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Subject: Having Dim Sum Fun Now - A Dice Hate Me review rss

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Dice Hate Me
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HAPPY NEW YEAR! No, not that new year, Westerners - today is the day for celebrating Chinese New Year. This will be the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac, which typically portends a peaceful time and a thankful respite between the tumultuous years of the Tiger and Dragon, which come before and after. Since I don’t have a true Chinese game to review - particularly since Go has been around for thousands of years, with thousands of reviews - I thought I’d celebrate with a little something... different. So grab your firecrackers and some Fu dice - it’s time to kick some cookie!


Mmm Kung Pow and Dice. A delicious take-out.

On the surface, Cookie Fu seems to be nothing more than a festival of dice-tossing. On each turn, the two Fu fighters gather up their Fu dice and a special Clan die and roll them, keeping the result secret from each other. The Clan die are used to determine initiative. The basic results are much like rock, paper, scissors - a whole cookie is better than a crushed cookie, a fortune is better than a whole cookie, while a crushed cookie ruins a fortune. The fighters reveal their Clan die, compare, and this determines initiative. The Fu fighter with the best initiative acts first, and that can include passing - waiting to see what the other fighter does before acting. The fighter with the first move can select one or more of their hidden die to make an attack, and the other fighter can react with a block, if they are able with their available die. If the attacked fighter reacts with a die to block, then the attacker gets another turn to attack. If the opponent is unable to block, or chooses not to, then the opponent gets a chance to make an attack. A round continues until both fighters have exhausted available die in their pools, or until a fighter has passed twice. In the basic game, each fighter has 10 hit points, and whomever can reduce their opponent to zero hit points without being reduced to zero themselves during a round wins the game.


Basic Fu.

In the basic game, each fighter starts with three basic Fu dice to make attacks. On the faces of the basic die are six different symbols: strike, kick, block, grab, throw and chi. Some symbols make very basic attacks - the strike and the kick are single-die attacks that deal one damage to the opponent. Other moves require combinations, such as the grab/throw, which requires the play of a grab die and a throw die. This does two points of damage to an opponent. The chi die, in the basic game, allows an attacking fighter to use a chi power - either heal (which gives them back a hit point), or a chi blast, which does one point of damage. Of course, opponents are able to block these attacks if they have the appropriate die available in their remaining pool for the round.

As one can imagine, the basic game really is pretty much a luck-based festival of dice tossing, but its only true purpose is to teach the underlying mechanics. The real meat of the game lies in the booster dice that each Fu fighter can add to their die pool as they progress through the advanced ranks. Depending on the rank level the fighters decide upon, the booster dice add more choices and more strategy. For instance, the basic die have one of each icon, but each yellow Learned die have two of a particular icon, increasing the chances for grabs, kicks and throws. The orange Master dice have three of a particular Fu icon, and the green Grand Master die have four. There are a total of 55 dice to further customize each fighter, making for awesome variety.


Advanced Fu.

Each booster die also adds another possible chi point. These chi points can be used during a round, or saved up over successive rounds and used later, to activate special Cookie Fu moves that are detailed in the rule book. Depending on the rank level chosen, Fu fighters are able to choose and add to their available attacks one or more of these special moves at the beginning of the game to beef up their options. Fu moves can range from a "basic" 350 Degree Kick which, if unblocked, deals an additional point of kick damage to an opponent, to a "grandmaster" move (requiring 4 chi points) like the 10 Min. Crispy Crunch, which allows the fighter to use 6 strikes over the next 2 rounds. This Chinese buffet of special moves are what adds a lot of variety and replay value to the game.

Cookie Fu features three base fighter types - Chocolate Ox, Vanilla Hare, and Coconut Monkey - each featuring a particular strength in attacks or defenses. These varied special moves are given to the fighters in the form of fortunes, contained within actual fortune cookies included with the game. The cookies are a gimmick, no doubt, but they serve as an even greater aid to variety on top of the special moves available to each fighter in the rule book.


Cookie Fu.

My wife and I were both surprised by the complexity of this game that, at first, seemed like a simple die-rolling contest. Granted, through most of our plays, I stayed true to my name and ended up getting my face smashed in quite a few times by Monkey because of bad die rolls. However, as the booster dice were added in and strategic choices were added to the mix, I was able to stave off bad luck by making smart defensive choices and clever storage of my chi dice to activate very helpful special moves. Overall, I feel that any lover of Saturday matinee chop-socky flicks - or those that just love to see those bones hit the table over and over - will discover a wealth of good fortune in Cookie Fu.

Gameplay/Replay
5 Surprisingly for a dice game, the advanced rules for Cookie Fu allow for a very immersive strategic experience. The variety of special moves that can be chosen to augment each fighter is extremely diverse, and there is a tremendous amount of room to grow through expansions. The clan-specific special moves for Chocolate Ox, Vanilla Hare and Coconut Monkey seem cool and useful. Replay value is very high because of the depth and variety inherent in the base set. Also, because the game is so flexible - allowing players to choose their level of complexity - young fighters will have little trouble getting into the game and keeping up with older, more experienced Cookie Fu masters.

Components & Theme
3 The dice are really something special, with a great hand feel and deep icon impression that will hold up well through many plays. Despite the really cool Fu dice that are the core of the game, Cookie Fu scores low on components because of the rule book. The interior is designed to look like a Chinese take-out menu, but the structure results in a classic case of design driving function, rather than the reverse. Fortunately, a new rule book is in the works with an improved layout and some play examples. The Clan fortune cookies are a neat gimmick, but keeping up with the strips of paper inside each that detail special Clan moves could prove to be a pain, in the long run.

Fun
5 At first, I wasn't sure I would enjoy Cookie Fu - after all, there are a LOT of decisions decided by the luck of a die roll. However, even during the basic game, my wife and I found ourselves really getting into the spirit of the game with cries of "I chi you!" "Oh yeah? I chi block you! Take that, and a roundhouse kick to the face!" For those that are willing to let loose and get into the underlying spirit of the game, Cookie Fu can offer up dim sum fun for a lot of players.

Overall Score:
535
13 out of 18
For those that can stomach the sometimes-confusing but very delicious menu of options, Cookie Fu will prove a filling treat.

This review was originally published on my board games blog www.dicehateme.com
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Nick Witchey
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Thanks for the review! It was very timely as I just put Cookie Fu in my wish list on CoolStuffInc. Still, I have a couple of questions.

First, what is the minimum number of packs/boosters required to allow two players to create decent dice pools?

Second, would an 8 year old be able to play?
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Dice Hate Me
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Toxidyne wrote:
Thanks for the review! It was very timely as I just put Cookie Fu in my wish list on CoolStuffInc. Still, I have a couple of questions.

First, what is the minimum number of packs/boosters required to allow two players to create decent dice pools?

Second, would an 8 year old be able to play?


Thanks, I'm glad you liked the review!

Did you put a Battle Royale pack on your wish list at CoolStuffInc? There are more than enough dice to form a decent pool with just that pack. If you really want to pile it on, I would think a couple more boosters on top of that would do the trick for quite awhile.

I would think that a very sharp 8 year old could pick it up after an adult helped them through the rules. I definitely think an 8 year old could play the basic game.
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Nick Witchey
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Yes, it was the 2 player Battle Royal!
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Dice Hate Me
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Toxidyne wrote:
Yes, it was the 2 player Battle Royal!


Yeah, so I'd grab that pack, see how you like it and then order up some booster packs if you want to kick some more cookie.
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Nick Witchey
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Thanks! I placed my order today. It should be here in about a week or so.
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