A review by AG (Adult Gamer), ANG (Adult Non-Gamer) and LPG (Little Pre-Gamer), with guest star GGA (Grumpy Gaming Appreciator)
AG: Hojo Pojo...why does that name sound familiar?
ANG: Something to do with food I presume?
AG: Hmmm...ah, hodgepodge, but with an oriental twist?
AG: PC considerations aside, Rayne Aw's game presents a nice little package: the box is small, the cards are lovely and tactile, and the colours bright.
ANG: Very minimalistic looking - although that may be a good thing: sometimes simple is better.
AG: Agreed! So, you take the little ingredient cards and, as a nice touch, stack them face down on top of the boxes' pot-featuring cover. You set aside five sauce cards per player... three action cards per player, put the rest by the pot in a deck... take out the coloured die...
ANG: Why are the rules written so appallingly?
AG: Ok, let's not panic. True, the instructions presented in the box are a bit of a small print jumble but often things become clearer with play, right?
Well almost. In the end, we went with what seemed right, although we could never get rid of that niggling feeling that something wasn't quite right. We went with being able to play/discard three action cards, plus eating.
Normally, a turn will go thusly: play (if you have it) one of two cooking action card types to unhygienically flip the hidden ingredients out of the pot onto whatever surface it be resting, thus revealing them; play more action cards to gain empty bowls, expand them, protect them or interfere with other players, then eat. One eats by rolling the coloured die, and if your colour matches a revealed ingredients', that and a face-down sauce go into your bowl -roll for each available bowl you possesses. Once you've done all that you desire, fish back up to three action cards, and around the pot to the next player it goes!
LPG: And, having lots of full bowls does not mean you'll win, as the King of the Pot card is super useful!
AG: Yes, that card... so, once all available sauce cards have been bowled up, it's scoring time! Reveal all sauces in bowls, score based on whether they match the ingredients (apart from orange sauce, as everyone knows that orange sauce goes with everything for max tastiness), and a gluttonous winner is declared! But what is this you dare dangle before my winning eyes? You kept a King of the Pot card in your hand till the end, and challenge me to one last eat off? I accept!
Indeed: King of the Pot can either be used in-game as a wild card, or at the end when it allows its owner a chance at snagging the victory for themselves. Perhaps too much of a good chance, although an interesting concept.
LPG: I liked how it was fun, intense and hard. But I didn't get the Sauce Swap action card.
AG: Another example of confusing wording: you swap sauces with who, another player? The sauce stack? Then, you reveal them - but, why would I do first a blind swap, when I can't change my ingredients?
ANG: It's just all so overly complicated!
AG: Hm, we need to salvage this...let's call in GGA, see how the game shines at six players!
GGA: Overly complicated and fussily executed! I didn't fully get what I was doing...but I did win! I liked the size of the action cards. And King of the Pot as a jolly was good but I didn't like it as an alternative win condition.
AG: Gosh -if anything, six players made things worse, and we got into the strange fix of running out of ways to gain sauce cards.
ANG: Although, that could very well be down to player, or rules, error.
GGA: The game definitely needs more cards to compensate, and better instructions.
ANG: Yea, more curveballs to make things interesting. It began to feel a bit samey and repetitive.
AG: For sure, the hand/player interfering was the most fun aspect, and I'd love to see much more of that, but even though there are over ten card types, their blandness -especially for the bowls and cooking utensils- just meant that there wasn't enough variety.
One last game element that I've omitted is feeding frenzy, which comes into play when all ingredients have been revealed. Alas, this never happened in our plays, even at six players, and quite frankly I'm unwilling to muddle through the rules to figure what impact it would have made.
ANG: It's a shame. I like the design, I like the concept, and it has good potential but it just falls a bit flat.
AG: Pretty much: one shouldn't expect an epiphany from an intentionally small and quick board game but the obtuse rules, lack of variety and overly chaotic gameplay makes this hodgepodge a struggle to swallow.
(Review by Stefano Ronchi)