Game Chef – The Reviews

The Game Chef competition is in it’s review and nomination phase at the moment. I have just had all my feedback in an email so I thought I would post it up here and tell you what I’m going to work on because of it.

Here we go:

Review 1:
I like the format of this game; the mixture of card game and storytelling game elements is interesting. I think it would appeal to players who like either type of game, as well as allowing them to play together. I’m not sure if the game incorporates the theme of “a different audience” though, as I don’t know what type of audience the creator usually writes for. I’m not seeing anything about an audience in the text of the rules, and I’m also not really seeing any of the four ingredients (abandon, dragonfly, dream, or stillness).
The basics of the game were presented clearly, though there were some confusing parts. For example, I’m not sure what happens to Influence dice after they are rolled. Do they go back to the player after the roll, or are they “spent” to make the roll? It looks like a player only ever chooses a single die result regardless of how many dice they choose to roll. But as the most influence you can gain from resolving a story card is 2, I don’t think players would ever risk more than two dice on the roll. I’m also confused about what drawn story cards for attracting attention do. Do the attention story cards count as if they were in the player’s hand? Or are they only a way to indicate how many opposition dice get rolled? The arrested and violence rules are confusing as well; more examples and clarification would help here.
I really like card games, especially social card games like The Resistance, and I think this game has potential. Parts of it need to be rewritten for clarity though. I would also love to see the Character and Motivation cards having a mechanical effect on gameplay. It would be easy to move some of the effects from the story cards to the other cards, giving players an extra influence when taking certain actions for example. Maybe even include something about determining the other players roles; you have a traitor character, but it currently doesn’t really do much.
Review 2:
The use of cards to invoke story-telling elements is really interesting – it’s something that limits the number of ways the narrative can go, which really helps creativity, and is a fun way to help non-roleplayers get more comfortable with role-playing. The flavour is really strong in the game as well, which is really great. I like the set-up of the manifesto as well, which is a good way to state the intentions of the players and keep the narrative on track by referring to it during the game.
The mechanics of the game were not explained very well. The formatting seemed off – there were a few mechanics which were mentioned multiple times in the rules before they were properly explained, which made it difficult to understand. I’m still not entirely sure what the ‘arrest’ mechanic is about – I understand how it works, but there was no narrative explanation for it so I’m not sure how it really fits into the story. I’m not sure how taking influence from the other players works as well – if you’re all working together, why does your act to help the rebellion take influence away from other rebels? There’s a lot going on in the game, and I honestly found it pretty difficult to follow. I think maybe the mechanics detract a little from the actual story-telling, which is the most interesting aspect of it.
I think there should be greater emphasis and guidance on working the mechanics into the narrative. The manifesto and showdown were both really interesting and well thought-out, but the other acts got bogged down in badly explained mechanics. I think this could be a really great game – the idea of a game that simulates running a rebellion is so compelling and unique – but it needs better formatting and explanation and synchronisation between the mechanics and the narrative.
Review 3:
This game seems like it is in a playable state. It seems well thought out and the motivation cards are interesting and adds a lot of depth to the game that already seemed interesting. Occupation [?] cards are also interesting but don’t add as much as the motivations.
The biggest weakness we can find in this game is that not everyone will be good at this game. There is a lot of roleplaying and imagination involved. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it would be a niche game. There could be some alternative to speed gameplay when playing with those who aren’t feeling imaginative.
Review 4:
This is a really cool, very streamlined rebellion game that seems to capture its tone well. Mixing cards into a roleplaying game can be weird sometimes due to the way the characters can be shoe horned into doing what the cards they have say, even if they don’t really fit the original character, but that’s not a big deal, and it can even lead to some interesting organic character creation, so I’m all for it.
I really can’t say how good the math of the game is, it looks like a pretty cool system, and I love the way that you keep track of everything with just dice and extra cards from the deck. Such a slick way to handle that without needing extra game pieces.
I was a little surprised to see that each player only uses one card per act, but I guess each at is more like a round, and it makes for solid pacing, which is something that can be difficult without something baked into the system.
Overall it looks really solid but it’d be hard to see if the math does what you want it to without playing it (and knowing exactly what you want it to do) so it’s hard to comment on. From an initial reading it looks like it’s going to carry the intended tone well, and make for an interesting, well structured story.
There you go then.
Most of the reviews here mention mechanical confusion which I think is more an explanation thing at the moment, which is to be expected considering how quickly I threw it together. The next step for me will be to get the game to the table and start working on a larger text with better explanation. The maths of the game I had done quickly in my head so that will need a hard look to see if everything adds up.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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