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Designed by Juan Carlos Ruiz and published by Atomo Games, Cakes! is a family-friendly frenetic and frustrating dexterity game where players are racing to build towers of cards that represent layers of cake.

It all sounds simple and easy enough: you flip an order card depicting a cake and you race to build that cake by placing two of the pre-folded cards on a plate and placing another plate/topping on them to complete each layer. If an order shows a cake with a cherry on top, you'll need to add a cube to your construct to represent that. First one to complete an order rings the push bell and claims the order card, which will be worth its points value in end-game scoring.

It isn't quite that simple of course. When you win an order card then you need to build on top of that cake, so you're adding further layers rather than starting from scratch. This provides a neat catch-up mechanic as the higher you go, the more unsteady your construct will become and so the more likely to collapse.

Oh, and we didn't mention that in the basic rules you're supposed to hold your cake in one hand throughout. For other than very young children or the frail elderly, it probably won't be overly hard to build your first and second cake levels but you'll need ever steadier hands to go very much higher. The game normally runs until the order deck is exhausted but there's an automatic win condition for a player who manages to build a 10-layer cake. Theoretically, you could ignore the frenetic race to complete order cards and concentrate instead on carefully building a 10-layer cake, but in our Board's Eye View plays we found that impossibly hard to do - not just because of the difficulty in maintaining a steady hand that could support a 10-layer construction but also because we found it hard to even reach the top-most levels with one hand while holding the cake with the other.

Cakes! is intended as a game that all the family can play so the rules include an option to make it somewhat more tolerant of shaky hands by allowing players to build their cakes on the table rather than balanced in one hand. This is orders of magnitude easier but it still becomes a fun dexterity challenge as the cake layers begin to mount.

Atomo Games' production quality is good. Cakes! comes with a good quantity of plates/toppings and pre-folded cards for building, and more 'cherry' cubes than you're ever plausibly going to need. The game benefits from appealing art from Javier Alonso, Natalia Romero, Marta HG and 221B Studio, and we've especially appreciated the game's bright pink bell. It's satisfying to press and its inclusion helps to avoid any disputes about who was first to complete an order card. It really is the metaphorical icing on the cake!

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