Thumb up
2 Posts

Menu Masters» Forums » Reviews

Subject: First impressions rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Jeff Pearce
msg tools
This is my first impressions from a 2 player game of the board game Menu Masters.

Originally received along with Hive Mind and Running with the Bulls as part of the Titans of Gaming kickstarter, Menu Masters immediately impressed with a beautiful looking box and art.

I was impressed further when I took the game out. The first player piece is a lovely Chef figure which reminded me of Chef Gusteau from the Pixar film Ratatouille. The player boards are nice and solid, and really very thick. Each comprises a small bio on the character, with the remainder being devoted to some very fun and colourful art.

Gameplay won't require you to cover these boards though, with only the left side being used for completed menus (objectives), and underneath being used as storage for ingredients.

Gameplay is relatively simple and the game takes only a few minutes to set up. On a players turn, they may use one of their four stacker pawns to go to one of the three available locations (or four, in a larger player count game), each of which holds three cards based on that stores goods.

The three locations are the Produce Store, the Butcher, and the Bakery. Placing your pawn on the board signifies you want to get one of the three goods from the store. Each player does this in turn, however, if they want a good from the same store, they place their stacker token beneath yours, and this is where the unique gameplay aspect kicks in.

The more tokens at a store drives the price up. For instance, you may want two items from the same store, and thats perfectly acceptable. You place your stacker token on it. The next player may want one, and so they place one. You place your final token there too. So you have a stack of three tokens, with your tokens being on the top and bottom, and the other player's being in the middle.

Once all tokens have been placed, the buy phase starts and the top player, starting from the Produce Store and moving to the butcher and then the bakery, may make a purchase. The cost of the good is designated by the number of tokens on the board. In the example above, the first good would cost 3 coins for the top player. They could choose to pay this cost or leave the store empty-handed. The second player could choose to purchase a good for 2 coins, or decide not to make a purchase. The first player has the final token, which means they can make a final purchase for one coin.

Each board is done in the same manner. The next phase is the owner phase, where players who placed their token on top of the board, on the stack of cards that keeps the shop in goods can take their coins for their troubles. Placing a token here ensures you cannot make any purchases from the store in question, and only one player can own a store, though one player could theoretically own all of them, should they do so.

The other action players can take during their turn is to place their token on their personal bank, which has only two coins. Doing this nets them a coin to be used in a later round.

The competition clearly comes from buying the goods required for your personal menus (you start with two), as well as the menus that are communally available (of which there are three). A menu can be completed at any time during a players turn and the first player to three ends the game.

The ingredient values (they are scored by a star system) are then added from completed menus, with the highest being the winner.

In my first play I immediately identified a flaw with only two players. There is minimal disruption. Four tokens was too many and we decided to change to a house rule of three tokens. With the fight over the few menus available and the few ingredients that were actually what we needed (and the fact that there is a limit of 6 ingredients per player), we added a new menu each round one wasn't completed, which helped move ingredients that weren't moving.

It happened twice that we were stuck with the same ingredient taking up all three places in a location and neither of us wanted or needed it. Hence locking up that location until a menu provided us with the necessary ingredient.

Additionally, it was to easy for one player to take the majority of the available coins, and holding them, slowly and wisely making purchases and then completing all the menus necessary to quickly win.

It feels really imbalanced for two players and my partner didn't enjoy it with just the two of us playing. In the future we plan to play it with more players - which I think will help alleviate the issues we quickly identified.

Apart from that its a solid game. The art is beautiful and it plays quick and is fun. It just feels over-engineered.

The box could very easily have removed half of the boards and the game would be none the lesser for it. There is a lot of extraneous components and pieces that are essentially part of the game without truly needing to be so. The player boards are massive and aren't really needed. The communal boards are massive but they only need to hold the cards, and you could have a small ribbon on top saying what each one is, and a locator that the available ingredient cards should be placed beneath.

For all that feels overdone with the game I can see this being fun in larger groups. I'll tinker with it to bring the two player up to what Im sure the 3+ player experience is. In the meantime, this is a recommended only for players who can bring 3+ players to the game.

 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
United States
flag msg tools
"Goes to show, you don't ever know, Watch each card you play and play it slow..."
Charles Stoddart (artwork from Pax Pamir 2e)
Senno wrote:
For all that feels overdone with the game I can see this being fun in larger groups. I'll tinker with it to bring the two player up to what Im sure the 3+ player experience is. In the meantime, this is a recommended only for players who can bring 3+ players to the game.

I agree and would go a step further and say that if you have 4 players, skip the Supermarket or otherwise play with 5 or 6 players and use it. At that point there are some interesting interactions and efficiency curves to tackle, but the game needs to be tighter and in it's current form it doesn't scale across player counts for that (much, in the same manner as Indonesia doesn't scale and instead has a different feel at each player count). That's neither good nor bad, but it narrows the band at which the game is enjoyable for different people (depending on what they are after).

It's a kid's game, and I think if I were teaching children, I'd have 3 players, but for adults, it's almost a minimum of 4 or 5 (as noted above). I'm impressed with the game, it does some neat things, and it's surprisingly robust for a children's game. (also, I agree, 6/10)
 Thumb up
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.