Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1.19: Halloween week daily update - Lord of the Fries

Here we go, attempt-at-a-daily-update #1, what's on the menu?  How about a zombie game?  How about some Lord of the Fries?  Lord of the Fries is a 3-8 player card game which takes 45 minutes (or more, time increases with the number of players)  to complete.  Originally published by Cheapass Games on cardstock in 1998, there have been two subsequent versions of the game; the latest "Third edition" (published in 2008) is in a sturdy box, has high-quality full color cards, and includes multiple menus to represent different fare.  I have played both the first and third editions of this game; since gameplay is the same, we'll talk about the third edition, which includes a few extra goodies.

In Lord of the Fries, you are a worker at Frideys, the fast food  restaurant of the dead.  Customers make orders, you and your co-workers try to fill them, but...  Well, this is Frideys (pronounced like "fried cheese", in case you were wondering), and being zombies, you kinda suck at your job.  The customers get more and more impatient; eventually they're willing to accept a more and more imperfect order.  "Well, sir, we know you ordered a Chickabunga Conga, but, uh, we're out of fries...and chicken.  Here, have a bun and a soda."

The game begins with the entire deck of cards being delt to the players; depending on the number of players, this may give some of the players an extra card.  This isn't an issue, as you play a number of hands equal to the number of players, the dealer shifting clockwise with each hand.  These cards represent the ingredients used to make the menu items, including "Meat," "Fish," "Cheese," and "Bun."  Someone rolls the green and the black die, and reads the corresponding item on the menu.  The starting player then has the option to play cards from their hand to complete this menu item, or forgo making the menu item (either because they can't or don't want to complete the item) and pass a card to the left, and it is the next player's turn.  If they do complete the menu item, they play the cards face-up in front of them, and then can either choose a new menu item, or roll a random new menu item.  Either way, it becomes the next player's turn, so they have first crack at making the new menu item.

What's the difference, why roll or choose?  Well, this is where a little strategy comes into this game--the hand ends when any person runs out of cards.  All cards face-up in front of you count toward your score, but the cards in your hand are negative points.  If you choose the menu item, the cards continue passing to the left if a person is unable to make a menu item; however, if you roll the menu item, anyone who is unable to make the menu item passes their cards to the person who rolled, increasing that person's hand size.  Early in the hand it's a good idea to roll, hoping to get a few extra ingredient cards, but later in the hand this could do nothing but supply you with a fist full of negative points.

What happens if no one is able to make the menu item?  Believe me, this does happen, and fairly often; just by looking at the menu you can probably tell there are some menu items that are more difficult to make--either they contain a lot of items, or a lot of the same item.  If every person passes on making an item, the customer becomes impatient, and is willing to take the item with one less ingredient, player's choice.  Play continues around the table in this fashion, and eventually someone will be able to make that "Magna Carta with a side of Fries" less some ingredients, even if it comes down to just a slice of cheese.At the end of the game scores are tallied across all hands, and the player with the highest score wins. 

Lord of the Fries is easy and quick to play, funny, and the latest edition has great quality components in full color.  As mentioned above, it also has several different menues to represent the standard Fridey's burger joint, a Mexican restaurant, and several others; each menu also has a special rule (such as the "substitute any meat for any other meat" rule in the Mexican restaurant menu).  Card distribution for each menu is different (ie, the number of cheese, meat, bun, sauce cards), so each plays differently.  You should be able to find this around $15-20; this is a fun game, and it's uncommon to find a game that plays so quickly and is also able to support up to 8 players.

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