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Subject: A Dash of Something Else: My Pie Town Review rss

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United States
Smyrna
Delaware
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I love the work that Renegade Game Studios has been putting out lately. I was very excited to try Pie Town because of the dice manipulation/placement and deduction elements it promised. I have played the game twice at 2 and 3 player counts. Based on those plays, I was left a little underwhelmed. Let me break this game down into a few elements for anyone unfamiliar with it.

Deduction:
Trying to figure out other players' secret recipes doesn't seem largely beneficial nor does really trying to protect your own info. You have to spend your higher dice, placing them on top of opponents dice in certain public spaces, to peek at opponents ingredients. However, those same worker dice would be much more beneficial if placed elsewhere to gain ingredients, bake/sell pies, hire more workers, or upgrade your shop. At game end, knowing your opponents' recipes scores you a max of 4 points per player... just 4 points?! The best possible "sell" actions nets a player 22 points so it's a bit strange to have such a low bonus for an end-game scoring objective.
*Side note - the subtitle of this game is "Spies, Lies, and Apple Pies"; however, there is no bluffing element to this game so I'm not sure where the "lies" part comes into play. I would love some input about this if possible!

Dice Placement:
For me, the most engaging thing about dice/worker placement games is the process of making decisions about where to go first so that you aren't blocked by other players. Aside from not getting the ingredients you want or an opportunity to sell pies this round, the sense of urgency to place here or there is largely missing from this game. Each player has their own 2x3 board meant to represent their pie shop; however, only 1 space on the board (baking) remains relevant from the beginning of the game through the end. For example, once all 3 upgrade opportunities have been taken, the upgrade space is useless. Once your 2 extra dice are hired, the hire space is useless. An entire space is devoted to showing you that your baked pies are worth 1 or 2 vp (based on upgrading the space).

Dice Manipulation:
When the game starts, you have 2 worker dice in your personal supply with 2 extras waiting to be hired. Your starting dice have 2 and 3 values. Various spaces on the board have +1, -1, or -2 icons on them. When a die is retrieved from these spaces at the end of the round, their values are modified based on the icon present. This element seemed fairly well thought out as you were downgraded in exchange for any action that increases your worker/ingredient pools or allowed you to change up your secret recipe. However, approximately halfway through the game, players start placing their 5 and 6 level workers in the orchard, snatching up large majorities of the available ingredients. Once players have already maxed out their upgrades and dice pools, their dice will never decrease in value and this feels somewhat broken.

All in all, I want to love this game. I've even created player screens to help hide your ingredients as you sort them to determine which type of pies you'll be baking this turn. This game had a lot of promise but, as I suggested with my title, it feels like Pie Town needed a dash of something else before it hit the table.
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Mario Nuñez Jimenez
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Madrid
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Thank you for you review!
 
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