So, just as a note I was given a prototype copy of Foodfighters for this review. The final version art and components may differ from the photos.
Foodfighters is a delightful, head-to-head family battle. It pits age old enemies, meats and vegetables, against each other. Each player starts with nine warriors. On the meat side are chicken, steak, and bacon (worthy foes indeed!), and in the vegetable corner you’ve got broccoli, onion, and cabbage (a bad ass crew). The winner is the first player to knock out three of a kind of their opponents foods. No this isn’t some kind of magical dream, this game exists!
It is the design of Josh and Helaina Cappel. You may know Josh from his artwork for games like Scoville, Belfort and The Walled City or as the designer of Wasabi and Bomb Squad Academy. His wife, Helaina, founded Kids Table Board Gaming, a program for 7- to 16-year-olds that focuses on a design-based approach to teaching games. Foodfighters is their first co-design.
“Designing a game with Josh was easy. He is amazing at what he does. We bounce ideas off of each other all of the time,” said Helaina. They also got a lot of help from the strong gaming groups in Toronto, “The community of board gamers, especially the Game Artisans of Canada, are a wealth of knowledge.”
In Foodfighters each player lays out their team in a 3 x 3 grid facing their opponent. Both meats and veggies get three upgrade cards to start. Crackers, beans, spoons, and pans make a general supply and also the currency and weapons in the game.
On a turn you have three options. You can swap two of your fighters and, as a bonus, you get a bean from the supply. You can attack if one of your fighters is thinking of an opponent’s fighter within range (each character has a thought bubble of an enemy they can attack). If there’s a valid target, the attacker rolls dice looking for splats. If they get at least one, the target is knocked out and can be replaced with a fighter from the furthest row back. No splats has no effect, but will earn you two beans as a compensation. Your final option is rolling for beans.
By now, with all this talk of beans you’re probably asking ‘Hey, what’s with all these beans?’ and you’d be right to do so. Beans can be used to buy wicked items, such as crackers that will let you survive a hit, spoons which can extend your attack range and pans that will block out your fighter’s thought bubble, allowing them to attack anyone! As you gain them you actually arm one of your fighters. The little wooden pieces included in the prototype fit perfectly into the hands of the foods. For that reason, I really hope the final version looks similar to this one. Beans can also buy upgrades. Each side has their own three cards with such powers as Meat Shield and Bean Boost! Some are single use and some have ongoing abilities. The upgrades are asymmetrical, but seem pretty balanced.
In terms of components and art, I think it’s pretty great in it’s current form. Each food fighter has their own personality and a bone to pick with one of the others. The weapons are just awesome and even the wooden beans as currency are pretty cool. The Cappels may look at getting into publishing other projects under the Kids Table Board Gaming brand once they’re finished with Foodfighters.
“The goal of KTBG’s game design is to bring table top games to families that engage both children and adults at the same time,” said Helaina. “After the Foodfighters Kickstarter campaign ends, we will actively be looking for submissions for our next project.”
The decisions in the game are simple, but not shallow. There is enough meat (and 3 veg) here to qualify as a fun, two-player filler for seasoned gamers; but where I think it will really shine is with families. It would be a great stepping stone game for kids and entertaining for the parents too. I think of it as The Duke or Summoner Wars Junior. I think the Cappels have met their goal and designed a gamer kids game, which makes me excited to see what they come up with next.
Their plan is to head to Kickstarter with this project soon. Check kidstablebg.com for updates!