Wok Star – Fowers Games – Review

Wok Star - Fowers Games - Review 1

I was very impressed upon first seeing the quality of the components.  I was also intrigued by such a great theme.  I love Chinese food!  Immediately, I wanted to order take-out and play.

Heather Swanson

7/10
Wok Star - Fowers Games - Review 2

Theme and What is it?

10/10

Seriously, who doesn’t like Chinese food?  How about cooking Chinese food?

In this case you are the owner and a chef at the Wang Family Chinese Restaurant.  Too bad things haven’t been going well.  The bank is giving you 4 days to turn things around.  Can you bring in new clientele and revenue before the deadline?

To get more money you are going to need more customers.  That means you better be on the ball and able to cook what they want in time.  Maybe you need some new recipes as well.  Perhaps coupons might bring in more people.  It’s all up to you now.  The fate of the family business falls on your shoulders.

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Gameplay Mechanics

7/10

Here is an intense real-time cooperative game you can sink your teeth into.  You need to be a fast chef to serve customers in time.  That isn’t easy.  It’s like they say…”too many cooks in the kitchen.”

The game is played in 4 rounds representing 4 days to pay money to the bank.  Financial goals are set for each day that depend on whether you would like to play a mild, medium, or spicy game.

You start out with a set number of recipes depending on how many players they are.  It is easiest to assign certain people different recipes and ingredients to be in charge of.  Things get speedy and confusing so it is best to have assigned chefs.

The round starts after one of the two timers is flipped.  Everyone rolls their starting 2 dice and a new customer card is flipped over.  Players must then work together to ‘remove’ the correct ingredients from the wok and serve the customer.

Ingredients are tracked on a number track on the wok.  They are lowered on the track by how many of the ingredients are used.  They are increased by making matches of the dice.  Different ingredients have different requirements for the dice.

When you don’t roll what you need you look at the other player’s dice.  If you discuss the need for one of their dice you must give them one of your fortune cubes in exchange.  The ingredients are moved up on the scale in the wok depending on the dice values used.  Then, the dice are placed in the dirty dishes.

When there are not enough dice left or no combinations available you need to wash the dirty dishes.  You only get to do this twice during a round so you not only have to be fast, you have to be strategic.

There are some other factors that influence the outcome of the game.  There are hustle tokens which can be earned and spent to roll up or down on a dice or exchange fortune cubes. 

At the end of a round the money earned is added up and compared to what the bank needs for that day.  If you served customers on time you get the full income but have to subtract a dollar for every time the timer ran out before you could serve someone.

If you have served more customers on time than you have dice, you get to add more dice pool up to a total of five.  This of course increases your chance of cooking more ingredients and serving more customers.

If you have earned as much or more than the bank required you earn another fortune cube and can spend the money to upgrade your cooking skills or buy new recipes.

Once you are a pro at the game you can add in player powers and event cards.  There is a lot of game going on here.

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Initial Impressions

8/10

I was very impressed upon first seeing the quality of the components.  I was also intrigued by such a great theme.  I love Chinese food!  Immediately, I wanted to order take-out and play.

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Game Build Quality

7/10

The components in this game are simply fantastic.  I love it all.  The feel of an actual wok with little wooden ingredients makes the cooking aspect come alive.

There are a couple of drawbacks though.  The 2 sand timers have a slightly different amount of sand in them.  This causes a difference in time.  It is small but in this game can be significant.  Each time a new customer is revealed the other timer is flipped.  One is always going to be giving us a shorter time limit.

Another minor issue is the size of the box.  I’ve noticed some games come in WAY oversized boxes and others are so tight they are hard to put away.  This is one of those hard to put away games.  There is no room for mercy in the box.

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Artistic Direction

8/10

The art is beautiful in the game.  I enjoy the style and design.  Unfortunately, it makes me hungry.

I appreciate that there is art on all of the components.  Some games skimp on cards that may not require a picture.  It makes everything nicer that there is a shared art style throughout Wok Star.

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Fun Factor

7/10

The best part of this game for me is the wok and ingredients.  I felt like I’m preparing and serving ingredients by moving them around on the board.

The cooperative aspect is something I love in a game.  However, I think this game is harder the more people there are.  It requires more coordination concerning the dice.

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Age Range & Weight

8/10

Wok Star is recommended for ages 10 and up.  I think this is fine in regards to the mechanics.  On the other hand, this is a difficult game when you are trying to beat the timers!

The weight of the game is light.  The challenge is pretty difficult in my opinion.  Your focus during the timed parts needs to be lazer focused.

This game probably won’t work out for you if you want to think through your strategy and make calculated moves.  You need to be quick to analyze the dice and make the best decisions.

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Conclusions

7/10

Wok Star is beautiful but not in the Zen sort of fashion.  It is going to make you long for something.  First of all, food.  Next, a brain break.

Coordinated cooking and serving takes some practice.  To master this game your group probably needs to develop standard operating procedures.  I took the tips from the rules to help with initial mastery.  You will need to make more.

In other words, to be good at Wok Star you will need to practice.  If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

I’m not sure how much I will play.  I will have to be in the mood to ramp up my adrenaline and focus on being fast.  I’ve failed a lot at this game on the easiest level.  I don’t have a great track record going.

If you like the stress of a real-time cooperative game and are willing to practice at it this might be a game for you.  It has beautiful components.  Just beware, you might have to order Chinese take-out after playing!