Being a waiter at a cafe’ serving nothing but comfort food (desserts in particular) has to be pretty rough. I mean, I know I’d be tempted to “accidentally” finger a glazed donut or a hot fudge sundae so that I could claim it as “waste” and devour it later. “Accidentally” eating these things en route to the table is an option, though I’m not sure the customer would appreciate confronting a waiter with jimmies and sprinkles lining their mouth with no explanation as to what happened to their food. As you may have guessed, “Just Desserts”, a card game that will be available in April 2015, will task players with serving all their hungry guests. Special thanks to the folks at Looney Labs for providing me with a free press copy for review purposes.
76 Dessert Cards & 24 Character/Guest Cards
Setup & Gameplay
Both decks are shuffled and each player receives three dessert cards to form their starting hand. Three guests are also dealt face-up onto the center of the table. The person who most recently served dessert to the group in real life goes first.
On a player’s turn, they’ll draw a dessert card and add it to their hand (there is no hand limit). The player will also draw a guest card and place it among the others. A player may satisfy one or two guests on their turn and to do that, they’ll need to discard the appropriate dessert cards. You have to give them everything they want, all at once, or the play isn’t valid. Players who serve a guest their “favorite” dessert receive a “tip”, or the ability to draw an extra dessert card. Instead of satisfying a guest, a player may draw a dessert card or exchange cards by discarding so many cards and drawing that same number of cards from the dessert deck.
After a player has done the above, they’ll enter the discard phase. If at the end of a player’s turn there are guests with duplicate suits, they’ll remove guests until there is, at most, one guest from each suit showing. The guest on the top of the discard pile is said to be “standing in the doorway” and can be served as well.
The first player to collect three guest cards of the same suit/color or five guest cards of different suits/colors, wins the game!
Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you a general idea as to how the game is played.
“Just Desserts” is incredibly simple and likewise very easy to teach to new players. If you feel the game is a bit TOO easy, you’ll have the option of including some variant rules that give the game more depth. No worries, these variant rules do not make the game overly complex. One such variant allows players to steal guests from other players (called poaching) and likewise, players can block poachers by playing cards appropriately. There’s also a “buffet” variant to where every other player but you has to place one of their guests back into the pool if certain cards are played. Again, nothing dramatic or overly difficult…just different ways to spice up the game.
In keeping this review short and sweet, I’ll simply say that “Just Desserts” is an ideal game for families with younger kids. It’ll certainly encourage a bit of visual training and shape recognition as players will be required to match pictures from one card type (desserts) with another card type (guests). I suppose it could also serve as a filler in between longer play sessions, though some adult groups may find this game to be too light for their tastes (no pun intended). The MSRP, I’m told, will be $18 when it hit the streets on April 10, 2015. I’ll admit that the price is a little high for what the game has to offer, but I’ve seen much worse in my travels as a game critic. If complex strategic games aren’t your thing, then you’d do well to give “Just Desserts” a go.
Final Verdict: 8/10