Combine Iron Chef, The Apprentice, and Monopoly and you might get something that looks a bit like Fish Cook. Competitive cooking action for up to six players that will have you slinging money, dice, mushrooms, and octopi around your gaming table in no time.
|Fish Cook||Cheapass Games||Board Game|
In The Box
Fish Cook released in open beta last year for its introduction and has now made an appearance in boxed form, with some lovely components that will make you feel like a real chef. Everything in the box revolves around food, so playing a game before dinner may not be the best strategy unless you want to build up a serious appetite. A set of playing boards are included to show you ingredients and fish for sale; these sit at the center of the table during play and are where most of the real action takes place.
A deck of quality cards shows recipes available to cook from your personal menu or a cooking school area, also set at the center of your table. The remainder of the box contains cardboard tokens showing ingredients to be stocked in the market that you’ll need for recipes. Fans of Cheapass will be familiar with their approach of shipping games that require some components you stock at home–the equivalent of your spice rack, in keeping with cooking analogy. Fish Cook requires 12 dice (d6) in addition to everything we’ve described, so you’ll need to harvest those from other games or grab a 12-pack from your local game store. The only other required item that isn’t packed in the box is money. We used our beloved Cheapass Money, bought originally for use with The Big Idea and happily still available for purchase on Paizo or as a DIY on the Cheapass site.
How It Plays
Our co-editor (age 10) commented after a recent session of Fish Cook that Cheapass Games, ‘is all about making money.’ It’s true that Fish Cook involves a lot of buying and selling, which incidentally is a fantastic lesson for kids working on their counting and change-making skills! What we found most interesting about the observation is that it reveals the deeper strategy behind this game, which you might think would be lost on younger players. Winning Fish Cook may seem to be about cooking the most expensive dishes, but it’s really about making a bigger profit than other players on every dish.
Much like any business in the real world, if you and I can sell the same fish for a dollar, what really matters is how much we had to spend to make that dollar. Every round of Fish Cook is divided between a morning cycle where you buy ingredients, and a night cycle where you cook and sell dishes. Dice rolls make the price of ingredients fluctuate, but recipe prices stay constant. Players have to think about buying just the right amount of ingredients by keeping tabs on how much return they’ll get on their investment when cooking. Spending $20 to make a $30 dish isn’t as good as spending $10 to make a $21 dish…
The entire game is limited to a certain number of rounds, at the end of which players count up their money along with some bonuses for good menu planning. We’re probably making Fish Cook sound more cerebral than we should, but it’s always fun to play a smart game. Also fun is the themed play, where you get to serve up tasty dishes and even steal your competitors’ favorite recipes occasionally.
The theme is really appealing and married so well to the flow of play. The money-changing aspects are a nice teaching tool for your kids, and a good way to unmask the mastermind accountants hiding in your gaming group.
Try to get one big recipe on the first day and also keep an eye on other players’ recipes and the cooking school.