Today’s game review places us as chefs in an Italian Restaurant cooking up tasty dishes for our hungry patrons. The game is Tabula Pasta from Josh Wilhite. In Tabula pasta you are racing against other players to collect the necessary ingredients to fulfill customer orders. You will gather these ingredients from your hand, the ingredient deck, or the pantry. When all of the customers have been fed, the chef with the most satisfied customers is the winner. Let’s take a look at the game, and how it is played and then I will give my thoughts.
The game comes with 1 game board set up like a dinner table, 12 customer patron meeples in red, green, and white colors , 12 custom dice in green, red, and white (meat, sauce, and pasta) to generate customer orders, and a deck of ingredient cards. There is also a rule sheet that can be used as a reference and it also has variations for game play.
To set up the game, place the game board in the center of the table. Shuffle the ingredient deck and place 3 cards face up to form the pantry. Leave space for the bus bin aka discard pile. Deal 5 cards face down to each player. Next, place one customer at each space at the table. Finally, take one pasta, sauce, and meat die for each customer and roll them to form their order.
In the photo above, the customer is requesting tortellini with chicken in a cacciatore sauce. On a player’s turn, they will draw a card. They can either draw from the pantry cards or take one from the face down ingredient deck. Next, the players can try to fill a customer’s order by discarding the matching cards from their hand.
If you look at the picture above, you can see the cards I discarded match the dice for one of the customer orders. I then would take the customer meeple and place it in front of me. I would then place a new meeple in it’s place and roll up a new order. Play would then continue with the next player. If I am not able to complete a dish, I would look at my hand and if I had more than 5 cards I would discard down to 5 cards. There are special cards that can be used as a substitute when making dishes to help you out in a bind.
You also have another option. If you don’t create a dish, you can choose to play a wild card and execute it’s ability. This will allow you special benefits like rummaging through the entire ingredient deck for an ingredient, or shuffling the bus bin cards back into the deck, or even being able to-re-roll a customer’s order.
Play continues until all of the customer meeples have been collected. At the end of the game, count up the meeples in front of you and whoever has the most meeples wins the game.
OK. Let’s take a look at this game. This game is a strongly Italian-themed game. The artwork lends to the theme of the game and the gameboard, cards, and components lend to the setting of an Italian restaurant. Players compete with each other to fill customer orders through a set-collection mechanic of collecting pasta, sauce, and meat protein cards and discarding them to make a dish for a customer. There are special ingredient cards that you can use in a bind to complete an order and the wild cards give a nice benefit and keeps the game moving along. By being able to shuffle the bus bin cards back into the deck, it keeps the game from getting stale by putting cards back in the deck that may all have been exhausted. This keeps the game moving along without too many turns without an order being filled. With the dice used as generators, some interesting culinary creations come up. For example, have you ever thought of tortellini with pork in a pesto sauce? With the simple set-collection element of the game it allows for young players to get involved.
This game has nice artwork that lends to the theme of this game. There are some really cool images for the ingredients. The use of green, white, and red in the card art, box art, components and even on the game board lend to the overall feel of the game taking place in an Italian restaurant. The symbols on the sauce die can be confusing and it would be nice to have player reference cards in the game rather than having to pass around the rule sheet. The gameboard is made well with plenty of space for components. There is enough room at each seat to place the meeple as well as placing the ingredient dice there as well.The Italian Restuarant theme of this game is very strong. Through the use of the artwork and mechanics, the game falls 100% into it’s theme of gathering ingredients and making pasta dishes for hungry customers.
One of the major selling points of a game is the replayabilty factor. With Tabula pasta, I see more replayability of the game with younger players. I see kids wanting to play this more so that adults. The reason being that the game is very simple and if played with adults only, it would be a game that seldom would make it to the table. In a family setting with kids around the ages of 6-12, families will have a lot of fun playing this game. It is simple enough that everyone can get involved and the shorter playing time will accommodate busy life schedules and allow for this game to make it to the table more often.
Looking at this game from a family perspective, there are some good things this offers. This game is good family fun. Everyone is aware of pasta from simple dishes like mac & cheese up to more elaborate dishes like mussels with angel hair pasta in a white wine sauce. Like I previously mentioned, the simple mechanics and short play time make this a good addition to a family game library. In addition, the designer Josh Wilhite offers some variations for game play and also a fun mini game as well. The mini game is take the dice, roll them and start cooking, helping to bring the game to life through trying some of the pasta creations in the game. I enjoy this game, and I like playing this one with my niece and nephews as they find this game a lot of fun too.
For more information or to purchase the game, please visit: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/tabula-pasta