Review by: Jillian Schmett
Hey everyone! This week I'm reviewing a game that is currently on Kickstarter, Cooks & Crooks. Designed by Luis Munoz and Andres Novelo, and published by Aether Tower and Detestable Games, Cooks and Crooks is a fun, light-hearted game for 2-4 players that incorporates hand management and take-that.
In the box you will find 2 rule books, one in English and one in Spanish, 1 turn counter, 20 dish cards, 56 ingredient cards, 17 trash cards, and 4 oven player mats. There are different pledge levels, so be sure to check out the Kickstarter page to see your options! (I will include a link at the bottom of this review). I used a print and play version for this review, so I cannot speak to the quality of the components, but I can say that the art is high-quality and absolutely adorable. It fits the theme and gameplay very well. There are unboxing videos showcasing prototypes available, if you're interested in checking them out (I will also include a link to one at the bottom of this page).
The object of the game is to complete the most delicious dishes, thereby scoring the most points. However, it's not so simple as it may seem! Collect items needed to complete your recipes and get them in your oven, all while trying to avoid being sabotaged by your competition and in turn doing a little sabotaging yourself.
Each turn, Players will be performing various actions that include collecting ingredients to complete their dishes, sometimes raiding other players' pantries in order to do so, cleaning the oven of trash that has been placed there by other players, preparing your dish, and sabotaging other players. The game is played over 6 rounds which each consist of every player taking one turn.
Gameplay lasts about 20-40 minutes, depending on the number of players and the group. This seemed to me like a perfect length for this game as I felt I was able to accomplish a few dishes and felt competitive without getting stale or lasting too long. It's also a great game for families, and my seven year old son was engrossed the whole time and never was distracted or bored. There isn't a lot of down-time in between turns, which was another positive point for me.
There is a fair amount of take-that, since a big part of the game is trying to sabotage other players' dishes by placing trash in their ovens, making their completed dishes worth less points. This may be a negative for some players, especially if you plan on playing with children, but for us it was not an issue. Since every round there are a couple different actions that can target players, the effects were spread out pretty evenly among everyone playing and no one felt as though they were being unfairly targeted. There was plenty of opportunity to seek revenge on someone who had recently stolen one of your ingredients or sabotaged your dish. I will say that the amount of take-that involved did make the game a little less fun at 2 players, since we were just taking turns messing with each others' pantry/oven. At 3 and 4 player counts the gameplay felt very balanced.
As I said, we played a few games with my son, and I wanted to include a few comments he made when I asked his opinion (as I always try to do with anyone I play a game I plan on reviewing with), partially because it made me a pretty proud board game mom when he said these things, and also because I think he really summed up some great points:
"This was a really good game. My favorite part was sabotaging peoples' ovens. I liked that there were special ingredients that were good when they were used in certain dishes but bad when used in the wrong ones. It was easy for you to teach me and we played quick. It is a quick, family game and I liked the mechanic of seeing what other people drew so I would know what to try to steal from them."
Yes, he really said "quick, family game and I liked the mechanic..." Can you tell I have him watch an awful lot of game reviews and read my blogs? OK, I apologize for digressing, back on track here...
To summarize, if you enjoy light, take that card games with bright colors and fun artwork, you should definitely check this one out! With a base pledge level of $25 USD, I definitely think it is worth the price. If your group is one that does not like targeting each other with negative effects, or is looking for something longer/more in depth, you may want to look elsewhere.
The Kickstarter is running through March 7.
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