Go Nuts for Donuts: Preview

Fairway loves donuts. No really, really loves donuts. So it should be no surprise that he wanted to preview this upcoming Daily Magic Games Kickstarter game: Go Nuts for Donuts. 

Go Nuts for Donuts is a two- to six- player blind bidding and set collection game from Daily Magic Games with a very delicious theme. Note: this was obviously a pre-production version so the art and cards may change.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. Donuts. So many delicious, delicious donuts.
  2. Blind-bidding game play mechanism is pretty straight forward and easy to teach.
  3. Some interesting scoring options.
  4. While playable with as few as two, the game’s sweet spot is more like four or five.
  5. My kids like this game… a lot.

Game play ^

In Go Nuts for Donuts, players are trying to score the most points before the entire deck of donut cards runs out. To score points, players bid on one of a series of face up cards. The number of face up cards equals the number of players plus one  Each of the faceup donut cards is assigned a position.

Then, players make a a selection of one of the donuts that want.  They make this selection by placing facedown, a number corresponding to the spot assigned to that donut.  When everyone has made a selection, they are revealed.  Starting with the lowest selection and proceeding to the highest spot, players get to collect the donut only if they are the only one to bid on it.  If more than one player bids on a donut, it is discarded.

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If a collected donut has a special power, the player uses that donut power immediately: drawing cards from the discard pile, top of the donut pile, discaring donuts, etc.  Other donuts also have special scoring mechanics which are evaluated at the end of the game: collecting pairs, increasing points based on the collected amount, etc.

Once all the bid-for donuts have been collected or discarded, new donuts are turned over and the game continues until there are no more donuts left.  At the end, players total up their scores and the player with the most points wins.

On the green ^

Go Nuts is a pretty light game that creates a constant prisoner’s dilemma problem in an enjoyable kind of way. It will definitely draw strong comparisons to games like Sushi Go!, but it does bring its own thing to the table.

Theme. Donuts. What else is there to say? It’s a game about collecting donuts. Awesome. (Okay, I said something else).

Quick and easy.  This game is quite easy to teach: “I’m going to turn over a bunch of cards, uses these little numbers to tell me which ones you want, if you’re the only one that wants it you get it, otherwise the card gets discarded.” That’s it. We learned the game in a few minutes.  It plays in about 20 minutes regardless of player with any given round going very quickly, lasting just seconds sometimes.

Deceptively simple at times.   There are a few cards that make no sense at first. For instance, the idea you might finish a game with fewer than 10 cards in your hand. However, it is very possible given how many cards are discarded.  Likewise, finishing with fewer than seven types of donuts seems unlikely at first.

Blind bidding. There is an element of bluffing in the blind bidding mechanic. But like a few other recent games, it implements this without requiring the players to lie.

Kids.  My kids enjoyed this game as much, if not more than Sushi Go! I think they could easily teach their friends how to play.

Where it comes up short ^

This is not a deep game, but I don’t think anyone expects that from a game about donuts. There were also a few times where nothing happens because the face up cards force players to choose the same ones repeatedly–either because no one wanted one of the cards or didn’t want the other players to take a specific one.

Scoring balance.  The various scoring opportunities are definitely welcomed. It did seem like certain cards scored better than others. It didn’t quite feel like it had the balance of Sushi Go!, yet. It also didn’t have the plethora of scoring possibilities of Sushi Go! Party.

There were also a few of the donuts (e.g. fewer than 10 donuts) that are virtually impossible to score at lower player counts unless all the players are constantly choosing the same donut–a situation that does not lend itself to a fun game. These donuts made much more sense when we played a full six player game.  In those cases, the winner had only like nine total donuts.

One solution is to remove those cards from lower player counts — this would also slightly reduce the long play times and avoid repeated discards mentioned above.

Update: Heard from Daily Magic that they’re retesting some of the cards at lower player counts.

Younger players.  Some of the powers still required the ability to read. I think with some additional work on the icons, it could be more friendly.  My daughter, 5, could play it with help at first explaining the various card text and scoring options.

We also used (in all but our 6 player game) one of the extra sets of bidding numbers to identify which donut fit in which slot. This was helpful even for adult players when there was more than a few donuts to bid on.

Update #2: Daily Magic also responded that they’re looking to make some of the cards easier for younger players.

In the hole ^

Go Nuts for Donuts isn’t a deep strategy, Euro game. But no one wants that for a game about donuts. Rather, it’s a delicious little game filled with pure enjoyment. Kind of like a donut. It’s family-friendly both in theme and bidding/bluffing mechanism, making it a perfect addition for a family of gamers. It also has the appeal of being about donuts which everyone can enjoy. For what it is, this game does it well and my kids have asked to play it repeatedly.

The combination of theme and its simplicity will make this a very popular Kickstarter.

Go For Nuts for Donuts is in the hole for a par! ^

Fairway was provided a non-production version to preview the game. He was not otherwise compensated for this review.  In addition, since this was a pre-production version, the art and cards are likely to change.

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