Foodfighters: Review

It’s not Atkins v. South Beach. This fight is a serious one: vegetables v. meat. Broccoli v. Bacon. Life v. Death. Today, Fairway picks up Foodfighters by Kids Table Board Gaming and designers Josh Cappel and Helaina Cappel. Originally funded on Kickstarter, Fairway snagged this one up from his friendly local game shop.

Foodfighters is a two-player, dice-rolling, dueling game that pits one player as vegetables against another player as meats in a battle for food dominance. I played this with both my kids and found them later playing it against each other! It did take a little explaining why you can play with this food at the dinner table, but not the food on your plate.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. I love the literal play on words theme (coming from a guy who created a game called Starving Artists). You know right what it is.
  2. The art is pretty cool and entirely family-appropriate. The fact the tiles are posed to use the spoons and crackers is great.
  3. It uses all-around nice components which is a plus for a game where kids play a lot.
  4. There is quite a bit of chess-like strategy embedded in the game and this is a great introduction to those game skills.

Game play ^

Foodfighters (at least the version I played) is a two player dueling game. Players take control of either an army of meat (bacon, chicken leg, or pork chops) or vegetables (broccoli, onion, and cabbage).  Each player takes the nine tiles for their team along with a set of special power cards.

Each of the tiles has one of the player’s food items (e.g., a strip of bacon) and a thought bubble showing a food item from the other side (e.g., cabbage). The thought bubble tells you the only kind of opposing tile that that your food can attack.

Players shuffle their teams’ tiles together and then randomly places the tiles down into two opposing 3×3 grids of food items. Then, the game starts with each player taking turns until one player has eliminated all of one of the food types from the other player.

On a turn, there are three possible actions: roll for beans, swap positions of their food tiles, or attacking. In the game, beans are the magical fruits currency.  Beans let you purchase kitchen utensils that give your food abilities and your special power cards.  When you roll for beans, you pick up the special bean/splat dice and collect the number of beans shown. A splat is a rerolled until you get a bean.

When you use your turn to “swap” your foods, you can move the position of two of your fighters (or move a food into an empty spot in the same row).  You also get to collect one bean if you swap.

But attacking is where the game is mostly played.  Unless a special power says otherwise, you attack the other player by selecting one of your front-row foods and an adjacent, opposing front-row food that matches your food’s thought bubble.  You then roll the bean/splat dice.  If you roll a splat, the other food takes a “hit.”  If the opposing food has no other defenses, a “hit food” is removed from the game and new food joins the front row.

If you roll only beans during an attack, you “miss” but get to take beans equal to the number of beans rolled.

After a player takes one of these actions, they can buy things with their beans. The game comes with an assortment of things with which to equip your food:

  • Frying pan: let’s you ignore the “thought bubble” and attack any of the opposing foods
  • Cracker: lets your food take an extra hit.
  • Spoon: increases a food item’s “reach” so that it can attack in a straight line over other food items.
  • Extra die: an extra bean/splat die to use!

Each side also has unique special power cards that, for a few beans, let them perform extra actions or do things they couldn’t otherwise.

The game continues until one player eliminates all of one kind of the opponent’s food (e.g., all the bacon is out of the game).

On the Green ^

I was unnecessarily hesitant about this game. Not sure why. But the reality, this game has a lot to offer a family of gamers.

Awesome components.  The components are really nice. It’s not obvious from the pictures, but the food items aren’t cards, they’re tiles. This is a really nice touch. You could see how the designer might be tempted to make the nine food items on each side just cards. Likewise, the wood components are nice. I really like the frying pan and spoon pieces.

The dice rock. I like them a lot. Each side has nice obvious features. The brown beans are easy to subitize. The green splats are immediately recognizable.

Strategic game play.  It’s basically a perfect entry game for children to the strategic thinking of chess. There’s no shortage of trying to figure out which food to sacrifice and which to advance. All the while, you’re trying to protect at least one of each item.  Very clever.

Art. The food art adds to the family-friendly nature of this game. Who wouldn’t love a smiling pork chop?

Even better, when you equip the shields and spoons, the art is such that they appear to actually hold them! It creates a fantastically charming effect.

Easy to teach and very quick.  The basic game is pretty intuitive: attack the other food item and get rid of all of one kind. The how to do it is pretty easy too: roll dice and hope for splats.  Everything else is just for “flavor” and readily explainable.

The game sets up, plays and tears down in very little time. That’s great.  Leaving the beans and crackers and other bits in the box and only pulling them out when necessary would probably make this even faster.

Customization. How cool is it that the game also would include “clings” that let you customize the thought bubbles. That’s planning ahead. They’re also usable to make expansions compatible.

Expansions. A quick note, there are apparently a few expansions floating around that add other food items. This surely would increase the replayability.

Where it comes up short ^

The only concern that we had when playing is the factor that determines whether your strategy works or not is based just on the die roll. Kids don’t mind this. But a lucky first-strike attempts or big bean rolls that let a player buy something first are the result of luck, not skill or planning.  In the end, games proceed pretty quickly and so individual lucky results are often forgotten when the fates change.

In the hole ^

Foodfighter should be a no-brainer for a gamer family. The game is simple enough for kids to play on their own and to teach their friends, but challenging enough that adults will have a good time too. The nice components and art make it a really nice addition to the family game list. It’s hit the table a more than a few times in my house.

Foodfighters makes it into the hole for a Birdie! ^

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