The Inquisitive Meeple reviews Burger Up.
Welcome to another edition of The Inquisitive Meeple Investigates. This time we are looking at the Australian designed (and published) game, Burger Up. A gateway game for 2-4 players, Burger Up is a game where players are trying to be the best hamburger restaurant in town. So is this game mouthwatering good? Does this food (board game) critic give it 5 stars? Well, read on…
“Burger Up is a card matching puzzle game about the art of burger making. Fill orders, earn prestige and be the best burger chef around!
Players strive to become the most prestigious restaurant by building the biggest Burgers and by using the best ingredients.
Players take turns, which consist of four phases: the Market phase where players may purchase ingredients from the market, the Building phase where players place up to 3 ingredients on their burgers, the Burger Up! phase where players may score their burgers if they satisfy an order and the clean-up phase where players draw back up to 4 cards.
The game ends when no more Order cards can be revealed. A bonus is awarded to the Chef who built the most burgers and then the winner is determined, based on who has earned the most coins.”
A very basic overview of the game is players have burger ingredients they are placing on a bottom bun and as they are trying to match orders (Top Buns) to claim them first. (Note: Each player can work on 2 burgers at time.) I should note – that each ingredient card has key words like “meat” or “patty” that are used to help make up what the Top Bun orders are (see picture above for Top Bun examples). When a burger is complete, players gain money depending on how tall burgers are. At the end of the game money is worth Victory points. The player with the most Top Buns at the end of the game earns 5 VP. There is also Victory points if you have a spatula at the end (see about spatula below). Most Victory points will win this game.
The trick here is that each card you lay down as two different ingredients – one that counts as the ingredient on the burger, the other dictates what the next ingredient has to be placed – giving Burger Up a puzzle-like game feel.
I like to make note of a special card in the game – the Spatula. Each player starts with one and can use it twice before completely losing it. Used at the end of the game it is worth 4 Victory Points, Dirty is worth 2 VP and finally no VP if you have used it twice. Spatulas are the only ways to move ingredients after they have been placed on a burger – you can move them either to the trash pile or on top of another burger. These are important because of the every changing requirements of burgers orders up for grabs, you may have to take off some ingredients to meet the current requirements. First time you use it, you flip it from the clean to dirty side. Second time you use it, you lose it.
The back of the Burger Up box says that it is a 2-4 player game, 45 minutes to play and Ages 14+. So just how true is that?
As far as player count 2-4. I have yet to play Burger Up 3 player – however, I did enjoy it as a 2-player game, where my wife enjoyed it more as a 4-player game. My only issue with the 4-player game is that it was a loonnng game. Even knowing how to play the game, a 2-player game can be 35-45 minutes. And a 4-player game is going to be an hour, possibly longer. My suspicions is Burger Up’s “sweet spot” is 3-players.
As far as 14+, again my suspicions is that rating is get around toy testing laws. I can say from experience that an 8-year-old can handle the game. They understand the rules, maybe not always making the best decisions in making the burgers (but adults can have the problem too) – but they do understand the rules.
So what are the negatives to Burger Up that potential buyers would like to know from the start?
Nothing game breaking, just some minor annoyances. The square cards can be a pain to shuffle, the 4-player is long as mentioned above. There was a minor production error with the game where it didn’t print as many 1 coins as it was suppose to (upping the 10 coin count instead) – this causes quite a few “got to make change” moments in the game– as 1 coins are important to gameplay. You have to use them to buy ingredients as well as they are laid out on top of top buns every time a new one comes out.
Finally, please know this up front – Burger Up is a table hog. So much so – that you may be better off playing on the floor/carpet if you are playing with the family. Some of those burgers get really big (some are required if you want to capture the order) !
I wanted to mention there is an expansion available to Burger Up – called Burgers Around the World that introduces 5 new ingredients types as well as new Top Buns. As one would imagine, they are ingredients from around the world – countries represented are Australia, Germany, France, Japan and Mexico. Before the game starts you choose which countries you like to add – you add each country’s 5 ingredient cards and their top bun (you take a top bun out at random for every new one you put in – so you are not adding to game length).
There is also a Globetrotter ingredients and Top Bun card which is blank ingredient that you can decide what it is before the start of the game.
I will say I was a little worried that by adding more ingredients it would be easier to make certain top buns, for example the one that requires 5 different salad (veggie) cards – because you may be adding even more veggies to the game. Jury is still out on that, but it is still an enjoyable game and may be worth it just to see even more unique burgers being made on the table.
Is this a good game? Yes, it is a very good game. It is more gateway then say family in feel. On a “Ticket to Ride scale” it is closer to TTR Marklin then TTR vanilla in terms of thought that has to be put into the game. The Top Buns really make the game, it makes each burger you are going for have a slightly different feel. They also cause you to be careful with which card you lay down giving the game its puzzle like feel while at the same time trying to come up with the best combo you can to lay down. However, you have to be fast – because the Top Bun you want could be gone, leaving you with a tower of ingredients and no Top Bun that matches.
We have multiple board game shelves throughout our house (including a closet). Not every game we buy, are gifted or review makes it to the most coveted of all cardboard shelves in our home – the one in our Meeple Cave (aka – “the den” or “man-cave”). However, for now Burger Up has found its place there – both my wife and I agree that it deserves a place on that shelf. That may be the biggest compliment we can pay to a game.
4 out of 5 stars
If you like to read an in-depth interview about Burger Up with its designer, Matt Parkes – click here.
The Inquisitive Meeple Note: A review copy of the game was given to The Inquisitive Meeple. Any positive opinions/feedback on the game are our own. They were not solicited by publisher or by the designers.