Yeah, this Wok is on Fire (A Review)

 Board and Card Games, Reviews  Comments Off on Yeah, this Wok is on Fire (A Review)
Sep 252016
 

wokbox

Hailing from a centuries old tradition of cooking inspired dexterity card games, Wok on Fire is quite the little gem. That first bit isn’t true either but I’ve always wanted to write something like that. Here, you have a game that’s just 58 cards in size, including the player aid/scoring cards. Set for 2-4 players, the game takes less than 20 minutes to play and is good for people aged 8+.

The premise is this: All players are chefs, laboring over a fiery hot wok. With our spatulas we compete with each other to stir-fry, pick and plate the choicest ingredients. Our goals are to make the most complete and desirable meals – failing that we’ll settle for some great meats or collections of memorable spices. Worst case scenario, we end up scooping gobs of green peppers and broccoli – the stuff of nightmares for kids around the world.

How to play

Setup is pretty darned easy. There are 50 ingredients cards. Shuffle them all together. There are four Spatula cards – each player gets one, those not in use go back into the box. There are also four Player Aid cards – one goes in front of each player. If there are less than four players, the player aid cards are still used – as these define the edges of the shared Wok. Other objects (the edge of a round table, a few game boxes or in on memorable case, my cat) can also be used to define the limits of the Wok. This is important during game play.

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One player takes 24 of the 50 cards in the deck and spreads them around the play area (your Wok) face down. The other 26 cards are placed to the side as your supply of ingredients. Then play begins.

Each player will have three phases per turn. Stir Fry, Pick and Chop. In the Stir Fry phase, you take your Spatula cards an flip over at least one card in the Wok. Do this twice. Cards must actually be flipped to qualify as really being stir fried. This should expose a bunch of cards (or hide others).

In the second phase, the Picking phase, you must pick one ingredient, and may pick up to two (depending on what’s visible or not). Certain ingredients, like Chicken or Green Peppers allow you to pick all of the face up versions of that card, for better (chicken) or worse (green pepper).

In the Chopping phase, players take the supply deck and ‘chop’ two more ingredients into the Wok, by flipping the top card off of the deck with a downward, chopping motion and saying “Ha!” (At least, that’s how we do it).

The Picking phase is really the only phase of the three that doesn’t involve some dexterity. Flipping can take skill, particularly if you’re trying to hide less savory ingredients and reveal more desirable cards. Chopping can be interesting as well – you can cover up existing ingredients causing your opponents to try and Stir Fry them back into view. Cards must have a least one corner and the center image visible for you to pick them. Unless it’s Chicken – you can always make a guess that something is chicken. If you’re right, you get a tasty meat ingredient. If you’re wrong, back in the wok the card goes.

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Ingredients stir fried or chopped out of the Wok remain outside the Wok until the next player’s turn, where they are chopped back in. A practice I don’t encourage while actually cooking.

What’s the purpose of all this – besides making a delicious cardboard meal? Why – the card combos of course! At the end of the game players will arrange their cards into the most favorable combinations with full meals scoring tons of points and combos of meats, spices and sets of ingredients scoring points based on the number and variety of cards. Get to many of the less desirable ingredients and you’ll be subtracting points too.

Play continues until the Supply deck is empty and then players pull out calculators or napkins and start working out their score.

Photo credit: Natasha Tadisch

Photo credit: Natasha Tadisch

Why you should play

Wok on Fire is a very quick, fairly easy game to play provided you have the space to flick around a bunch of cards. The game itself is quite fun and is reminiscent of Sushi Go but with a dexterity component. It can be fairly quick but doesn’t involve a lot of players getting in each other’s way – speed isn’t an issue so much as accuracy is.

We very much enjoyed this aspect of the game. Scoring is a little fiddly though, as you look at the image above. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but we weren’t expecting as complicated a schema as there is. What we found was that in our first few games, scoring took almost as long as the actual game itself. In later games however, we realized why the scoring is they way it is, and this is important. You can actually employ a good deal of strategy in your Stir Fry and Chop phases keeping the scoring in mind. Suddenly our games were a bit slower – more in line with the 20 minutes listed on the box.

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We’d carefully flip in just the right way, and happily chop cards face down over important ingredients we knew our opponents could really use. So yes, the scoring can be a little bit of work at first but after a few plays, the end game is a presence throughout the actual game – directing us to try and aim better and make smarter choices in picking cards.

The one real complaint I have about this game is the box. It looks great, colorful and fun. It took us about five minutes of wrangling to get the darned thing open though. The top fits so snugly over the bottom that gravity just can’t do it’s thing. Forcing the box made me wary that I’d rip a corner (I didn’t) but it’s a tight fit. It’s getting better with repeated openings. Other than this issue, the game is well made, with nice linen finished cards and a neat take out menu/rule book.

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If you’d like to add an additional challenge, I can suggest adding a cat into the mix while playing on a bed, as we did.

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.

Making a big stink with Fish Pitch – a fish flicking game!

 Board and Card Games, Game School  Comments Off on Making a big stink with Fish Pitch – a fish flicking game!
Sep 182015
 

FishGuyCard-USAdeck

It’s been quite some time since I’ve had the time to actually sit down at my site and talk a little bit about game design. I’ve also had several projects which have gone beyond the realm of “Hmm, I wonder if this will ever get published” and moved into the realm of “Oh wow, it’s getting published!” Swamped being the one I can discuss openly right now.

So I’ve been putting a bunch of work into existing game ideas that you may or may not have heard about here on this site.

Last night though I had a few hours of uninterrupted time and decided it was beer and design O’Clock. I threw on the headphones, cranked up some light ambient mood music and stared at my screen for a bit.

Then I designed an area control/set collection/special powers in cards game that I’m not going to talk about just yet because it ain’t even close to a finished design, let alone a real game.

This morning I was thinking about that and then a strange thing happened. While walking to the train, I pass over a stream on a bridge. I thought I saw a fish in the stream and my mind immediately jumped to those folks in the Pacific Northwest who throw fish around. Fish Pitch. Fish Pitch would be a cool name for a game – you could…hmm, actually flick cards toward a cardboard person and score based on your aim!

I furiously emailed the details to myself and spent some free time mocking up some very simple cards. The cards are all different sizes, their are 4 of each type of fish and 4 “Fish Guys” (which will change once I actually get some non-clipart art).

In brief – you place your Fish Guy two feet away from the edge of the table. Then, as fast as you can you place your fish cards hanging just a bit off the table and flick them with your finger at your FG. If they land anywhere on the FG card, you score the points on the fish card. If they land in one or both of the red areas around the hands you score those points as well.

But flick them fast because the first person to have flicked all of their fish ends that round.

Here’s a few images that I’m using for the cards – they’re not card-shaped but you’ll see how basic they are.

Crab-ROUNDCard GreyFishSmallSquare SnapperSquareCard

It’s interesting though because I really want to test this with actual cards, so I’ve ordered them from The Game Crafter. That’s fine – but it’s a relatively expensive prototype because each of the 4 cards are from a different size and shaped set – meaning I essentially seem to be paying for a whole sheet for the 4 cards I want. Ah well, if it works and it’s a fun game, there’s always that!

Here’s what I’ve actually written about it so far: it’s an unaltered, certainly unedited look at how I design a quick little game like this.

Fish Pitch

A Dexterity Game by Benjamin Gerber

1-4 players | Ages 6+ | 5-10 Minutes

Fish market – Seattle – throwing fish, etc.

(Note: Fish Guy is a guy only because it’s the first piece of public domain art I found that I could use. If this ever goes beyond this stage, there will be four Fish People and they will be diverse).

Place your Fish Catcher on the table in front of you. Fish catcher should be at least 24 inches away from the edge of the table.

Played in 1-3 rounds – with the highest score at the end winning. In the event of a tie – a fish-off is held – one player selects the fish, the other player goes first.

Place your Fish cards with roughly ? of the card hanging off the edge of the table.

Squint down the card to sight out to Fish Guy.

Flick that card toward Fish Guy.

You score the points on the card if your card touches the Fish Guy card at all.

You score the points on Fish Guy’s hand(s) if you can overlap the red spaces with your fish card.

You automatically score the full points (Fish Card + Both Hands) if you can flick at least ½ of the fish card underneath the Fish Guy.

Players may flick whichever fish they like, in any order.

The first player to flick all of their fish, successfully or not, calls “Done!” and that round is over.

Add up your score (by removing Fish cards 1 at a time) and score for that round.

Determine if the next round is needed by arguing about who’s winning or not.

Single player games are played in one single round with one or both of the following:

  1. First game – count your score. Second and beyond attempt to beat your score or hit the maximum obtainable points.
  2. Beat your best time reaching the maximum obtainable points.

Design Notes

This would work awesome with clear plastic cards a la Gloom!

Publishers note: If you’d like to publish this little game, I’d like to talk to you!

About Ben

I'm a geek. A nerd, a dweeb, whatever. Yes I owned garb, yes I still own medieval weaponry. And yeah, I could kick your butt in Mechwarrior the CCG. I love video games, role playing games, tactical board games and all forms of speculative fiction. I will never berate someone for wanting to be a Jedi and take everything Gary Gygax ever wrote as gospel. Well, all of this but that last bit.