Review: We Will Wok You

Posted by James (admin) on June 19th, 2013

We Will Wok You gameWe Will Wok You is a quick card-game for 2-4 players.  The theme is that the players are providing food at a music concert.  On the table are recipe cards and ingredient cards.  Each ingredient card shows one ingredient as well as one or two symbols (bowl, chopsticks, etc.)  Recipe cards show how the player that owns the card can score victory points (VPs) at the end of the game and the player with the most VPs wins.

At the start of the game, 4 coin cards are placed next to 2 rows of 2 ingredient cards, and 6 coin cards are placed next to 2 rows of 3 ingredient cards – the coins indicate the price of the rows that they are next to.  On their turn, a player must do one of three actions:

Buy ingredients: The player pays coins equal to the number of coins next to the row purchased.  New ingredient cards are drawn to replace the bought row and the spent coins are added to the price.  As a result, buying a row of ingredients raises the price of the ones that replace those bought as well as the other row of the same length.

Take a coin: The player takes one of the coin cards that show the prices of the ingredients.  Taking a coin means some ingredients will be cheaper for the next players.

Gain a recipe card: The player places cards from their hand onto the table which have a total of 4 matching symbols (the ingredients on the cards are not important for this) and this allows the player to take any one of the remaining recipe cards.

The game ends when both of the rows of 2 ingredients or both of the rows of 3 ingredients are empty.  Players now allocate ingredient cards they played (to gain recipe cards) and those still in their hand onto the recipe cards they own.  Each recipe card states what ingredients are required and how VPs are awarded – these are quite varied.  For example, some give VPs for collecting specific amounts of ingredients (e.g. 3 prawns and 4 chickens), some give VPs for specific ingredients (e.g. 2 VPs per broccoli plus 1 VP per squid), some don’t require ingredients at all and just give a fixed amount of VPs, etc.  Some special recipe cards can be used to boost the ways other recipe cards award VPs.  If a player can not allocate an ingredient to a recipe then it is simply not used (but unused ingredients do settle ties).

We Will Wok You coverOverall, We Will Wok You is a fun and light game.  It plays very quickly so there is little downtime between turns.  I found the game has several neat game mechanics that work well together.  I liked how the ingredient cards had different symbols on them as this deepened the decision when figuring out which ingredients row(s) you wanted to purchase – you want to gain ingredients that will suit your recipes but you also need to gain matching symbols on the ingredients that will let you gain more recipes.

The price mechanic (coins being added to, and removed from, the price) is interesting.  When taking a coin, do you take one to make an ingredient row you want cheaper but at the risk of making it more affordable for others, or take a coin from the rows you’re not as interested in (but leaving the row you want the same price)?  I found I started taking coins from rows I didn’t want in the hope of encouraging other players to buy those rows so I could get the row I wanted.

The recipe cards display a good amount of variety so there are lots of different ways ingredients could be combined.  Also, balancing when to get recipe cards offers some interesting decisions too: Gaining recipe cards early means you know what ingredients to aim for but other players know what you’re after too plus you don’t know if you’ll actually get them.  As you only need to allocate ingredients to recipes at the end of the game, you can change your scoring strategy based on what ingredients and recipes you gain at any time.

There are some periods when you have no other option other than to take coins which can feel slightly disappointing as other players may be gaining ingredients/recipes; however, the game plays very quickly so it doesn’t take long before you have enough coins to make your next purchase.

As players are trying to grab the recipes and ingredients they want before another player does, there’s an atmosphere of a race about the game too.  Sometimes, someone buys a row you were just about to (or they buy the row next to the one you want which increases the price of the one you want) (or the other one of the same length) which doubles the price of those relevant rows – this can be frustrating but that’s juts part of the game (rather than being annoying) and adds tension (plus, it’s fun when you do it others and hear their groans).

Personally, I’m not very keen on the theme.  The theme of ingredients for recipes at a rock concert is rather abstract and the vegetable-based puns (Tina Tuna, Freddie Broccoli, etc.) are a bit laboured.  It feels like a nice game which has had a theme applied to it afterwards so it could have been anything (hiring gangsters to fulfill contracts, building buildings to create city areas, recruiting pirates to go on raids, etc.)  Whilst the game’s theme may make it more family-friendly and younger, I think it could deter more gamers from considering it compared to the lighter-gamers it will entice.  However, the theme’s not a big deal when playing the game as it’s light and fast-playing so theme isn’t essential.  Also, the cartoon-style imagery used on the cards works well.

With fewer than 4 players, you play with some random ingredient and recipe cards removed.  This can add some additional luck to the game (as you don’t know which ingredients may be in short supply) but this just means you may want to wait and see which recipes you want to buy.

In the end, We Will Wok You is a light and fast game of constant decisions.  The game mechanics are simple and elegant, and there are lots of quick decisions to be made to balance gaining ingredients, symbols, recipes and cash, and to grab these things before another player does.  The game is a solid and enjoyable eurogame that will suit families and lighter-gamers as well as working as a nice filler for experienced gamers.  Personally, I’m not keen on the theme, but it doesn’t it put me off playing it and I look forwards to playing the game more.

[Played with 3 players.]

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