Stir Fry Eighteen is a tasty card game featuring just 18 cards that serves as a delicious filler on game night even if sometimes the recipe seems a little off.
From 2 to 5 players try to cook up the best stir fry recipes from the cards in their hand. Three very valuable cards of the 18 are proteins: shrimp, pork and chicken. Those cards are key ingredients if you want to make a stir fry that’s worth a lot of points (and the first player to 50 points through making stir-frys wins). The right other ingredients cards, such as ginger, mushrooms or green onions, can combine with your protein for a boost in points. Another nutritious benefit of protein: the cards can be turned in solo to get more cards into your hand.
The deck has 5 noodle cards, which are worth just 1 point. Problem is, it’s not a stir fry without them. This makes these cards precious, and players will be rummaging through the deck for them throughout the game.
When a player’s turn begins, he gets to draw a card. To get more, he either has to turn in one of the protein cards or a matching pair of cards face down. Why face down? Because the player can, well, fib about what they are turning in. Is it really a pair? Is it really a shrimp, worth 4 cards, or is it just a cleverly pawned off soy sauce?
The other players have to decide. Do they take the risk of a taste test and check what’s being turned in? If one catches a fellow chef in a fib, that player loses the right to draw cards this turn, and the one who caught them gets to draw an extra one on theirs. Perform a taste test on someone who is telling the truth, however, and the penalty is harsh: All the cards in the accuser’s hands are tossed into the discard pile. If the false accuser has no cards, they lose 5 points!
My game group has had a bit of fun with this game: it can be taught quickly, inspires some fun bluffing and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Players seem to get a bit gun-shy about accusing someone of fudging, because the loss of cards seems like a stiff penalty. It puts one several turns away from scoring a stir fry again, while others might be scoring almost every turn. The risk is a little too potent for the reward, it seems.
That said, it’s been a well-liked (and very affordable and portable) filler in our group. If your group likes a quick bluffing game that has some big risk in it, Stir Fry Eighteen might be to your taste.