Hi there. I'm Matt Hyra, R&D Lead for our board games at Cryptozoic Entertainment. This blog will work much like the R&D Blog for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, but with fewer personal attacks against fellow R&D members. If I have something interesting to share or something I'd like to get feedback on, I'll post it here.
Right now I'd like to look at some games we have already published. Later this summer I will talk about games that are hot off the presses. I'll start with Food Fight, as it was our first card game. I know I said this was a board game blog, but that was mainly for the alliteration. I was lead designer for the game, while Cory Jones came up with all of the kooky characters and flavor (food pun!). Robb Mommaerts was responsible for the tasty art.
Although the game has been out for a while, there has been a recent wave of people who have picked up the game after playing the iOS version. They want the full 6-player experience and want to play against friends who don't own an i-Device. Here are some of my recent and not-so recent thoughts:
1. If you don't plate 5 Troops in your Army, the game does not self-destruct.
You just lose each Serving that you don't participate in. As long as there is at least one player (or The Dog) still with Troops, the battle continues to resolve the typical 5 Servings. If The Dog is not present, the battle ends when the last player has revealed his last Troop. So if someone plays Flap-Jack the Ripper, that will typically end the battle before 5 Servings have been revealed.
The battle can end early with a well-timed Flap-Jack the Ripper.
In fact, you are sometimes better off with few Troops. Instants are where you can generate some real strength in battle. The fewer Troops you are dealt or draft, the more cards you will have to come over the top of an opposing Troop.
Experienced players know that you can often win a 4+ player battle with only two After-Meal Mints. When you have a hand of 5 Instants, you can usually impose your will over your opponents at the Meal.
2. The higher Victory Point Meal is not always the best Meal.
The bigger the VPs at a Meal, the more players you'll have to fight against. If you don't think you have an Army that is unstoppable, you are better off heading to a lesser Meal and (probably) facing The Dog. Knowing this, avoid putting Big Bad Bacon in your Army. Better safe than sorry.
If your Troops are weak, you are doing your opponents a favor by going for the better Meal. Your Troops are probably worse than The Dog's cards! And they might be packing Bacon.
Load up on hunger-killing Instants to take on the Dog, but leave the Big Bad Bacon on the bench if you expect to battle the ferocious canine.
At the lesser VP Meal, you will often face The Dog. Fortunately, The Dog has no Instants. So if you have Captain Cereal or Pyro Peter, you can often play a couple of Instants and score a quick Battlefield. And you might just win the Meal and earn an extra VP or two.
3. Randomized Armies create game variance and increase replayability
This is one of the more controversial aspects of the game and I understand that. However, we have played 100+ games here at Cryptozoic. With Armies ordered how you want them, the game ends up looking the same every time. Generals and Commando Steak are always your first Troop. Sergeant Sushi is always your last. It just gets old fast to see a General always first up… especially when everyone is doing it.
Tech Sergeant Toast is always followed by a Breakfast Troop. But the game loses the “YES!” factor. No one is ever surprised to see a miraculous Troop combo go off, because they are easy and routine. You can get away with tossing in Toast with just one other Breakfast Troop and be guaranteed to get the doubling effect to go off. Where is the fun in that? Doesn't it take a bit more drafting skill and strategy to make a decision like “Hmm, this Breakfast Troop is slightly weaker than this Lunch Troop, but putting in the Breakfast Troop will significantly increase my odds of getting the Toast doubling.
Tech Sergeant Toast appreciates an orderly Army as much as he appreciates a good spread.
All that being said, if you think your play group won't have fun without ordered Armies, then by all means house rule it. Once they are hooked, they should be willing to try it with randomized Armies.
That is probably enough for the first blog. Feel free to discuss any of these aspects of the game in the forums. However, if you have a rules question you want answered, it's usually a better idea to start a new thread.