Friday, January 25, 2019

Quick Review - Fry Thief by Laid Back Games - Kickstarter Preview

Fry Thief
Designed By: Patrick Rauland
Published By: Laid Back Games
2p | 10m | 12+
Quick Review - Fry Thief by Laid Back Games - Kickstarter Preview
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Do you like fries (or chips if you're from across the pond)?  Of course you do!  How about salads?  Maybe, but probably not as much as fries.  If you're trying to eat healthy though, then a salad is the way to go, because you can steal fries from your friends, and we all know that food eaten off of someone else's plate doesn't have any calories.  That's a fact* of science!  (*I may not understand the meaning of the word fact.)

If you like to live vicariously through someone else's food you may enjoy Fry Thief, a new, fast playing, asymmetrical card game for two players all about stealing (and eating) fries off of your friend's plate.  The game plays in about 10 minutes and is small enough to carry in your pocket, perfect for getting a few plays in over lunch.

Fry Thief will be available on Kickstarter starting February 5, 2019.  You'll be able to pick up a copy for only $15!
Yummy, yummy fries!
In Fry Thief each player takes a plate card and chooses a role.  The fry player starts with all twelve of the fries on their plate and the salad player starts with an empty plate.  The goal of each player is to eat more fries than the other.  The salad player has to steal fries before they can be eaten, though.  Players also have opportunities to dip fries in ketchup to double their points.  When all the fries are gone, whoever has the most points is the winner!
Try to eat as many fries as you can, before your opponent eats theirs!
Fry Thief is super easy to teach and about as easy to play.  Once players decide on their roles and give all the fries to the fry player three cards are dealt to each player.  The salad player goes first and then layer alternate turns from that point on.  On your turn you do three things: 1) Draw a card.  2) Play 1 or more cards OR Draw another card.  3) Draw or discard to your hand size - discard down to four cards if you have more, or draw up to two if you have less than two.  Shuffle the discards any time you need to draw a card and the deck is empty.  That's it!  Easy peasy!

There are only 16 cards in Fry Thief (maybe a few more if some stretch goals are hit).  Some are red cards that can be played by either player and some are split green and yellow cards.  These can also be played by any player, but each player must play the card for the effect on their side of the card.  The salad player gets the green side and the fry player gets yellow.  Most cards have an immediate effect, like Steal 2 Fries, Eat 1.  Some cards remain in play until their effect is triggered, like the Fork, which lets the salad player steal extra fries the next time they play a steal card.
16 cards make up the core of this game.
The salad player has a few more cards that let them steal fries while the fry player has a few more that let them eat fries.  This creates a tug-of-war scenario were fries are constantly moving back and forth, and eventually getting eaten.  Once eaten, fries are placed in a score pile.  A few cards let you add ketchup to a fry.  Sometimes you get to eat the fry right after dipping it, other times the fry remains in play as a more valuable fry that can be stolen back and forth until someone manages to eat it.  Ketchup covered fries are worth two points, so they can let a player catch up (see what I did there?) if they fall behind.  The game is balanced slightly in favor of the fry player, so if there's a tie the salad player gets the win (because they got free food, and free food tastes better).
Fun for all ages!
In addition to the 16 (or more) cards, the game also includes 12 wooden french fries and 6 wooden ketchup discs (maybe upgraded to splats or ketchup bottles as stretch goals).  Each player also has a play mat with a plate on it.  A rules sheet rounds out the components in the base game.  I know Patrick, the designer, is also testing some additional player powers with several characters, and I believe at least four will be in the base game as well (maybe more with stretch goals).  Those are still being tested and balanced at the time of this review.
Ketchup and fries!
Final Thoughts:

I first played Fry Thief as an early prototype at Protospiel Milwaukee in April, 2018.  I thought it was fun, but still needed some work to make the cards interesting and balanced.  I played again at Protospiel Madison in early December 2018 and was pleased to see that the game had matured quite a bit.  The game was much more interesting and tactical, cards were more balanced, and the game had artwork and components that were close to final.  I had quite a bit of fun playing and was fortunate enough to bring a copy home for this review.
A very early version of Fry Thief at Protospiel Milwaukee in April, 2018.
Playing Fry Thief at Protospiel Milwaukee in December 2018 with the designer Patrick Rauland.
After playing about a dozen games, I've found that Fry Thief still holds up.  Right now it feels like it's balanced a bit too much in favor of the fry player (although I've won games playing both roles), however I've been talking with Patrick, the designer, and a few cards are still being tweaked in order to shift the balance a bit more in favor of the salad player.  The salad player really has an uphill battle, having to steal the fries first.  Given the right combination of cards at the start of the game the fry player can eat two or three fries on the first turn.  This removes a good portion of the potential points from the game very early on, making it even harder for the salad player to gain an advantage.  However, a few cards have been changed since I got my copy, tempering the fry player's strength a bit, and giving the salad player a few more opportunities to make bigger plays.  I think this will really keep the game exciting and balanced.
I've won every game I've played so far...  Just saying...  =)
Fry Thief plays in about 10 minutes, and it's pretty small, so you can take it out just about anywhere.  It has a small table presence, so it doesn't take up much room at all.  It's perfect for playing at lunch at your favorite fast food joint or local diner.  I've had a blast playing it, and my sons have even pulled it out to play on their own a few times (something they only occasionally do with my review games).  If you enjoy fast, tactical fillers, Fry Thief will be an excellent addition to your collection.  It's always a blast to play!

Be sure to check out Fry Thief on Kickstarter on February 5.  It's a great game that you can get for only $15!

Preliminary Rating: 7/10

This review is of a prototype game.  Components and rules are not final and are subject to change.

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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