Preview Review of Cake

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Recently I was given the opportunity to preview an upcoming new game that will soon be available to back on Kickstarter. I received a prototype copy of the game and rules. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!

Cake is a game by Scott Westgard, published by Scott Westgard. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players are cake aficionados that will be attempting to eat and buy the best cakes from the bakery in order to score points. The player that is able to do this and thereby score the most points will be declared the winner.

In this review, I will mainly be discussing the basic game. To begin, the CAKE, Happy and Character cards should all be separated. Each deck is shuffled. The scoring track board is placed in the middle of the play area. Players choose a playing piece and place it on the start square of the scoring track. Each player is then dealt a Character card face up. Players are then given the corresponding amount of red Bonus Die Chips and blue Wild Chips that is indicated on their Character card. The remaining chips are set aside but within reach of all players. Each player is then dealt 2 Happy cards face up. Players are then each dealt 5 cards face down from the Cake deck.

Before the game can actually begin, there is what’s known as the Cakewalk Card draft. This is done pretty much like any other card draft. Players choose a card from their hand of five to keep, placing it face down in front of them. They then pass the remaining cards in their hand face down to the player on their left. This continues with each player choosing a card from their hand and passing the remaining cards until each player has only 2 cards remaining in their hand. When this happens, the player keeps 1 and places the last card into the center of the table face up to form the starting Bakery. Cards placed in the Bakery should be arranged in a row of ascending point values for easy reference. Players then choose 3 of their cards to flip over as their staring Pantry. They are allowed to keep one face down as their special Doggie Bag card. This card is protected from other player’s Happy cards and is only available to that particular player. The first player is chosen based on the lowest total point value of cakes in a player’s Pantry, unless a player has the Marie Antionette character card. In this case the player that has Marie, is the first player. Play now begins.

On a player’s turn, they will follow several simple steps. First off they will draw a card from the Cake deck and place it in the Bakery in the middle of the table. Next all players check their Character cards and see if their character has any effects that happen at this time or before rolling dice. If so, they may be used. Players are then allowed to use any Happy cards from their hand that say “Play before rolling dice” or “Play at any time on your turn” as long as the main rules are followed. If a player scores any points, those points are recorded by moving their player piece the correct number of spaces on the Scoring track. If they land or pass one of the Happy Cards spots on the Scoring track, they are dealt a new Happy card. Players may then use any of their red Bonus Die Chips to add a red bonus die to their dice pool for this turn. The used chips are returned to the pool of chips that were set aside during setup. The player then rolls all the dice in their dice pool including the 5 white dice as well as any red dice gained through use of their Bonus Die Chips. They are then allowed to re-roll any or all of the dice a second time in order to match dice roll requirements on some of the cards in either the Bakery or their personal Pantry. The player is then allowed one final re-roll of any or all of the dice to make matches with. Finally, the player resolves the dice rolls. Happy cards that are marked as “Play while resolving dice” may be played at this time in any order desired while resolving dice. Wild chips are also allowed to be used at this time. Wild chips provide an extra die of any number a player desires to their previously rolled dice pool. The used chip is then returned to the pool of chips.

After the third dice roll, the player is allowed to use a die or combination of dice to perform one of 4 actions. They are allowed to buy cake cards from the Bakery by matching the requirements on the card and then placing the card into their Pantry face up. They are allowed to eat cakes from their Pantry by the same matching process used to buy cake cards with. As a matter of fact, the player is allowed to both buy and eat the same card as long as they have the correct dice to perform both acts. They are allowed to use any 3 dice with the same number to buy a blue Wild Chip, which is then able to be used immediately to add a dice to those previously rolled. They are also allowed to use any 2 dice with the same number on them to buy a red Bonus Die chip. These are not usable until the player’s next turn. A player is never allowed to have more than 3 Wild Chips or 5 Bonus Die Chips at any time.

Once the player is through resolving all the dice possible, they then score points for the cakes that were eaten, moving their player piece along the scoring track. Any eaten cakes or used Happy cards are placed under the player’s Character card. The player then takes new Happy cards for passing any Happy Card spaces on the scoring track. Some Happy cards are allowed to be played at this time, if it is indicated on the card. The player then passes the dice to the player on their left, thus ending their turn.

The game continues until one player reaches or exceeds 50 points on their turn. This initiates the Final Round. The remaining players will each be given one more turn to reach or exceed the first player to go out’s final score. Once the Final Round is initiated, the Happy Card spaces on the board are no longer active and will no longer provide any cards. Once all players have completed the Final Round, players compare their scores and the player with the highest score is the winner.

The game also comes with a set of Advanced Cards that add some super high value cakes, new Happy Cards, a few new character cards and a new type of card known as Party Favor cards. Party Favors may be cashed in before playing the red Bonus Die Chips or during the scoring phase at the end of the player’s turn. These are mainly point producing cards that provide points for playing a set of cards. The more in the set, the more points are accumulated up to a total set of 5 for 15 points.

Also available to add to the game is the Evil Cards expansion. This expansion adds high powered Happy Cards, some new characters and some new cakes. Adding these cards to the game can make it possible for one player to score 50 points or more in one turn. They are extremely intense and should only be used by players that are very familiar with the basic and advanced games. The designer recommended that these should never be used during a player’s first game.

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COMPONENTS
With this being a prototype of the game, I won’t go into too much detail about the components. That said, there are a lot of cards that come with this game. The prototype cards are all smaller than your average playing card size. These cards are more like the cards you would find in Takenoko. I believe they are called euro sized. I might be wrong. In any event, the cards look really great and have some truly awesome looking artwork on them. The designs are all great and are easy to understand. The game also comes with plenty of dice. After all, this is a game about rolling dice. There are the 5 basic white dice and there are also 5 more red bonus dice as well. On top of that there are some plastic chips in both red and blue. These are the red Bonus Die chips and the blue Wild chips that I mentioned in the overview. The final pieces are the really great looking scoring track and the cake shaped playing pieces. I find it hilarious that the designer noted in the rules, “DO NOT EAT the playing pieces.” While I was tempted, I was able to refrain from eating them. I thought that I’d also note that there were some really nice little boxes inside the main game box to hold all the cards and pieces of the game instead of small plastic bags that is the norm. I thought that was a nice touch and were much better and more protective than bags. Overall, I really like the way everything looks and feels. Larger cards would be nice, but not really necessary. I can’t complain. The game looks great and should just get better once fully produced.
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RULEBOOK
Much like the game itself, the rules are also in prototype form. They came on a couple of sheets of paper stapled together in the corner. There are a couple of pictures but everything is in black and white. I had no trouble reading through and understanding everything. Everything was well written and laid out well. There are also included some tips and strategies for playing the game as well as some insights into the Evil Cards expansion. Overall, the rules are pretty basic but should improve upon production. Still, everything you need to know is covered without any problems.
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GAMEPLAY
As you may have figured out by now, the game has some similarities to Yahtzee. You roll dice and try to match up those dice with whatever you’re trying to accomplish at the time. The thing is, this game is a lot more than just rolling dice. Yes, of course it’s the main mechanic and is the basic point delivery method, but that’s where the comparison ends. The things that make this game different and unique are the character cards and the happy cards. Each character card gives you a certain amount of bonus die chips and/or wild chips. These can be real life savers for when you’re trying to complete a card. The character cards also provide special abilities. No special abilities in Yahtzee. As for the Happy Cards, these provide all kinds of things from free turns and bonus chips to allowing a player to eat a cake in another player’s pantry. That’s just in the basic cards. The advanced cards and the evil expansion just add more and more to the mix including the party favors that I thoroughly enjoy having. In any event, the game is a ton of fun and provides so many options every time you play. It’s highly replayable as the selection of cards available each time you play will be different. It has a good bit of player interaction with the use of the Happy Cards. On top of all that, it doesn’t take that long to play, usually about 30 minutes or so. That is unless you’re playing with 4 or more players, then it leans more towards an hour. I thoroughly enjoy the game and find that players that enjoy dice rolling games like Yahtzee will love this. With this game, I have no need for Yahtzee anymore. It definitely scratches that itch in a major way.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Cake is a light to medium weight game of dice rolling happiness. The game is not that long and most game sessions last around 30 minutes unless you’re playing with 4 or more players. I really like the artwork and design quite a bit and I find that a lot of the titles on the cards are quite humorous. The game isn’t hard to play. Basically if you can play Yahtzee or King of Tokyo, then you can play Cake. It shares some of the same mechanics and principals as those games. Fans of dice rolling games will absolutely love this one. It has just enough player interaction to keep you going. With plenty of cards including the advanced and evil cards, there’s no shortage of replayability. I would highly recommend this game. It will most definitely be a hidden gem once it arrives on kickstarter. You will want to keep an eye out for this one for sure.
9 out of 10

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You can check out Scott’s other game Fishfry Deluxe by following the link below.

http://fishfrydicegame.weebly.com/

Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter campaign for CakeĀ coming soon.

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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