"Don't want to argue; I don't want to debate; don't want to hear about what kind of food you hate! You won't get no dessert until you clean off your plate; so eat it. Just eat it."
- Weird Al
Today we scoop up a serving of moldy atomic buffalo wings globbed with peanut butter, and take aim at "What the Food?", a take-that, throw-down, school-cafeteria-style food-fight game for 2-8 players! (Too many hyphens!)
Should you serve this up on your table? Or leave in on the shelf to rot? Will we keep making terrible food-based word plays? Only one way to find out...
Title - What the Food?
Publisher - Squirmy Beast Games
Number of players - 2-8
Play time - 30 Minutes
Category/Genre - Take-That/Card Combat
- Easy to learn.
- Lots of player interaction.
- A fun theme.
- Take-that card-play.
- Interesting second-guessing.
- Lengthy setup.
- Take-that card-play.
- Questionable character choices
Youth Group? Yes!
* Firestone: 4
Given my dislike of take-that games, this is quite high for me...
* Jeremiah: 7.4
This is a fun light weight game that is great with casual gamers and larger crowds.
This is a card game so there are a ton of cards, as well as a sweet hamburger First Player marker.
Players are randomly dealt one of eight character cards, and then they receive their character's Special Action card. Each player is then dealt randomly a Targeting card, and given the 3 beginning (or basic) Action cards - Duck, Grab, and Throw. The event cards are set aside, and all Food, Topping, Condition and Action cards are shuffled together, and then each player is dealt two cards and five cards are turned over to make up "the Floor" and three cards are discarded to create the "trash can". All of the Event cards are shuffled into the deck and the first round begins with the player who was dealt the relish Targeting card.
The game is played in a series of rounds. At the beginning of the round players use their Targeting cards to determine which player they're going to target for that turn. This is done by simply pointing your Targeting card at the player you intend to attack for this turn.
Players then select three of their Action cards, and place them face down in a stack with the Action they want to do first on top, second in the middle, and third on the bottom. Players then flip over their first Action card and, beginning with the first player, proceed clockwise to resolve their first Actions for this round. Once all Actions have been resolved, all players flip their second card and resolve it, and so on, until all three Actions have been taken. The Start Player marker moves, and players then select a new target, three new Action cards, and do it again.
Here's a quick look at the basic actions -
Grab— This lets you either grab any two Food-type items or one card of any type. These can be grabbed from the Floor, the Trash Can, or the Draw Pile. If it's an event it's played and resolved immediately.
Duck— If a player is ducking and other players are targeting them with a throw action this round, they're not hit by the flung food.
Throw— You get to throw on Food or Topping card, or a combination of Food, Topping, and Condition cards at the player you targeted this round. You have to throw at least one card even if they ducked. If you successfully hit another player they take a number of Humiliation tokens determined by what they were hit with. A single Food, or Topping card will hit for one point, a combination of a Food AND a Topping card hits for 2. You can also add a Condition to a Food OR a Topping card to hit for 3 points. Or you can go for the most humiliating attack of them all: a Food AND a Topping AND a Condition card, which will not only place four Humiliation tokens on a player, but, according to the rules, will incite a "What the Food?" response in which all the players at the table are obliged to shout in unison "What the FOOD?".
The game continues until someone receives 10 Humiliation tokens, and at that point whoever has the fewest Humiliation tokens wins the game.
Jeremiah—The overall theme, artwork, and graphic design of this game is light and fun. It reminded me of a "The Simpsons" type of environment where anything goes in a fun and comical way.
Firestone—Yeah, I definitely liked the art style, and theme. A food fighting game is just a fun idea. The pictures popped, and the characters were evocative—like a pickled Don Bluth film smothered in anchovies...
Jeremiah—My family had a lot of fun with this one. My five-year old can hold his own with us, and loves the idea of flinging food at me. This is another game where my boys enjoy teaming up and trying to take me down.
Firestone—Yeah, my 9-year-old was super excited to fling food at Mom and Dad. There's a little too much reading for my 6-year-old, and we had to help him quite a bit with understanding cards and determining which Actions he'd take. I'm not sure they were having much "fun" after the first couple of rounds. The theme was still drawing them in, but the gameplay was starting to lose its luster a bit. Add to that the fact that you're targeting people, so when they got targeted, they got hurt. Yes, this is something we need to work on in them, but it's also a key mechanism for take-that games.
Jeremiah—While everything is pretty whimsical and light, there were a few characters that I try to shy away from when playing with my kids. Obese Denise (and her "Eat" Special Action), while not exactly portrayed in a distasteful or hateful way, may not be instilling the loving values I would like my children to display to all people. I get that it's a food fight, and I still enjoy the game, and I'm not horrified this character is in the game. I just may pull it out the next time I'm playing with my kids.
Firestone—Yeah, seeing characters such as Obese Denise and Suzy Floozy really disappointed me. Sure it's easy to just remove those cards, but it makes me feel like this was designed by the guys behind Animal House... The other thing was that my 9-year-old said, "So, uh, Dad, are we allowed to, um, say the name of the game? Because that doesn't really sound like...something we should...say..." And it's not. It's obvious it's supposed to make us think of "What the efff? Maybe I'm making assumptions that this was also a family game, but it's doing small things to miss that mark, IMO.
Jeremiah—There are a few things that could have improved the game and components, in my opinion. The event cards are super swingy, and really throw the game for a loop. I suppose that's what they were going for, but when I had a handful of great cards and was ready to unleash them and suddenly had to pass them to the person on my left... I made plenty of unhappy mutterings. The second thing, and this doesn't really affect gameplay, is that there are a lot of cards to sort out and hand out during the setup. Could they have made the box a little bigger with more partitions for character cards, basic actions etc? Yes. Do either of these things kill this game for me? Nope. I still had a lot of fun with it and will be sure to bring it out with family and non-gamers especially.
Firestone—For me the swinginess is just part of the package. Have I mentioned that I HATE take-that games? I HATE TAKE-THAT GAMES! The randomness. The unbalanced cards. The swinginess. The targeting of people who may or may not actually be in the lead. The hyper-aggression of everything. I would rather eat an actual slimy turkey leg covered in globby peanut butter.
For that type of game, this actually tries to rise above the genre. The programming of Actions takes some actual thought, and you're trying to guess whether that guy is going to try and Grab cards on the first Action, or fling some Food at you. That part I actually liked! I appreciate that they tried to make some actual interesting decisions.
As far as other problems: The setup is way too long. And though there are all kinds of different Foods and Toppings, they're really all exactly the same thing. So other than flavor (not literally flavor, but you get the idea), they're functionally identical. And there's no rule for when the Floor clogs up (as it did in our game). A simple rule such as: If there are ever five of the same type of cards on the Floor, put the cards on the Floor into the Trash, and deal out five new Floor cards.
Jeremiah—Now, let's just slow down a second here. Sure the Floor may be clogged every now and then, but you still have the option to draw from the deck and take your chances, and eventually everyone is going to run out of a certain type of card and need to draw from the Floor. So I don't really see that as a problem--any game in which you draw from a single deck has the chance of this becoming a reality; the Floor actually mitigates some of the randomness of the draw and lets you decide if you're going to chance grabbing first to get the card you want/need instead of ducking and cowering in the corner. And another thing! If you don't like take-that games because of unbalanced cards, why would it matter that there are three different types of cards that score the same? That brings balance to the game. Aren't you the one who hates it when someone wins just because they drew the right card?? And for the record I thought the flavor was extremely well done!
Firestone—But in our first game, the Floor eventually became all Action cards, and since everyone had Action cards that were good, no one was drawing them. And unlike Food cards, no one's running out of those, so those Action cards were the five cards out there for the rest of the game. I like the Floor cards, for exactly the reasons you said. But Alan Moon saw the potential for clogging in Ticket To Ride (which has a similar mechanism) and created a simple rules fix. I'm suggesting the same thing here.
As far as the variations in cards, I'm not complaining that there are three different kinds. I'm just saying within those kinds, they're identical. A turkey leg is exactly the same as a bowl of gumbo.
Jeremiah Final Verdict— Will you play a game that's more thought-provoking, strategic, and have a more intricate scoring system than What the Food? Of course you will. But What the Food? is still a lot of light-weight, light-hearted, take-that, fast-playing action. The game moves quickly, has a lot of great bluffing and decision-making opportunities, and is easy and quick to learn. We've had a lot of fun with this one, and I recommend you put this game on your table!
Firestone Final Verdict—If you have a game group that likes Munchkin, this is right up your alley. If you have kids who can handle getting targeted in a game, this is right up your alley. If you have youth group or a nongamer group that likes chaos, this is right up your alley. I appreciate them trying to add some real decisions and up the ante, but at its heart its still a take-that game, so I have to leave this one on the shelf.