John-Michael Gariepy

Food Fight: Session Impressions

In the Myriad Games Podcast on the card game Food Fight, the team is split.  People had fun playing, but its clear that we were responding more to the crisp art and sizzlin’ punnery than we were to the game mechanics.  I didn’t get much chance to play the game, watching a few rounds while working on learning another game and jumping in on a few rounds before we went to podcast.  The few rounds I played confused me… not because the game was over complex, but because I kind of expected the game to do something else.  It’s not a good sign when a guy who plays one or two new games per week is having trouble parsing your intent.

But, I didn’t play a full game, so you should take my opinion with a grain of salt.  Dan, who spends a fair amount of time criticizing the game, evaluates games from the perspective of a salesman who wants to sell a clean message.  Dan was at odds with the mechanics that encouraged you to spend a long time drafting, for too small a reward.  Is this a child’s game?  A game for teenagers?  Hard-core gamers?  If Dan can’t point a game at a particular play group, I don’t think he’s going to like it.

Brian, however, wasn’t as fried as we were, and while Sara seemed is sitting on the fence in this one, I think she may have accepted the game and how it worked if brought before a different play group.  Maybe, in the end, this is one of those games that you’d have to play for yourself to figure out if you like it or not.  Maybe.  But my guess is that it wouldn’t hurt to listen in.

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2 thoughts on “Food Fight: Session Impressions

  1. Isaiah on said:

    Hello JM, I’m a short-time reader and a first-time replier.

    Listening to the podcast, I’m reminded of the Witch of Salem, insofar as that was another card game where the group noted that it married strategy and a ton of luck. Though it seems like Food Fight represents an attempt that failed, which I think could be due to the game being too long? Unlike the Witch of Salem, where defeat could come very quickly and often for all of the group, it’s very easy to imagine that Food Fight outstayed its welcome, both thanks to its focus on being a competitive game and the drafting mechanic. From what I can tell, a luck fest usually has a short life, especially if the luck is splitting people up into winners and losers. Your words about losing the attention of a John-Micheal or an 8-year old made sense, but I’m also fairly certain that after a few minutes, even teenagers would roll their eyes about the game, both thanks to the mechanics and punniness, and give a half-hearted, “yeah, I guess” when asked if the game was fun. At least the art is beautiful in a “print this on one of those nerd t-shirts that are sold on ‘cooltee.com'” way.

    Otherwise, I’m glad you have a blog, it’s an intriguing read, and I hope that your podcast with Brian and Jeff pans out, partially to hear you guys giggling like a bunch of twelve year olds when reviewing the latest Tanto Cuore expansion.

    Isaiah

    • Hey, Isaiah! Thanks for the feedback!

      We recently did a podcast for The Hunger Games new board game by Wiz Kids, and this problem pokes its head up with that game as well. You spend a lot of time working to get the best results, but, in the end, the game becomes a bit of a Mario Party, and sometimes the person who did the best still loses (with The Hunger Games, you at least have the satisfaction of knowing that the person who did second-best will win).

      But I like Witch of Salem, and I find The Hunger Games entertaining for a play through. So what happened with Food Fight that went wrong?

      My guess is that with Hunger Games, Witch of Salem and even Mario Party, all that sense of randomness is jammed in at the very end. Sure, it feels like a cruel joke to work so hard only to have victory snatched from you, but you can still savor the fact that, had fate not been so fickle, you would have won. Food Fight, however, plays for multiple rounds. At the end of the round, fate comes in, plays three card monte, then takes off. It’s really, really hard to take a game seriously after that point. Suddenly, none of your decision making seems relevant. Who cares what happens? Why not do the funniest thing? After this point, the game falls to pieces.

      Again, this is a group by group thing. I think most people know who they’re playing with, and how serious those players are when they play. In our group, for example, Brian just enjoys the act of playing. I can’t speak for him and say he thinks that Food Fight is a fun game… but I know how the same game can drive Dan nuts, who wants to build and accomplish something.

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