Disclaimer: This review is from a review copy of the game that was provided by AEG to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Game: Truffle Shuffle
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
Design: Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin. Shawn Stankewich
Art: Dylan Mangini
Mechanisms: Card drafting, Set collection
Number of Players: 2 – 4
Game Time: 15 – 30 minutes
Description: Truffle Shuffle sees players drafting truffle cards to create sets meeting the demands of customers. Fulfilled orders accrue chocolate coins and at the end of the game the player with the most coins wins!
The game begins with the truffle cards being shuffled and a reference card being dealt randomly to each player. The player who receives the reference card with the first player marker will go first. The tableau is then built from 39 of the truffle cards, alternating face up rows with face-down rows. Truffle cards show the suit color on the backs but the face-down cards otherwise don’t reveal any information until they are drafted. The fronts of the truffle cards show their suit and either a number or a special effect symbol. The numbers range from 1-5 within each suit.
Each turn, the player chooses whether to draft an available card from the tableau (i.e.: one not covered by any other cards) or play a “Take 2” or “Skip” card if they have one in their hand. Then, unless they played a Skip card, they can fulfill an order by playing a set of cards from their hand which earns coins based on the value of the order completed. Orders are standard poker hands plus a few extras like sets of numbers (two 2’s, five 5’s, four 4’s of the same suit, etc.). Take 2 cards allow you to take 2 from the tableau instead of just 1, and Skip cards skip your current turn but then let you take 3 cards your following turn.
Play continues until the last card is taken from the tableau, at which point players must discard cards from their hand if they have more than the number of players in the game. Next, the tableau is rebuilt with the next 39 of the truffle cards. Then, play resumes. Once the tableau is emptied again, the final 39 truffle cards are dealt into the tableau one last time, and the game ends when the last card is drafted. The player with the most coins wins!
Review: We’ve really been enjoying what Flatout Games has to offer, both in terms of their own designs and the games that they have published from other great designers (see our previews for Calico, Point Salad, and Cascadia). So, of course we wanted to play Truffle Shuffle!
Truffle Shuffle is on the light end of the gaming spectrum, with simple rules and a fairly quick (20ish minute) play time. It’s meant to be a filler, and it’s a lovely example of what a filler game should be.
The art is simple, but delightful. The little truffles look good enough to eat, and the pastel colors “feel” right. Truffles are supposed to be this lavish treat, and a bright or neon palette just wouldn’t give that feeling like the pastels do.
Plus, it’s colorblind friendly! Each of the colors (green, purple, pink, and yellowish orange) are paired with a symbol, so colorblind persons should be able to distinguish the various colors from one another.
I love the little bit of poker that they brought into the game as well. I played a ton of Texas Hold’em in college – I liked it so much that I’d watch the pros on TV. I never had the confidence to go try and win money, but I regularly kicked my friends’ butts.
If you understand poker hands, you will have a very easy time learning this game. Even if you don’t, it does have player aides that you can utilize to guide you along. And then, after that, it’s a fairly basic drafting game.
When it comes to the drafting, I really got a kick out of the pyramid method that they used. It’s the same method used in 7 Wonders Duel, and I think that it’s absolutely genius! It makes it really easy for people to draft, and adds a layer of strategy. Do you want to take that card and reveal two others – or do you want to try and force one of your opponents into opening it up for you?
The game plays relatively quickly, and it has a few layers of strategy without being too crunchy. We found that it was a great way to relax our minds after a heavy title, or a good way to start or end a game day. The gentle colors and simple gameplay work together to offer a sort of “zen” feel, like what you get from games like Tokaido and Wingspan.
Truffle Shuffle is yet another wonderful game from the masterminds at Flatout Games; it fits perfectly as a follow-up to Point Salad. I’m so glad that AEG has been bringing their games to the masses, and I’m excited to see what they bring in the future, as well!
Try, Buy, Deny: If you’re looking for a light filler that puts a twist on classic card games to add to your collection, it’s a buy for sure. It’s also a great buy if you’re looking for something different in food-themed games. If you’re not really into lighter games or card games, I still think you should give it a try – it’s a clever game that is definitely worth a look!