Space Battle Lunchtime is a set collection card game based on its graphic novel by Natalie Riess. The premise of this game is similar to the graphic novel, you’re playing as one of the cooks as a contestant on the Universe’s hottest reality TV cooking show, “Space Battle Lunchtime.” Cooking is a little bit different as we know it because their ingredients and dishes are different, but still delicious. The game was published by Oni Games and Renegade Games in 2020, and this wasn’t the first team up for these creators. Other games made by the duo include The Tea Dragon Society Card Game and Gudetama: The Tricky Egg Card Game.
What’s in the box?
- 40 dish cards
- 60 flavor cards
- 6 judge cards
- 5 chef cards
- 5 spatula tokens
- 1 first player token
- 5 player aides
How Does It Play?
Your goal is to be the first player to get 21 points, and players get points for serving crazy dishes to alien judges. The more your ingredients for those dishes match the dish card, the more points you score.
Player take turns in a clockwise direction, and in each turn, players take one of three actions. You can steal a flavor card, buy a flavor card, or serve a dish. The first two options will give you addition cards where the last one will help you score points.
Steal a flavor card –
In this action you can take 1 card from the Larder, which consists of 4 face up flavor cards. Players have room for 7 cards in their hand. In addition, a player can instead take the top card from the top of the deck, which is a random card but could be just what you’re looking for.
Buy flavor card(s) –
To do this, you will discard a flavor card from your hand. In return, you can take the number of cards from the Larder equal to the discarded quantity shown on the top left of that card. Cards have 1-3 possible icons, which means you can draw a possible 1-3 cards when taking this action depending on the card you discard.
Serve a dish –
You may serve one dish as long as you have the necessary flavor cards to do so. You will discard those flavor cards from your hand in one of three ways to score either gold, silver, or bronze.
Gold – This will score you the most points, but to do so you will need to have flavor cards that show the exact flavors and the exact amount of icons shown on the dish card. Also, this will give you a one time bonus action from one of the judges connected to that dish. Gold is award 4-5 points
Silver – This will be scored if you use the exact flavors shown on the dish card but have the wrong proportions, like a card with additional icons not needed. This will not unlock the judge bonus action and will score 2-3 points.
Bronze – This will score points when you use any flavors in the exact amount. This will score you 1-2 points and can be a way to get some points when you have 7 cards in your hand that don’t currently match any dishes.
The play area is simple to set up and visualizing it can help you know how the game is played. The play area is set up with 3 judges, all with different bonus actions related to them. Below the judges are 4 dish cards, these are arranged so that there are 2 dish cards below each judge. When you serve a dish and it gets a gold reward, you can take the bonus listed on one of the judges that dish card is underneath.
Besides serving dishes and scoring gold, silver, or bronze, and getting one time bonuses from the judges when scoring those gold dishes, you can use your spatula bonus. Each player has a spatula token and a chef card. Each chef card lists their favorite flavor, and when its used in a dish, they can flip over their spatula token to activate on another future turn. When activating the spatula, you will flip the token back over and then choose one of any of the bonuses listed on any of the judge cards.
Again, the game is a race to 21 points, and when a player gets there, the round ends and the player with the most points is the winner.
Although the game has simplified rules which I usually love, there is something missing in this game. I had never heard of the graphic novel Space Battle Lunchtime before this game, so for some maybe the theme would bring you to this game. And there is nothing bad about needing some context to truly enjoy a game. Some of the games at my table bring me more enjoyment because of the theme more than the gameplay, and that’s a good reason to like a game.
To be clear, there is nothing objectively wrong with the gameplay. The game actually works well and has 3 layers of strategy. You need to collect cards to serve dishes, you need to time out which dishes you cook to take judge abilities at a great time, and you need to use your chef’s favorite flavor to take more chef abilities to accelerate your ability to get 21 points. What doesn’t work for me is that the gameplay doesn’t add anything new that I haven’t seen in other games.
On the other hand, the art enhances the game, and I appreciate the funny dishes and names of cards in the game. My kids thought it was pretty funny and crazy more than anything. The icons work well and are easy to use so you know what cards you need and what does what in the game.
Ultimately, what might bring you most to this game is the theme. If you are a Space Battle Lunchtime fan, if you like fairly simple games with a crazy theme to them that will add in laughs, or if you like card games with a low complexity and shorter play time but still require a little strategy, this game is for you.
You can grab Space Battle Lunchtime at your FLGS or at Renegade’s store.
Images Courtesy of Oni Games and Renegade Games
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