Foodtown Throwdown: Review

“I’ll take your Gourmet Burger with a side of fries”
“Do you want the Olive Salad on that? Or I can hold it or put it on the side.”
“Um… yes?”
“And you’re okay with croutons for a bun, right? I can substitute waffles if you’d like.”
“Maybe?”
“And I assume you’re good with the potato flake fries, right?”
“You know what… never mind.”

If you’ve ever been to one of those trendy food trucks, that conversation might not sound so strange. This week, Fairway picks up a Kickstarter delivery from Argyle Games, Foodtown Throwdown, that tries mightily to capture the majesty of those recipes. Find out what he’d say on Yelp about this food truck-themed, set-collection card game. Fairway’s Twitter and Instagram followers will recognize these “delicious” recipes.

Foodtown Throwdown is a two- to six-player set collection game by Argyle Games–we played with the expansion that added more players. Players are purveyors of competing food trucks trying to score the best recipes.

Initial Impressions ^

  • The ingredient cards (and flavor text) are dad-joke hilarious — so, perhaps, they’re not funny. My son loves the flavor text and makes sure to read them as he plays them while I’m content to read off the ingredients I used.
  • The art is fine and the cards have a nice graphic design on the cards that make building recipes easy even for those who can’t yet read.
  • Draw one, play a bunch if you can doesn’t leave much room for strategy
  • Once you’re down to 1 or 0 cards, it takes a long time to get back to a useful hand
  • Why does it always feel like we’re missing one ingredient for most of the game — silly cheese.
  • Some of the take-that cards are really disruptive.

Game play ^

In Foodtown, players are attempting to complete various recipes using ingredients from their hand.  The more ingredients the recipe requires, the more stars your food truck will score for having that recipe.  The game ends when one player gets ten stars.

To set up the game, first, the deck of recipes is separated and shuffled.  A series of recipes is turned face up, and the remainder are placed face down in a pile.  The face up recipes are the ones that players can try to complete to add to their truck. 

Second, the ingredient cards are shuffled and each player is dealt five cards. The remainder of the cards are placed face down in a draw pile. Ingredient cards come in a few flavors: actions, territories, publicity, and (a vast majority) ingredients.  For actions, territories, and publicity cards, these provide players actions that they can take. Things like scoring additional points, stealing cards, spoiling other players’ ingredients, etc. The ingredients themselves are some food item which corresponds to a food type: meat, vegetable, bread, or beans. 

A game is played over a series of turns until someone scores enough stars. On your turn, you first draw an ingredient card from the draw pile.  Then you can take any number of actions on that turn: play an action card, play territory or publicity cards, complete a recipe, or turn in some cards from your hand for new cards.

The primary goal, of course, is to complete recipes to add to your food truck. To complete a recipe, you play down ingredient cards that match all necessary ingredients shown on the recipe.  The recipe is then picked up, added to your Food Truck and new one turned over. The “harder” the recipe to complete the more stars. 

On the green ^

Foodtown is part of our “take anywhere” game collection. It regularly makes it to the restaurant table for a bunch of reasons.

Portable.  While the box is probably larger than it really needed to be, it travels easily. And you don’t need a lot of room to play since you just need enough room for things like a draw and discard pile and a place to showcase your completed recipes.

Easy to teach.  It’s pretty simple to demonstrate that the objective of the game is to match the recipe requirements with the food from your hand.  If it were just a recipe-matching game, you could play it with kids who couldn’t read.

Hilarious recipes.  I have to say, one of the best parts of the game is concocting the “worst-sounding” recipe from the matching ingredients.  Or, in my case, adding waffles to every bread-needing (kneading?) recipe.

Where it comes up short ^

So much take that.  There are a few cards that seem to make everyone upset: food drive being one of them.  These cards to provide a spark of player interaction, but they seem pretty crazy.  As a house rule, food drive is now a “donation” of at least 1 ingredient card. This means that a donating player might also be able to compute how many more cards he’d donate to get another back.  Works pretty well.

Dreaded one-card hand.  Play 4 ingredients and get a 3 star recipe, yay!  But now you get the pleasure of sitting out like 3 or 4 hands while you just “draw” a card on your turn.  I don’t think there’s an easy fix for this.

Territory & Promotion cards.  These leave a lot to be desired. They seems like victory cards, especially when mostly held until the end when victory is super close.  There’s not much to counter them when played at the end.  Also the “counter” cards are frequently discarded because they’re not all the effective against someone holding them in their hand.

They also make it hard for non-readers to play an otherwise non-reader, friendly game.

Luck of the draw.  Food Town’s not a strategic game, but it doesn’t try to be. Turns are often defined simply by luck of the draw. There’s no guaranteeing that cheese card will ever turn up. There is some mitigation, but it doesn’t help those games where you spend your turn either passing or discarding in hopes of getting a better card.

In the hole ^

Playing Foodtown at breakfast!

Foodtown Throwdown is a delicious, little set collection game. The clever ingredient cards and menu items results in combinations of tasty and disgustingly, amusing recipes. My family finds playing this game in restaurants to be a particularly good time. If you’re looking for something simple, light weight card game with a good sense of humor, Food Town is a solid pick.

Food Town Throw Down is in the hole for a Par! ^

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