Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery is listed as a “cooperative baking card game” from Skybound. This wasn’t a Kickstarter (to my knowledge). It’s listed as 2-5 Players, 15-30 Minutes, 8+ Ages: for the most part, that’s pretty accurate.
This is a simple card game about building some neat bakery creations for a group of customers. I picked it up a few months ago, and it’s been sitting around getting played much more than I expected by all my friends! Let’s take a look at this game!
I ordered this game directly from the Skybound website, but it appears to be everywhere right now (it is even on sale at Kohl’s for half price at the time of this writing: just Google it). It comes in a smallish game box (about the size of Now Boarding! from last week): see the Coke can below for perspective.
The game is mostly all cards: the components are even listed on the back of the box:
The rulebook is very pink and very cute, but still very readable.
But almost everything else is cards!
As you can see above, all the cards are VERY readable, very cute, and the art is very distinguishable! This game is just adorable.
The games components are easily legible across the table: all the components have cute, distinguishing art, and all the components are labelled! It seems simple, but the fact that each type of card is well-labelled, color-coded, legible, and distinguishable by art goes a long way towards creating a good vibe on the table! There was never any grumpiness on what-was-what.
And this game is cute as the dickens.
This is a good rulebook. The font is perhaps a touch smaller than I liked, but it is still very very readable. Look, right away they show the components AND label them with a picture! (See above) Thank you! (Pay attention: Now Boarding! … you should have done that).
One thing that might be daunting when you look at the rulebook is the number of pages: 24! (Not 24 factorial, just 24 with an exclamation mark for emphasis). Don’t worry weary baker, the game is explained and set-up very well in the first seven pages! The rest of the book describes the scenarios (this game has a campaign mode??!?!?), so don’t worry about the length.
The game jumps right in with the set-up (see above): you can immediately set this up and get going. It’s got pictures, annotated notations, and a well-described set-up.
The next four pages describe the gameplay very well: see the two pictures above. There are examples and well-written text.
Most of the rest of the rulebook describes scenarios!!
The rulebook ends with a bang, having a quick reference on the back.
This is a good rulebook. Well-written, easy-to-read, and lots of examples. The size can be daunting (24 page rulebook!), but most of it just gives details on different scenarios: the basic game is described well in the first 7 pages. At it’s core, this is a simple cooperative game.
This is a simple cooperative game that can easily be described by the front and back of the Summary cards (above). The object of the game is to bake enough “baking masterpieces” for the customers coming through your shop. Players work together as bakers to build these culinary masterpieces.
For example, the Turtle above wants a Chocolate Bombe, and the Dragon wants Crumpets. Note that each customer tells you what ingredients are needed to build these culinary masterpieces! Some of the ingredients are simple and be used directly (the butter, eggs, flour for instance): these are obtained from the ingredients row:
5 random ingredients will be placed out, and replaced and cycled as the players try to bake items. If players can’t find an ingredient, they can use one action on their turn to “reset” all 5 ingredients and hopefully get what they need.
Some things needed for the culinary creations have to be made: for instance, the biscuit from the Chocolate Bombe requires Biscuits: Biscuits must be made … you can see (above left) that the Biscuits require eggs, flour, and sugar.
There’s really not much more to the game: players need to bake culinary creations for customers before they leave the store. A customer will hang out until pushed out the of store or gets his “creation” baked!
Interestingly, this game has 3 levels of winning: For the scenario above (pet the Kitty), getting 3 customers satisfied gives you 1 star (copper), 4 customers gives you 2 stars (silver) and 5 customers gives you a 3 stars! I’ve always liked when cooperative games have a “minor wins” and “major wins” (like Ares Expedition should): that way, you can still feel like you accomplished something, even if you don’t get the best win.
Gameplay is real simple: a customer is introduced, and players each get a number of actions to try to bake creations. Players work together, gathering ingredients from the ingredient line, baking layers (if needed) and sharing ingredients in order to satisfy the customers! You can’t always finish the creations for the customer right away, so another customer may enter the shop. You may decide to concentrate on both, neither or one, depending on the available ingredients!
The game is really simple. Grab the proper ingredients and layers to satisfy customers. That’s it.
Campaign Mode? Scenarios!
So, this light and fluffy game has a Campaign mode!! “What?” I hear you say! “Are we playing Tainted Grail with its giant storyline??” (See our review of Tainted Grail Part I and Part II). Calm down! Although you are supposed to do the scenarios in order, the Scenarios are really just there to make game more interesting.
At its core, this is a VERY simple game and the scenarios just give each game a little nudge to make it more interesting.
Is this game too cute? The art is definitely cute, and my friends Sara and Teresa adored it and wanted to play it right away when I got it. In fact, we’ve played it a number of times! I’ve also played with Sam and Andrew who weren’t quite as taken with the cuteness factor.
A hardcore gamer might roll his eyes at the art and simple gameplay. And this is a simple game: No doubt about it. It would be very easy to bring this out with any 8-year old and teach him/her the game.
Here’s the thing: ya, it’s simple. But it keeps coming out to our game table. Why? It’s an “end of the night” game when we want a simple game when we are fried. It’s a “we’re waiting got Andrew” game, when we know Andrew will be 30 minutes late. It’s easy to set-up, plays quick, and easy to tear-down. We can play this with anyone. Ya, it’s dirt simple. I didn’t think I’d like it to be honest “this is TOO simple” … but it’s charming and it has relaxing gameplay. You can play this with anyone. I’ll admit it’s no Tainted Grail, but sometimes you want a light game.
Solo vs Cooperative
This game breaks Saunders’ Law: it has no solo mode. It’s easy enough to play as if it were a 2-Player game, with the solo player playing two hands. Strictly speaking, Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery is a hidden information game! Each player starts with some ingredients and builds as they go (see hand on lower right below)… but other players aren’t allowed to see the cards! So, a solo mode might use the Changing Perspectives idea like we did in Wonder Woman: you’d have to turn your cards over and kind of “forget” what the other hand did. Nah, that’s a lot of work for such a simple game!! That’s really not a good use of that idea.
A better solo game might be to just have one starting hand and give the solo player 5 actions per turn … (instead of 2 hands with 3 actions per hand). The solo player has 5 actions per turn, losing an action since he has perfect information of all cards in hand. I.e., play just one player with just 5 actions (before the next customer comes).
The loss of an action is the price of perfect information for the solo player.
The solo game idea is okay for learning the game, but It’s not great for long-term playability. The game is much better as a cooperative game. It’s a relaxing and charming baking session with your friends when you play cooperatively.
I am surprised how much gameplay Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery! has gotten at my tables. My initial reaction was that “meh, this is okay: it’s a little simple” … and yet, it keeps coming out! Why? The art is charming and unassuming, the game is quick and easy to set-up, play, and tear-down, and it creates a fun little cooperative experience with your friends. I can play this with anyone: kids, adults, gamers (assuming they don’t roll their eyes), non-gamers and have a fun little time.
Not every game has to be Tainted Grail. Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery has surprised me and my friends as a enjoyable light cooperative game.