Players: 3 - 6 Ages: 8+ Play Time: 15-30 mins
DOALG met Pearl and Amar of Rainy Day Games at the UK Games Expo 2022, where they were promoting their upcoming Kickstarter called Cake of Doom. We were instantly drawn in by the artwork, theme and of course Pearl's alien abduction costume. Pearl then came on our show ‘Let’s Talk Board Games’ on 1st September 2022 (you can watch the replay at the bottom of this article) to give our viewers a brief rundown of Cake of Doom and discus games in general. This got us even more excited with the upcoming game and therefore we were thrilled to be asked to review their prototype.
**Please note that the following is based on a pre-production copy for reviewers and some aspects maybe subject to change due to playtest feedback, Kickstarter stretch goals and the mass production process. **
So without further ado, what is Cake of Doom? It’s a quick, simple, family-friendly card game for 3-6 players.
In Cake of Doom World peace has been established – well done humanity. The problem is that by forming the Democratic Order Of Mankind aka DOOM the now peaceful planet Earth is now very desirable to aliens. But these aliens don’t want to just visit us, they want to rule over humanity!
However, the various extra-terrestrial entities are not interested in long, drawn out and wasteful conflicts that may damage/destroy the planet (or worse themselves). Therefore, they have studied humanity, and somehow they’ve concluded that the human race all love cake. Let’s face it this is not particularly far from the truth. Thus their strategy to take over Earth is to bribe the population/leaders of each region to accept alien rule. Using this attack plan players become representatives of various alien races and compete to take over DOOM. To do this, they must control two regions of Earth and then take control of the ruling body.
Game play is straight forward and increases in intensity the longer it runs. First players receive an alien character card; each has its own subtle ability to help them win. The rules we received didn’t explicitly say how this should be done, so we recommend the random approach. However, if you are playing basic rules remember to remove characters with advanced abilities. Players also receive a player aid and starting hand of cards.
The cards are drawn from two different decks (Cake and Mischief), while the basic rules call for a 5:3 ratio, in the advanced game players can choose their own mix of eight cards.
Once the players are set up, it's time to set up the central play area. To do this, place the two decks of cards in easy reach of all players with space for discard piles. Then you need to set up Earth. To do this, first place the DOOM region card (I know these are the good peaceful humans but I can’t help picturing a volcano lair) in the centre before then shuffling the other regions. Then draw and place a set number of these around DOOM, based on the player count.
With setup complete, play begins with the player who has most recently eaten cake, or possibly the most cake recently. Although don’t have an all out cake eating contest and make yourself too ill to play! Each player then takes turns comprising of three stages.
Play as many steal and grab Mischief cards as desired – these actions take a card of a targeted type from a player or discard pile.
Attempt to take control of a region (or DOOM once you have 2 regions). You can take over neutral human regions or those controlled by your rivals. To do this play cake cards from your hand to against either the regions cake value or outbid the previous winner. However it wouldn’t be a proper game if it was that easy would it? The other players each get a chance to play one card to sabotage your cakes to the discard pile and lower your bid. Your opponents can even discuss what to do for one minute. But there is a defence; the block card. Although there aren’t many of these, so pick your battles. If a bribe succeeds, take ownership of the region and place it and the winning cakes with it as this will represent the regions current value. If you fail you only loose the cakes that are sabotaged the rest return to your hand.
3. Lastly, the player draws new cards. The number of cards drawn increases each round starting at one all the way up to ten (which is the hand limit).
The game continues until one player controls two regions of Earth and finally makes a successful bid for control of DOOM and the human race along with it.
So now that you know what the game is, where it came from and how to play. It’s time to answer the big question what do we think of it? Is Cake of DOOM out of this world or flatter than most of my baking attempts?
When I first got hold of the prototype, I was immediately impressed with the artwork and quality of all the components. I especially loved the custom three legged green alien meeple. I eagerly dug in examining everything and digested the rules very easily. I was initially very surprised that the two decks (Cake/Mischief) had vastly different card back designs. My expectation was that this would end up feeling like the game was practically open handed and would kill it early on. I’m very glad to say that I was wrong. There is enough variety of Mischief card types to keep you guessing what each player has. This means that the game actually becomes quite tactical for more advanced gamers, whilst retaining its family friendly nature.
This game ticks lots of boxes for me: family-friendly, compact/travel-friendly, an even max player count (couples friendly), eye-catching, fast-paced and semi-tactical to name a few. It’s perfect for a night of light games or a break between two heavier games. The only thing that’s missing in my opinion is a little more ‘snap’ satisfaction from a back and forth battle – like a nope card battle. However, it is not the game lacks this entirely. As there are not enough regions for everyone, and a few boons for snagging certain regions or owning a set, there is plenty to fight over especially with more players. You could even experiment with house rules and have fewer regions for example.
I think Pearl and Amar have done great with their first project and can’t wait to see more. Perhaps a sequel where you are racing to collect ingredients to make specific cakes for each region. Or where DOOM fights back with a diabetic task force armed with sugar free snacks. Definitely worth checking out the Kickstarter when it goes live in March 2023 (get notified of the launch at www.kickstarter.com/projects/cakeofdoom/cake-of-doom). But for now all that is left is to give Cake Of Doom an official DOALG dice rating:
Stay Safe, Keep Gaming and Eat More Cake.