Reiner Knizia

ZOCH 2008

No. of Players:
2 - 5



Some publishers are famous for a certain branch of games, and just like KOSMOS has positioned itself rather well with the tremendously successful Catan-series, ZOCH is ever expanding its series of Zicke Zacke chicken games with titles coming in a more or less loose collection. The latest strike in this series is Sushizock im Gockelwok and it comes in one of ZOCH's small cardgame boxes.

In the middle of the table two rows of 12 Sushi-portions will be placed in a random order. However, where the blue row of 12 portions contains fresh fish and offers positive values ranging from "+1" to "+6", the 12 red portions consist of fishbones and have values from "-1" to "-4". During his turn, a player now will roll five dice, and the number of blue Sushis and red fishbones show which Sushi or fishbone the active player may take. The portions is question are counted from the left of a row in rising order, but only one portion will be taken by the player.

If the player does not or cannot take one portion, he will roll again with at least one dice less, and if this still does not lead to the desired result the player rolls once more, again with one dice less. All dice which were left out in consecutive rolls still will be added to the following rolls in a turn, so that a player actually has three tries to get a desired result.

Once a portion is taken, the player places it in front of him so that two stacks are built: one with Sushi and the other with fishbones. All newly acquired portions go on top of their respective stacks, but it is important to notice that the players are not allowed to re-check their stacks for their contents. This rule is important because the dice do not only show portions of Sushi and fishbones, but also blue and red chopsticks which can be used to steal a Sushi or a fishbone from another player. A set of three chopsticks of the same colour allows the active player to steal a correspondingly coloured portion from the top of another player's stack, whereas a set of four or even five chopsticks gives the player a free choice which portion from a stack he wants to demand. However, since checking a stack is not possible, the active player has to make his choice by consulting his memory of the other player's acquired portions.

If a roll of the dice actually leaves the active player with several options he may decide himself which options he wants to take, but if he cannot perform an action at all after the third roll of the dice he will have to take the fishbone with the highest minus-rating from the middle of the table as a penalty.

The game ends when the last portion was taken from the middle of the table, and now all players align their Sushi stacks next to their fishbone stacks. Portions will be discarded until both of a player's stacks have the same height, and then each player adds up all his Sushis and substracts all fishbones. The player with the highest score has won.

Although not as sophisticated as the similar sized Volle Wolle, Sushizock im Gockelwok once again displays ZOCH's knack for these small, fast paced entertainment games. With few playing materials and a tiny box a nice, tactical game for two to five players has been created, and whereas the rolling of dice certainly remains an element of high luck the players constantly are challenged to think about their current actions and (possibly) to memorize the position of important portions in the stacks of the other players. We have played with five players and here the number of different player stacks might seem confusing, but this only rests for a round since the low number of 24 included portions makes the possible memorizations rather tolerable. A nice, fast game to be played in-between two more meaty titles.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany