Thanks to Pencil First Games for providing a review copy of this game.
Today’s game is all about building your vegetable garden, and it’s called
Delicious is the latest game from Pencil First Games and designers Steve Finn and Eduardo Baraf, with art by Clémentine Campardou. It’s a game in the flip-and-write genre, where you reveal cards and draw onto a personal playsheet based on what’s available. Like most Pencil First games, Delicious is all about set collection and scoring points.
To set up, everyone gets a garden sheet and a play sheet, as well as a pencil. You’ll shuffle up a deck of 30 vegetable cards, remove six randomly (and unseen) from the game, and divide the rest into two twelve-card piles, one on top and one on bottom. Two cardboard arrow tokens will mark which is which for those on the other side of the table. Fruit tokens go into a bag, and you’re ready to play.
At the start of each round, you’ll reveal the top card from each deck, then draw a token for each. The cards will show whether the token will be flipped to its fruit side or its tool side. Then, each player will choose how they want to use the vegetable cards that are available. On your garden sheet, there are three planters on top and three on bottom, as well as a fruit planter on the side. On your play sheet, there is a section at the top where you can choose what you’re going to do.
- The first action, marked with a 1 inside a card, is to choose the top or bottom vegetable. You’ll then draw that vegetable in a planter on the top or bottom, depending on which deck it came from. So if there’s a carrot on top and a pepper on the bottom, you could choose the carrot and draw it in one of the top planters.
- The second action, marked with a 1 card with arrows next to it, is to choose the top or bottom vegetable, and draw it in a planter on the opposite side. So, you could take that top carrot and draw it in a planter on the bottom.
- The third action, marked with a 2 and two cards, means you can choose to draw both vegetables, each in their proper space. So the carrot would go on top, and the pepper would go on the bottom.
- The last action, marked with the two cards and a star, means you can take both vegetables and draw them wherever you want. So both vegetables could go on the top row, the bottom row, their own rows, or opposite rows. It’s your choice.
Each time you choose an action, you’ll mark one of the bubbles off. When the bubbles next to an action are full, you can’t use that action any more. There are 12 bubbles in all, meaning you’ll only play 12 rounds.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll draw the vegetables where you want them to go. They can go in any planter except for the fruit planter on the right. Planters must be filled from the bottom up, and you’ll need to check whether a vegetable can actually go there. Some planters only want vegetables that are the same, others only want vegetables that are different.
If there’s a fruit token present, it can go into the fruit planter in a space matching the shape on the card. If there’s a tool box present, you can draw a fruit or vegetable of your choice into a row or column with the matching tool symbol to the token.
But wait, there’s more! Also on your play sheet are four other places you could draw your fruit or vegetable. There are two wild spaces, one for fruit and one for vegetable, and drawing there allows you to draw a fruit or vegetable of your choice wherever you choose. There are also two scoring spaces – drawing a vegetable on the top allows you to score two points for every planter that holds that vegetable, and drawing a fruit on the bottom allows you to score one point for every instance of that fruit in your planter.
When all twelve rounds have been played, you count up your score. You get points for the highest value you’ve attained in each planter, points for rows and columns in the fruit planter, points for being the first to complete a container, points for the scoring spaces on your play sheet, and points for getting the jar of honey – for that, you just need to be the first to fill in either the top or bottom area entirely. The player with the high score wins.
As with other Pencil First titles, Delicious is a game that puts component quality at the forefront. One of the things that they do is they credit the artist along with the designers. In this case, the art is by Clémentine Campardou, who also did the art for Floriferous. It’s all watercolor work, and is very pleasant to look at. The cards are good quality, and the game comes with a pretty decent insert that holds everything. The arrow tokens that indicate which is the top and which is the bottom are frankly a little small and easy to lose. But overall, the game has a great look to go along with other PF games like Floriferous, Herbaceous, and Sunset over Water (which are the only ones of theirs I’ve played).
One of the best touches in this game is the inclusion of a drawing guide. You have to draw fruits and veggies throughout the game, and there’s a step-by-step guide on the back of the rules that shows you how to make each one. You can completely ignore these and draw how you want, or you can just use a letter to indicate what’s in a space. However, this step=by-step guide takes me back to the days when I would check out Ed Emberley books from the library and learn how to draw all kinds of things by just using some simple shapes. It’s a brilliant addition.
Thematically, the game is about planting fruits and vegetables, though honestly the theme could have been something else and the game would have played the same. Still, it fits into Pencil First’s nature line.
The game is a flip-and-write, which is a variation on roll-and-write games. Instead of using dice, your randomizer is cards, which is a little less random since there are a finite number of cards. Each time you draw a card, that card will never come out again, whereas you can always roll the same number again with dice. In this game, you remove six cards from the stack of thirty, which means you won’t see all the possible cards, so you need to plan accordingly.
The writing portion of the game is, of course, the drawing of fruits and vegetables into their spots. You should get more vegetables than fruits because every card has a veggie on it, while not every token will be a fruit. Scoring is pretty easy to follow, though the restriction of only taking the score for the highest row you’ve completed was one I originally missed.
Action selection in Delicious is interesting because there are only a limited number of times you can take each one. So you have to weigh the benefits of taking an action on each turn, knowing you’re limiting your use of it later. Towards the end of the game, you’ll have to make some really tough choices as you decide what will be left for you on your last turns, which is a bit of a push-your-luck mechanism. Throw in the wild spaces and scoring spaces on the game sheet, and the decision space here turns out to be pretty broad. I’ve been trying to think of other games that do this, and the only one that comes to mind off the top of my head is Shear Panic, the 2005 game from Gordon and Fraser Lamont. In that one, each player has 12 different possible actions and can only do each once (unless the game goes more than 12 rounds). I’m sure there are others, but I’m blanking right now.
The game is very much a multiplayer solitaire game. For me, that means there is absolutely no way to affect anyone else’s game at all. The box says you can play with 1-100, but that’s only because there are only 100 sheets included in the box. More can be downloaded from the Pencil First website. The MPS aspect is an intentional design choice as they were trying to make a game that was playable online due to the pandemic. Delicious also has a dedicated solo mode, which brings back the crow from Floriferous to block different planters you want to put stuff in.
I’m not incredibly familiar with flip-and-write games overall. I’ve played Welcome To… and Cartographers, but I think that’s it. As a comparison, I like the theming and overall gameplay of Cartographers better than Delicious, but I think Delicious outshines Welcome To… in that it is less mathy and produces a more attractive final product. All three are fun games, and it’s a genre I need to get into more.
IS IT BUZZWORTHY? Overall, I enjoy Delicious. It’s a simple game to grasp with a lot of interesting decisions to make, it comes in a small package, it’s attractive to look at, and it’s a good entry into the flip-and-write canon. I’ve yet to play a Pencil First game I did not enjoy, so well done to the entire team.
Thanks again to Pencil First Games for providing a review copy of Delicious, and thanks to you for reading!