One Moroccan Lamb Tagine, one Aromatic Duck Rolls, one Ribeye Steak with Basil Hollandaise. The orders come in, punters are waiting, dishes need cleaning, ingredients need sourcing, the food needs preparing and cooking. Once the food is cooked deliver the orders quickly to receive a tip from your ever grateful guests.
Think you have a few minutes spare? Think again another order comes in. One Pizza Mexicana, one Spicy Red Lentil Falafel Salad and one Spicy Grilled Chicken. No time to rest. Disaster…the dishwasher has broke and there is a shortage at the suppliers. On top of that you have the added stress of; “Have I made enough money to cover wages, purchase more ingredients and those inevitable unexpected expenses!" This is the hectic life running a successful restaurant.
Kitchen Rush is a 1-4 player real time co-operative game, published by Artipia Games, in which players are running a restaurant kitchen. The game is played over four rounds of four minutes, where players will take orders, prepare dishes, cook the prepared dishes, wash dirty plates and serve the cooked dishes, all whilst keeping an eye on the timer and supply of ingredients and spices. It is a worker placement game where your workers are sand timers. It is fun, fast and frantic.
Kitchen Rush Gameplay
Set-up for Kitchen Rush is straightforward. All the ingredients (meat, vegetables, salad, pasta, cheese and bread) are placed in a pile near the main game board. Each player receives a player board where they prepare and cook their dishes and two workers (hour glasses).
The main board is seeded with ingredients in the respective storage locations and a cloth bag is populated with common (salt/sugar, pepper and herbs) and special spices (curry/mustard seeds and chilli/saffron) based on the player count. A number of action spaces may be unavailable if playing at the lower player count and these are marked with unavailable tokens.
Two upgrade cards are displayed near the main board for purchase throughout the game. The order cards shuffled and placed near the Maitre d’ spot with a set number of orders being displayed based on the player count. A certain number of clean plates and dirty plates are placed on their respective spots on the board. A timer of some capacity is required to be keep track of the time during the rounds.
The preparation phase in Kitchen Rush is where players discuss their plan of action. They can plan for who will take which dishes and what actions each player will perform. If players are playing with the events then a new event is drawn and the effects applied. The round marker is also advanced (apart from in the first round)
This phase occurs in real time.
During the action phase players use their workers to perform various actions. Once a worker has been placed it cannot be moved until the sand has run out. When the sand runs out the worker can be moved and another action performed. Workers cannot be placed on action spots if there are no spaces available.
The Maitre D’ action spot in Kitchen Rush has two options available.
- Two new orders can be drawn from the orders deck and placed up on the relevant spaces on the game board. For each card drawn the players receive one coin.
- Two orders can be removed from the game board and replaced with new orders. Players do not receive a coin for this action.
The Waiter action spot also has two available options.
- Players can take one of the orders from the Maitre D’ spot and immediately take the required number and size of clean plates from the clean plate area and place them on their player board on the first row. Plates of higher sizes can be used if required.
- All prepared dishes are served in the clean up phase at the end of the round. However, if players want to earn a little extra money, they can server the dish early to receive an extra coin as a tip.
This action can be performed by any number of workers at the same time. Players will pay one coin to gather either
- Five ingredients of the same type and put them in any of the storage areas.
- Three common spices in any combination.
- Two special spices in any combination.
During this action players can take any ingredients from the storage area and place them on plates on their board that are still on the first row. Any number of ingredients can be taken and placed on any number of plates as long as they are in their first row.
When a worker is placed here players can move a single prepared plate down a single space indicating that it has had the first stage of cooking. Only one plate can be moved one space during this action, so if an order has two dishes that require two levels of cooking the oven action spot will need to be use multiple times.
Some dishes require spices to be added. Players can look inside the spice bag and take out any number of spices, adding them to a plate. Spices have to be added to a plate, but they can be added across multiple plates for the single action. Spices can also be added during or even after the dish has been cooked.
If players have enough money they can go to the office to hire additional workers (at a cost of two coins), or upgrade their kitchen (purchase an upgrade card for the depicted cost). Upgrades include new ovens, additional storage, extra plates and additional workers) and repair equipment (some events cause equipment to break).
Take three plates from the dirty dishes space and put them in the clean dishes space ready for use.
This happens after the four-minute real time action phase has been completed. Players will check their order to make sure they have made them correctly. Players check the following against the required order
- Has the correct size (or higher) plate been used?
- Have all the required ingredients included?
- Have all the required spices been included?
- Has it been cooked correctly?
- Have all the dishes in the order been prepared?
If everything is correct the players receive the bonus (money and prestige) shown on the order card. If any of the orders were incorrect or not completed then players lose one prestige and any incomplete orders remain until the next round.
Next in the clean-up phase players must pay the wages of their workers. For each hourglass that was used (including the helper) players must pay three coins. If players cannot afford to pay their wages they lose one prestige point and the helper is not available for use in the next round.
Finally, depending on how far up the prestige track players have climbed (or fallen) they may gain (or lose) a bonus. The game of Kitchen Rush ends at the end of the fourth round.
Kitchen Rush - Menu of Thoughts
Kitchen Rush is a well thought out game. The real time element really adds to the crazy and frantic nature of running and working in a restaurant kitchen. During the preparation phase you work out what you are going to do and have it all planned out as far as you can. Half way through the action phase players are frantically trying to cook their dishes, shouting for more ingredients and placing workers to clean dishes. It is chaotic, it is loud, it is crazy and it is super fun.
Waiting for your workers to finish a task so they can start another is tense, quickly checking the clock and thinking; “Do I have time to get that pasta dish before the time runs out” causes tension and some tough decisions. The shouts from your fellow players of “We need more vegetables! Who took the last bread?” and “Somebody get some spices, I need some spice” makes for a fun game.
The scaling works well for all player counts with several action spaces unavailable at the lower player counts. The events are a nice addition and add another layer to the game but can be omitted without affecting the gameplay too much. Kitchen Rush also comes with a bunch of objective cards which add something to aim for in the game. Some of these objectives are to obtain a certain number of prestige points whereas others are a little more involved. The gameplay flows from taking an order, gathering the plates, adding the ingredients, cooking them, delivering the plates and washing up. It all feels familiar and thematic and just works.
The main player board is laid out in a clear way which is essential when you are up against the clock. The player boards are a little thin but they serve their purpose and are only used to move dishes around. It would have been nice for them to be a little more substantial, but they do not detract from the game.
All in all Kitchen Rush is a fantastic, real time co-op game. It is fast, frantic and really good fun. Highly recommend.