Merchant Skills: Fun with Yokohama Duel, Fish, and Penguins

May 31, 2024 | Sessions | 0 comments

Build shops and trading houses around the city while mastering the art of being a merchant in Yokohama Duel.

After earning a victory at the easy difficulty level of Yokohama Duel, I felt confident enough to keep on moving up! My current challenge is to try to play a bunch of my unplayed or underplayed solo games… So it seemed fitting to continue my merchant journey here. I had some ideas in mind, yet I wasn’t prepared for the incoming cuteness overload!

Game Overview

Game Name: Yokohama Duel
Publication Year:
 Many (4 Credited)
Publishers: OKAZU Brand & Tasty Minstrel Games
Solo Mode: Unofficial Solo Variant

Power cards of varying strengths allow action spaces to be utilized for growing bonuses. It all happens in 4 rounds and a lot of activity! Completed orders, new technologies, valuable church cards, and more provide the basis for a challenging duel. Gameplay is both simple and clever.

Buying and Completing Different Cards in a Land of Merchants in Yokohama Duel

First Play

May 19, 2024



Latest Play

May 30, 2024



Setup Time

5 Minutes

Lifetime Plays


Play Time

40 Minutes


High Score



Game Area

26" x 24"


Low Score


Building All the Shops

Without planning it out exactly, I accomplished the task of building every single shop! This was less about spending a lot of yen and more focused on timing these additions.

Low power cards can still be useful, yet it isn’t until a turn generates a power value of 4+ that building may happen.

This was a really awesome sort of play, too! I had a lot going for me and could see everything flowing together.

Naturally, I was still defeated by Aka, the solo opponent… But only by a handful of victory points! With a couple of different decisions, I most likely would have won. Alas!

A Most Excellent Time Building Every Shop in Yokohama Duel

Showdown at the Bank

In my next play, I thought I made a shrewd merchant decision by building a shop and trading house at the bank.

However, I made a crucial mistake in not triggering this action space myself. True: Aka gave me a couple of yen by going there, but I missed the high-power bonus cards.

Things still seemed like they might go my way, but I should have built a trading house elsewhere. I could see things going downhill in the final round. Aka won!

Yet I still enjoyed the process of learning more and seeing how many different ways I might progress next time.

Trying to Earn All the Yen Possible at the Busy Bank in Yokohama Duel

Waddling to the Fish

Stampede! With the mountains of fish available, it was only a matter of time before some Calico Critters stopped by. Luckily, this allowed me to welcome the penguins!

I think they were disappointed that I packed away most of their meal at this point… This area was overflowing the rest of the time, and I could sense a little disappointment.

But how cute! I could almost hear their little feet pattering all over as they collected all the fish. I think I lost a few…

Yet this was not a day for the city merchants to sit back. There were more penguins shuffling around nearby!

March of the Tiny Penguins Towards All the Fish in Yokohama Duel

Penguin Power Cards

Allow me to pause for a moment to get over this cuteness overload. Ha ha! The entire family showed up to give their best impression of the best power cards. Penguin power!

Yep, I lost my train of thought again as I looked at this. The outfits are adorable, and the mother has a little knob on her head so she looks like she’s molting. Too cute!

This is also a good reminder about the literal power of these cards. Upgrading them is another subtle strategy.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve earned a +2 extra power card yet. The penguins will get right on that. Ha!

Illustrating the Power of Penguins in Yokohama Duel

Finding the Delight in Older Board Games

As I start working on getting some more of my solo games to the table, there are a fair number that definitely don’t fall into the category of recently released. It’s not always easy to spot, yet trends pop up over the years as certain mechanics or themes become more common. But I don’t think it’s a waste to go back in time and appreciate older titles.

This one has some novel elements, despite its publication year of over 5 years ago. That’s an awesome discovery! I love playing newer solo games, as they seem to iron out some previous issues, yet older games have a lot to teach. It’s great to see how design decisions often flow through to newer titles, sometimes in very subtle or nuanced ways.

Spreading Out

Going back to analyze my latest loss, it made a lot more sense to build trading houses in certain action spaces. Or maybe I was just better at activating these ones!

Since Aka channeled some of her moves ahead of time and acted mildly predictably, sometimes I simply blocked.

It was still a lot of fun despite the final scoring. Also, after I checked through the errata, technology cards helped track the rounds and I used the foreign agents correctly.

Ah, speaking of which, it sounded like the penguins had one more little trick up their adorable flipper sleeves…

Finding Neat Ways to Earn More Yen and Bonus Resources in Yokohama Duel

The Coolest Agent

Oh, goodness! Not to be forgotten, this bedazzled penguin showed off just how cool a foreign agent can be… By dressing up as an ice cream cone and serving it up!

To operate properly at the port, frozen fish made for additional treats that made every penguin happier.

My Calico Critters haven’t shown up a lot lately, yet they’re making a comeback! If these visitors are any indication, they need to make more tabletop trips.

And if you’re disappointed in a certain popcorn tricycle not showing up, that’s also on my list. Make it so. Ha!

Rolling Through Imports and to the Port with the Coolest Foreign Agent Possible in Yokohama Duel

Session Overview

Play Number: 5 & 6
Solo Mode: Unofficial Solo Variant
Play Details: Normal Difficulty Level
Outcome: 81-89, 68-96 (2 Losses)

Although my final play was a rather laughable loss, I still did something neat: I built all of my trading houses! Maybe I would have done better had I used the extra yen to pay for additional technology cards. Still, this was a pretty cool way to end. But not as cool as ice cream served by a tiny penguin. Ha! This is a great little puzzle, and I’m glad I found this awesome solo variant to bring it to my table!

Celebrating the Achievement of Building Every Trading House in Yokohama Duel


1 Play


Price & Value



Challenges & Mechanics



Design & Theme



Components & Rules



Achievement & Enjoyment



Distinctness & Randomness


+ Pros (Positives)

  • The rules are straightforward and fairly intuitive, yet there are a lot of nuanced strategies to uncover.
  • Although the solo opponent requires some upkeep, this is minimal and the focus remains on the overall challenge.
  • Most rounds only involve using 4 action cards in successive power levels, making for some very tough decisions.
  • There is a minimalistic artwork style that works very nicely and complements the central element of strategy.
  • Nearly every component has a place on the board, so the play area stays quite compact from start to finish.
  • Gameplay moves quickly with meaningful choices that don’t often get bogged down in excessive analysis.

– Cons (Negatives)

  • There is some degree of luck with the order cards the solo opponent picks up, as they can be very easy to complete.
  • All of the resources and power cards can lead to a messy and busy sort of play area with partially blocked spaces.
  • Multiple errors in the rulebook affect gameplay, and it’s a shame that they have to be looked up prior to playing.
  • Technology cards are excellent, yet there seem to be some combinations that are a lot more powerful than others.

More Yokohama Duel

Explore related posts about Yokohama Duel!

Victory Conditions

Score the Most Points

  • Overall Goal Progress 75% 75%

Goals and Milestones


Build every shop in at least 1 game.


Build every trading house in at least 1 game.


Win at least 1 game at the easy difficulty level.


Win at least 1 game at the normal difficulty level.

Continue the Conversation

Have you tried out Yokohama Duel recently? Do you have any strategies that work well for you? I had a very fun time with this one, and look forward to trying out the original next! It will be interesting to see the differences. Maybe the key to my success will be to invite the penguins along… You really don’t feel the losses with them around. Ha ha!


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