Sometimes you crave the simplicity of just being able to jump to a game and get playing, not having to worry about spending ages setting up and learning, relearning, reading and rereading until you decide to leave things until another time. While I enjoy the delightful chase of having a mechanic click, or taking the starting steps to consider moves ahead and strategy, I also have absolutely never an issue with playing something shallow and positively silly, something to pass the time and in the current circumstances, something that won’t have the other players waiting for 30 minutes while I go through the set up and explain fifteen rules at them all at once, watching their eyes glaze over. Doug Edwards is trying his best to bring to your table games that are extremely simple to learn and play, to the point where they have their own endearing charm.
Buffet Brawl is a simple set collection / take that game where the idea is to gather enough food cards to give yourself enough higher valued cards to put you in the best place to win a Food Fight. On your turn you’ll take a card and if you have enough cards of the same type then you’ll have the ability to swap them for higher value food card which will serve you better in the overall food fight. Once a food fight kicks off, then players will continue to play cards in the attempt to beat other players with a higher value or play a dodge card to avoid a flying egg instead. If you triumph and are the last person standing then you win the food fight card for that round, win enough cards and you’ll win the game. It’s not designed to be tricky and it certainly isn’t going to melt brains and cause analysis paralysis, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a game idea based around a similar topic which really surprised me.
I’ve already spoken about Is That Banana Loaded? in a rarely viewed YouTube video that is almost a year old now, and has a view count slightly above room temperature, and since you insist, you can view it on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gka728JLJyg
. The premise is extremely simple, making you way through an imaginary dungeon, trying to track down a goblin and stealing their gold. You take turns drawing a card, and then take an action based on the picture on the card. You draw a sword or an umbrella and you can use that as a weapon. Draw a fight card and you can fight an opponent and steal stuff from them. It’s a completely reactionary game. There’s no real strategy here, and no real need to plan or pretend you’ve got the upper hand in any given situation. At some point one of you will steal the Goblin’s gold and then make your way home after drawing the Home card. It sounds awful and if it was released by a big label then there would be a chance unfair comparisons would be made and it really wouldn’t fair well. However, what Banana does well is that it’s simple enough in it’s own rights to make it easy for anyone to play and even with a simple bit of imagination, there’s ridiculous stories that come out of your quest to slay the goblin and take the gold. Yes, you’re often waiting for the Home card to appear from the deck and but while we’re at it, watch as the gold changes hands for the third time in a row. This is a game that is very much suited to younger players as there is a certain amount of glee to be had as they defeat you with another ridiculous object for the fourth time, and everyone is laughing as it happens.
The expansions add more cards and with that more explanations and the ability to combine different items together in order to cause or mitigate damage. The adventure expansion pack add more monsters as well as new weapons for you to play with an even combine. Watch out for the lucky and unlucky underpants, and consider combining the high heel with the handbag for extra damage. The monkey pack takes things to an even further level, adding in some new mechanics for those experienced with the main deck and a pile of extra mechanics depending on the cards that are in your hand. This really increases the complexity for what ITBL? offers, and potentially is suited for the slightly older crowd. You may even need to keep the tiny little instruction manual open to refer to how some of the cards work. You’ll never feel overwhelmed even if you decide to play all the expansions with the main game and even if you miss out one or two cards, you’ll not really ruin the overall gaming experience.
Neither Buffet Brawl or Is That Banana Loaded? are never going to win prizes for their art or presentation. They’re both simple affairs that would never be picked out if they were lined up with some of the more popular card games out there. They are lovely examples of simple pure fun that are both easy to learn and play and would certainly suit those looking for a more casual time. Especially with friends and family who aren’t into more difficult card games.
You can find out more about Doug’s games on the link below.
Is That Banana Loaded? below:
Buffet Brawl link here:
This review is based on the final retail version of the games provided to us by the designer and publisher. We were not paid for this review. We give a general overview of the gameplay and so not all of the mechanical aspects of the games may be mentioned.