Monday, July 22, 2024

Waffle Time is Scrumptious Drafting Fruity Fun

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Drafting waffle toppings is not a game design that I ever expected, but Waffle Time from AEG and designer Maxime Demeyere is the perfect weekend brunch time game all about matching fruit patterns and goals. Over eight rounds, players compete to draft the perfect waffle with the most syrup on fruit on cream combos while also trying to match pattern cards and player goals. All while staring at incredibly detailed fruit and cream tokens which made me crave waffles intensely!

waffle time fruits
Look at these fruits!!!
What’s in the box?

You get one draft board, nine draft tiles, two turn order tiles, four waffle boards, four player pawns, 33 cards (nine syrup, 15 fruit pattern, 8 goal, 1 standard scoring), 135 fruit and cream tokens, 70 syrup beads, three butter tokens, a score board, and rulebook in Waffle Time.

For fruit tokens, there are 20 each for cherry, strawberry, blackberry, banana, and blueberry, and there are 32 cream tokens. It would have been much easier to manufacture square pieces that have the pictures of the fruit or cream on them, but the design and production of the game includes tokens that are shaped like the fruits! So the fruits had slight indentations around the edges, which is an incredible design choice, and I love it. The syrup beads are also the perfect color and reminded me of walking through the beading aisles in craft stores. I know it would have been absolutely ridiculous to do it, but I almost wish the waffle boards were just thick enough to hold the fruit pieces like real waffles!

How’s it play?
Love the timer on the draft board. Great touch!

Playing Waffle Time uses the draft card board and turn order tile slot together to decide which fruits are playable for each person and keep track of turns and time to eat (finish). Each player gets a waffle board, syrup dispenser card, and six syrup beads. The other side of the dispenser card shows how players must place tokens on their waffle to start the game.

The game is played over eight rounds in which players aim to arrange toppings to match the fruit pattern cards that are shuffled and chosen during setup. Each game uses five pattern cards, one from each kind of fruit, which can be completed once per player. At the end of the game, players earn points for spaces with butter, syrup on fruit, and syrup on fruit on cream. Whoever has the most victory points wins.

On your turn, you place your pawn in an open slot in the draft board and take toppings from the supply that match the two tiles closest to your pawn. Then you place those toppings on your waffle board on two adjacent spaces (cream tokens can only go on empty spaces, fruit can go on empty empty spaces or on top of a cream token, and syrup beads may only be placed on the dispenser card). Next, check if you’ve matched a fruit pattern (and put a syrup bead on that pattern if so) and finish by checking against the three goal cards. If you achieved the goal, you get either the butter token that was on the goal to put on any empty space of your waffle, or earn points if there was no butter token. This continues for eight rounds.

Cleanup occurs between each round (resetting the player pawns and turn order tiles), and then scoring occurs at the end of the eighth round.

The verdict?

First off, the illustration by Zak Eidsvoog made me so hungry, which was hilarious because my friend and I had just eaten pizza before playing so, good job on that Zak. The fruit look so realistic for being cutouts and everything was of a really high quality.

It did take us a few minutes to really understand Waffle Time because there is a lot of information to take in before starting play, and I wish that the fruit pattern and goal card clarifications had been on their own double sided sheet separate from the rule book for easier use. The separate page would have made flipping back and forth while learning the game easier, and honestly allow for keeping just the one sheet out while playing subsequent games once the rules are learned.

My friend and I had a lot of fun playing once we figured it out, though, and he said it was one of his favorite games that I’ve made him play, and I’ve made him play multiple. I also really enjoyed this game! It’s in my current favorites list, and I’m excited to play it again soon with other friends.

screenshot from the rules for waffle time showing how to get 3VP
There is a lot of layering in the waffle which allows for completing both a pattern and a goal and receiving one butter!

Strategizing about which fruits you want to get to match the goals is a large part of the game, and the outcome is so dependent on the other players not getting in your way during the turn since you can’t be in the same place at once. This mechanic of Waffle Time destroyed me the first game because I was laser focused on getting three cherries next to one another in an L-shape, not remembering that after each round, cleanup occurs where the tokens on the draft board are flipped over. So all my planning had been for nothing because in the next round, I lost the cherries!

Since the fruits and cream tokens are placed randomly each time on the draft board, there’s almost endless combinations for how many ways you can get fruits and cream tokens. Additionally, the only way to get syrup is to meet the goals of the the five cards. Since you can only do them once, you have to be quite nimble and think ahead, which is simultaneously really exciting and a complete pain while playing. Kind of the best gaming experience, really!

You can get a copy of Waffle Time in October on Amazon, at your FLGS, and of course AEG directly for $40.

Waffle Time
9.5 Reviewer
Waffle Time is the perfect family game with lots of room for analysis and strategizing without becoming overwhelming or frustrating.
Images and review copy courtesy of AEG

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