How frantic do things get at your house right around dinner time?
For some reason everything just seems to percolate right at dinner time. You’re getting home from work, the kitchen may be a mess, kids are hungry and tired (and may be running around crazy), and the noise escalates causing the stress to rise.
Now try to imagine running a family restaurant where everyone’s in the kitchen or dealing with customers. Might be a little chaotic, eh.
Well then, how would you feel about playing a board game with that as the premise?
Yep! But fun too.
In Wok Star, you and the other players try to successfully run the family Chinese restaurant - preparing all the food, serving customers, and dealing with other issues that pop up along the way. So it’s a cooperative board game, but not like one we’ve played before.
If you’ve been to our board game review site before, you probably already know how much we like cooperative board games. We think cooperative games are perfect for families because you’re working together to beat the game. It’s a great way to not only build family unity, but also to involve the younger players of your family in the game.
What makes Wok Star so different?
For starters, Wok Star is a cooperative board game with two sand timers. Right there you know you’re up against the clock. It’s those timers that get your blood running a little more quickly.
The game is played in rounds. And in each round you go through a few phases. The great thing about this is that you aren’t running in frantic mode the whole time. You do get a chance to catch your breath.
The first phase is the Action phase. It’s in this phase where you’re trying to both serve customers and prepare ingredients and menu items all at the same time. You flip over one of the sand timers and draw the first customer card. That card tells you what they want to eat. With that info, you start using ingredients that make up that menu item by moving them down a row on the board. But if you run out of ingredients then you must turn the customer away.
So while this is going on, you’re also preparing more ingredients so that you don’t run out. The way you do that is through the dice. Each ingredient has their own preparation card that tells you what numbers on the die will produce a certain amount of that ingredient. But you have to be careful how you allocate your dice to ingredient cards as well because they are limited resources each round.
And if you don’t serve the customer before the timer runs out, then they also get turned away. If you turn too many customers away, you’ll lose the game because "turned away" customers give you bad publicity. And we all know you can’t have a successful restaurant if you’ve got bad publicity running rampant.
If you do successfully serve that customer, then you flip the second sand timer over and draw another customer card and keep going.
So during the Action phase, there’s a lot going on while your time is ticking away. And you don’t get to stop until you get through the customer deck.
The good news is that once you get through the deck, you have two more game phases where you can catch your breath.
After all that chaos, you go into the Accounting phase where you gather your dice back, count the completed customer cards, earn money from serving them and resolve special points.
The third phase is the Purchase phase where you spend some of your earnings on New Recipes (higher priced recipes that will earn you more money), Preparation Upgrades (more efficient use of your dice), and Advertising (get more customers in the deck to earn more money).
Of course, just like a real restaurant, there’s more here than meets the eye. While we’ve just covered the basics of the game, we hope it’s enough to give you a good taste of Wok Star.
Can the whole family enjoy Wok Star?
While Wok Star is a cooperative board game that’s great for families, we agree with the recommendation that it’s best for those ages 10 and up. Sure you could try it with younger players, but you’ll find that you’ll be doing a lot of directing and it may feel to them like you’re just playing the game for them.
But for the older gang, it’s great to see if they’ve got what it takes.
How much luck is involved in Wok Star?
We like some luck in our family board games. Sure we like good strategy games as well, but for fun light-hearted family games you need to have some luck involved to keep it interesting and entertaining. So having dice in the game is a great way to add that element of luck. But even with those dice rolls, you still get to choose where you want to allocate them on the ingredient preparation cards. So you still get to make critical decisions that will determine the outcome.
How does Wok Star score on the "Let’s Play Again" meter?
While we may need a breather between games of Wok Star, that breather doesn’t end up being very long because the kids are energized and ready to play again. For some strange reason they love frantic fun. And Wok Star sure has that.
Thanks Gabob for making a great family cooperative board game in Wok Star!
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great review! I've been very interested in Wok Star since I watched a video about it not too long ago. The frantic real time aspect of the game sounds similar to space alert which we all know can result in some crazy, hectic fun.
It also seems like it has an approachable theme, where having FUN is key. I think that my hardcore gamer friends and my more relaxed family members both may enjoy it.
I think I'm going to give this one a shot! Thanks!
Excellent review! I wish I could snag a copy of this, but alas...
Tokyo Game Market here I come!
Sorry if I'm slow in reading mails. I'm currently working hard on some Alley Thieves
am also dreaming about owning this game. The wait continues...
I own this and played it with my 10 yr old nephew and 13 yr old niece. They adored it, but my nephew got so agitated and excited by the incredible frantic tension that he threw up!!!!!!
... my nephew got so agitated and excited by the incredible frantic tension that he threw up!!!!!!
Now that's one we hadn't heard before.