Ryan (and his two youngest children) review Winner Winner Chicken Dinner.
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is a take-that (read: target other players) family dice and card game.
How It’s Played
In the game of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, players are playing foxes, with the objective of the game being to have most points at the end of the game. Players will do this via stealing chickens from the farm in the center of the table, as well as from other fox players and cooking those chickens for a tasty dinner. Gameplay is simple. On a turn, the current active player will roll 6 ‘hunt’ dice, up to 3 times (like Yahtzee or King of Tokyo) with the exception of any dog faces on the die – they are locked and cannot be rerolled. Dice allow you to steal chickens from the center of the board (the coop), cook chickens (if you have pairs of dice with that option) that you already collected and bagged or purchase action cards at the market that will let you do special things. The dog face on the dice will also let you pick a player to lose a chicken or to steal chickens from (or sometimes doing both) depending on how many you rolled. There is a dog meeple that also moves on a track – (move 1 space for each dog rolled) think of it as a time track – counting down to the end of the game.
Stolen chickens that haven’t been cooked yet, go in a player’s drawstring bag. Any chickens in that bag are up for grabs when stealing happens. However, once the chicken is cooked – it cannot be stolen and is moved in front of a player out of the bag. We should also note that each player starts off with a unique character fox card, that gives them their own special ability in the game. The game itself is over once all there are no more chickens on the farm left to steal or the dog meeple makes it to a certain spot on the track (depending on the number of players). Chickens still in your draw bag are worth 1 point, cooked chicken are worth 2, the highest total is the lucky fox that wins.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, my last name is Sanders, and I am writing about a game that deals with cooking chickens. Go ahead and giggle. Ready to move on? Alright, well let’s go…
Now, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner at its core is a take-that game, and if you don’t like take-that games, this is not for you. A good portion of the game is stealing or sticking it to the other players. “Is there room for teaming up and piling on to just one player? “you ask. Yes, however, if you do that and they are losing chickens left and right – there is a decent chance the player is going to get a card that will allow them to trade bags with someone else, and one of those other players may be left holding the empty or nearly empty chicken bag.
I have played this game both with 4-players and 2-players. Our multiple 4-player plays were with 2 adults (including myself), a 5th grader and a Kindergartener and the game went over very well. It didn’t take long for the Kindergartener to understand about dogs locking dice, and what some of the cards did. She might not always pick the best choices (she likes to buy cards and using them over say cooking chickens), but she understands the mechanics. Though, I suppose she understands them enough to win one of the games with 29 points! I will say I am not a huge fan of the dance-off card or the cluck off card – causing other players to have a chicken dance or cluck off (the dance is the worst) – however, everyone else at the table seemed to like them. The cards could always be taken out (and actually are in 2-player) if you find them too silly or not a match for your group. However, this being a family game, I am sure will be the cause for a lot of laughter when played (and maybe quite a few memories when the kids are older and remember playing the game where they made mom and dad have chicken dance-offs).I will say I am not normally a fan of games where you are outright stealing from each other a lot, however, in the context of this game, it really didn’t bother me this time.
In the 4-player game even though it has a LOT of chickens (all 60) in the coop to start with, the game actually plays pretty fast and doesn’t overstay its welcome at all. Another plus is downtime isn’t that really an issue at all with this one, even though it uses that Yahtzee style 3 rolls a turn deal. Part of that is because, if you want to cook – you need 2 matching dice, also any dice showing the dog face have to be locked, etc – so that makes the pool you are rerolling smaller. Also, some player powers may come into play, so you are watching what is going on.
The 2-player game of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner scales down for play, you take out certain cards that wouldn’t make sense with just 2-players, only use half the number of chickens are placed in the coop and also the dog only needs to make it to 20 points instead of 40 to end the game (note: all player counts scale). How does it play? Well I’ve played 2-player a couple of times, and as you can imagine is very fast, games around 10 minutes, which may be great if you are looking for a fast filler or waiting for more players or another game to finish up. It is also perhaps a more serious affair, and pretty cutthroat. There is only one player to target, and it feels like stealing from other players is ratchet up, especially as you know there are not a lot of chickens in the coop and the game is over fast. Also, you know if you don’t have the chickens, the other player does – and that changes the dynamic a little – wherein a 4 player game, you really may not know who has the most chickens, etc. In 2-player Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, I think cooking chickens maybe even more important since the stealing is ratcheted up. The game may scale down, but the fun doesn’t, though you will miss out on some of the cards like Chicken Dance-Off or Cluck Off competition (again making it a little more serious feeling than with 4-players).
Nays? – As far as negatives with Winner Winner Chicken Dinner, I don’t outright have negative things to say. Though I do really wish that 25th Century games would think about putting some kind of icons on the cards that need to be taken out of the 2-player game, so it’s faster to find those cards, set-up and get to cooking some chickens. Also, I am not 100% sure that all the character player powers (each player gets one at the start of the game) are balanced. They seem to all be GOOD cards, just I am not sure they are balanced. For example, the promo card Montana Smith (Indiana Jones card) allows you to get all 3 cards from the market for 4 foxes. That can be insanely powerful. However, the game comes with 10 characters, and then there are 4 promo ones on the Kickstarter – so if you find one too powerful, you can always take it out and there are still plenty to choose from. Also, I think, since there are a number of cards, it would be cool to have an official variant where everyone gets 2 cards, and they choose 1 of them, to give a little bit more control over who you receive.
Our Two Youngest Kids Thoughts
Gavin (5th Grade): I like the characters and the art style. I thought the gameplay was cool, I really like the concept of the game. I like how locking dog dice works, that while it may lock up your dice if you have enough you can steal peoples chickens. I would recommend the game to other families.
Olivia Meeple (Kindergarten): Well, it is really really fun and I really like it. And it’s just perfect, I really love it, especially because of the dance chicken card. It’s (Winner Winner Chicken Dinner) the best in the universe!
My Final Thoughts:
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner surprised me in a couple of ways 1). I didn’t expect to like it as much as I have and 2). I find the game to be the exception to the rule about a family game designed by hobby gamers. The exception to the rule? Read on.
I have five children and we are a gaming family, so I have played my fair share of family games. There are a lot of family games out there designed by hobby gamers, or hobby publishers that I really like and some I even love, but that doesn’t mean they would be well received by the average ‘non-gaming’ families with children looking for a game to play together or should be stocked in a big box stores or local toy stores. However, I do think Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is an exception to the rule when it comes down to it. It’s a game that is fun, the whole family can get drawn into and that it has room for memorable moments with possible end of the game bag switching, chicken dance-offs, guessing how many chickens are in another players bag, or even a squeaky rubber chicken that has no reason to be in the box. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner could be a perfect way at getting the average family with children to see to that there better games out there than the normal mass-market games and cause them to actively look for more. With that here are my final final thoughts:
Family games can be a hard sell on Kickstarter, however, Winner Winner Chicken Dinner is perhaps one of the best “family” games to hit Kickstarter…ever. You can dismiss that as ‘just previewer hype’ if you want, but it’s really an excellent example of the quality of family game that should be stocking the shelves of the big box stores like Target and Walmart, as well as, the Mom-and-Pop toy stores nationwide. The rules are easy to understand, the art is whimsical and draws you in, and the gameplay is perfect for family game night with the kids. What more is there to say?
Thanks to 25th Century Games for sending a copy to preview for an honest opinion, my family really enjoyed this one.
If you like to grab a copy of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner it’s currently on Kickstarter at: