I don't have that many real time games because they sometimes get on my nerves. However, when I first tried Too Many Cooks card game from Good Games Publishing, I really enjoyed the experience. After playing the game several more times and sharing with different groups, I can say confidently that this is a real time game that doesn't overstay its welcome.
The game is played over three rounds. The table is setup with an easy, medium, or hard recipe card into a 4x4 grid. Each person has corresponding difficulty taste cards with limited information that they can share with the other people playing the game. If your taste cards are fulfilled you turn your card showing that you are happy face up. This is something that can and will constantly change in the game.
Each person may either swap a card of the same color or pattern, or they may shift a single row or column. Players have 5 minutes in each round to satisfy the unknown tastes of the other chefs.
The gameplay is light, but the challenge comes in anticipating and being aware of what others are doing. Players are not really supposed to say things about the color or vegetable changes. Players may initially believe it is impossible to satiate the tastes of all players simultaneously, but that's part of the charm of the game.
I love hearing people say, "How could you do that, that really messed me up!" It's no different than any other game where individual goals exist, accept in this instance individual goals must somehow find a way to work with others in order to succeed. There are win conditions in the game which involved getting some stars and progressing to harder levels.
The most interesting part of the game is the community dynamic of play and interaction though. As players learn to trust one another, they improve their ability to pay attention and look for what is changing. For such a silly, light game it really simulates the necessity of working together for shared goals even when we can't articulate those things.
The art won't be for everyone, but I like it ok. The title may also (intentionally or not) bring up the absurdist video from a decade ago. In some ways, that's ok too. The point of the game really is to bring disparate people together in a truly palate cleansing experience of shared agony and goals. It's a game that makes me laugh, just as much with the things happening above the table as anything actually going on in the game itself. In other words, the game brings the experience of togetherness to the forefront. Plus, it's simple enough for families and younger kids.
You can also watch my review here.
Too Many Cooks
Designed by Jarrah Bloomfield
Published by Good Games Publishing
*My copy of the game was provided for free by the publisher in order to provide a review. No other compensation was provided and my thoughts are my own.