- Pat CUnited States
This review was originally gonna have a lot of fruit puns. I decided not to go that route in the end. You're welcome.
Genre: Strategy filler.
Theme: Apples (obviously).
Mechanisms: Memory, Take that, Elimination.
Go ahead. Take a bite.
The purpose of a filler game is to help pass a short amount of time, usually 10 to 20 minutes, be it because you're waiting for a more complex game to be setup or you're waiting on your food order to arrive and so forth. For me, the usual go-tos for fillers have included titles like Love Letter, Coup, No Thanks, and Onitama (if it's just me and another person). Late last year, I've had another game added into the cycle: A card game from independent developers Almost a Game called Wicked Apples.
The object of the game is to avoid eating the titular Wicked apples. If that sounds easy, well it...kinda is. At least for the first round. Soon you could be dealing with new apples and limitations on what you can do on your turn, which may end with you having no other option but to swallow a tough pill. A tough, wicked, apple-sized pill.
Choose (chews?) wisely.
Each player is given a bucket card, a Wicked apple, and 3 non-Wicked apples from the deck. Players then look at the apples they were given and place them face-down in front of them. Starting with the player whose bucket number is lowest, players choose to either peek at one of their cards or pass a card to an opponent. After all the players make their choice, they each pick 1 apple to eat and reveal their choices simultaneously. Starting with the lowest-numbered apple, each player resolves the action as written on the card, then put the apple in their bucket (unless told otherwise) making that the new bucket number. Any player who had the unfortunate distinction of choosing a Wicked apple is eliminated from the game and gives away all their uneaten apples. After all the apples have been resolved, any players still in the game play the next round, going by the new bucket number order. If only 1 player is remaining after resolving, that player is the winner. Keep in mind that it's possible that everyone can be eliminated before a round ends, which results in everyone losing. Lather, rinse, and repeat for as many games as you'd like as there is no "first to X" win condition.
Many different apples await you from Frozen to Curious to...wait, is that an orange?
So let's talk about the apples themselves. As mentioned before, each apple is assigned a different number to determine which gets played first when they're eaten. With the buckets taking numbers 1 through 5, the apples go from 6 through 28, with the Wicked apples fittingly taking the number 13. A majority of the apples listed higher than the Wicked apples also have a little symbol on them called the "shared apple icon." When the Sharing apple (numbered 12) is played that round, the next apple to be played with that icon is played by everyone rather than just the person who played it. Aside from the Wicked apples, there are no duplicates in the deck, meaning you'll have 22 unique apples to deal with. And 3 apples per player means you'll have a different variety of apples every game.
THE GOOD AND THE BAD
So as per usual with filler games, Wicked Apples has a very simple rule set to follow that'll allow anyone to easily jump in and play. The cards have a nice linen finish to them as well as rounded corners, which is ideal for a game like this. The game doesn't come with any additional add-ons like tokens or coins or what-have-yous to keep track of so setup and cleanup of the game is done rather quick. And speaking of quick, a game of Wicked Apples can wrap up in a just a few minutes, given everyones luck and knowledge of the game.
Of course, one thing that'll drive a lot of people away from this game before they even get to play it is the price tag of $15, which some might find to be too much for a game that comes in a package smaller than your average deck of playing cards. Another knock on this game is that, while you can play this game with 2-players, you really shouldn't. A lot of passing back-and-forth between 2 people honestly just makes the game more boring than fun. I would suggest coming up with a variant if you wanna give a 2-player game a shot. And finally, a big turn-off for those who aren't fans of the mechanic will notice that this game is full of "take thats" since the whole purpose of the game is trying to get your opponents to eat the Wicked apples, be it by luck or through force. The game labels itself as "strategic chaos" on the box so you shouldn't be surprised by it when you buy it.
BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!
In the regular game, you bite apple. In Seasonal, apple bites you!
For an additional $5, you can get a special pack called the "Seasonal pack." This pack contains 4 holiday-themed apples that replace the apples from the base game with the same number. To be precise, Sharing, Rotten, Curious, and Crab get replaced by Sparkling, Zombie, Peppermint, and Loved. The Sparkling and Loved apples also include a special icon called the "trapple icon" where if you happen to peek on your turn and it happens to be one of those cards, you must eat that apple immediately. According to the creators, this is a one-time print so once these packs are gone, they're gone for good.
So the big question here is "How do I like them apples?" And my answer is that I like these apples just fine. The game does everything a filler game needs to do. It's short, it's easy to learn, and most importantly, it's fun. Now this game is not gonna be the next Love Letter or Coup. I'll still pick those games over this one when it's game night and someone wants to play something quick. Having said that, if we need something different from the usual fair, or if I wanna bring a game on the go that won't take up a load of space in my jacket pockets, Wicked Apples will definitely be my game of choice.
Wicked Apples is available for $15 for the base game and $20 with the seasonal cards and can be found at https://www.almostagame.com
FINAL SCORE: 7 Fujis out of 10.
- [+] Dice rolls