It is only natural, around this time of the year, for one to think about pizza. Olives, anchovies, pepperoni – all of these things naturally scream of Christmas or New Year and…wait? What? They don’t? Well – how else am I meant to intro a game about pizza during the festive season?
Interestingly enough, food has been a theme for board games so long as board games have existed, and recently, this renaissance we are in has caused for more food based games to enter the market. Games like Food Fight and Sushi Go are just two examples of games on our shelves alone. What makes them so appealing is they are easy to get your head around. They are easy to understand and remove one more barrier to entry that most games have. The themes are instantly accessible. It is, for instance, easier to picture something Tesco (or Walmart, if you are across the pond from here) stocks in their sandwich isle than a remote castle in Burgundy or a post-World War II alternative timeline in which giant mechs exist as part of the landscape.
Food is…well…food, and this is where New York Slice enters the fold.
What is the Premise of New York Slice?
New York Slice is a set collecting game, designed by Jeffrey D. Allers, and by Bezier Games. The game is based around the concept of sharing an eleven sliced pizza between the players, so each gets a cut. Each slice has points associated with it, and the person with the most points at the end wins. That’s basically it…
Okay, so it is more complicated than that but not by a huge amount; however, it is a strangely unique game at the same time. There may be those reading it saying: “Oh so this is like Sushi Go“, and in some ways New York Slice is and in some ways it isn’t. It’s hard to explain, but I am going to try.
The game begins by all the pizza slices being placed in piles of eleven slices at random. These are done face down, and then a random Special is placed on top. The Special is also face down at this point.
Each round, a stack of pizza is flipped over, with the slices made into a pizza shape. The special is also flipped over and acts like a new rule for the game for the person that collects it. The pizza is then divided (by the “slicer”) into as many chunks as there are people, with the special either being attached to a slice or kept separate. So, with two players the pizza could be split 11 slices and the special, 10 slices and 1 slice, 9/2, 8/3, 7/4, 6/5 etc.
The next person in the player order then chooses a chunk, and they can choose to collect the slices, or eat some/all of them. If they collect them then the slices are placed face up in front of them. Only slices that have pepperoni on them may be eaten, and if they are eaten then the slices are placed face down.
Then it goes on to the next player, and so on, until there is no pizza left. Then, the next stack comes out and the whole thing starts again.
Once all the pizzas have been dealt out the game is over and it is scored. This is where it gets tricky.
The first set of scoring comes from the slices themselves. Each slice, as it can be seen in the picture, has a number on it. The person who has the most of that type of pizza at the end of the game wins that number of points. So, if you have the most pepperoni pizza at the end of the game (number 11) then you will get eleven points.
The second set of scoring comes from the Specials. Some have end of game scoring conditions on them.
Finally, there are additional points granted for each pepperoni piece eaten, and points taken away for anchovies collected. It’s a strange way of scoring the game, but it seems to work.
What are the Quality and Components of New York Slice like?
One of the primary reasons I wanted to play New York Slice, and one of the primary reasons my girlfriend got it for me for Christmas, is due to the quality of the game. New York Slice is almost perfect in how it has been designed.
It is always massively satisfying when a game just looks and feels the part, and New York Slice is one of those games. It feels like a New York pizza and that is, to be frank, completely remarkable. It is stunning.
You see, New York Slice does not come in a game box. It does not have a rule book. It does not use score cards. No. New York Slice comes in a pizza box. It has a rules menu. The scores are kept on an order sheet. It’s brilliant! It is a perfect experience, from opening the box to reading the rules to playing and scoring the game.
Well…it is almost perfect. There is one downside. The game has no real box insert, and this is ugly. It means that the game, as wonderful as it is, can never really be stored properly, and this is really annoying as with certain numbers of players certain types of pizza get removed. It means everything needs to be chucked into one box and sorted through every single time the game is played. It is a bit disappointing.
That being said, every other element is so well thought through that game is simply a delight. It is very well done, and the pizza looks like pizza. The cardboard is thick and has crust printed on the bottom. The artwork is lovely, the game design is lovely – the box is a great idea, but needs a bit more refinement.
The look of the game is superb, with realistic looking pizza, and art by Stephanie Gustafsson and John Kaufmann.
What’s it like playing New York Slice?
New York Slice is the definition of a sorbet game with the production value of a larger box. It has an interesting twist on traditional set collecting mechanics that makes it a great quick game. A single round can last mere minutes, with a whole game being over with a 30 minute time span. It is fast and it can be furious.
Looking back on our first few games, New York Slice does have a fair amount of strategy; however, it also includes a fair amount of luck. There are strategies such as to make sure you monopolise on a few numbers as, the way these are scored, it can seriously swing the game. If you, for instance, collect the most pizzas worth 4 and 5, you will still come second to someone who gets the most 10s or 11s, even if you collect more. That being said, there are the same number of slices for a pizza as the points it is worth, so there is more competition the more points a pizza has. This could be seen as both a strength and a weakness, depending on how competitive you like your games. It does seem to be balanced well, and I have to admire that.
One thing New York Slice has going for it is that it is competitive. There are several ways to win and lose points, and that is more than most other games of a similar ilk. This allows for a few strategies to unfold; however, the majority will revolve around collecting the higher value slices.
Personally, I am a fan of the theme. I think it comes across in a strong way, and adds an entertaining dynamic to the game. It is beautiful. with high quality components that make it a close representation of the concept of sharing a pizza.
Ultimately, New York Slice is highly replayable and the concept of splitting the pizza before sharing it out works really well. Thematically it is a strong choice, and it keeps a friendly vibe around the table.
I am glad we have a copy of New York Slice and I can see, after a few play throughs, it becoming a regular sorbet game we pull off the shelves; however, it is not a game that has a huge amount of depth. It is a sorbet game – a game that is a good break between larger games or just for a quick bit of fun. It’s easy to learn and quick to play.
What’s the conclusion for this New York Slice review?
I don’t think it is too difficult to recommend New York Slice. It is one of the most expensive light games we own, coming in at just over thirty pounds on Amazon; however the novelty of the whole experience is such that, yeah, I would say I still recommend it. It’s fun and fast, with a few quirks that makes gameplay different to anything else we’ve played this year. Most of these add, and a couple detract, but all result in something we have never really seen before.
I originally came across New York Slice when reading a review on Dude, Take Your Turn. It’s a really great review, better than this one, and I would recommend you give it a read. You can read it here.
After you’ve done that make sure to let me know what you think of the game in the comments below. Is it something that would interest you? Is it something you would like to play or something you would rather skip?