Please Take Note: This is a review of the final game, but it might change slightly based on the success of the Kickstarter campaign. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the publisher’s website or visit the Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review.
- For ages 6 and up
- For 2 to 4 players
- Approximately 15 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Hand/Resource Management
- Reflex & Speed
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Become the mix master you always wanted to be
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek mixed!
- Child Geek approved!
It was a slow night at the diner. The night manager was about to tell everyone to close up, when a bus filled with high school students stopped near the entrance. Out pours a small army of kids who are hungry for just one thing: a smoothie. The diner comes to life and the blenders are plugged in. The goal is simple: make as many orders as you can, as fast as you can, without messing up.
Blend Off!, designed by Scot Eaton and to be published by Thunderworks Games, will reportedly be comprised of 4 Fruit dice (custom six-sided die), 41 Fruit tokens (representing bananas, strawberries, mangoes, oranges, blueberries, and the ever-popular durian), 8 Blender cards, 4 Rule/Spill cards, and 36 Order cards. As this is a review of a prepublished game, I cannot comment on the game component quality. The style of the game has a retro diner feel, with colorful artwork and bold type, making the cards very easy to read.
Game Set Up
To set up the game, first give each player 1 Fruit die, 1 Rule/Spill card, and 2 Blender cards. The Rule/Spill card and Blender cards should all be the same color. The Rule/Spill card can be set to the side of the player, but the Blender cards should be placed in front of them. Any Rule/Spill cards, Blender cards, and dice not used should be returned to the game box.
Second, place the Fruit tokens in the middle of the playing area. The number of Fruit tokens to be used is equal to the number of players, plus 2. There is only 1 “Durian” Fruit token (thank goodness). All other Fruit tokens are returned to the game box.
Third, create the Order deck by first removing all the orange Order cards, setting them aside. Now remove any colors not in use (the colors in use will match the players’ Blender cards), setting those in the game box. Combine all the Order cards again, resulting in a deck that contains only orange-colored Order cards and Order cards that match the color of the players’ Blender cards. Shuffle and place the deck face-down next to the Fruit tokens. This is the Order draw deck for the duration of the game.
Fourth, draw 1 Order card per player, plus 1. Place these cards face-up and next to the Order draw deck for all to see. If a drawn card is a “Special Order”, draw another Order card and combine it. Continue to do so until the top card is a normal Order card.
That’s it for game set up. Get ready to blend!
Fruits and Orders
The game is all about collecting the right resources as quickly as possible to meet the requirements of an order. The number and type of Fruit tokens an Order card requires is listed, along with the number of points the Order card is worth in stars. The more stars the order has, the more points it will provide.
Order cards can be modified with the “Add” and “Hold the” special Order cards. These add additional Fruit tokens or remove Fruit tokens. There is no limit to the number of special Order cards can be attached to a single Order card.
The Fruit tokens have no special value. They are just used to meet the requirements of an order. The one exception is the “Durian” Fruit token. If the player rolls a fruit on their Fruit die that is no longer available, they may collect the durian and place it in any other opponent’s Blender card, but only if the opponent isn’t taking the Blend action. This forces the opponent to dump the contents of their Blender.
Racers! Start Your Blenders!
Blend Off! is a simultaneous action game, meaning there are no turns or rounds. All players play at the same time, keeping track of what they are doing and what their opponents are doing. There are rules, however, that keep the game from jumping off the tracks. The game play is defined by actions, which are summarized here.
This is the primary action that players will be doing most of the game. The player takes their Fruit die and rolls it. If the resulting roll is a fruit that the player needs, they take the matching Fruit token from the middle of the playing area and add it to one of their Blender cards. Taking the rolled fruit is always optional.
Sometimes the wrong ingredients gets in the blender or an order is fulfilled before the player can get to it. This action allows the player to dump all the contents of their Blender card back to the middle of the playing area or to their other Blender card.
When the player believes they have the right number and type of Fruit tokens on their Blender card, they shout “BLEND!”. The game then temporarily pauses (although doing so is optional) as the following tasks are completed by the player who shouted “BLEND!”.
- The player claims the Order card and places it next to the Blender card that contains the right ingredients.
- Refilled the row of Order cards by drawing a new one from the Order draw deck.
- Determine if the Order card was properly completed by checking if the correct ingredients are included in the player’s Blender card.
- Return the Fruit tokens in the Blender card back to the middle of the playing area and resume.
- Successfully completed Order cards are kept by the player. Unsuccessful Order cards are returned to top of the Order deck.
If players are caught making a mistake, such as collecting the wrong Fruit tokens, calling “BLEND!” at the wrong time, or not refilling the orders, an opponent can point at them and shout “BLUNDER!” The player must then dump their Blender cards and return a botched recipe (where applicable). Worst of all, the player must sit out of the game until another player shouts “BLEND!” However, players sitting out can still participate in the game by watching opponents and calling Blunders. Once all the players are sitting out, then all the players come back into play and begin again.
Ending the Game
The game ends when the last Order card has been claimed and completed successfully. The players then count the number of stars on their Order cards. The player who collected the most stars wins the game.
There are a number of small rule variants available for those who want to change how the game is played. They are summarized here.
Remove the Durian
The “Durian” Fruit token can be removed during game set up if it’s found to be too disruptive or gross. When a player rolls a fruit that is not available, they just take another action.
Making a Mess
This game variant gives 1 (or more) players the ability to force all other players to dump the contents of their Blender cards. It’s suggested that this card (which is found on the other side of the Rule card) be given to younger and inexperienced players, providing them a means to slow more skilled opponents down.
This game variant removes the player interaction and just focuses on rolling dice and matching resources as quickly as possible. The challenge comes in staying focused. Smack talk is encouraged.
If the game is too difficult for younger players, the game’s speed can be reduced and players take turns. Blunders and the durian are also removed, reducing the game to rolling dice, collecting Fruit tokens, and completing orders.
The Child Geeks liked Blend Off!, but only in small doses. According to one Child Geek, “I like to play it as a quick game or something we play before we play another game. I don’t want to play this game more than twice.” When I asked why, I was told it was because the game was too crazy. Another Child Geek said, “I like it. It’s fast and funny. It makes you think and really focus in. But it also feels like work. When you win, you feel like you’ve really earned it.” The game was not found to be too difficult by the Child Geeks, but they were oftentimes overcome by the velocity of the game play. Once a Child Geek started to get mixed up or tripped up, the game rolled over them. A player can always catch up, but it can leave you winded. When the games were over, the Child Geeks voted to approve Blend Off!
The Parent Geeks liked the game with their kids, put felt differently about it when they played with their peers. According to one Parent Geek, “The game is a bit too crazy and fast for me. I don’t feel like I’m playing a game I am getting into. It feels more like swimming in a fast river.” Another Parent Geek said, “I think this is a good game for families and the kids, but I like my games to be a bit slower so I can think about what I am going to do next.” All the Parent Geeks agreed that the game itself was fine, but it was the simulations actions and overall speed that they didn’t like. A few of them thought that meant they were getting old. When the votes came in, the Parent Geeks gave Blend Off! a mixed approval.
The Gamer Geeks were not fans. According to one Gamer Geek, “Not a game I enjoy playing. All you do is roll dice as fast as you can and collect tokens to match patterns. The most difficult part of this game is keeping your cool.” Another Gamer Geek said, “I remember liking games like this when I was younger. Now I want more sophisticated games where I have to put more thought into what I am doing. You have to think in this game, but not at the level I am looking for.” I couldn’t find any comments from the Gamer Geeks that suggested Blend Off! was a “bad game”. Most of the comments focused on the speed of the game and how it felt too fast to make the game play matter. Not surprisingly, the Gamer Geeks rejected Blend Off!, finding it to be a game that moved too fast to be of any fun.
One of our players suggested that you needed a certain mindset to enjoy Blend Off! I found that to be rather insightful. Longer and larger games require a player to have a mindset that focuses on the longer-term and is willing to take small moves towards far-reaching goals. Blend Off! is just the opposite. The game requires players to make small changes very quickly to meet small goals. The endgame is never thought of – it just happens. Rather abruptly, in fact, as all the players usually look a little surprised that the game is over. This would suggest that Blend Off! is a game that is best suited for certain gamer types.
So who would that be? Casual gamers are the most likely group and non-gamers. These two groups like games that play in an intuitive way and only challenge the player on a limited number of physical and cerebral levels. Child Geeks are also a likely group, as the game plays well with a crowd who enjoys the excitement of playing a feverish game full of non-stop motion. This is not a quiet game and the people who will enjoy it most are those who like the thrill of the chase and the cacophony of sound that accompanies it.
As for me, Blend Off! was a game I enjoyed with my kids and their friends, but not with adults. Like the Parent and the Gamer Geeks, I enjoy quieter games with deeper play. Some people like skydiving and some people like walks in the park. Blend Off! will test you, tease you, and push you. It’s a mix of excitement and chaos that blends together to form a game experience that is as loud as it is fast. If Blend Off! is the kind of game you want on your table, do give it a whirl.
This is a paid for review of the game’s final prototype. Although our time and focus was financially compensated, our words are our own. We’d need at least 10 million dollars before we started saying what other people wanted. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek which cannot be bought except by those who own their own private islands and small countries.