Whilst browsing the new releases and spotted a cute looking card game, then it happened, it was a Reiner Knizia designed trick taker. Boom, shut up and take my money Zatu.
Ok, the dust has settled, my breathing is back to normal, I can focus again. I have now played Foodie Forest over twenty times and am ready to let you know what I think of one of my favourite designers take on my favourite genre of games.
The question is, does Foodie Forest provide a balanced meal or is it all carbs and sugar? Read on to find out.
How To Play
Foodie Forest is a re-implementation of Too Many Cooks which was released in 2001 and it has all the hallmarks of a Knizia game. It has a simple rule set, it is a mathematically pleasing numbers based game, and it takes an existing genre of games (this time Trick Taking) and slightly twists the formula to make for something new and exciting.
2 to 5 chefs are trying to make their perfect recipe in the same pot. Each round players will place cards into the pot until the pot is full at which point the player who placed the last ingredient takes all of the cards and adds them to their score pile. Seems simple enough, let me explain in some more detail.
There are three tasty suits in Foodie Forest (Fruit, Vegetables and Bugs) which have an equally distributed number set between 0 and 5 as well as some 10’s and special cards The Trash suit doesn’t have any 0’s, 10s or specials, thankfully.
13 cards are dealt to each player (10 in a 5 player game) and then players will look at their 5 recipe cards and choose one to use for scoring this round. The recipe cards are fairly basic and score for either fruit, bugs or vegetables and lose points for trash. Or you can choose the recipe that scores for trash and loses points for special cards, Finally there is a recipe that gives you 5 points but you lose 1 point for each ingredient you collect the whole round (I will discuss this a little later).
All players reveal their chosen recipe at the same time and then play commences with the first player adding a card to the pot. Now all other players must play the same type of ingredient card if they have it.
As cards are added you keep a running total of the score. If ever a 0 card is added to the pot the score resets to 0. Special cards do not change the total. If a 10 is added at the start of the pot it is worth 0.
When the pot hits 10 the player who put the last card in takes all of the cards for that pot to their scoring pile and starts the next pot.
If a player doesn’t have the required ingredient they can place any ingredient in the pot. Once a trash has been added any player can play any ingredient they like for the rest of that pot.
Once a player has run out of cards and it is their turn, the round ends immediately with the current pot thrown away and not scored. Players then tally their points for the round and this is kept track off with some handy scoring pieces.
All of the ingredients are shuffled and dealt and players chose a new recipe to work on. 5 rounds are completed in total and then the player with the most points is the winner.
I hate house ruling games, especially if the problem is super obvious from the start. It makes you wonder why it wasn’t picked up in playtesting.
The recipe card that gives you 5 points but you lose 1 point for each ingredient you take, will always be played by experienced players at the start of the game. As the penalty for losing points is capped at 10 (as you start the game with 5 points and the rules state you cannot go into negative points).
We have had to house rule it that you can’t play this card in the first round. We are also toying with the idea of allowing players of going into negative points.
This oversight has slighted tented my final score.
Variants In The Box
The game includes two super little variants in relation to the recipe cards. The first is a drafting type mechanism, but my favourite is a secret recipe. In this mode you don’t reveal the recipe you are currently working on. This makes for lots of head scratching as you try to work out who is trying to collect what.
Foodie Forest is a very fun little trick taker with a unique mechanism which keeps on bringing me back for more. The rule book is easy to follow, the art work cute and fun, and the tension brought on by the tight scoring makes for an exciting game from the start to the finish.
The card quality is very good and is not showing any signs of wear after twenty games and lots of shuffling.
The enjoyment in this game comes from the pot manipulation and knowing when to play the big cards and when to hold off. When you play with the secret recipe cards variant it makes for a tense deduction game as well which was a lovely surprise.
I found the game more enjoyable with less players, so much so that I think two or three players is my preferred way of playing, which is really refreshing for a trick taking game. At 4 or 5 players there is very little chance of the pot not being filled before it gets back round to you, or it might already be up to 9 (with all trash in it) just as it is your turn. Whereas, at two players you have much more control over the pot and it makes for a great head to head game.
The recipe card which gives 5 points but then you lose 1 point per card you gain is broken as described, but the two extra variants somewhat make up for this mistake.
Foodie Forest will now sit alongside my other favourite trick takers but with the knowledge that I can teach this one is just a few minutes and combined with the super cute artwork, I know this means it will hit the table a lot.
If you enjoyed this blog on Foodie Forest, you can buy it by clicking here today!