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Subject: Hey hey hey! I want to be a Wok Star! rss

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Tim Collett
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Introduction:

I just imagine Elmer Fudd singing the Nickelback song "Rock Star" each time I see the name of this game and sometimes it makes me laugh out loud.

The good news is the name of the game was interesting enough to make me look at the game itself and eventually email the creator to see if they had a copy. Lucky for me they did and off went the PayPal transaction and in the mail came my new copy of Wok Star.

So what type of game is it? Cooperative. Yeah, I know there is Pandemic, Shadows over Camelot, Lord of the Rings, and Ghost Stories (just to name the ones I have played) that are also cooperative so what makes this stand out? Let me explain.

Basic game information

Object of the game: To earn a certain amount of money before the end of the game and not to tick off too many customers.
Number of players: 1 - 4
Time to play: 1 hour approximately
Age range: 10 and up
Box size: 9 1/2" L x 6 1/2" W x 2" H
Other info: Multiple levels of difficulty and optional rules included.

Components

Firstly, nice job on the components overall. The game board is not a fold out board but is instead four wooden pieces that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The cards are the nice size you hope for in a game and the bits are wooden as well. The game also comes with 32 dice (8 per player) and two 20 second sand timers as well.

Everything came well packaged which is also nice. Now the box it came in looks like it was printed on an inkjet printer with some ink issues but that isn't a big deal to me. It is what inside the counts and the creators did a nice job in this area.

What is the goal?

You and any other players are cooks and servers within an oriental restaurant. Each person is in charge of serving a certain type of dish or dishes (a recipe) and also in charge of making sure the kitchen is stocked with certain ingredients. Every player will be in charge of serving at least one dish and also preparing at least one type of ingredient.

The game is played over 6 rounds with there being 3 phases in each round.

Phase 1: Action

This is the most hectic part of the game! (And to me, this is what makes it different and fun)

For each recipe, there are four customer cards that go with it. The player that has that recipe will be the one serving the food to that customer (if there are enough ingredients).

A customer deck is created using a certain number of customer cards (not all of them). The other customer cards that are not used are put into a potential customer pile and can become customers with some advertising later in the game.

For each customer, a timer is turned over and the players have 20 seconds to make the necessary ingredients and then use the ingredients to make the dish to serve.

Players must use dice (3 per player to start) to stock ingredients (dice may be shared between players). The dice are rolled once per round and once a die is used on an ingredient card, they can not be used again. That player who created the ingredient must then move the ingredient counter up on the game board. During this time, everyone else is also trying to see what ingredients to make.

Once the customer has been served (by moving the necessary ingredients down on the game board to make the dish), another customer card is immediately turned over the other timer is flipped for another 20 seconds. This continues until all customers are served or they can no longer be served.

The customers are either served before time runs out, served after time runs out, or they are "turned away" because there weren't enough ingredients or the players refused to serve them. Any card that is "turned away" goes into the Bad Publicity pile. If this pile reaches 8 cards or more in any round, everyone automatically loses.

Phase 2: Accounting

Customers that are served before time runs out are turned face up. These customers are the profit and that amount is shown at the top of the card. This money counts for end game money and any additional purchases that are to be made in Phase 3. This money is totalled and put on the scoring track.

Customers that were served but not within the time limit are turned face down and do not give any profit but they are not lost as customers either.

Bad Publicity customers do not come back.

In this phase, if a player has served more customers than the number of dice they currently have, they get additional dice so that the total of their dice equals the total of the customers they served (example: a player has 3 dice for starters. That player served 4 customers (face-up) so they would receive an additional die for the next round). Players can never lose dice.

All face up and face down customers are put back into the customer pile for next round (Bad Publicity customer cards do not come back). If no customers were turned away, a potential customer card is added to the deck for free.

Phase 3: Purchase

The money that was earned and money that was there from other rounds can be used to make purchases to help you along the way.

Purchases can be made in
- increasing the amount of ingredients that can be created of one or more types of ingredients
- advertising to get potential customers in the customer deck to try to create more revenue
- new recipes can be added which may increase the number of ingredients that need to be made but also will automatically add two more customers to the customer deck

Prices of these upgrades go up every round so spend wisely.

Special cards:

Now what would a game like this be without special cards?

Every player will get a family character card (from the Wang family) at the beginning of the game and each character has a special ability that can be used once per game.

There are also 13 event cards. During each round, two event cards are shuffled into the current customer deck. Some events are resolved during the round (you just stop the game and resolve it at that time), and some are end of the round events. Some are good and some are not.

Opinion?

I have played four other cooperative games and each of those had something unique about it that made me decide to keep it. A lot of times people choose to have a game or two with a certain mechanics rather than having a lot of them with the same mechanic.

This one stands apart from the other four simply because of the time system and the hectic nature. You have to think fast and work together. Other cooperative games allow people to debate and talk a lot on what to do and really plan out. This one doesn't afford you that ability. Now you can debate within Phase 3 to see what you want to buy (if anything), but that is it. It is fast and furious thinking on your feet with many people changing the game board right in front of you and cards constantly turning.

I can see where others may find it too hectic and you can remove the timers and play that way. For me, I like the timers because it keeps the game moving along.

Also the theme of the game fits in really well with that hectic nature and there are some funny event cards as well (come on, how can you not like a "Free Meat" event card?).

If you aren't a fan of dice and some random elements and/or don't care for games that have a forced time limit, then the game may not be for you. If you don't mind some frenzied cooperative chaos, then this is right up your alley. There aren't a huge amount of decisions but when ingredients are running low and so are the choices on the dice, you have to think fast and decide what you want more and if you don't want to feed certain customers over others.

What I liked about the game:

- Great components.
- Fast, crazy gameplay in a cooperative setting.
- Varying degrees of difficulty and different rules that can really change the game and adds to the value.
- Light enough that non-gamers could pick it up easily but have enough challenges that people that are seasoned would still be challenged as well.

What I didn't like about the game:

- Some of the rules were a little hazy (such as a customer that was served in time, a customer that was served but not in time, and then "turned away" customers) but after a couple of test play thrus, it makes more sense.
- The gameplay is going to have to sell the game and not the outside box (if it looked more professional, I wouldn't have any problem with it using the same graphics and information). I am sure they will fix this as well.
- You may have to have the right people for this game. If you have long deep thinkers in your gaming group, this may not be the best game to put on the table. For an opener, it is great. If you have not-so-serious gaming group or friends, then this is good at any time.

Last thoughts:

It was money well spent. I am pleased with my purchase and it definitelyhas a place among my cooperative games with the right amount of differences to make it stand out. Definitely will be fun with the family and others that enjoy a lighter to middle of the road game.
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Van Willis
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Great review, any input on how it scales with fewer than 4 players (esp. w/2)?
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Tim Collett
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Vantastic wrote:
Great review, any input on how it scales with fewer than 4 players (esp. w/2)?


It scales very well actually. I would say with 2 it wouldn't be as hectic but the goals to win, customers, ingredients, etc. have been scaled very well to clearly handle 2, 3, and 4 people in the best way possible.

Note: I have tried it with 2 and 3 people on just a trial version to see how the game plays and played a full, real game with 4 people.
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Sean P
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You earned my thumb with the Wheel of Fish reference.

Good review. I've been considering this one and I'm glad to hear that it's pretty fun.

 
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Joe S
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This is on my list, sounds like a fun game.
 
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Nathan Mckinney
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I enjoyed this as well. (played it with you last night.)

While I'm impressed by the production value of a "made at home" game, I'm probably going to hold out for a more professionally produced version, because I'm sure this will get played and played often, and I want the game to last.

While I appreciated the wooden board for it's quality, I think one of it's biggest flaws is the joints prohibit smooth movement of the ingredient trackers, and things are just too hectic to want to spend that kind of time tripping over a bumpy board surface. It was distracting for me, and I would consider adjusting that if I were the game makers.

Gameplay itself was awesome though. I think most co-op game lovers will find this one at the top of their list. I definitely agree with you about "thinkers" not enjoying it as much. But I think those type of gamers that don't have the tolerance for fast paced action are few and far between.

I can't wait to play it on harder levels, I think it would make a big difference. When we played it on easy, I really felt like what it should have done was FORCE us to go to the last round, and because each round got more and more challenging, just because we passed 70 points by the 4th round, if we had to endure the challenges of the 5th round to keep us from going below 70, it would have been better. That might have forced us to make tougher choices on the upgrades, and actually would have felt right as a restaurant themed game, where you open every day.
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Tim Collett
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sibanate wrote:
I enjoyed this as well. (played it with you last night.)

While I'm impressed by the production value of a "made at home" game, I'm probably going to hold out for a more professionally produced version, because I'm sure this will get played and played often, and I want the game to last.


I agree on that. I hope that they will give a discount or something if / when they do a more professionally produced version to those that bought the game now. Granted, that probably won't happen but I can hope right?

sibanate wrote:

While I appreciated the wooden board for it's quality, I think one of it's biggest flaws is the joints prohibit smooth movement of the ingredient trackers, and things are just too hectic to want to spend that kind of time tripping over a bumpy board surface. It was distracting for me, and I would consider adjusting that if I were the game makers.


I played the game also on a very smooth table surface and didn't have any problems with the joints like we did last night. Even with a fold-out board, I am not sure that the creases would be any better. The best way, IMO, would be to keep the board complete and wooden and make the box itself bigger to accommodate it. I don't want another Homesteaders game board. *laugh*

sibanate wrote:

Gameplay itself was awesome though. I think most co-op game lovers will find this one at the top of their list. I definitely agree with you about "thinkers" not enjoying it as much. But I think those type of gamers that don't have the tolerance for fast paced action are few and far between.

I can't wait to play it on harder levels, I think it would make a big difference. When we played it on easy, I really felt like what it should have done was FORCE us to go to the last round, and because each round got more and more challenging, just because we passed 70 points by the 4th round, if we had to endure the challenges of the 5th round to keep us from going below 70, it would have been better. That might have forced us to make tougher choices on the upgrades, and actually would have felt right as a restaurant themed game, where you open every day.


I think part of easy though was also to get a feel for the game itself. I don't disagree with what you are saying. We could have made it harder by not starting out with any ingredients either.
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Van Willis
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sibanate wrote:
I really felt like what it should have done was FORCE us to go to the last round, and because each round got more and more challenging, just because we passed 70 points by the 4th round, if we had to endure the challenges of the 5th round to keep us from going below 70, it would have been better. That might have forced us to make tougher choices on the upgrades, and actually would have felt right as a restaurant themed game, where you open every day.

I haven't played but...don't the rules state that you play for 6 rounds and on the 6th round, resetting the money track to 0 you see if you can earn enough money in the last round to stay open? My understanding is that you needed to play all of the rounds for the exact reasons you mentioned.
 
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