I’m going to admit something to you all. I, Amber, don’t read rulebooks. I have a hard time learning to play from a rulebook and have a hard time teaching other players games, so I usually let the professionals (i.e. Rob, Ethan, Eric) take that job. But yesterday, I got my VERY FIRST FINISHED KICKSTARTER IN THE MAIL! I was so excited I ripped that bad boy open and, yes, began to read the rulebook. Let me tell you, my husband was shocked when I told him the news tonight. I was so excited to share this game with my husband, that we thought we’d share it with you as well.
Wok on Fire is a dexterity/set collection game for 2-4 players. In this game, each player takes on the role of a Stir-Fry Chef, trying to create the tastiest dishes for their patrons. To beginning the game, every player takes one of the spatula cards; then you shuffle the ingredient cards, putting 24 of them in a deck set aside and the rest in the middle to create your “wok.” Set one of the reference cards at the “4 corners” of the wok to create boundaries and you’re ready to play the game! The first player is the last person who used a spatula.
On each players turn, there are 3 phases: stir fry, pick up ingredients, and chop! In the stir fry phase, the player get two opportunities to use their spatula to flip over ingredients in the wok. The goal is to get the ingredients to turn face up so that you can pick them up and put them in your player area on the pick up ingredients phase. After you’ve picked up two ingredients, you chop two more cards into the wok and it’s the next player’s turn! Game play ends when the deck has run out and everyone has gotten one additional turn.
As was mentioned above, I was very excited to get this game and get it opened. Though I’m not much of a game teacher, I found it pretty easy to explain the rules (even though I did have to reference the book, whoops). Set up was a breeze and most importantly, game play was fun! There were a couple of times that we needed to reference the rule book again instead of just using the reference cards, but for our first time playing it wasn’t that big of a deal. The theme, game play, and scoring reminded me a lot of Sushi Go; I think this is a nice dexterity version of that game if you’re family likes that one. If I had one complaint about this game, it’s that the rule about pick up was a bit ambiguous; we weren’t sure if you were supposed to pick up the ingredient with your spatula or your hands. We ended up playing picking it up with your spatula, but discovered later we got that one wrong. It was fun none-the-less and we just said that we were playing on “hard mode.”
Dexterity games aren’t typical fare for us, though we have been picking up a few lately. The game I wanted to immediately compare this to is Chopstick Dexterity Mega Challenge 3000, since each player is trying to pick up foodstuffs from a central area. The thing that I really like about Wok on Fire is that it’s turn-based rather than a free-for-all, so everyone can take their time flipping, picking up ingredients, and chopping new cards into the wok. It played well with 2 players, but I’d have to wonder how well it plays with the full complement of 4 players. In other set collection games (e.g. Sushi Go), when playing with more players, there are more cards available, but there are no real setup changes here. In our game, I wasn’t able to complete a full set of 3 mushrooms (which is worth 18 points, but 0 by themselves), so I have to wonder how challenging it would be when you’re competing with 3 others. Altogether though, I liked this game and I can see us pulling it out as a bit of light fun at the beginning or end of a meetup, or as a palate-cleanser between larger courses (because it’s about food, get it?).