A game about healthy eating that actually manages to be fun, this is a perfect way for you and up to four picky eaters to learn about food groups.
In The Box
This custom deck contains 53 colorful cards, each decorated with a simple collage of foods. There’s a lot of white space on each card that left us wishing the individual food items were larger or were labelled in some way, but once you play through you’ll have everything memorized. There are six groups split between veggies, protein, fruit, carbs, juice, and junk. Again, not for more than a few minutes during the first game, but little ones may wonder why the juice cards include a glass of milk and what looks like a tall beer?
Even if the categories are a bit loose, the idea that you need to collect a specific number of cards to win is easy enough to grasp. Kids will quickly understand that they need one card from each category and what images match up with which food groups. Aside from cards marking the food groups, you’ll find special Qetchup cards marked with a large “Q” wearing a star like a crown, and the powerful Restart card decorated with what looks like a naughty green apple or bell pepper being sent away in shame. It’s a cute collection of cards with whimsical illustrations that kids will find endearing, which is a good thing when you’re trying to keep their attention around the gaming table.
How It Plays
Inviting kids to sit down and play a game about healthy eating would seem like a daunting proposition at best. Parents with picky eaters will immediately appreciate the value of casting healthy foods in a good light, and the current obesity epidemic speaks to the need for us all to be more aware of the dangers of junk food. Without being at all heavy handed, Qetchup manages to reinforce both ideas in a matching-game format that borrows some mechanics from classic games like Go-Fish. The fundamental goal is to put together a plate with food from exactly five healthy groups before any of your opponents. There’s some luck of the draw involved, but after that it’s a matter of strategy.
Players can use the Q cards to sub for anything but veggies, to get rid of junk food stuck on your plate by another player, or to randomly steal a card from another player. The use of these Q cards is what makes Qetchup more than just a variation on Go Fish, although the idea of taking cards from other players to meet your goals feels similar. Racing toward a complete plate isn’t just about gathering the right foods, it’s also about slowing opponents down with junk food or the dreaded Restart Card that sweeps their plate clean. The fact that the game is over so quickly means that if luck wasn’t on your side after the initial draw, you don’t have to wait long for a second or third chance.
The minimum recommended age for Qetchup is good at 7, but we’d recommend handicapping older players by limiting the number of cards they can hold, or similar changes to the basic rules that make it harder for them to gather a full plate of healthy food. Parents will definitely be motivated to play with kids at this age (or a bit older) because it’s exactly at this point that youngsters need to learn lessons about eating right.
There’s probably an upper limit on the recommended age for Qetchup of about 10-12. It’s not a game that most older kids or adults will find that compelling, but it’s a really accessible and fun game for little ones.
There are plenty of family games that just aren’t much fun or get boring quickly because there’s little or no strategy involved. Qetchup is a good card game in the sense that you never know exactly what you’ll draw, and the surprise of having Q cards played against you keeps it interesting.