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Space Battle Lunchtime

Cook up some yummy pizza orbs and whip up your best anti-grav gelato, in this set collection cooking game with an unusual theme.

Published by Renegade Game Studios, and featuring some very creative artwork, Space Battle Lunchtime has players collecting flavors in order to cook up various unusual dishes. The more exactly you match a dish’s recipe the more points it's worth, but you don’t need the exact ingredients in order to make a dish and score.

Gameplay

The ingredient cards are shuffled and four placed face-up to form the larder display. The rest of the flavor cards make up the draw pile. Four dish cards are then placed in a row to form the dish display and the three judges are placed so that each judge is above two of the dishes. The remaining dish cards are set aside to form their own draw deck.

On your turn you choose one of three actions: steal a flavor card, buy flavor cards, or serve a dish. When you steal a flavor card you take one card from the flavor display or the top card of the flavor draw pile. Each flavor card shows what flavor type it is, as well as how many of that ingredient. When you buy flavor cards, you discard one from your hand and then may take a number of cards from the larder display (not from the draw deck) equal to the number your card was worth. For example, if you discard a card worth three sweets, you may take three cards from the display.

When you serve a dish, you look at the ingredients and the number of each ingredient shown on the card and then spend flavor cards to complete it. Each dish card is worth a different number of points depending on whether you receive a gold, silver, or bronze ribbon for it. You receive a gold ribbon if you match the ingredients and the correct numbers of each exactly. You get silver if you match the ingredients but not the number of each, while you get a bronze if you match the correct numbers of ingredients but not the ingredients themselves. When you complete a dish, you move it into your score pile.

If you receive a gold medal for a dish, you also can perform the special ability of the judge that is above that dish. If there are two judges above the dish, you must choose which one’s ability you wish to perform. Abilities include taking a card from the larder or upgrading the ribbon you received for a previous dish, for instance.

Each player also has a chef card. Your chef particularly likes to cook with one ingredient. When you serve a dish that requires that ingredient then you flip your spatula token over to its active side. On a future turn you may flip it back over to its inactive side in order to use any one of the judge abilities.

At the end of your turn you must discard down to seven flavor cards and if there are any empty spaces in the larder or dish displays they are refilled.

Once a player has reached twenty-one points, you play until everyone has had an equal number of turns and then the person with the most points wins the game.

Space Battle Lunchtime Components

Review

Space Battle Lunchtime is a great set collection game. The ability to choose how exactly to meet a dish’s requirements, paired with affecting how much the dish is worth, gives players room to maneuver and choose how they want to spend their cards. This also works really well with the end game goal of twenty-one points.

With the exception of one possible judge ability you can play with, there is no direct player interaction — however, your choices do impact each other as you choose whether to hold off for another round to try to go for gold or settle for silver or bronze if you think another player will complete a dish on their turn. The other elements of the game, such as choosing whether to buy from the larder or steal, and the judge abilities, also give a nice extra value to each ingredient card or dish you complete.

Given that the game’s theme is based on a graphic novel and the illustrations are done by the same artist as the book, it goes without saying that the artwork in the game is fantastic and quite imaginative. However, you don’t feel like you’re missing out by not being familiar with the source material. The game’s theme, a sci-fi cooking competition, is fun and accessible and can stand on its own.

There’s not a much to say against the game, outside of perhaps a little too much downtime between turns at the max player count.

Space Battle Lunchtime is a tightly designed, elegant set collector with a clever scoring mechanism. You might not have exactly what you need, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be left stuck. You will still have plenty of solid choices available to you on your turn.

Pros: Artwork, great scoring mechanism that pairs well with the set collection

Cons: Longer downtime at higher player counts

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.