Too Many Cooks
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Mmmm... Nothing tastes like a good bowl of soup... Especially when everyone's cooking in the same pot!
Each chef secretly picks a different soup to make and races to finish it first. It's a hot competition in the kitchen as everyone tries to make their soup without too many crazy ingredients. But with only one pot, who knows what you'll end up with!
Be the first to complete the soup by playing enough cards to fill the pot and win the coveted gourmet stars. The more your soup tastes like the recipe you're trying to make, the more stars you'll collect!
Remember, Too Many Cooks can spoil the soup... but a hot chili pepper can ruin the whole pot!
THE prolific game designer Knizia takes a bit of slack from the BG community for his lighter works. Every game can't be T&E! Where he loses hipness points with the hardcore community, he delivers the goods to the casual gamer and/or family member.With Too Many Cook delivers enough novel twists to the trick taking game and that crucial 'take that' feel that most casual card players love! Sure, the components could be better. That said the light hearted artwork is along the lines of Bohnanza, though not as strong. All I know is this game really appeals to the casual gamer and makes an excellent opener. Ideal for family members who find all this German BG stuff abit weird. That said, it doesn't feel like work to me.
With the asymmetrical nature of the tricks themselves and the little tics of overall play, there is enough to keep you entertained as long as you don't mind a little luck of the draw. The relative inexpensiveness of the game versus the number of times I've played this game has made this a good purchase. If you don't like card games there is nothing here for you. But then again when is the last time you played a game with your family?
Designed by: Reiner Knizia
Released by: R&R Games
Players: 3 5
Time: 1 1 hours
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
No, this isnt Andy Merritts homemade design from last year. Rather, it is the latest new card game from Reiner Knizia, released by R&R Games. I understand that R&R acquired the legal rights to the name, but the use of the same name as Andys game will undoubtedly cause some confusion in the minds of gamers.
I first played this game in prototype form at 2001s Gathering of Friends and enjoyed the experience. The game received very good response from nearly everyone who played, so Frank DiLorenzo was confident he would release it under the R&R Games label. Well, that day has finally come and the theme and mechanics remain intact. That is a good thing, as the game is VERY good.
I hesitate calling this a trick-taking game. Although it does bear some similarities, there are some very novel twists and mechanics which, to me, give it a different feel. Often, it is a trick-avoidance game. It also bears some similarities to Was Sticht, a game with which I wasnt overjoyed. The package here, however, is much more enjoyable.
Players represent cooks attempting to make four different types of soups (French onion, pea, mushroom and chili pepper) and, on one day (round), avoid making any soup. To properly make a soup, of course, you must include the best ingredients suitable to the type of soup you are attempting to cook.
The main deck of cards consists of 52 cards in four main suits (chili, mushroom, French onion and pea). The latter three suits each contain values of 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 10 and a 0 Boil Over. The chili suit contains 2 cards of each value 1 5. The artwork on the cards is delightful, displaying the talents of John Veeter and Scott Fleenor. The pair also worked on Tin Soldiers, also released by R&R Games.
Each player also receives a set of 5 menu cards, depicting the four soups to be made and one No Soup Today card. The latter must be spoken using your best Soup Nazi voice. The Soup Nazi is a humorous character from the Seinfeld TV series. OK, you really dont have to mimic that voice, but it is fun to do so!
The contents are completed by an assortment of scoring tokens.
The cards in the main deck are thoroughly mixed and dealt to the players. Each player also receives a set of menu cards and five points worth of scoring tokens.
Each player examines his hand of cards and decides on what type of soup he will attempt to make this round. Of course, he can opt to make no soup. Each player plays the appropriate menu card face-down, then everyone simultaneously reveals them. If a player is attempting to make a pea, French onion or mushroom soup, then he should attempt to collect as many of the corresponding type of ingredient as possible. However, they should avoid at all costs collecting chili peppers, as these ruin these types of soups. For example, if a player is attempting to cook a mushroom soup, he should try to collect as many mushroom cards as possible. Collecting peas and French onions wont hurt you, but they wont help, either. Collecting peppers, however, are nasty and result in negative points and, presumably, unsatisfied customers.
If, however, you are attempting to cook a chili pepper soup, than you want all of the peppers you can grab. You also dont mind grabbing mushrooms, peas or French onions, as these ingredients wont hurt or help you. However, you should avoid collecting the 0 bouillon cards as they really spoil a good chili pepper soup and result in negative points.
Finally, if you desire to make no soup, then avoid ALL cards. This is the toughest task, but is quite satisfying when you accomplish it.
The basic mechanic of the game is similar to a traditional trick-taking game. The start player plays a card to the table and each player must follow suit, if possible. When the value of the cards in the center of the table reaches 10 or above, the player who played the final card which caused the collection to reach or exceed 10 points takes all of the cards into his pot. This is a good thing if the cards correspond to the type of soup you are making. For example, if you are attempting to cook a pea soup this round and you collect a stack of cards with several peas in it, than youve done well!
If a player cannot play a card that matches the lead ingredient, he is free to play ANY card. If a player plays a chili pepper, then ALL players are free to play ANY card from that point forward. This is akin to mass chaos and makes successfully completing your objective very difficult. However, it does allow players to have more control over their hand of cards.
The only other card of note is the 0 boil-over card. When this card is played, it re-sets the count of the hand to zero. This can certainly get you out of a jam (err soup) when you are trying to avoid taking a collection of cards, but since it re-sets the count to zero, it also creates the possibility of causing the hand to get back to you, facing you with the same dilemma!
Play continues until one player depletes his hand of cards. Once play returns to that player and he cannot play a card, the round ends. Players sort their cards, scoring 1 point for each card they collected that corresponds to the type of soup they are attempting to cook. However, if they are cooking mushroom, pea or French onion soup, they must subtract 1 point for each chili pepper they collected. If they were attempting to make chili soup, then they subtract 1 point for each bouillon card they collected.
If the player was attempting to NOT make soup this round and did not collect any cards, he receives 5 points. For each card he collected, however, he loses one point. He can even lose more than 5 points if he collected an abundance of cards, forcing the player to surrender previously collected points. Negative scores are not allowed, however.
The game is played over 5 rounds, with each player making his four soups and one No Soup over the course of the 5 rounds. The player with the most points after five rounds is named Master Chef.
Like any good trick-taking game, properly managing your hand is the key to success. Sometimes you are forced to play a certain card, but more often than not you have options. Exercising these options to garner the greatest reward is key, as is keeping your play options flexible. Possessing several 0 cards can get you out of jams and could be the signal to attempt to play your No Soup Today card.
The game is extremely entertaining, as players attempt to collect cards they desire and slam their opponents with unwanted peppers or bouillon. Players also derive sadistic pleasure from sticking their opponents who are attempting to not cook a soup with an abundance of cards. Nothing more fun than a despondent chef at least in this game!
I consider myself to be a good teacher of games, and yet when I tried to teach this one to my wife there was something about it that she just could not grasp. Maybe she was tired, maybe I had an off night as a teacher, but still she could not grasp the basics of this relatively simple game. For what is essentially a trick taking game with some slightly different mechanics, we sure had a lot of trouble...
At its core though is a good game. As mentioned in Greg Schlosser's review, this game has a strong screw factor. This should make it a good choice for a more raucous casual gaming group or for VERY good friends. While not one of Dr. Knizia's best efforts, it is worth playing.
The components on the other hand are pretty bad. The box is far too big, as mentioed earlier, and seems to have been designed that way simply to make it seem more substantial and give it more presence of gaming store shelves. The cards themselves are flimsy and evena few playings are going to cause noticeable wear and tear. The ideal version of this would have put the emphasis on quality cards rather than the box it came in.
Too Many Cooks spoil everyone's broth! Each player gets 13 cards, then chooses one of five soups. In the course of five rounds, everyone will use all types. For chili, French onion, pea, and mushroom, you earn a point for each card you get that matches your soup. For the No Soup Today card, you lose a point for each card you get. To play a trick, add a card to the stack in the middle, keeping a cumulative score of the numbers on the cards. The player whose card drives the total to 10 or more wins the trick and begins a new one. Chili cards count as -1 for onion, pea, or mushroom, and chili soup itself is similarly ruined by bouillon. Bon appetit!
As a courtesy to Counter readers there will be no "Seinfeld" soup jokes in this review.
You and your fellow players are sous chefs who have decided to race up a tall building, wait, that's not right. You are soup chefs competing for the best gourmet star ratings.
The components consist of two decks of cards and a set of chips. The chips have 1, 2 or 5 stars on them and are used to keep score. The playing deck of cards is made up of three equal suits of Peas, French Onions and Mushrooms. The card values are two each of 0-5, one 10 and one "Boil-Over". Each suit's 0 value cards have a bouillon in place of the regular ingredient. A fourth suit of Chili Pepper cards contains only two each of 1-5. The Menu deck contains a set of menus for up to five players, one each of Pea, French Onion, Mushroom, Chili and "No Soup Today".
Each chef starts out with a 5 star chip and 13 cards are dealt to all chefs (with 5 chefs all cards are dealt resulting in the first two chefs getting one more card than the others). The chefs then secretly decide which soup they will make today and everyone reveals simultaneously. The chef to the left of the dealer leads to the first trick. He plays a card to the pot and announces the total value of the pot. A 10-value card led counts as zero. Other chefs then add cards to the pot until the value reaches 10 or more. The chef who played that card takes the trick and leads to the next. You must follow suit if you can. If you can't you can play any card. Once a Chili Pepper is played into the pot and the soup ruined, no chef has to follow suit. The "Boil-Over" card resets the current pot to zero. The round ends not when someone is out of cards, but when a chef has to play but cannot, a subtle distinction.
Scoring is simple, say I was making Pea Soup today, I count up all the Pea cards in my tricks and subtract out the Chili Pepper cards as they've ruined my soup, French Onions and Mushrooms are neutral, neither helping nor hurting. The difference is the stars I gained/lost today. The same for French Onion and Mushroom soups. If you are making Chili, you count your Chili Peppers and subtract the "Bouillon" (the 0 value) cards. For "No Soup Today", you get a 5 star chip and lose a star for every card you take. It is possible to lose stars in a round, but your star rating for the game never drops below zero. Five rounds make the game, so everyone will have to attempt making all the soups.
The game is light, fast and fun. Everyone I have introduced it to has enjoyed it. It lasts about 30 minutes once you've got the hang of it.
R&R Games introduced this at this year's Origins and as far as I know, it is a new design. Anyone knowing if this is a reprint/retheme for the American market please let us know.
The only complaint I have about the game is the production values. The box is much larger than it needs to be, being the same size as the Pig Pile box. At least there, there were 40 rubber pigs to take up some space; here there are just cards and chips. The card stock is extremely thin. We've played about 10 times now and it's starting to show. This is a card game and it should have cards that can stand up to being shuffled, dealt and played with! The same is true of the Pig Pile cards. The rules could use some clarification as they use the word "game" for both the whole game and each round.