – Free cheapest souvenir when purchasing 2 or more
It’s not that she can’t be good, it’s that her ability is SO dependent on game low. Not only do you need to prioritize Villages, but you need to have enough money for the 2+ souvenirs to be eligible for the ability. And then consider that the cheapest souvenir is often 1 coin. Zen-emon can roll into a Village with 1 coin and buy whatever. Sasayakko needs at least 3 to feel safe. She also starts with 1 less coin than him, so her ability needs to be used a lot to justify it. Even Satsuki is guaranteed some free meals, and also doesn’t require you to rearrange your strategy to accommodate the ability. So maybe I’m too low on her – I’ve seen people win with her, though largely for other reasons unrelated to her ability – but I really dislike playing with her.

There’s a thread about the Village-centric characters (Sasa and Zen-emon), and initially it seems to disagree with me:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1008342/sasayakko-vs-ze...

It’s an excellent analysis. But I’d include two qualifying statements. First, the numbers crunched cover their abilities only, not starting coins. Looking at the tiny amount of difference, the extra starting coin for Zen-Amon should more than make up that difference. Second, they’re looking at the abilities in a vacuum. Sasa’s ability forces you to keep more coins at all times, which will alter your strategy in many games. So to me, it suggests two things: One, I may be too low on her after all. But two, I feel validated in ranking Zen above her.

Hiroshige the Artist – 3x coins – Panorama at intermediate inns
Beyond the paltry starting coins, I’ve soured somewhat to the strategy that Hiroshige seems to demand. If you aren’t getting panorama bonuses, you’ll struggle to explore other options due to his lack of funds. And the race for panorama bonuses leaves you with less to do late in the game. While others can soak up panorama cards in between bigger stops, I’ve often seen Hiroshige have to skip them. Hiroshige is a popular pick, but I think it’s due to the convenience (“free cards?! Yes please!”).

Satsuki the Orphan – 2x coins – Option for a free random meal
I want to like Satsuki, because there’s an appeal to knowing that you can enter an inn with 0 coins and probably be ok. It opens up strategic options not available to others. But let’s do some math. 2 starting coins, and on average we’d expect the 4 free meals to cost 2 coins a piece. So that’s a total of 10 coins of value, which puts her in the neighborhood of some of the higher rollers (but not above them, when factoring their abilities). BUT. Unless you’re getting the Gourmet bonus, a 1-coin meal is almost always as good as a 2-coin meal (see elquesero's comments below, and my response(s), for exceptions to this), so there’s no inherent benefit to that extra coin of value. So in reality, the ability is likely going to be worth less than 8 coins, and that’s even if you accept all 4 free meals (which you likely won’t). What I’m saying is, her floor is really, really bad, and her ceiling doesn’t justify her selection. Ideally, she’s worth 11-12 coins and a Gourmet bonus. But that’s like wishing on a unicorn. Games are lost by players hoping for the perfect random outcome. In most games, I’d expect her total value to be around 6-7 coins, which is no better than many characters BEFORE their ability.

Does player count matter?
Short answer: Hell yes in 2-player games, and a little bit in 5-player games.

Here are the average available "stops" in games:
3 players: 16.7
4 players: 18.5
5 players: 14.8
(practical 2-player averages are largely incalculable due to the erratic nature of the dummy meeple)

The takeaway is that 4-player games will yield the most stops (even though the numbers there are theoretical, and don't account for skipping spaces). And 5-player games are the most constricted.

The difference between 3 and 4-player games is minimal, and it also "feels" about the same, for whatever that's worth. But 5-player games do feel more restricted. For that reason, you may feel better picking characters who aren't dependent on a particular kind of stop.

See my notes below on 2-player games for how this might affect ranks. It's MUCH more drastic in 2-player games than in 5-player games, so I'm not saying they're equivalent. But small changes may be in order.

2-player games
Hoo boy, this format changes some things. The "dummy" meeple is used primarily to block the opposing player, and you can anticipate your opponent being as vindictive as possible. A logical default block point is the Farm for money, but when both players need money, this is more problematic. The other popular block point is whatever hurts your opponent's character's ability. So if you have Zen-emon, you can expect to stop at maybe 1 Village, 2 if you're lucky. If you're Umegae, expect the same for Encounter stops. Because not only will your opponent wield the dummy meeple against you, but oftentimes they'll also try to target your bonus. So a viable tactic is to hoard Encounter stops for yourself against Umegae, whose cash flow will depend on those stops. Other examples aren't hard to find.

Therefore, in 2-player games, characters with more "open" abilities (i.e. they can't be blocked in a traditional sense) get a large bump in value. Other small bumps can occur as well, described below.

My 2-player ranking would look something like this:
1. Kinko - Remains an excellent #1.

2. Yoshiyasu - Coins keep him fairly stable.

3. Mitsukuni - There are a lot more achievements per player in a 2-player game, so his ability is guaranteed to be worth more than in larger games. With enough hot springs stops, his 2-player ceiling is enormous.

4. Hirotada - Coins, plus the Temple isn't generally blocked as much.

5. Chuubei - Random, but guaranteed bonus. More than can be said for most below.

6. Satsuki - Beyond being unblockable, the coin-starved world of 2-player games gives her an interesting edge with meals, and it brings the Gourmet bonus back as a worthwhile achievement.

7. Zen-emon - 6 coins is still ok, but he'll struggle to be worth much more in competitive games.

8. Hiroshige - Panoramas are easy to complete in 2-player, but he all but assures you the bonuses for all 3. The guaranteed nature of his ability is a big plus. The dangerously low coins is the only reason he's not higher...very vulnerable to coin blocking.

9. Umegae - Very vulnerable to blocking, and her ceiling in regular games is limited anyway.

10. Sasayakko - Her reliance on both money and Villages makes her ability potentially worthless in a competitive game.

Differences in Crossroads?
There are a few that I’d consider.

First, if coins are worth slightly more than an equivalent number of points, this is doubly true in Crossroads, which gives us more and better ways to spend money. I feel like this is adequately reflected in the rankings already, but someone like Mitsukuni might be slightly lower.

With Cherry Trees a viable option, and panoramas receiving no tangible buff (whereas souvenirs did), and other options like Calligraphy being attractive, I’m even lower on the panorama track as a strategy. It’s hard to bump Hiroshige lower on my list, but he’s even less attractive to me in Crossroads.

Finally, since you’re likely picking up Calligraphy or two at some point, Yoshiyasu gets a slight downgrade. His ability means less when you might only be looking at 1-2 encounter cards instead of 3-4. I don’t know if that’s enough to rank him lower, but it’s a consideration.

Please note, the ranks above only consider the base game. Crossroads-specific analysis (and the new characters) are beyond the scope of this article.



I suspect I’ll get the most pushback on Chuubei and Hiroshige, but as mentioned, I welcome discussion on the matter. This isn’t definitive or intended to be a lecture, though I’ve tried to be as thorough as I can. There may be considerations I’m not thinking of, though I hope not many.

Also, I have no issue if you would rate a character slightly higher or lower. Logic and math can only take us so far when variable game flow and luck are involved. But large differences, I’ll likely disagree on.

Otherwise, enjoy the journey!
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M. B. Downey
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mawilson4 wrote:
Unless you’re getting the Gourmet bonus, a 1-coin meal is as good as a 2-coin meal, so there’s no inherent benefit to that extra coin of value.


Interesting and thorough write up, but I have to strongly disagree with this statement. Getting a 1 coin meal instead of a 2 coin meal means that your opponents have to spend more to get the same 6 points you get. That advantage is huge.

The Gourmet bonus is a trap. Everyone gets 6 points per meal, and getting a 3 coin meal to go after the 3-point bonus is a waste, let alone doing it multiple times. As you helpfully indicated:

Quote:
Point being, 1 coin is typically worth more than 1 point. I don’t have an exact ratio, but this general principle is important to keep in mind.


Paying 1 coin instead of 3 for a single meal already saves you 2 coins, and more than 2 points (by your math), plus forces your opponents to spend MORE coins for the same points. Doing it several times and getting cheap food is key, and will be worth more than the 3 points that you get for the Gourmet bonus. Plus if you can deny other poor players a chance at food, that costs them 6 points.
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Trevor Schadt
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downeymb wrote:
mawilson4 wrote:
Unless you’re getting the Gourmet bonus, a 1-coin meal is as good as a 2-coin meal, so there’s no inherent benefit to that extra coin of value.
Interesting and thorough write up, but I have to strongly disagree with this statement. Getting a 1 coin meal instead of a 2 coin meal means that your opponents have to spend more to get the same 6 points you get. That advantage is huge.
Mark is specifically referring to Satsuki's advantage, which lets her draw a Meal card from the top of the deck (and get it for free) instead of choosing one from the already-dealt cards. In this instance, Satsuki's ability has no effect on the other players, because it does not remove a card from their consideration. (In fact, by retaining more options for the other players, it is possible to classify her ability as a minor bonus to the other players, as it gives them more options for affordability, potential Gourmet bonus, and meal diversity.)

So while, in most cases, I agree with your statement that the cost of meals is a detriment unless you are actively pursuing the Gourmet bonus, I believe it is irrelevant when discussing this aspect of Satsuki's ability.
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Mark Wilson
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Yeah, what Trevor said. Though outside of Satsuki's ability, I'm in agreement with you both.

You guys also highlight some other potential drawbacks of Satsuki's ability - namely, that by taking a random card that ISN'T in the general pool of meals, you're actually making things slightly easier for the other players. It's an excellent reinforcement that she's not a good character to have.
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Mark Wilson
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I made a similar breakdown thread for Crossroads, for those interested:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1301238/character-abili...
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M. B. Downey
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The benefit from her ability is more strategic and less tactical. By drawing a 1 instead of a 2, means that the overall price of food to come will be higher, since there is one fewer 1 cost meal available in the deck.

Also, you are looking at her in the context of stopping others, not in her ability to not be stopped. No one can prevent her from getting a chance at a meal, so she should always go to the inn last. This allows her to get all of the locations that people skip to ensure they get a meal, and gets her first choice at the next round. She can also prioritize her money elsewhere, since it is simply less important for her to get coin.
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Mark Wilson
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downeymb wrote:
The benefit from her ability is more strategic and less tactical. By drawing a 1 instead of a 2, means that the overall price of food to come will be higher, since there is one fewer 1 cost meal available in the deck.

Also, you are looking at her in the context of stopping others, not in her ability to not be stopped. No one can prevent her from getting a chance at a meal, so she should always go to the inn last. This allows her to get all of the locations that people skip to ensure they get a meal, and gets her first choice at the next round. She can also prioritize her money elsewhere, since it is simply less important for her to get coin.


Some good points. On the first paragraph, I'd say that there's an equal chance of drawing a 2 or 3-coin meal, so while it's possible to drive up the price for others, it's not an outcome we can bank on. As mentioned, the expected value of each meal will be 2 coins.

On the second paragraph, I agree entirely. I alluded to her ability being able to open up strategies that aren't available to others, but wasn't as explicit as your post here as to why that is. That said, I don't think this makes up for her flaws elsewhere. There's no guarantee you'll use all of her possible free meals, no guarantee it will hurt others' meal chances (it has an equal chance to help them), and even in an ideal situation, her ceiling is about what we'd expect from numerous other characters.

Thanks for the input, though. There's nuances I didn't consider or wasn't able to include, so it's nice to have other perspectives.
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Mark Wilson
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As much as I've been playing recently, only today did I play my first 2-player game. My opponent used Satsuki and won. It's a small sample size, I had a similarly not-so-great character, characters are a small fraction of the game's total strategic potential, his win was fairly narrow even by Tokaido standards, and I was getting used to the "dummy meeple" mechanic and definitely utilized the dummy worse than my opponent. So this isn't necessarily an endorsement of Satsuki, nor am I saying that's the reason he won.

But. The dummy meeple is used almost entirely to block your opponent from something they need. And until late game when you get a sense of bonuses, one of the more logical "block points" is money at the farm. Given this tendency, money is in shockingly short supply. So there was a moment when I was actually envious of Satsuki's ability. Granted, I had Sasayakko, a Village-based character who relies on money, so that was part of it. And in fairness, her ability ended up being worth 4 coins for me, which is neither terrible nor great. But other characters would undoubtedly fare better in the money-starved conditions.

But given the tactic, and how common I suspect it is, it may shift rankings some in 2-player games. Would Gotozaemon be more viable, because it's harder to block panoramas, and he could terrorize the other player by putting a meeple moratorium on the Farm? Would Satsuki, because it's very possible to block somebody out of meal and/or temple bonuses, making players decide between them? She also brings the Gourmet bonus back as a decent thing to want, because there's only one other player who's likely going for cheap food. Are souvenir abilities more risky? Is Mitsukuni better because there's more achievements to go around? Is Hiroshige even worse because completing panoramas is a lot easier? Lots to consider.

I need more plays to form a concrete opinion, but there seems to be new possibilities. And to be clear, I'm not talking about massive bumps, but slight tweaks to ranks in 2P games. 3 through 5-player games all "feel" about the same, more or less. Certainly the differences are slight enough that it never caused me to reconsider aspects of strategy. But 2-player seems different in that regard, so I'll be interested to play more in that format.
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Mark Wilson
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After playing a few 2-player matches, and watching a few others, my suspicions seem confirmed. I edited the OP to include sections on differences in player count, and specifically on 2-player games.
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Jimmy Superfly Snuka
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I like the write up. well done.

I do think the security of getting 24 points from food for free and cannot be blocked by other players is fantastic. With this ability, you can in theory go the entire game without getting more coins, which means you should get first crack at paintings but you are taking a 0 for buying stuff.

I don't have a ton of games under my belt, but from what I have learned, anything that allows your bonus to trigger at an inn is a nice bonus because it can't be blocked by other players. My group is more about impairing their opponents vs doing what is best for them. for example every time the old man at the spa was played, those spa zones got eaten up quick.
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Mark Wilson
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donnyrides wrote:
I like the write up. well done.

I do think the security of getting 24 points from food for free and cannot be blocked by other players is fantastic. With this ability, you can in theory go the entire game without getting more coins, which means you should get first crack at paintings but you are taking a 0 for buying stuff.

I don't have a ton of games under my belt, but from what I have learned, anything that allows your bonus to trigger at an inn is a nice bonus because it can't be blocked by other players. My group is more about impairing their opponents vs doing what is best for them. for example every time the old man at the spa was played, those spa zones got eaten up quick.


Thanks for the comments. Satsuki has a ton of instinctive appeal, for reasons you mentioned. And upon seeing your comments, I was starting to come around...until I went back up and looked again at the math. For me, the possibility of her ability acting as a life-saver doesn't change the fact that, on average, she's not going to be worth as many coins as numerous others.

Some of it depends on the group you're playing with, and how things shake out. So a frustrating game like you mentioned with Mitsukuni is absolutely possible. But even with a group that blocks a ton, he's still starting with 4 more coins than Satsuki, and in any game you should end up with at least a couple achievements. Even in competitive games, you should also be able to get a couple trips to hot springs. So that's 6 coins and maybe 4 points...and I consider that the low end of his potential. If your competitors are going out of their way to block you more than that, they're likely opening up other great plays or hurting themselves in the process. So Satsuki's playing catch-up from the start. As I detail in some of my other strategy articles, the Gourmet bonus is a bit of a trap, and "lucking" into it with Satsuki is the only way she really makes herself worth as much as others will routinely be worth. She's fine in 2-player games, though, so these comments only apply to larger games.

It's important to remember one of my beginning notes, that you can win with anyone. And threads like these that create hierarchies tend to exaggerate the distance between characters. In reality, this is a rough guideline...it's likely a bit closer all around.

It's funny; I didn't imagine Satsuki to be the most contentious one in the list. But there's apparently a lot of love for her. I can't share it, but I also won't say the love is wrong in such a context-dependent game.
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Mark Wilson
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I got to play as Satsuki today in a 2P game. The discussion on her in this thread has made me look closely at her any time I or someone else plays as her. Please note, despite being against her normally, I warm to her more in 2P matches, as mentioned in my OP.

I did win, though barely. And I accepted all four free meals. So was she worth it?

Almost, but not quite. I ended up not getting the Gourmet bonus, so, conservatively, her ability was only worth about 6 coins to me (I never go for Gourmet otherwise, so I get a lot of 1 and 2-coin meals). Which means she was worth 8 coins total, given her starting amount.

To play with her, I gave up Mitsukuni (undoubtedly better, but I was challenging myself). He starts with 6 coins BEFORE his ability, which would have been worth 7 points to me by game's end, and that was without prioritizing Hot Springs stops.

To throw Satsuki a bone, I still like her in 2P games. Because it does open up some new and interesting blocking strategies when you don't have to worry about money as much. With blocking such a huge part of 2P games, she'll always have a measure of safety. I definitely would have been better off with Mitsukuni (or a couple others with high starting coins). But that doesn't mean she's bad...at least not in 2P games.
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Holy cow. I can't believe how many vague wordings there are in the rule books for Tokaido. I have only gotten clarifications from reading more sources and discussions online.

I had no idea that Sasayakko didn't always have to have money for all three items to use her ability. In the rule book it says if you buy at least 2 items the cheapest one is free. I thought this meant if you PAY FOR two items then the THIRD item (that you don't pay for) is free, as long as it is the cheapest. I thought it was basically a "buy 2 get one free" deal and that was the only usage of it. IDK if this is a regional difference but in the US if you see a "buy 2 get one free" sale then you actually have to pay for 2 and you get a third item free, so that's what I thought was being implied.

It completely changes the worth of that character to know that you can either buy ONE and get a cheaper one free, or buy TWO and get a cheaper one free, so long as you have the money for the item(s) you are purchasing and the value of the free one.

I have never run into so many rules that we didn't do right in a game before due to the wording and interchanging of similar terms that are intended to have distinct meanings in the rule book. Yikes translation team. I really had trouble with the Miko and with the priest character's ability for a while because the rules use "bank" and "reserve" interchangeably. Took a long time to realize for those situations the money pulls from the reserve pile, not your personal funds, for the extra 1 coin donation.

As far as lending to this discussion, I think that having played this game several times now and having played as every character, you really can win the game with any of them if you know the right strategies to employ. There are of course characters with more prestige that will be chosen more often due to a good starting bank and great ability that makes the game more of a walk in the park and less of an uphill struggle. However, I have seen these characters lose to characters whose abilities seem poor in comparison many times. Some of the abilities that seem poor on their face are really not bad and can help more in the late stages of the journey while characters who had a high starting bank may have spent it all and are struggling to do much without the power of their wealth toward the end. I have seen players miss meals with Zen-emon often because they got overzealous with item purchases.

Great game and great starting lineup. I feel now that all the characters are viable. I don't feel the same way about the Crossroads expansion as there is one traveler who I think is essentially broken (at a huge disadvantage) but I'll discuss that in the Crossroads characters post.
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Mark Wilson
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Thanks for your thoughts, Lion.

I'll say that what I've found is that the higher you go in experience level (I play a lot on Board Game Arena, which tracks records and rankings), the more character selection matters. There are definitely characters that tend to rise to the top more often than not. I won't say it's imbalanced; variance is a fun part of gaming, and this game balances strategy and luck. But "you can win with anyone" is true in a technical sense, but not always in a practical sense depending on the competition.

I thought the US rules clarified Sasayakko's ability (which, I agree, is initially confusing), but I could be wrong. Since I learned to play online, the computer took care of that stuff and I learned before ever seeing the rulebook. If it's an issue with the book, hopefully subsequent printings clarify it better. I'm glad you understand it now, though.

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Lion Repshire
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I have been playing on BGA as well and that is the only way I figured out a lot of these discrepancies. And yes, there are characters that get chosen more frequently because some are obviously advantageous compared to others, but I've seen a lot of come from behind victories with other characters.

I think the upcoming Matsuri expansion will once and for all diversify the characters chosen to play the game, since there will be 32 options now with both expansions and you only get to choose between 2!
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Mark Wilson
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I'm not sure what my thoughts are on the upcoming expansion. I thought Crossroads took the game to a nice place. But there's such a thing as too many options, and a lot of the new mechanics seem to make things go back to being incredibly random. I may be wrong, but that was my initial impression. I'll have to give it a try once it comes out, though.

Like you, I've seen most of the characters win at some point. I've also played and won with most of them. But, for example, if a competent player has Daigoro, he's going to win a LOT of the time. Same with a few others. Eventually, you'll start to see things like "Ok, Kinko didn't win, but this person with Sasayakko got three incredibly specific and lucky draws for souvenir cards, and an advantageous encounter card on her last stop."
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My friends and I also did an analysis like this, although we didn't write down the results we all agreed that setsuki was the worst character. However then we tested, and after 6 games (4 2p and 2 3p) she ALWAYS WON.

Go figure.
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VirtualAlex wrote:
My friends and I also did an analysis like this, although we didn't write down the results we all agreed that setsuki was the worst character. However then we tested, and after 6 games (4 2p and 2 3p) she ALWAYS WON.

Go figure.


Ha, hilarious! Thanks for sharing.

There are a couple possible explanations for this. Small sample size is one. Another is that, while character choice means something, and can be significant, it's still dwarfed by everything else that happens in the game. Did Satsuki win, or did she win because of her ability in relation to others the player could have had? The distinction often belies the truth of the matter. If it keeps happening, do some quick end-game tallies of money saved from food, then add that to her starting coinage to get a true estimate of her worth (and actually, that would be a bit high unless she got the Gourmet bonus, as mentioned in the OP, since a 1 coin meal is as good as a 3 coin meal unless you get the bonus). In games I've played, her ability only approaches relevance when she lucks into the Gourmet bonus.

By this point, though I haven't kept rigid track of it, I've probably seen every character win. I just can't create a scenario (outside 2P games) where her expected return is equal to or greater than nearly any other character. People can get really weird ideas from playing any game just a handful of times. So I understand that I can always be wrong, but I tend to side with the math over personal experience until the two can be reconciled.
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Matt H

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You're missing something about the meal selection at the inns.

Over the course of the game, you're not allowed to buy the same meal twice. There are 3 options at the 1-coin level, and each repeats 3 times (9 cards total). There are 4 at the 2-coin level, and each repeats only twice (8 cards total). There are 8 at the 3-coin level, and all are unique.

Avoiding the 1-coin meals in particular is a good hedge against going hungry at a later inn because you've already had the only choices that are still available to you. (Particularly if you are last or second-to-last to the inn.)

Remembering the meal cards that have been discarded is tremendously useful too; if the third dango comes up in your current visit to the inn, say, you know it's a safe choice.

This also limits the power of Satsuki's ability, slightly. She may have to discard her free meal card if it matches one she already has; coming to the inn with no money is still risky.
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elquesero wrote:
You're missing something about the meal selection at the inns.

Over the course of the game, you're not allowed to buy the same meal twice. There are 3 options at the 1-coin level, and each repeats 3 times (9 cards total). There are 4 at the 2-coin level, and each repeats only twice (8 cards total). There are 8 at the 3-coin level, and all are unique.

Avoiding the 1-coin meals in particular is a good hedge against going hungry at a later inn because you've already had the only choices that are still available to you. (Particularly if you are last or second-to-last to the inn.)

Remembering the meal cards that have been discarded is tremendously useful too; if the third dango comes up in your current visit to the inn, say, you know it's a safe choice.

This also limits the power of Satsuki's ability, slightly. She may have to discard her free meal card if it matches one she already has; coming to the inn with no money is still risky.


Everything you said is true, and is good to keep in mind, but I'm not sure it's being missed in my rankings, per se, as I don't think this changes or nullifies anything in my op. Certainly some good info to keep in mind, though, as regardless of starting character it's a good idea to have a sense of which food cards are left.
 
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"BUT. Unless you’re getting the Gourmet bonus, a 1-coin meal is as good as a 2-coin meal, so there’s no inherent benefit to that extra coin of value."

That snippet is what I was taking issue with more than anything else. There's upside in the more expensive meals even if you aren't going for the gourmet bonus.
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elquesero wrote:
"BUT. Unless you’re getting the Gourmet bonus, a 1-coin meal is as good as a 2-coin meal, so there’s no inherent benefit to that extra coin of value."

That snippet is what I was taking issue with more than anything else. There's upside in the more expensive meals even if you aren't going for the gourmet bonus.


Ok, I see what you're saying now. It's not terribly plausible to expect to get all the 1-coin meals, and savvy players will help to block others from meals at later inns. So I could see a small - and occasionally much larger - benefit in taking a slightly more expensive one. So yes, it's an excellent point, and honestly one I hadn't considered.

This is a very hard element to turn into a hard number, though, so I'm not sure how I'd quantify it. And as it pertains to character abilities, as you mentioned it actually hurts Satusuki ever so slightly (a character I'm already very low on), so I don't think it would affect the ratings above.

I do also think the overall advice holds of trying to limit spending on food. As I've gone into elsewhere in Tokaido strategy threads, shelling out for a Gourmet bonus is still (usually) awful mathematically (except perhaps for 2P games at the last inn or two). I see your point as more of an amendment on my original statement than a nullification of it. But thank you for bringing it up! I'm delighted to see such interest in this long after I originally wrote it. I'll edit something into my OP to reflect your point.
 
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