Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 27 February 2018

Welcome to the Great British Bake Off :- Pie Town

Game: Pie Town

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios

Designer: Daniel Fremgen

Year: 2017

Pie Town is a 2-4 player worker placement game in which you will have to gather ingredients and then bake the best apple pies in town. Of course apple isn't the only ingredient allowed in Pie Town, each player will have a secret recipe, baking this will be sure to impress, but should your rivals learn your recipe then they can use it too and really impress the judges!

Pie Town is a worker placement game in which your workers are dice, but you don't roll them, instead taking certain actions will give your workers experience, allowing them to be upgraded to a higher number. Other actions will fatigue your workers, causing them to work less efficiently and go down to a lower number. Many actions in the game are empowered by this number, a strength 6 worker will gather more ingredients and bake more pies than a strength 1 worker.

Pie Town set up ready for a 2 player game, the fruit orchard on the left is where you'll pick up all your ingredients, just next to it the pie shop is where you'll sell the pies you bake.

In Pie Town each player gets a player board, this contains all of your personal actions, these can't be spied on. On this you can store ingredients in the store room, hire new workers, upgrade your storage/ovens/kitchen and store your workers between rounds. Of these actions upgrading lowers a die's score by 1, and hiring a new worker downgrades it by 2 (though you do get a new worker at level 1). Baking pies gives you experience, and so you can increase a face by 1. There are also 3 shared boards, on these you can gather ingredients from the orchard, gaining a number of ingredients equal to the level of the die and gaining 1 level. Alternatively you could sell either a column or a row of baked pies, giving points to the owners of all pies sold, a bonus number of points to you equal to the workers level and 2 random ingredients. Finally you can go to the competition tent, here you can either elect a new first player for next round (granting a level to your die), or change one of the ingredients in your secret recipe (costing you a level).

At the core of the game is baking pies. Each pie uses 3 ingredients, producing one of 4 pie types depending on the combination used. 3 apples makes a basic apple pie, worth 2 points. One rare ingredient and 2 apples makes a slightly better pie, worth 3 points. Two rare ingredients and one apple make for an even better pie, worth 4 points. Finally a secret ingredient pie consists of 2 specific apples and 1 specific rare ingredient, at the start of the game you pick this recipe for yourself, however if you think you know it then you can try to bake an opponents recipe too. Secret ingredient pies are worth 7 points each, so they are clearly the way to win. Whenever you bake you can coook a number of pies equal to the level of the worker you used, so long as you have the ingredients. You select the ingredients you are using, mix them up so your opponents don't know which ingredient is for which pie, and then announce the pie types you are baking. From this your opponents might work out information about your pies, for example if you made a secret ingredient pie along with some others and didn't use any banana, then they know your secret ingredient pie doesn't include it. If you want to bake another person's secret ingredient pie then you show them the 3 ingredients you used privately, they confirm or deny your success, if you fail you lose the ingredients and fail to make any pie at all!

The yellow player has baked some pies, sold some pies and hired a new employee this round.

Finally there is the concept of spying, any workers who sold pies or who gathered ingredients can be spied on by placing a higher numbered die on top. Not only does this let you repeat the action that they performed, you also get to see a number of random ingredients from their box equal to the difference between the worker levels. At the end of the game there is a final bake off, where you attempt to guess each other player's secret ingredients. Complete failure loses you 2 points, while complete success grants you 4, this isn't a huge swing in a 2 player game, but in a 4 player game it can be game changing.

Pie Town is a very clever worker placement game, I really approve of the element of deduction added to it. However, at least for a two player game, it feels like I have somewhat solved it. So long as you are careful enough to bake pies in big enough batches to not give away your secret ingredients then you are likely to do well. As soon as you work out someone elses recipe then you can just start baking that almost haphazardly, since you don't care as much about giving it away. The biggest pain in the game is the slowdown between rounds from the fruit tree being emptied and restocked, particularly early in the game when it's unlikely to have been fully picked. Component wise the game is lovely, though one of our secret ingredient boxes has loose flaps, which does make it hard to spy on that player if one of their ingredients gets stuck underneath. Pie town isn't the longest game, and it does lack some depth, but it gets a lot done in the 9 rounds you are given. You feel a good increase in power after starting with 2 smaller workers and ending with 4 large numbered ones, suddenly you are stripping the fruit tree bare and baking 3-4 pies a turn.


Pie Town was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £44.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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