Sitting at the restaurant table, you and your fellow patrons wait anxiously for the meal to come. You’ve heard that the place has a new chef and that his cuisine is particularly popular. Judging from how packed the other tables are, that assessment appears to be correct, but your taste buds will have the final say.
Finally, after much anticipation, the server arrives. She presents you with a steaming plate, and you eagerly grab a utensil to dig in to…
…roasted bat wings…and shoelaces…covered in what appears to be motor oil…with spoiled steamed vegetables on the side…
Forgoing normal decorum, you pick up another three forks and proceed to devour the cook’s hard work quicker than you planned, but it was too hard to resist. It was exquisite.
That’s the type of environment players experience as they dive into the lighthearted casual cooking game, Monster Chef. Hopefully you’ve brought your appetite!
In Monster Chef, each player takes on the role of various monsters competing against one another to best serve all of their customers and finish their own individual achievements. (These are sophisticated monsters after all). The game begins with each player getting one such monster Chef card. Cards like this:
The game has a basic layout, and turns are very simple. First, to begin of each round, if a chef doest already have a recipe to work on, they select from one from three available Recipe cards. Then, it’s time to go food(ish) shopping! Each recipes depict a handful of ingredients by color and type. Ingredients are a number of icky things that, while some humans may enjoy, monsters just love. These culinary masters seek out things like frogs, bats, worms, and rotted fruits and veggies. (Om nom nom!) Each round, a number of Ingredient cards are placed out into small stacks that players will select.
Next, it’s time to enter the kitchen. (Don’t forget to put your apron on, but since you’re a monster, hand washing is not required.) Here, players either add Ingredients to an existing Recipe by matching a card to the recipe, Serve up a recipe that was completed the previous round (it takes time to cook and all), or interfere with the fine cooking skills of the other players. Players can also unleash their inner master chef skills by using a Monster Rage. Monster Rage refers to one of five different powerful abilities that all monsters possess. Each ability can only be used once per game, though, so you’ll want to time use of them well.
Then, if a recipe is to be Served, you get to visit the hungry patrons. Served dishes each have a number of tokens on them, representing the number of people the recipe feeds. Served dishes are placed on various tables until the required number of servings are met. Then those tokens are distributed to the people looking for all the delicious things, and people at the tables are each varying amounts of points.
The game continues until everyone at the restaurant has eaten and a player has fulfilled their Chef’s agenda. And just in time for dessert!
Monster Chef is designed to be a light and family-friendly Filler Game where you can entertain the idea of cooking up something, well, different. The whole premise is gross, goofy fun as players work to gather the right ingredients and cook up recipes for the paying customers. And all of this is done in about the time span needed to cook up some normal, human food. Monster Chef has a nice light tension when figuring out when to focus on your own recipes versus spending the effort to stop someone else’s food from becoming a delicious-ish meal.
There’s also a fair equal amount of luck involved with how your recipe fares since you don’t know which cards you’ll draw each turn. What’s more, the Monster Rage abilities, while powerful, are very limited in their use. However, their use, like the customized chef abilities, give just a dash of uniqueness to each playthrough. They give some variety to Monster Chef without really adding much to the rules, which helps keep the game quite accessible to a wide swath of potential players.
Monster Chef takes you into one of the most peculiar restaurants outside of Monstropolis’s Harryhausen. It gives players a quick bite at a fun little resource allocation game that wraps up in about 20 minutes or so, which is just a perfect time frame for a game of its caliber.
If you’re seeking a simple yet cheeky recipe for fun, consider mixing in Monster Chef. It already had a successful main course over on Indiegogo, and now it’s looking to bring its culinary skills to a North American audience over on Kickstarter. Bon appetit!
Photo Credits: Monsters Inc. by Walt Disney Studios.