Healthy Eating for Kids: A Review of Qetchup

Qetchup

Healthy eating is something that kids ought to learn at a young age, and the more tools parents have to teach it, the better. Qetchup, by startup publisher WebCracker Inc., is a small card game aimed at kids that encourages them to create sets of healthy foods while discarding the junk food. The first player to create a balanced meal from each food group (Veggie, Protein, Fruit, Juice, and Carbs) and discard any extra cards is the winner.

Gameplay

Each player starts with 8 cards in hand. On a turn, a player can optionally draw a card, then either play or discard a card. A card can be added to a player's own "plate" or to another player's plate. If a junk food card is added to your plate, you cannot win the game until you get rid of it with a Q card (Qetchup card). A Q card can also serve as a wild to fill in for any meal card (except for veggies). It can also be used to randomly steal a card from another player. The dreaded Restart card can be used on any player to cause him to discard all cards in hand and on his plate and draw a whole new hand of cards.

Review

Aside from the perceived educational value of teaching healthy eating, this game fell flat with us on many levels. First, you can and often will start the game with the needed 5 meal cards in hand (since you start with 8 total cards). There is no excitement of collecting these cards — you simply have to play them to the table and discard the remaining 3 to win. You may have a quick and dull victory on your hands if no one is able to stop you. If you start with a lot of Q cards, you're in especially good shape for a quick win.

Second, the idea of a restart card to flush all of an opponent's progress down the toilet is more frustrating than it is fun. It is completely dependent on the luck of the draw and it is powerful enough that it may cause hurt feelings among the young target age group.

Third, the rules are poorly and confusingly written. By the request of the publisher, we evaluated the game based on a new, revised set of rules (version 4) that will be included in a future edition of the game. We found several problems with the rules:

  1. A turn can consist of absolutely nothing, if you so choose. But there doesn't seem to be a strategic reason to pass your turn.
  2. There are some organizational problems. For instance, winning the game is actually included as one of the phases of your turn, which is obviously skipped on all but one turn during the whole game.
  3. The rules state that you can play a standard meal card on an opponent, but since only one card of each type can be placed on a plate, this only benefits your opponent. It only seems useful to do this if you want to get the game over with.

We are all for games that are intended for a younger audience, but there seem to be more holes and problems here than there are benefits. In our opinion, there simply isn't much fun to be had with Qetchup, for children or adults. This is perhaps due to an unpolished ruleset that needs further testing, since the original version of the game has received various accolades. As it stands, there are far better games out there to interest your little ones (and the parents, too).