HEAD CHEF is a turn based card game for 1-4 players aged 12 and up from CSTAR GAMES. The goal of the game is to cook food using ingredient cards to create enough fame to upgrade your dainty food truck to a cafe and finally into a gourmet restaurant. Each player has a unique character with their own abilities that aid them in becoming the head chef. The game consists of Ingredient cards, Character cards, Power cards, Menu cards, a set of 5 coloured cubes and a Scoring Track card. I have played this game now with a group of adults and a group of children aged between 10 and 13 and have decided on focusing this review on the suggested age of 12+ for this game as when I played with some fellow adults instead we found it to be nowhere near as fun. I’m not sure if the game is specifically tailored for younger players but the game is a lot more enjoyable in their hands.
As mentioned before there are several types of cards required for this game.
The character cards give the players a special ability to use through out the game. These can be cards like The Magician who has the ability to turn an ingredient into the previous or next ingredient in the menu requirements or the Stock Taker who can hold up to 5 cards in their hand instead of 4. The Character card faces up for all players to see and has a space for your coloured cubes, or “Action Cubes” to be placed on. As you take an action – draw a card, play a power card or make a meal – you spend one of your action cubes. There are 5 Cubes to start off with. The first sits to show your movement position on the Scoring Track card and the other four are used for your actions during gameplay.
The menu cards tell players what they are able to make with the ingredients.
The ingredient cards are the pick ups in the game, and the main cards that are played. Each ingredient card is valued in both rarity in the deck and the number of points gained towards becoming the next head chef. The ingredients consist of, in order of least to most rare: Bread, Meat, Onion, Cheese, Sauce and Egg. The ingredients are referred to as being in your “Fridge” rather than in your hand. Discards are offered to the rest of the players first as “Left Overs” before finally entering the discard pile or “Bin.” The use of these terms help make the game more interesting and immersive for the children playing it and are a nice addition to the game.
Power cards are used in game to help increase your abilities, gain more items for your fridge or to slow down other players. Handed out as lots of 6 at the start of the game players must choose when to use the cards, so there is some strategy involved in game play. Some of these power cards allow you to take a card from another player’s fridge (Steal) reduce other player’s fame by 1 or 2 (Bad Review) or to draw 4 cards from the deck (Double Dip). There are several different Power cards in the deck but knowing when to play them is the key to success.
Scoring Track Card
This card is used to show all the players where you are up to on your journey to become Head Chef. Cooking meals gives you fame, the fame you earn moves one of your coloured cubes along the fame track until you reach the next upgrade. At this point one of your action cubes is left at the cafe, now leaving you with 3 action cubes for your character. I really like this idea as now that you are running a bigger business you have less time to do things in, which is a nice touch. Your character wins when you get to 20 fame and have two action cubes to claim the restaurant and become head chef.
Level of Enjoyment
As mentioned before, playing this game with a group of adults is nowhere near as entertaining as playing it with a younger group of people. The adults got into the game much quicker than the children but also finished the game much quicker too. Playing this game with adults is more of a time passer than a fun board game night choice. If I were to rate if for adults it would get a solid yeah, it’s alright/10. That being said the children I played this game with absolutely loved it and wanted to play it again and again. It took them a good 20 minutes to wrap their heads around the rules and another 20 to make sure they were doing the right thing with the first round but then they were onto it. All of the kids, again aged from 10-12 years were having a great time playing it.
8/10: The kids really enjoyed playing this and it will be added to my collection of board games in my classroom.
This is a Definite Get if you have children in the age range to play it.
Head Chef will be heading to Kickstarter very soon. Meanwhile, track it’s progress on the official Facebook Page here.