No soup. No salad. No entree. Just desserts! Today Jeremiah reviews the latest concoction to come out of Looney Labs: Just Desserts.
Just Desserts is a card game for 2-4 players in which you're a server at a desserts-only cafe, trying to take care of guests who come in with certain tastes that are on your tray (cards in your hand). This is a filler game that plays in anywhere from 10-40 minutes.
So, should you serve up Just Desserts at your next game night? Or send it back to the kitchen? Let's find out!
The game is made up of two types of cards:
Dessert Cards--these cards are drawn into your hand and have desserts on them, as well as a list of ingredients that make up the dessert using a combination of the eight dessert types (pastry, cake, fruit, spices, etc)
Guest Cards--These are the folks you're trying to serve. Many of them have a favorite dessert and all of them have types of desserts they like, which match the suits of the Dessert Cards. They're also broken into six color types, which is important to know because that's how you win the game.
You win the game by collecting three guests of the same color, or five guests of different colors. How do you collect them? That is the perfect segue to the gameplay!
It's hard to mess up cards as a component, and Looney Labs is old hat at making cards. These are quality cards with fun illustrations. My boys really enjoyed the visuals on them!
Players are dealt three Dessert Cards and then three Guest Cards are turned over on the table. On a player's turn he or she draws a Dessert Card, turns over another Guest Card, and then has a few options:
Claim up to two Guests. You do this by either playing that Guests favorite (which earns you a tip of drawing an extra Dessert Card) or playing a combination of desserts that satisfy all of the Guest's preferences.
Go back to the kitchen. Basically you're passing this turn and get to draw an extra Dessert Card.
Dump your tray. This lets you discard any number of Dessert Cards and redraw that many.
You keep taking turns until someone wins!
The gameplay is really basic, and easy to teach. I was able to get my wife caught up to speed quickly and even though the box says ages 8 & up, my six-year-old has no problems with the game (except for maybe keeping his cards organized).
There are a few variants you can add to make the game more advanced, which allow you to poach or block. Poach allows you to, once on your turn, claim a guest someone else has already claimed. This can be blocked if the player getting poached can discard cards to re-satisfy that guest.
You can also play with the Open a Buffet variant that allow you to play four cards that have only a single dessert type to force the other players to move one of their claimed guests back into the diner. You also get to draw three cards when you do this!
And lastly the Surprise Party happens when a player is claiming a guest without using a favorite. You can SURPRISE them by playing the favorite and snag that Guest instead!
Unless you're playing with kids the advanced variants are almost a must for the game. The basic game is okay, but doesn't offer much in the way of decision making. You're really at the mercy of the cards. Adding the variants in adds a good deal of tension and timing decisions: Should I use my aces and open the field up a bit? Or should I claim that card now? Or wait to poach a card to keep another player from winning? So there becomes much more interaction with the players cards moving around not just staying in place once they've been claimed. It definitely feels more like what we expect from Looney Labs!
Jeremiah's Final Verdict--Just Desserts fits into the family game slot very nicely. It's a fun light theme with light gameplay mechanics. With games like Sushi Go, and Best Treehouse Ever raising the bar in the family niche, Just Desserts holds its own as a set-collection game in a quickly growing forest of drafting games. Grab this one for your next family night!
We'd like to thank Looney Labs for providing Jeremiah with a review copy of Just Desserts. This in no way affected his opinion.
Thanks for reading!