Who hasn’t experienced this? You go with a friend to a fast food outlet. You order a meal with fries; your companion declines the fries and instead orders a healthy salad. Much to your annoyance, when the meal arrives your companion insists on stealing the fries off your plate and nibbling away at them. Ugh! There ought to be a game about it.
Now there is.
Designed by Patrick Rauland, with art by Matt Franklin, Fry Thief is a micro game published by Laid Back Games and launching this week on Kickstarter. Here's the link to the KS campaign.
Like Love Letter (AEG) – the previously best known micro game – Fry Thief uses just 16 cards. Unlike most other micro games, however, it’s a strictly two-player asymmetric game. One player starts off with a plate of (12) fries; the other player starts with no fries on their plate. Players each start with a hand of three cards and, on their turn, they draw a card and play a card, taking the action indicated on that card. Red cards can be used by either player but the yellow/green cards are inverted so that the fries player uses the text on the yellow half of the card and the salad player uses the text on the green half. In the main, red cards allow a player to ‘eat’ one or more of the fries on their plate (ie: take them out of play to score one point per fry; two points if the player has previously played a tomato ketchup card); the yellow/green cards mostly allow players to fries and transfer them from their opponent’s plate to their own.
Of course, the salad player can’t eat any fries until they have stolen some from their opponent and gotten them onto their plate; so there’s a bit of a fries player advantage. Giving the first turn to the salad player reduces this, and some tweaks to the cards are expected during the course of the Kickstarter to give a further boost to the salad player. Like other micro games, however, Fry Thief is a very quick game (you will often find you can finish a game in just 5 minutes), so you will almost certainly want to switch roles for an immediate rematch.
Players' hand size varies during the game. Some cards can be played as an interrupt during the other player's turn (decreasing your hand size), and passing allows a player to increase their hand size up to four. Despite there only being 16 cards in the game, canny use of hand management can make for some satisfying chaining of card play.
Fry Thief is a light-hearted fast-playing fast food filler. You'll be sorely tempted to nip down to your local McDonalds to play it using real fries, but then we realised we'd risk getting the cards greasy. The game plays fast enough that your fries wouldn't have time to go cold while you played but if you really eat the fries you take then how would you keep score?