WBG Score: 8.5/10
Player Count: 1-4
Designed by: Christian Stöhr
I'm going to cut to the chase. Juicy Fruits is a fantastic game. In this review, I would like to explain why I think so highly of this game. I would also like to explore why I think they chose such a light, fun theme.
Oh, and have you seen the size of those chunky fruit components?!
Appearances can be misleading. At first, this game looks like a simple family game. The bright art. The childish name. The fruity theme! One would be forgiven for dismissing this game as a light game only suitable for your children. But once set up, you may quickly change your mind and go too far and think this now looks too complicated for your kids to play! Just look at all this stuff set up for a two-player game! And it's not even all in shot.
But get beyond all the 'bits,' and the mechanics and turn structure of the game really are very simple. Move your fruit picking tile. Then do something with your collected fruit. This could either be fulfill an order from one of the ships on your board, or buy a tile from the main board. Lets look into these options in a little more detail.
On your board at the start of the game, you will be presented with an island surrounded by 12 ships. Each ship has a specific requirement to send it packing, and in turn, collect the available points from this vessel. You will also have five different fruit collecting tokens. One for each of the fruits in this game. On your turn, you can first move one of these fruit tokens to collect that specific fruit. For every space you move the token, you can take one fruit. At the start, you will only be able to move each token one space, but this quickly changes as you clear ships from your board creating more space.
As you take turns moving these tokens and collecting fruit, you will slowly increase your stores of collected fruit, and instead of completing a ship order, you can look to go to the market. On the main board there will be a variety of business tokens available for purchase. These range from advanced fruit collecting tokens that allow you to collect multiple fruits with one tile at increased efficiencies, to ice cream carts, and buildings that offer bonus points.
Each building has a cost based on the row it sits on, which is randomly determined at the start of the game. But also delivers instant points, again based on the row, and the added benefit each token brings. Some offer just points, or fruit picking upgrades, but the spit colored tiles offer an interesting choice. There are a lot of points up for grabs with these, 12, 15, and 18 per token depending on which ones are in the game. But they require a large 4x4 tile to be placed permanently on your board, blocking movement for your fruit picking for the remainder of the game.
The Ice Cream cart tokens allow you start fulfilling ice cream orders. Once bought and added to your island, when you move the ice cream cart (instead of one of your fruit picking tokens) you can exchange previously acquired fruits for different ice cream orders. At the bottom of the main point, ice cream order tokens will be available ranging from eight points up to 16. This is a great way to increase your overall point total, but also control the end of the game.
On the far right of the main board, a time track will countdown the end of the game. Each time a pile of ice cream orders is exhausted or a building is bought, the time token moves down one spot. When this reaches the end, that signals the final round. Players could happily all work towards their ship orders without any danger of the game ending. But as soon as someone starts buying from the business board, not only is the end-game timer started, so too does your considering need to be switched as the good business tokens will start disappearing.
Playing Juicy Fruits is so much fun. There is constant progression being made. You are constantly feeling like you are making progress, advancing your own score and developing your fruit picking powers. Turns are quick, and will move round the table fast, even in a four-player game. The game does not feel frantic, but it certainly keeps your interest throughout.
Players are all farming on their own boards, but the business board is open to all. It could be that a specific business token you are working towards goes to another player before you get a chance to acquire it yourself, especially in a three and four player game. But there are always good options available. The only thing you really don't want to miss out on is an Ice Cream cart if there are less of them than players. Although it is possible to score well and win without an ice cream truck, it is rare from what I have experienced.
On the reverse of the score track is an advanced variant. It adds a third step to each players turn. Once you have collected fruits and either served a ship order or bought a business token, players will then turn their attention to the Juice Factory. Each player will have two of their colored discs at the starting position, and on their turn, can advance one or both discs one arrow space each. Some moments are free, others require fruit payments. There are multiple points to be awarded as you move along. Any spots occupied by a disc are blocked off to all other players, so this adds a bit of a race game as the final two spots offering eight and four points, will be blocked by by the first two discs that reach there.
The Juice Factory is a nice addition to add to the game after a few plays for some variation and a small increase in strategy. It does not add much more to the game in terms of length or complexity. Just choices. You will find you will fulfill a few less ship orders, and perhaps buy a few less business token as you use your fruit elsewhere. But I enjoy the small added element of strategic thinking required.
Juicy Fruits is a light game. There is no doubt of that. But it moves fast enough, and has enough choices that anyone can have some fun with this game. You cannot take it too seriously or expect this be anything it isn't. Those with whom I have played this with have all come into the game thinking it is a very light game. But they all come out saying it felt like it actually had some decent choices and strategy.
I am conscious I don't do the opposite here and pitch Juicy Fruits as being a medium weight game. It is not that! I would like to encourage you to pitch it to your friends and family as a light game so they can find their own little strategies in it themselves! I think this is why the game chose this theme, name, and box art. They want this game to be seen as a light game. And then surprise and delight those who scratch below the surface.
The headline with this game has to be these brightly colored, chunky fruit components. Each fruit is uniquely shaped so those who suffer with colour blindness will be able to determine them all apart. They feel great in your hands, and will reward you with an aesthetically educed rush of adrenaline every time you get one!
Juicy Fruits is a firm family favorite in my house hold. It plays quickly, my children (6 and 8) love it, and both my wife and I will get something from playing too. I love the look and feel to the entire production, and will enjoy this for many years to come.