Wok On Fire is a card game that combines set-collection with dexterity to create a quick, simple filler that makes for a pretty fantastic family or party game.
I first saw Wok On Fire at GenCon 2016, but I didn’t have a chance to actually play it. Luckily, Green Couch sent me one to review, and I’m very glad they did. Let’s take a look:
In Wok On Fire, you will be trying to collect food ingredients to combine into different main dishes to serve to your customers. Want to make a great main dish? You’re going to need Noodles, a Meat, a Veggie, and a Condiment.
Can’t quite seem to make the whole meal? That’s okay, the ingredients are worth something on their own as well.
Scoring in the game works very similarly to Sushi Go. If you have the most Pork, you get a bonus. If you have 3 Mushrooms, you score 18 points; if not, you score nothing. Combine Garlic with any Meat and score triple. The more Onions you have, the more points you score. Thankfully the comparisons pretty much end with the scoring and set-collection. Oh, and the cutesy artwork for the ingredients.
So…okay, it’s kind of natural for it to be compared to Sushi Go, especially since Sushi Go has become so mainstream now. But trust me, this game stands on its own.
First off, the way that you collect cards is completely unique. After arranging half of the ingredient cards face down to form a “wok”…
You each take your Spatula card and flip ingredients in the wok as though you were stir-frying.
You get 2 flips each turn and then get to select ingredients that you want to include in your dishes.
After you are done choosing your ingredients, you replenish the supply in the wok by “chopping” ingredients from the supply stack back into the wok (which is not as easy as it sounds, but IS just as ridiculous-looking as it sounds).
The next player then gets to take their turn Stir-Frying, Picking Up Ingredients, and Chopping until the supply stack runs out. Everyone gets one final turn and then you score. Everyone gets to arrange their ingredients into the best possible combination after the game is over. Whoever has the most points wins.
The box says it takes about 20 minutes, but if everyone is paying attention, it can be over much quicker than that.
So…What do we think?
So, to say this game will be compared to Sushi Go is like saying that broccoli is green. It has food that you collect to put into groups for points, and it has the same kind of very cute artwork that originally drew me to Sushi Go in the first place.
But…for me, none of that matters. I think this game is great. First, it’s a very attractive, very cute game. The artwork on the cards is great and the ingredients really stand out when they are in the Wok. The layout of the instructions and the font they used are both reminiscent of a takeout menu from a Chinese restaurant, and the illustrations are very helpful.
Second, the gameplay itself is fun. Once you get the hang of flipping the cards (which takes a couple of tries) you can really have a good time trying to find the ingredients you are looking for to complete your dishes.
Also, it’s deeper than it first seems. There are a bunch of little extras that make the game more intricate. The garlic lets you Stir-Fry again and Pick Up another ingredient, but you must also give one to an opponent. The Chili Pepper lets you grab another ingredient on your turn if you see something else you need, but also counts for points if combined with a Green Pepper. And speaking of Green Peppers, you always have to pick them up first, which can really spoil your plans.
These rules add a bit of a learning curve the first time you play it, but not much steeper than other filler card games. Also, it comes with handy player guides, so this didn’t really bother me at all.
There are also a lot of different ways to win. If you are not getting the cards you need to prepare a main dish, you can start saving up Mushroom cards or Onions to score points on their own at the end of the game. If you see 3 cards that you really need this round, you can use the Chili Pepper card, or you can grab the Garlic to perform an additional Stir-Fry action and give your opponent 1 more Broccoli card that will count against them if they have the most at the end of the game.
Overall, I think it does exactly what you want a game like this to do. It is quick and easy to teach – which, for games of this type, is essential. No one is going to want to spend 15 minutes learning a game that takes 15 minutes to play. It’s engaging and has a unique dexterity element that sets it apart.
Wok on Fire is definitely going to find a place in my collection and get to the table anytime I need a fast, fun filler.
Green Couch Games provided us with a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review, which is exactly what we have provided.