Blend Off: Review

It’s January in Wisconsin, not exactly prime smoothie season. But, today, Fairway takes a look at a recent Kickstarter delivery from Thunderworks Games: Blend Off! See if Fairway can keep up with the orders in this fast-paced, dice-rolling game.

Blend Off! is a two- to four-player, frantic, dice-rolling and set collection game. I backed this game on Kickstarter and had the opportunity (or rather my daughter did) to play a version of this game with the designer.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. The art and color palette are all reminiscent of a smoothie restaurant located on some sunny Florida beach. It’s a great escape from the harsh Wisconsin January.
  2. The custom dice with colorful fruit sides are nice.
  3. The game has two play modes: real time and turn based. The latter is fantastic for playing with younger or inexperienced gamers.
  4. The rules are really simple and the game is easy to teach.
  5. The number of creative and colorful recipes.

Game play ^

In Blend Off! players are operators of two blenders in a fruit smoothie shop having to fulfill rapid-fire orders based on whatever fruit is sent their way. The game has a whole little backstory about how it comes to pass that players are put in this situation which my son found funny.

At the start of the game, each player is given a special fruit die and two blender cards. A deck of recipe cards is shuffled together and placed face down in the middle of the table. At the start, the players turn face up a number of recipes (one plus the player count) from the deck and separate into various piles a bunch of wood fruit tokens.

The game is centered around rapidly completing recipes exactly as ordered by filling one of your two blenders with the fruit required for the order.  Each recipe card has a name, some flavor text (ha!), a star value (for points), and a listing of the required fruit along the bottom.  The game also includes “special order” recipe cards that when drawn can modify the next recipe.  To complete a recipe, the player must have exactly the fruit required in a single blender.

To get the right fruit, players roll their fruit dice.  If they roll a fruit they want (or need) they take a corresponding token and plunk it down onto one of their blenders. Once the fruit is in a blender, it remains there until either the player completes a recipe or the player dumps the entire contents of the blender.

As I mentioned, there are two game modes. In the real-time version, players are rapid-fire rolling their die, collecting fruit, completing recipes, and other actions all at the same time. As players complete a recipe, they shout “Blend!”, take the matching recipe card, replace it with one from the top, and then return the fruit.  Mess any of those steps up and you’ll commit a Blender Blunder and be punished.

In the turn-taking game, the game is played one roll at time with players taking turns.

From time to time, players have hoarded all of a particular fruit token. In this case, when a player rolls that fruit again, he or she can elect to grab the terrible durian fruit and spoil a blender of another player forcing that player to dump the blender. The durian fruit quickly becomes the bad guy of the game.  Unless, of course, the one “durian” recipe card is turned up. In which case, if you’re lucky enough, you can score a boatload of points for scoring it.

In either case, the game ends when the last recipe card is completed. Players total up the number of stars on the recipes that they completed. The player with the highest score wins.

On the green ^

Components.  This game is made absolutely adorable y the nice use of components: fruit-shaped wood bits and custom dice. The fruit are all different shapes with different colors that perfectly match the dice.

Art. The illustrations are simple, bright, and happy.

Game modes. While this game is likely to appeal to fans of real-time dice rolling games, the fact that it has a leisurely alternative is nice too. This helps those of us terrible at real-time games and younger players just learning to play games.

Game play.  The game is very easy to learn and teach. You can easily play a short-game of the turn-based version to understand how it works.

Recipes. The recipes are wonderfully creative. There’s a wide variety of them with a wide array of fruit combination. It’s rare for us to get an assortment of recipes that don’t at least feature one of each fruit.

Where it comes up short ^

We don’t really have issues with Blend Off! The game is almost exactly as you’d expect it: quick, fun and light. It is worth noting the game does suffer from the same issues you’d expect in a competitive, real-time game with simultaneous actions: it’s difficult to watch other players so there’s no checks on a cheater, there’s no “breather” for players for the duration of the game, and so on.

In the hole ^

Blend Off! is a delicious treat of a game. Bright colors, fun illustrations and nice components give this game an instant appeal. The game blends these traits well with a fast-paced dice game that’s competitive and engaging. For people who aren’t fans of fast-paced dice-rolling, the game does offer a more leisurely game mode that can e just as fun. If you pick this game up, you’re getting exactly what you ordered: fun, light and sweet.

Blend Off! is in the hole for a Birdie! ^

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