Top This! Game Review (prepublished version)

Please Take Note: This is a review of the game’s final prototype. The art, game bits, and the rules discussed are all subject to change. 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 game’s official web site or visit the Kickstarter project page to back it and get yourself a copy! Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review!


The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (designer suggests 6+)
  • For 2 to 5 players
  • About 30 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Visuospatial Skills

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Making pizzas is a respected art form that requires skill and focus, but the big money only goes to the pizza artisan who gets the order done the fastest!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Quick! You have an order for a Pepperoni-Mushroom-Olive pizza, an Onion-Double Olive pizza, and a Mushroom Supreme pizza! Get your hands in that dough and get that order made, baked, and delivered! Your customers will pay you for the food, but will tip you if you can delivery with style! Be careful! If you mess up the order, you can’t deliver…which means no tip…which means no money. Focus like a pizza ninja and you will get your order up, out, and delivered. Do it with panache, and you will be pocketing some serious cash!

Top This! is comprised of a game board (representing the pizza), 45 Toppings discs (representing the ingredients), 30 Order cards, 14 Tip cards, and 1 cloth bag. Because this is a prepublished version of the final game, we will not comment on the quality of the game components. However, if the game is anything like the prototype we received, owners of this game will be exceptionally pleased with the final product. The discs are wooden and solid and the board is thick and durable. If the rest of the game is like these two components, the cards should be just as good. All speculation and wishful thinking on our part, mind you…

Example of what is being proposed in the final release of the game

Game Set Up

To set up the game, make sure all the Topping discs are in the cloth bag and slap that pizza game board in the center of the playing area. The game board represents the pizza with plain old sauce. BORING! This pizza needs some character! Let’s start it out by randomly selecting 4 Topping discs from the bag and dropping those 4 discs on the pizza at a distant above it at about 1 foot off the table. Where those toppings land is what all the players have to work with initially. Any topping that roll off the pizza are placed back in the bag. DO NOT place them back on the pizza if they hit the ground! That’s gross…

Next, separate and shuffle the Tip and Order cards into two different decks. From the Order deck, draw and place face-up next to the pizza 5 cards. These represent the initial orders and what the players will be attempting to create. The Tip deck will be placed face-down by the Order deck.

Now let’s get some ingredients in the hands of the players! Have each player randomly select 4 topping from the bag. Make sure you let every player know that they are double-sided! This gives each player a possible count of 8 choices instead of just 4.

That’s it! Pick a starting player, turn on that oven, and stand by the phone. Get ready to complete some orders!

How to Make a Za Like a Boss

The game is played with each person taking a turn. The goal of all players is to match one or more of the face-up Order cards with a slice of pizza on the board. This is done by flicking Topping discs to 1 of the 8 slices. If a slice contains the specific toppings noted on the Order card (and absolutely no other toppings), the player has achieved Pizza Awesomeness.

On the player’s turn, they will complete two actions in any order they like and can take the same action twice

Add a Topping

Taking this action lets the player select one of their Topping discs they have in their hand and attempt to flick it to where they want that topping to land. The Topping disc can be placed on any spot on the crust of the pizza but must hit at least one currently placed topping to be considered legit. If the Topping disc should fail to hit another topping or travel off the pizza, it is returned to the bag. Any toppings that are removed from the pizza as a result of the flicked Topping disc are given to the player directly to the right of the current player. Regardless of the results of the topping placement attempt, this counts as one action.

Flip Toppings

Taking this action lets the player announce a specific topping that is currently on the pizza (for example, “mushrooms”). All the toppings of that type are flipped over to reveal the topping on the other side. Careful attention to detail is necessary to ensure the flipped topping is placed in the exact (or near to) its original position on the pizza.

There is also a very special action available to the players, but I hesitate to even mention it. This action should only be attempted by the most skilled of pizza artisans!

Top This!

Instead of taking two actions, the player can attempt to complete a single order with panache. Flamboyant dialog is a must as is a lot of luck. The player selects one of the face-up Order cards, states with as much bravado as possible that they will complete the order, and then selects one of their toppings as normal, placing it on the crust. With a single flick, the player must complete the stated order and no other order. Like the Add a Topping action, the Topping disc must strike at least one topping and remain on the board to count. Regardless of success or failure, the player’s turn is over. Depending on the results of their turn, they will be forever known as a Pizza Deity or a Wannabe.

After the player takes their turn, they draw back up to 4 Topping discs and check to see if they completed an order.

Completing Orders, Making the Benjamins

At the end of the player’s turn, they check to see if they completed any orders. A completed order is comprised of the shown toppings on an Order card  that must be matched to a single pizza slice. For example, if an Order card shows a slice with two mushrooms and an olive, that slice can only contain those toppings. One or more of the toppings shown must have been placed there by the current player by either flicking it, moving it, or flipping it. Any topping that rest on a pizza slice dividing line is considered a topping of any pizza slice that shares that dividing line. That means, for example, a topping in the center of the pizza is part of all 8 pizza slices.

  • If the player completed a single order, they take that Order card and place it in front of them.
  • If the player completed two or more orders, they take the Order cards and a Tip card.
  • If the player completed an order by taking the Top This! action, they take a Tip card and the completed Order card.

Any claimed Order and Tip cards are placed in front of the player who now owns them. Randomly remove one topping from each of the slices that were part of the collected Order cards.

Before the player’s turn is over, ensure that there are 5 Order cards shown face-up.

Closing Hours

The game ends when the last Tip card is claimed or the last Order card is revealed. Play temporarily continues until all players have had the same number of turns. Once all turns have been completed, players now count their points. Each player will add the numerical values indicated on their Order and Tip cards (Tip cards come in sums of $1, $2, and $3, which translates to 1,2, and 3 points). The player with the most points wins the game and gets to order whatever pizza toppings they want without argument. Yes, even anchovies.

To learn more about Top This!, see the game’s official web site or visit the Kickstarter project page.

Prediction

Predicting the success of this game with my little geeks is like predicting your odds of being arrested for walking downtown naked. In other words, a very simple prediction to make with little to no room for speculation. Yeah, this game is going to be a winner. Already, we have seen my little geeks go ga-ga over such games as Micro Monsters, Caveman Curling, and Sorry! Sliders. Action/Dexterity games are totally their thing and they continue to be big hits and constantly asked for, ad nauseam. Not that I mind as the goal is to play games.

Parent Geeks should also enjoy this game as the instructions make the game sound light and social. Of course, “light and social” tend to make Gamer Geeks frown at the simplicity of the game.

Teaching the game to my little geeks took about 2 minutes. The game is very straight forward and the number of rules can be counted on one hand (with fingers to spare). I gave each of them a number of test flicks to get a feeling of the Topping disc weight and how fast they would travel based on strength of the flick. My 4-year-old took the longest to get a good feel for how much effort he needed to put into it, but I didn’t rush him. It is important to remember that games that require physical skill can be some of the most emotionally difficult to handle. Allowing my little geeks to test the board and their flick until they were satisfied is going to save me massive headaches and temper-tantrums.

After everyone was set, I asked my little geeks their thoughts on the game while I reset the board.

“Awesome sauce! Too bad we can’t flick pizza topping in real life.” ~ Liam (age 7)

“I’m going to make a Meat Lovers Supreme Pizza with extra meat!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Looks like my little pizza geeks are ready to go! Let’s see if the heat in the kitchen will result in a perfect pizza or a burnt disaster.

Final Word

If my little geeks grow up to be Pizza Czars, I will certainly know why. They dominated Top This! and were able to play at the table with adults just as well (if not better) than their older adversaries. I think it’s because they are naturally closer to the table, but my 7-year-old tells me it is because I lack natural “pizza talent”. Regardless of what I may or may not have, it was clear my little geeks enjoyed the game. Both my 7-year-old and my 4-year-old won separate games, but barely. A narrow victory is still a victory and they were most pleased to accept it.

Parent Geeks also enjoyed the game, both with just a table of adults and with mixed age groups. The non-gamers even enjoyed themselves at the table and I swear I heard one non-gamer state “we should play more games like this.” The only item not on the menu was the abundant table talk that got to be pretty raunchy as the game continued. Good thing little ears weren’t present for that game.

Gamer Geeks gave the game a mixed, but positive review. To them, the game was very simple (even though they had to play just as hard as everyone else to make points) and there was general mumbling about how the game felt somewhat held back because the players constantly had to check and re-check their hand of Topping discs to the revealed Order cards. They had no problem with game play, but did have a problem with the game’s length, suggesting that the game would be better if it was shorter and played to a set number of points versus draining the decks. This suggestion is easy enough to include as a house rule and all were pleased.

I told them to “act natural” while I took the photo and this is what they do… (rolls eyes)

Gamer Geeks, this is an action/dexterity game that plays a good deal like Crokinole but with less strategy and tactics needed (actually, one Gamer Geek disagreed on this point). The goal is always to complete one or more of the Order cards which will give all players a clear objective. The real challenge comes in completing two or more orders at a time to gain a lot of points. Of course, skill is still needed to play the game as even the smartest and most well-seasoned Gamer will be squarely beaten if they can’t flick their Topping discs with some accuracy. As such, the game does provide a rewarding challenge for those who can master their “flick”. This makes the game palatable, if not completely satisfying. Perfect for pre-game night warm-ups, quick gatherings, or just a fun filler.

Parent Geeks, this is an excellent game for family and friends. Everyone can play this one and enjoy it from Child Geeks to Grandparent Geeks. The only players who will have a hard time are those with poor or imperfect muscle control, poor eyesight, and the generally unlucky. Teaching the game takes only a few minutes and the learning curve is based on the player’s natural ability. Players will learn as they go, improving their skill on each flick as their brains record the cause and effect of each turn. Spice up the game with some friendly table and smack talk to make even the simplest of flicks into an opportunity for cheers or jeers.

Child Geeks, if you have a finger you can play this game like a pro. Well, not right away, but quickly thereafter. A 4-year-old beat a 36-year-old, for goodness sake. This could mean that the 36-year-old is simply a silly sod, but we know this not to be true (according to my mother). It is therefore a justifiable fact that Top This! is a game you can play right out of the [pizza] box and play without being bogged down by rules or lengthy turn order. The game is as fast as the person flicking the toppings, but be careful when it’s your turn to add to the pizza. Keep in mind that flicking willy-nilly is not going to lead to victory. Know your target, aim, and score big by making meaningful plays.

Top This! is certainly not breaking any new ground, but it does a great job all the same. The pizza theme it uses as its background and base is perfect for the medium in which it is played. While the game won’t be winning any prestigious awards for complex and deep game play, it is sure to deliver fun and light entertainment. All the ingredients are there to provide your gaming table laughs, near misses, hard hits, and intolerably lucky shots. If you are looking for an easy to teach, highly accessible, and fun to play action/dexterity game, then Top This! is what you need to order.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner. Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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