Fish Cook is a game by James Ernest, published by Cheapass Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players take on the role of chefs that specialize in seafood. The player that is best able to cook dishes and earn the most money will be declared the winner.
To begin, each player starts with $100 in whatever denominations are chosen. The recipe cards are shuffled and each player is dealt 2 cards. These will be the player’s family recipes. The market boards are set up on the table with area between for the cooking school. To set up the cooking school, you will turn over the top 4 cards into this area. The number of players will determine how many days of the game will be played. Play can now begin.
Each day of gameplay consists of two parts, a morning and evening phase. In the morning phase, players will buy goods and recipes. First the markets must be prepared. Starting with the Farmer’s market, you will roll a die for each row of goods. The number rolled on the die will determine how far to fill each row with the appropriate goods tokens. Once the Farmer’s market has been dealt with we move on to the Fish market. You will roll 12 fish dice and place the dice in the appropriately marked spots determined by the numbers rolled. Now that the market’s have been prepared, the first player can now take their turn.
On a player’s turn, they can perform one of the following actions; buy a fish, buy an ingredient, buy a recipe or pass. To buy a fish, simply pay the amount to the bank as indicated by the space and take the dice. To buy an ingredient, again you will pay the price on the space but this time you will take the goods token. To buy a recipe, you pay $5 for a face up recipe or $2 for one off the top of the deck to the bank. Passing means you buy nothing. This continues back and forth until either one of the rows in the Farmer’s market is empty or if the fish market is empty. Players are allowed one more buy action before passing the chef token to the next player. This takes us to the evening phase.
The evening phase is when recipes are made. To make a recipe, the players must pay the required ingredients, including the appropriate value of fish or higher back to the storehouse. When the recipe is cooked the player will acquire the larger value of money printed on the card. The smaller value is earned by the owner of the recipe. Making a recipe from your hand requires you to play the card face up in front of you, but you will collect both money values. Making a recipe from the school, will only net you the larger value but the recipe then gets added face up to your menu. Making a recipe from your menu, nets you the same money again, higher and lower values. You can also make a recipe from your opponent’s menus. You will collect the higher value while the opponent collects the lower value. However, once you’ve made their recipe, you can now attempt to steal it. To steal, you will roll a die. If you roll equal to or higher than the smaller bonus value on the card, you steal the recipe. Once you’ve cooked all that you can, you must pass. Any uncooked fish are discarded. Once all players have cooked all that they can, the day is over. One day marker is removed and the markets and school are refilled. This continues until the last day marker is removed. The game then ends and we move on to scoring.
Scoring is done as follows: A menu award is paid out to the player with the most recipes of each rank of fish. The amount equals the rank. For example, for having the most rank 2 fish recipes, the player gains $2. Once the bonuses have been given out, simply add up each player’s money. The one with the most money at the end wins.
There are several pieces to this game. First off the market boards are made of thick cardboard and look really nice and colorful. I love how that the fish market has the name of fish out beside each row. There are tokens for the different ingredients that are a little thicker cardboard but they are sturdy and look nice as well. There are tokens made of the same material for the day counters as well as the chef token for first player. The cards are really pretty and I love the great chef design on the back of them. The recipes look very tasty. There are only a few things missing, dice and money. Now everyone should have these lying around in there home, if not you should probably check a thrift store or yard sale to scavenge up some. Since I had all these things, it wasn’t really a big deal. Still, some custom dice or cardboard money would have been nice. However that would really up the price on the game and that’s one thing that Cheapass Games likes to keep on the low end of things. They also suggest having a bell to ding. Since I don’t have one of those, I might have to see if I can find one at the thrift store myself.
9 out of 10
The rule book is really only a black and white little pamphlet. It has only 4 pages so there’s not much to read. Then again, there’s not a lot to have to learn, so it works. A glossy color rulebook would have been nice, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This works great for the game, cause once you learn how to play, you won’t have much need for the rules after that.
9 out of 10
The game is LOADS of fun. It’s not a game that is gonna take a long time to play. I really like how easy it is to learn. I’ve played it a couple of times with my son and he really seems to like it as well. It’s very neat how you can use any fish of equal or greater value to fulfill a recipe. Several times I found that the lower value fish were more expensive than the higher ones, so I’d buy the higher to get more use out of them. There’s a little bit of strategy as you want to make sure that you get what you need to make the best recipes, but also keep your opponents from being able to do very much. There were times when I’d have my recipe complete but would buy up items to end the morning phase before my opponents could have enough to make any recipes. Definitely an “In Yo FACE!” moment, as my son would say. I really enjoy playing this and love how smooth and simple it is.
9 out of 10
Fish Cook is a light game of resource collecting and cooking. The game is a lot of fun. My son and I both really like how fast and easy it is. Do I wish it had all the parts needed to play, yes, but I understand the reasoning behind them not being there. That just gives me the ability to pimp it out to my own liking, which I plan on doing. This is definitely one that will be hanging around in my collection for quite some time. This is great to play with kids or anyone that loves cooking. I highly recommend it. With the small price tag that’s on it, everyone should own a copy. This is definitely a game that you will want to play over and over again. Ring the bell! I’m done.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cheapass Games at their site.