Cooks & Crooks Board Game Review

Publisher: Aether Tower & Detestable Games
Players: 2-4
Duration on box: 20-40 minutes
Age recommended on box: 8+
Time to learn: 5 minutes

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Game Description/Game play

Cooks and Crooks is a family card drafting and hand management type game. Each player chooses their own oven. There are five different types of dishes you will need to make. Each dish requires various ingredients to complete. Players are dealt a hand of three ingredient cards, which is referred to as your pantry, and chooses their first dish to make. You are only allowed to make each dish one time throughout the game so choose wisely. Ingredient cards consist of the ingredients needs to complete dishes, Grandma's Mystic Seasoning aka a wild card, and some trash to sabotage your opponents. There are also radioactive cards that if played in the correct dish, increase it's point value by five points, however if played in the wrong dish, it will subtract five points. The game is played over six rounds. Each players' turn consists of four phases. In the first phase, players start their turn by supplying their pantry. They may discard as many cards as they like to the facedown discard pile. After, they may draw up to three cards but never exceed seven cards in their hand. The draw pile is face up and cards must be drawn one by one so everyone can see what you are drawing.

In the second phase, the player must choose to do one of three things. The first option is to do a pantry raid on an opponent. Two cards at random are chosen from an opponent, one card is swapped with a card from your hand and two cards are returned, or both cards are returned to the opponent. The second option, is oven theft. One card is taken from another players oven but must be immediately replaced with a missing ingredient in their dish. The third option is to clean your oven. You can pick up a single card from your oven and put it into your hand. The third phase is when players prepare their dishes by putting up to three ingredients faceup in their oven. Only one Grandma's Mystic Seasoning is allowed in a dish. This dish is considered complete the moment the last ingredient is placed. Your points are recorded on a notepad and the cards are returned to the discard pile. The fourth phase is the sabotage phase. You can play one trash or radioactive card facedown from your hand into an opponent's oven. Play continues until each player has had one turn. Then the round tracker is moved down and play continues until the last round. If a player manages to complete their dish they are exempt from sabotage for this round. Points are scored for completed dishes as they were completed. If your last dish was not completed, the dish base points are ignored but each correct ingredient is +2 points while each trash card is -1 point. The player with the most points wins!

Verdict

Cooks and Crooks is fast paced family game. We loved this game and we loved getting our families involved. There is a bit of "take that" involved but it has a great balance. You always have the option to remove cards from your oven which helped our little players feel like they had some control. You also get to sabotage someone every round which let's face it, is fun for both adults and kids! The artwork is very great! Warning: some dish cards will make you hungry... Pizza, Hamburgers and Burritos OH MY! while others will leave your stomach turning... a hairy band-aid?!?! The rulebook was very straightforward and easy to understand. It doesn't take long to explain so the younger players don't lose interest. Play is also quick and is laid out nicely on your oven playmat for an easy reminder. We highly recommend this family fun game!

Pros

  • Easy to learn and teach
  • Great artwork
  • Just enough "take that" for all ages

Cons

  • might leave you feeling hungry
     

Gateway Game Score: 9/10

Overall Rating: 9/10