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Subject: Tokaido: Matsuri Character Breakdown rss

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Mark Wilson
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Hello! Below is a list of all of my strategy guides for both Tokaido and the Crossroads expansion. Many of the things I talk about in this guide build on concepts from past ones. Rather than being really long-winded and redundant, this guide occasionally assumes you're familiar with the strategies they discuss.

Tokaido:
Thoughts For Beginners
Character Ability Breakdown
Tokaido Metadata and Representative Case Studies

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

A Note on Matsuri Events:
This is only a character analysis, because it's hard to say much about the Matsuris themselves. If you're a fan of meticulous strategy that rewards more veteran players, Crossroads was your expansion. Matsuri is not. It's not entirely without strategy, but it definitely trends toward randomness. I need to do a bit more with them before I have a writeup on them.

In short: While it's possible to get a Matsuri that's advantageous toward you and you alone, the odds that you'll both be the first to the Inn and get a strategically beneficial Matsuri are somewhat slim. It's also impossible to say to what extent you should prioritize reaching the Inn first, in order to choose the Matsuri. My tendency is to not care about it much, but I hate things that I can't break down mathematically. I may have an update eventually.

Character Disclaimers:
I'm going to list them in the (rough) order that I'd choose them, but it's not an exact list. For example, several character will become considerably better or worse depending on player count. Others have other context-specific considerations. I'll mention these when I can.

The other disclaimer is that you can win with anyone. Character selection can be a big deal in this game, but whenever possible I look at the underlying math instead of anecdotes, which can lie to us in smaller numbers.

Last disclaimer: you're going to disagree with me somewhere. That's fine. There are lots of variables to consider, and differences of opinion are going to be valid and defensible. Hopefully I outline my reasoning well, at least.

Character Meta-Strategy:
Crossroads buffed the heck out of souvenirs, and I think there's enough evidence to suggest it was, on average (though not always) the best point track. Matsuri does something interesting, though. There are a LOT of new characters, with many that are geared toward a souvenir track. But what happens when 4 people in a 5P game choose a souvenir-based character? Oversaturation will drag down any one point track, and I think souvenirs are the most vulnerable to this.

There's also the matter of Matsuris. While they're impossible to account for entirely, some characters have objectively "blockable" abilities. So don't be surprised if you're targeted by Matsuris that, say, forbid visiting a particular kind of stop. As a result, flexibility in character ability gets a slight buff in this expansion.

Now, there are a lot of new characters period, so these won't always matter. But it adds an interesting element to your character selection.

Comparing Characters:
A lot can be broken down into coins. You'll see me convert powers to coins a lot, or use reasonable assumptions to estimate an average.

Also, 1 coin > 1 point. It's also usually > 2 points. There isn't an exact conversion ratio, but for several characters below I use 3:1 as a yardstick for converting points to coins and vice versa. Some items (food, calligraphies, etc.) are much better than that, but on the whole 3:1 is a reasonable average for all the coins you'll spend.

The best characters can and should always be worth double digit coins, or an equivalent amount of points.

Lastly, one or two spots doesn't mean a big deal. With lots of characters, it's splitting hairs. I've broken them into major categories (Great, Good, Average, etc.) to try to help. Within those categories, I have no issue with people being higher or lower. Or even with a character at the top of one category jumping to the bottom of the next. They're all about the same in my eyes, give or take. So if your comment is along the lines of "Such and such should be a couple spots higher within the Good category" my response will likely be something like "Yeah, probably."

Errors & Corrections:
I have a lot of experience with Tokaido, but not so much with Matsuri. I think it's possible to break down characters without having played with them, which is almost a necessity with the LARGE number of new characters in Matsuri.

That said, it's possible I messed up an ability or forgot something here or there. There's a lot of information below to process, so I don't imagine I forgot nothing. If you see something that's an error, let me know and I'll be happy to correct it.

The List:

THE GREAT:

Character: Musubi (Rogue) (x6)
Power: When stopping at the intermediate Inns, Musubi can take 1 coin from each of his two neighboring Travelers (the ones who arrived immediately before and after him). If an affected Traveler has no coins in his possession, Musubi takes 1 coin from the bank instead. Similarly, if Musubi arrived first or last at the Inn (and has only one neighbor), he takes 1 coin from the neighboring Traveler and 1 coin from the bank.
Analysis:
Are you kidding me?! Take this guy. Maybe every time.

First, he is guaranteed to be worth 12 coins. Every single game. Second, you're hurting your opponents for some additional implied points/coins. Third, this guy is a walking mind game with how your opponents will try to avoid you as you approach the Inns. There are no downsides here.

Character: Takeru (Counselor) (x4)
Power: Every time a Traveler (him or another) stops at an Encounter space, Takeru takes 1 coin from the bank.
Analysis:
There are 7 Encounter stops, 9 if you're playing with 4-5 players. Encounter stops don't get skipped, so this is at worst an 11-coin character. Add in the possibility that Amulets can increase that total (his ceiling is ~14, which is unreal) and you got yourself a keeper.

Character: Mutsumi (Brute) (x7)
Power: At the first 4 Inns, Mutsumi can leave the Inn first, regardless of the order in which he arrived at the Inn.
Analysis:
It's going to be impossible to convert his power to coins for comparison purposes. But the move initiative allows you all kinds of flexibility, likely an additional stop or two (which, as my past guides will elucidate, is a huge deal), AND you can actually consider jumping ahead slightly to prioritize choosing Matsuris (which is the only character I'm going to write that about).

It's all in how you use the ability, but 7 coins is a pretty safe floor. So I'd recommend him without reservation.

THE GOOD:

Character: Antoine (x8)
Power: Antoine automatically wins all ties that include him: donations to the Temple, Achievements, and final score of the game.
Analysis:
Realistically, winning a tie at the end is hilarious and awesome, but not something you should be banking on strategically.

However, 8 coins to start is a great floor (check how many on this list only get to 8 or so AFTER their ability). And the achievement tiebreaker intrigues me, because it's not just points for you, but less for an opponent or two. The swings can be legit. So yeah, this guy's good. Just make sure you plan your stops in the last leg to take advantage of his ability when you can.

Character: Ayumu (Walker) (x5)
Power: Meal cards only cost Ayumu 1 coin, regardless of their normal costs. In addition, when at a Shop space, Souvenirs of the "Small object" type cost him nothing.
Analysis:
This might be the only time I ever recommend going for the Gourmet bonus (it's a mathematical deathtrap with anyone else).

I tend to assume something like 1.5 coins per meal, so this ability is technically worth about 2 coins and likely a Gourmet bonus (i.e. 1 coin), for a total of 8 coins. But then there's the souvenir savings. Maybe a couple coins more, making her pretty good.

Also not bad as a flexibility play. It's nice knowing your meals will be cheap, which affords you some luxuries elsewhere. Definitely a viable character, though not among the absolute best imo.

Character: Mahirito (Writer) (x5)
Power: At the end of the game, Marihito can double one of the Calligraphy cards of his collection. Example: The Journey ends and Mahirito has 2 Calligraphy cards: “Foresight” and “Contemplation”. “Foresight” gives him 8 points (he has 4 coins left) and “Contemplation” gives him 6 points (he has one complete Panorama and 3 Cherry Tree cards). He chooses to double his Foresight Calligraphy (2 × 8 points) for a total of 22 Calligraphy points.
Analysis:
Calligraphy cards are the closest this game has to an OP mechanic, but only when properly utilized (which is often out of your power). I'd be tempted to get the Foresight Calligraphy with him, which ensures that coins are worth 4 points. Basically nothing else in the game will ensure that ratio over the long haul.

The problem is that if we say, for example, that 9 points is = 3 coins, that makes him worth 8 coins total with a hypothetical 9-point calligraphy at game's end. I've seen Foresight go for 20+ points WITHOUT this ability. But the others tend to top out in single digits. Nostalgia is routinely worth more, but that's with characters that can afford a lot of souvenirs (Mahirito probably can't). So if the most you can expect is an 8-coin character...meh.

So he's actually sneakily...bad? Except when he's great? If that makes sense. Pair him with Foresight early and stack coins like it's your job. Otherwise, avoid entirely. Actually, hell, if you can also get the Fasting Calligraphy (in addition to Foresight), skip your meals unless you can get 1-coin meals. That may actually be actionable advice without the Fasting Calligraphy, but becomes a powerful synergy when you have both.

Character: Kamui (Vagabond) (x3)
Power: When stopping at the Intermediate Inns and at the last Inn, Kamui scores 3 points if he doesn’t buy a Meal card. Note: These 3 points can be combined with the “Fasting” Calligraphy points.
Analysis:
So let's say you eat no meals and get the Fasting Calligraphy. Not a stretch, so I'm comfortable assuming both. In the past I've assumed 1.5 coins per meal, so there's 6 coins back for a total of 9. But you get the same number of points as if you had eaten every meal, so that's a wash. 9 coins isn't terrible.

The other argument here is that he doesn't have to skip spots to get money. And this is valid, though impossible to empirically define. I won't assign a coin value to it, but I won't deny its usefulness, especially in block-heavy environments like 2P games.

There's also the "lost momentum" of needing to take the Fasting Calligraphy instead of another that could produce points. It's going to be a 12-point card, so it's obviously worth the purchase, but could technically be a tiebreaker against him (just as the paragraph above could be a tieberaker for him). He's tough to pin down exactly, but should be solid in nearly any game.

Character: Kushinada (World Traveler) (x4)
Power: At the beginning of the game, all the other Travelers gives 1 coin each to Kushinada. During the game, at any time, Kushinada can secretly look at her opponents’ Calligraphy and Amulet cards. Note: In a 2-player game, Kushinada’s opponent gives her 1 coin, and Kushinada takes 1 coin from the bank.
Analysis:
Seriously ask yourself how often you think you'll be able to apply the secret knowledge you'll gain with Kushinada. I can come up with some scenarios. But realistically, knowing an Amulet won't stop them from using it how they want to. And it's usually not too hard to guess Calligraphies. Further, there are times where point-blocking is good, but it's usually better to just maximize your own points.

But that leaves coins. She's worth 8 coins at max, but there's also the matter of depriving your opponents of a coin. If we figure a coin is worth about 3 points to each player, that's like starting with a bonus card that no one else will get. 8 coins and 3 points, or 9 coins using the same conversion, is good. Not the best, but decent.

Character: Yashima (Noble) (x4)
Power: At the intermediate Inns, Yashima receives a free and random Amulet card. Note: If there are no Amulet cards remaining in the stack, Yashima can no longer benefit from her ability.
Analysis:
Three amulets is nothing to sniff at. But it's also random. The idea behind amulets is that you get one that suits your strategy. It's possible to get one or more that aren't great for you. At least one will help, sure. But if she doesn't get lucky with them, her floor is fairly scary and the lack of coins can be daunting. At best, you maybe use a couple to get some coins and suddenly she's a 10-coin character. So she can be fine. But it's also not a given, so the average is likely a bit below that.

Character: Misaki (Disciple) (x4)
Power: Every time a Traveler (him or another) stops at a Temple space, Misaki takes 1 coin from the bank.
Analysis:
Temple stops are skipped more often than Encounters, and there are also less of them on the board. So he's a step below his ability-brother Takeru. You can probably count on something like 5 stops, though, so he's a viable character.

THE AVERAGE:

Character: Iyasaka (Manual worker) (x5)
Power: When stopping at a Farm space, Iyasaka receives 1 additional coin if he chooses to takes 3 coins from the bank OR Iyasaka can re-roll the Fortune die if he chooses to try his luck in the Gaming Room (the second result must be used, even if it is worse than the first one).
Analysis:
Ok, so in a competitive game you aren't making more then maybe 3 farm stops. So if you just take the extra coin, he's an 8-coin character and can be safely ignored.

The gambling makes this a bit more of a mathematical mess. I don't like random elements when there's plenty I can control, so I'm emotionally against this ability. But it's not the worst. The expected value of the gambling room is just under the 3 coins you'd normally take for farming. So it's at least an easy decision to re-roll or not based on your outcome (3 or more, keep it, anything less, re-roll). Guaranteeing that you'll make up to 5 coins off of this ability (as opposed to normal gambling or farming) is still an uphill climb. This isn't a double digit coin character on average, so he's in the 2nd tier.

Character: Titia (Dutch tourist) (x6)
Power: Titia buys Souvenirs of the “Art” type and Legendary Objects for 1 coin less than normal. Some cards will therefore be free for Titia.
Analysis:
There are no guarantees here. I'd say you'd be lucky to get 3 coins out of her ability in a competitive game, and usually more like 2. 6 starting coins means her floor isn't terrible, but I'd average her out at 8 coins, with a dependency on game flow and having to prioritize a specific point track. Not ideal.

Character: Mari (Poetess) (x4)
Power: When stopping at a Temple space, Mari scores 2 Journey points (instead of 1) for each coin she donates to the Temple. If she decides to buy an Amulet, Mari can take it for free.
Analysis:
The power doesn't get you closer to the endgame temple bonus, and it's usually not advisable to get into bidding wars for the top temple bonus. Say you donate 4 coins and buy 2 amulets. That's 2 coins and 4 points, for a total of 6 coins and 4 points, which with an estimated conversion is just north of 7 coins. And that's probably her absolute ceiling. She's a step below most.

THE BAD:

Character: Suseri (Erudite) (x3)
Power: At the end of the game, Suseri scores 1 point for each different type of card in her collection. The different types of cards are as follows: Hot Spring, Bathhouse, Souvenir, Legendary Object, Encounter, Calligraphy, Amulet, Meal, Sea Panorama, Mountain Panorama, Rice Paddy Panorama, Cherry Tree.
Analysis:
So this is worth a maximum of 12 points. There are two reasons why this is terrible. First, once converted for comparison, 12 points is only about 4 coins, MAYBE 5 if we're generous. Not enough to make her great.

But the hidden loss here is what you sacrifice in trying to get to 12 points off of the ability. This game rewards sticking to 1-2 point tracks, to get the bigger points (all panoramas, all souvenirs types, etc.) and endgame bonuses. Sure, in most games you'll get 7-8 points without really trying. So there's a not-abysmal floor with her. But to get a worthwhile amount of points off of her ability, you're likely sacrificing 3-6 points elsewhere. Steer clear.

Character: Rakuken (Collector) (x5)

Power: When stopping at a Shop space, Rakuken can choose to randomly draw 4 Souvenir cards AND 1 Legendary Object card, instead of the usual Shop’s actions. He can then buy one or several of these cards at their indicated costs.
Analysis:
Nope. Look, he starts with 5 coins and his power is technically worth 0. If you want to roll the dice that you can become a baller capable of buying your way to a victory with one of the objectively poorest characters in the game, you have a higher risk tolerance than I do. Let somebody else strike out trying for the home run ball.

Character: Chihaya (Bather) (x3)
Power: When stopping at the intermediate Inns, Chihaya receives a Hot Spring card randomly drawn from the stack.
Analysis:
Hot Spring cards are worth 2.5 points on average, so that amounts to 7.5 points. It's likely you'll get the Hot Spring bonus card (3pts.) with her as well, for a total of 10.5 expected points. Convert that down to about 3.5 coins – 6.5 with her starting coins – and she is not a powerful character.

Character: Kidzuna (Cook) (x3)
Power: When stopping at the intermediate Inns, Kidzuna can buy another Meal IN ADDITION to her usual Meal. First, she reveals the first card of the Meal stack and can buy it at the indicated cost. She scores the corresponding Journey points. Kidzuna then proceeds to purchase her main Meal according to the usual rules.
Analysis:
I must just hate food-related abilities. Don't get me wrong, a 6:1 point:coin ratio is awesome. But if she doesn't get a 1-coin meal, the conversion on 2- and 3-coin meals is less tasty. And how is she affording all of this?! Stay away.

THE I'M NOT SURE:

Character: Naïade (x4)
Power: Naïade can take the Sea, Mountain, and Rice Paddy Panorama sections in reverse order (5, 4, 3, 2, 1).
Analysis:
I don't know what to make of this ability, and it's hard to break down. On the surface, it's useful. But he starts with low coins, and has no way of making more through his ability. And this may dissuade you from Cherry Trees as an alternative source of income. Though you could probably take the trees early, then soak up 3-5 point panorama cards later in the game.

The reason panoramas are often less viable is because your average points per stop is dragged down by the 1's and 2's. But he also seems dependent on game flow and vulnerable to blocking because of money. In a 4P game, where there are the most stops per player – thus giving everyone more freedom – I'd be interested to experiment with this. But otherwise I'd likely avoid it, though I'm far less sure of that than I am with many on this list.

So Who's the Best?

So you're playing with everyone from the base game and both expansions. Who's your ideal character?

The answer is that there isn't one right answer. But I don't think anyone from either expansion "breaks" the game by being so far above anyone else. So Daigoro/Kita from Crossroads and Kinko/Yoshiyasu (and Mitsukuni in 2P games) from the base game can hang with any of my "Great" characters above. If forced to choose, Musubi from this expansion seems haxx to me. And I know from experience that a well-played Daigoro is next to impossible to beat. So they would be my best of the best, but it's very subjective at that point.

A lot will be dependent on who other players pick, how the game plays out, etc. So back to one of my original points: you can win with anyone. But being smart about your initial character selection can give you a greater chance of winning.

And who's the worst? Nampo. **** that guy.

Hope you enjoyed. Cheers!
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Alex Krasny
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Nice write up. I agree with it.
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Stephan
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Nice analysis.

For the bather, I think we should incorporate into the analysis that she is almost guaranteed the 3 point bonus bather card, for a total of 10.5 points.
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Mark Wilson
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Celtic Joker wrote:
Nice analysis.

For the bather, I think we should incorporate into the analysis that she is almost guaranteed the 3 point bonus bather card, for a total of 10.5 points.


Nice catch; I missed it in my analysis. I don't think it'll change too much about the character's standing in my opening post, but I'll edit that point in to her analysis. Thanks!
 
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