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Matt
United Kingdom
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That's my perp! Futsie, all right - crazy as a coot! He's got to be stopped!
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The setting of Safranito is a busy Indian market with traders bargaining for the ingredients that they need to create flavoursome blends of spices. The winner is the fist player to present three spice blends to the Maharajah.

Players toss satisfyingly weighted ceramic chips onto the playing board, trying to land them in spice bowls or special action spaces. The chips have a hole through the centre; if even the tiniest part of a bowl can be seen through the hole then the chip is deemed to be in the bowl. This is a neat way of helping decide if a chip is ‘in’ or’ out’, the only problem is that the contrast between the background of the board and the rim of the bowls isn’t that great so on occasion it can still be a little hard to be certain.

There is only so much an artist can do when given the task of illustrating various bowls of spices, but the Michael Menzel has done a sterling job in designed a rich ,warm, lavishly illustrated board that really captures the atmosphere of a bustling Indian market. The board is made of very thick card and has a built-up rim around the perimeter that helps keep the chips on the board and allows for dome sneaky rebound shots. The board comes in two sections that fit snugly together, but we still found that the seam sometimes deflects your chips. Solutions to maintain fairness include allowing players to move around the board when taking their throws or rotating the board between turns to ensure that the same player does not have the possible disadvantage of an uneven seam throughout the entire game.

Each turn players take it in turns to toss their chips onto the board; each chip has a rupee value ranging from ten to sixty, but since chips are thrown face down these values remain hidden from other players. Players take it in turns to throw their chips onto the board until they have used up their allocation, the results of these throws are then determined.

First the special action spaces are judged, the player with the highest total value of rupees in each space gets to perform the action. These actions range from, throwing an extra chip, gaining an extra spice card, gaining an extra blend card or becoming the Head chef (this role is important because they get to win all ties and blend their spices first).

The head chef then decides the order in which the various spice bowls are evaluated. All of the rupees in the bowl are turned face up and players first have the option to sell any matching spice cards in their hand for the total value of the rupees. The player with the highest single rupee chip then gets the chance to buy a spice of that type for the value of the chip. This is assuming that such a spice is available, as only a certain number enter the market at the beginning of each turn.

If you are running short of money and have two spare ginger cards in you hand then you may wish to try and toss your 60 and 40 rupee chips into the ginger bowl, even if no other players’ chips are in the bowl you would still get to sell you ginger spice cards for 100 rupees each. That is assuming that no other players get wise to your plan and try and knock your chips from the bowl. Or another example suppose you know your opponent is after some garlic, you don’t really want it yourself (maybe you have a hot date coming up) but if you toss your 10 rupee chip into the garlic bowl then you opponent may have to pay over the odds to acquire the card or call your bluff.


Things that may put some players off are the random drawing of cards that can give lucky players an unfair advantage. Also the game is quite confrontation with plays knocking their opponents chips off those much sought after spices. This leads to another possible dislike in that the game can get a bit chaotic, with chips ricocheting all over the board. But, in my opinion Marco Teubner has created a marvellous game that can be enjoyed by all the family in around 30 minutes. The game is largely one of dexterity but Marco has skilfully seasoned the recipe with just enough strategy to add and extra element. Safranito may not be a main course but it is an enjoyable side dish for all those who want something a little different from the usual Euro servings.
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Cliff Roberts
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Barstow
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Excellent review. I appreciate the idea of board rotation for dealing with the "seam" issue. This also evens out the game for equal chances at certain spices without moving around the board. Some of those farther away bowls are much easier to rebound into than those stinking close ones that I always overshoot.

We always play with the spice cards FACE-UP in our "hands". It adds a bit of strategy (without violating the rules, which are unclear on that point from my initial readings), even though the end game is less of a surprise. My wife loves this one, and she's actually found a dexterity game she can beat me at, although still not with regularity.
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Todd
United States
Bridgewater
Massachusetts
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This game was a huge surprise for me personally. I ended up requesting it again. Enough strategy to keep you interested and just kind of an oddball mix to begin with. I had never heard of it before playing it.
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Andy Andersen
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Good review. This is now on my radar
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