Tonari – IDW Games – Review

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Tonari is a very light-weight, easy game if you just want something to fill your time, but it can engross you just the same.

Matthew Kearns


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Theme and What is it?


Tonari is an adventure in catching fish. You are a crew of fishermen off the coast of your island supporting your families by bringing in a harvest of the sea. But not only do you want to catch fish, you in particular want to bring in the best fish. Do you try for the rare Pink fish or the most Orange fish? Regardless of your choice, the goal is to be the most renowned fisher of your boat, village, and island!

Gameplay Mechanics



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The goal of Tonari is to accumulate the most Victory Points at the end of the game by collecting a variety of fish.


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Place the board between the players.  Randomly arrange the fish tokens on the board, face up.  Determine the first player. The player to the right of the first player chooses where to place the Boat token on the island before the game starts.


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Each player has the same action each round: Move the boat and take a token.  The limitation is that if there is no legal move to make to acquire a token, the game ends.

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Initial Impressions


I was certainly curious about Tonari as it isn’t my usual gaming fare, mainly surprised at the simplistic nature of the components, setup, and complexity (both plenty and lacking at the same time).

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Game Build Quality


The components are a wood Boat token, lots of plastic Fish tokens, and the game board.  The Boat token and game board are typical, decent construction. Again another surprise, the quality of the Fish tokens: solid, hefty plastic tokens screened with their art — most definitely a nice touch to the game and they’ll outlast the other components for sure.  The insert to hold the components is perfect, easy to use, both to retrieve and store.

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Artistic Direction


Kwanchai Moriya strikes again with his artistic flair.  The board is the centerpiece but my favorite is the box cover.  Compared to the last game I played with his contributions (Cryptid), this is some much better, even if more simplistic.

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Fun Factor


I think you’ll derive most of your fun from trying to balance keeping yourself in the lead while influencing the direction of your opponents.  This is certainly a game that you need to think a few steps ahead to pull out a victory.

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Age Range & Weight


Age range for Tonari says 10+ but it’s simple enough to go down to 8+ or possibly lower.  The complexity of rules is very low but can require great strategy when playing with equal or greater player capability.

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Tonari is a very light-weight, easy game if you just want something to fill your time, but it can engross you just the same.  Like Mancala or chess, your choices diminish over time as your previous turns will influence where the game will take you. It is a game that you can teach and play with a child just as easily sit down for a longer, more strategic game with a friend.

The great thing about this game is that it won’t take long to complete, it will leave you wanting more, and the setup is so simple — it might be hard to stop after a couple rounds. My group’s only complaint is lack of player aid cards to help remembering what some of the tokens do without having to go back to the rulebook.

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