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Help me Improve my Culinary Card Game for Kickstarter: Cooking Party Cards

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Paul Keith:
Sorry for the long post but I want to make sure I explored all immediate differences between the game and leave no stone left unturned. I didn't do any prolonged search, simply downloaded mouser's draft pdf and the review made by fathergeek.

Chef Cuckoo:

For 3 to 8 players


1-20 (teamplay for more than 5 or 6 players, one and two-player games use non-standard rules).

Chef Cuckoo:

What pleased me most about Chef Cuckoo! was the Ingredient cards and how they could be used in multiple ways to tempt the judge for plastic stars. For example, if I knew the judge was health conscious, I would select vegetables and ingredients that had reasonable portions and low calories. If I knew the judge was meat lover, I would load my dish with tasty meats and sauces. If I knew the judge enjoyed presentation and looks, I would select Ingredient cards that had complimenting colors. There was always enough for me to use and to think about to provide a creative dish that corresponded to the judge’s Food Challenge.


When you take on the role of judge, you'll tell the chefs what you expect from them and how you'll be judging their dishes.

Chef Cuckoo: Judge needs to be seduced by anonymous flavor

Third, the chefs know the judge. Each chef must now carefully consider what would constitute the “best”or “worst” according to the judge. This can be highly speculative, but not to a point where the chefs are completely clueless.

Palatable Judgement

The judge now flips one stack of Ingredient cards over at a time and talks through their thought process used to determine if the 3 ingredients fit the Food Challenge card’s description.

Once they are all reviewed, the judge now takes the tin can full of plastic stars and places 2 plastic stars on the stack of Ingredient cards that best correspond to the food challenge and the judge’s personal taste. One plastic star is awarded to the runner-up.

The chefs now reveal who provided what ingredients and collect their plastic stars if they were awarded any. Chefs are welcome to defend their culinary choices, but the judge’s decision is final.

pdf: Judge needs to be food critic

As judge, you decide what the chefs will prepare and any special instructions or
challenges. Your assignment to the chefs could be something as straightforward as
“Prepare a delicious dish” to something more challenging like “Prepare a vegetarian
     appetizer using watermelon”.

After they present their creations, you'll critique them and
      award points as you see fit.

Competition vs. Casual aka Ping Pong is not Table Tennis:


Cody considers the dishes and gives his critiques:

“I'm going to start with Ellen's dish. I love the surprise idea of presenting the chicken and
mushrooms as a roll, wrapped up in Lassange Noodles. I think the Mushrooms and Chicken
would go really well together. However, I think it would have been really amazing if you had
made a kind of cheese sauce for the mushrooms and chicken, instead of just having the grated
Parmesan cheese on top.. I'm afraid the actual mushroom and chicken might taste a little bland,
and I wouldn't say it was the truly unique flavor combination that I was hoping for.”

“Now for Lisa's dish: I'm not sure how the Lavender and Peach flavorings would work with
the Lobster, but I'm dying to taste it and find out! I said I was interested in unique flavors and a
great presentation, and you delivered! The idea of the simple elegant cucumber slices around
the plate sounds beautiful, and the contrast between the cold plain cucumbers and the Buttery
scented Lobster sounds amazing.”

“I'm giving the 5,10,50, and 100 point chips to Lisa – for a total of 165 points. I'm giving the
25 point chip to Ellen, for a good effort.”

 Cody gives out the Judging Award Chips to the Chef
players, who add their points from this round to their score sheet.
--- End quote ---

Chef Cuckoo:

Parent Geeks also had a wonderful time and the game served up a lot of laughter. With the Parent Geeks, we played with both game variants and the table talk and arguments were spicy and rich which actually resulted in a few judgement reversals. Non-gamers also had a wonderful time and were ready to play the game again once it was over, demanding seconds. Players who also enjoyed cooking shows, like Iron Chef and Chopped, loved the game’s theme and wouldn’t stop talking about their favorite cooking show moments even when we tried to change the subject. Of course, all Parent Geeks who enjoyed Apples to Apples loved Chef Cuckoo!, which should come as no surprise.

Gamer Geeks agreed the game was fun, but would only sit down for a game if they had to play it with non-gamers or their kids. They suggested that Chef Cuckoo! would require the right group (where “right” means funny and sarcastic) to make the game entertaining. In other words, it did little to please their palate or satisfy their hunger.
--- End quote ---

If the food theme weren't the same, Chef Cuckoo might as well be talking about which Playdoh shape and colors look best on which food.

Your game would fit much closer to a competitive game of architecture design or at least a competitive game on which person's lego everyone should all work on cause it's the best.

What you thought they mentioned is actually a real concept found in almost every card game in the world: The fact that the dealer must hand the players all their cards and be the arbitrator of cheating/rule breaking and once the round is over, the dealer decides who the winner is based on the predefined rules presented by the card game.


Another thing that might be worth noting is that card/board games aren't basing their similarity on mechanics/appearances because of the structure of the board to begin with.

It would be like saying all programming languages are the same because they are all slaves to the principle action of programming.

As far as I know, throughout history, board games are linked much closer to the symbol of the objects being used at play.

You can have two board games with two fruit objects playing at the exact same way for example but the board game whose fruit object is much suited for gambling will be used for gambling. The board game much suited for family fun will be used for family fun.

It's not a demographics issue. It's a convenience issue. If the math allows it to be much more diverse and change the reward factor towards random psychology then the game would be treated as the food gambling game versus the food family game. This doesn't include casino interventions where such things as card countings that are legitimate strategies were banned just to maintain the status of blackjack as a card game available in casinoes.

Your card game's design is simply much more suited for competitive play because it utilizes chips instead of banners deeming who won. A player chasing the lead leader in your rule set would be seeking not only to win "the current round" but to "grab the most chips in the current round" which would lead to an entirely different set of pattern mixing intent all together. (Meaning once it becomes competitive, the recipes would be done differently depending on a person's place instead of merely a chase towards the better recipe. Ex. the leader might decide to make a losing recipe that might be better at blocking the opposing player from winning as much chips hence reducing their likelihood to catch up.)

It really can't be said that the ideas are identical. Maybe the appearances are similar but once you step into the actual game (which is the most important criteria for judging a game's similarity) the environment would be so vastly different that any fan of your game wouldn't mistake your game for Chef Cuckoo.

Thanks so much for taking the time to write up the comparison Paul -- though i'm not sure I really understood your final summary from "If the food theme.." to the end.

In trying to think if it makes sense to proceed, I'm trying to think if there is a place for both games.. Perhaps mine is better thought of as more of a construction kit with many variations.. While Chef Cuckoo has 60 ingredients, I already have over 150 and ideas for many more in expansion card sets and may be more appealing for real foodies.

Now in terms of selling many copies of a published version of my game, I think the existence of Chef Cuckoo moves this from the realm of very unlikely into the realm of an almost certain failure.  But that was never an expectation so not much to worry about there.  Whether enough people would fund it on kickstarter to make it possible to bring it to production I don't know -- it was more about the experience of trying kickstarter than anything, so maybe it's still a good idea, I don't know..

Another real possibility is to say that it's not worth pursuing getting copies professional made, but I could still release it as an open source print-to-play PDF set, and let people download and print their own copies and create new variations..  No reason I couldn't do that in addition to (or after failing to) trying to kickstart it..

In terms of viewing my version as a kind of open source "Construction Kit", i'd be even happier if i could come up with some iconography on the cards that would support a more traditional kind of gameplay.  That would give the card set more versatility and fit with the idea of it being a construction kit rather than a standard game.  Not the best approach if you wanted to mass market it, but a reasonable approach for a print-to-play or print-on-demand set..

There has never been any expectation or even hope on my part to get a big audience for this.. The only question was (and remains), might there be enough interest on Kickstarter to fund the production of enough high quality sets.

Paul Keith:
Just a heads up that I made an additional edit. Not sure if you also read it.

It's really hard to explain especially if you're not even a card game novice like me but hopefully some of the additional statements made the distinction clearer.

Ok, I read your new ending paragraph.  I guess I have to disagree with you about the significance in the difference of how the two games award points to the winner of a round.

In my case i say the judge can divvy up a larger number of points between players as they see fit, wheras in Chef Cuckoo, the judge gives two chips to the winner and 1 to the runner up. That's a difference, and I prefer my method, but it's hardly going to change gameplay -- I can assure you of that having play tested quite a few variants.  Players are always trying to come up with their best dishes.  My method just makes it a bit more of a social experience for the players, as they weight the best way to divide up points.  It just adds a little more nuance, but doesn't change gameplay.

Other differences:

* In my version, chef players can trade in some cards.  This is actually a significant difference, and it adds substantially to the game play in my experience testing.
* In my version, different Assignments can change the number of cards players get and can trade, can mandate the use of a secret ingredient, and do other interesting things like creating last minute changes that cause players to scramble to come up with different dishes, etc.
* Like I said the basic Cuckoo game does not have players present their dishes, which changes the game play completely.. But there is an explicit variation which is basically my approach; as described in the review: "instead of the judge revealing each stack of Ingredient cards, the chefs keep their selection in front of them. Chefs now take turns revealing their 3 ingredients, give each dish they created a name, and a description."
* Only 60 ingredients in Chef Cuckoo -- 150 and counting in mine.

I suppose one way to look at the value of proceeding as planned to get my game made is that, for people who like Chef Cuckoo, having so many more cards and different ways to play might be something they want.  So perhaps one could view Chef Cuckoo as the game people on the fence about the concept should buy first to see if you like the idea (and the price difference will be significant -- no way my game could be made for anywhere near the cost of theirs) -- and then if you enjoy that, upgrade to this bigger and more flexible set..  So perhaps the audiences are different enough that there would be no problem with both games existing side by side and would benefit each other..  [On the other hand, another possibility is that the Chef Cuckoo folks would view my game as a threat to theirs and would want to threaten legal action, hard to know].

Right now here's how I'm thinking:

* There are enough differences and new things that this (my still unnamed) game brings, and the game stuff is far enough along, to at least make it worth the effort to finish up the materials (cards, rule book, variants, etc.).
* I need to figure out a serious, more traditional card game variant that can be played with the cards that might find a reasonable fan base and would be unique to the game.  That would add a lot of value and I think is more important than ever given the similarity that is now clear with this other game.
* And then decide afterwards whether or not to kickstart it -- but probably yes (with the caveat that it is not worth spending any money on video creation or more professional prototypes).
* Based on results of kickstarter campaign, can always release it as open source print to play material.
* Try to help promote the Chef Cuckoo game in the process, as a show of good faith.  I think this makes sense for both games since I don't think there should be real competition in audiences, especially given the price point of Chef Cuckoo, which is low enough to make it the most logical first purchase for anyone considering my game.
* I'd still love to find a partner for all of this stuff to share the burden, who also has some love for the idea like I do.


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