Last time out, I detailed all the fun I had at Gencon. Today, I want to start looking at the fun I’ve had as a result of Gencon. That fun thusfar has come in the form of the game I picked up at the Exploding Kittens booth: Throw Throw Burrito!
Open the box, and you’ll find the rules, two rubber squishy burritos, a pile of cards, and a handful of cut-out “burrito bruises” that come into play if you lose a burrito-based event. Also, a fear me badge comes for the winner of the first of two rounds.
The cards feature art drawn by Matthew Inman from the Oatmeal, in his familiar cutesy but delightfully weird style.
Elan Lee is credited with Inman as co-designers based off of the original game design from Brian Spence.
The conceit of the game is fairly simple. It takes 3-6 players. Each player has their five cards, a draw pile, and a discard pile. Player 1’s discard pile happens to be Player 2’s draw pile, and so on. There’s no timer, no turns, but players are tasked with making 3 of a kind sets of various cards. You get a regular set, you get one point. If you get a burrito set, you get two points. Also, as soon as you get a burrito set, the game changes. Depending on the type of burrito set placed on the table, everyone stops, and two to six players have an opportunity to grab one of the two burritos on the table and turn the game into burrito dodgeball. Burrito Duel involves two players called out by the card player in a mano e mano duel. Burrito Brawl involves the players to the right and left of the card player, and Burrito War involves any and everyone.
I tried this one out on my inlaws on their big family camping vacation. The game maxed out at six players, and we had more than that, so there was some teaming involved.
The players: Player 1: the sister-in-law: a crafty conniver that usually runs the table at most card games. A bum ankle might keep her from dominating the dodgeball portion of this one, though. Player 2: Grandma: don’t let her see this, but Grandma is secretly super nice and generous, but her demeanor is that of someone who is easily agitated. She plays the part of taskmaster to get everybody up and moving at a breakneck speed, otherwise we would all just sit around all day. Player 3: the kids: two eight year old cousins, who are excited to play with the grown ups, but secretly really just want to throw burritos. Player 4: The brother-in-law and his two year old niece. This is the first time the niece is warming up to her uncle. It’s sweet. She just really likes the burritos. Later on, she will give the burrito a kiss goodnight before she goes to bed. Player 5: the older cousin: She’s a teenager and in it to win it. Player 6: The other brother in law, henceforth to be referred to as Camper of the Year. It’s a very prestigious award.
Notice that I was not included in the run-down. I volunteered for referee-ing and rule-reading duties. My inlaws love driving me crazy by making me read and re-read the rules fifteen when I introduce them to any new game. I’ll be halfway through and someone else will walk into the room and say, “hey, what’s that? I’ll play. What are the rules, again?” It’s cool, though. I steer into the skid. Usually it’s while I’m an active player, but this time I bowed out because the kids wanted in. That’s cool by me, too. For the last few years, my sister-in-law uses me and my Gencon games as market research to figure out what games she’s going to buy her kids’ friends for their birthday presents. Exploding Kittens and its spiritual sequel Bears vs. Babies had both made the cut in years prior. With that in mind, actual kids needed to play, then. Plus, this game needs a referee!
The game started innocently enough, until the Camper of the year drew the first burrito set. Play stopped. It was a duel, and he forced my other brother in law to duel with grandma. My in-laws eyes lit up. Something about payback for one time when he made a snide comment and grandma thwapped him. They stood back to back, took three paces…well grandma maybe an extra or two…and then, Bam! Grandma was the one who was lit up with a tiny squishy burrito! The crowd went crazy! He just hit grandma with a burrito! He’s getting nothin’ for Christmas! Burrito bruises not only cost you a point, they traditionally come with an ego bruise as well.
Then, play resumed.
Normal, chaotic play for two minutes, then lookout! There was a brawl, and this time, the teenager whipped a burrito at grandma! I mean, hard. Grandma stood her ground, though.
Then, another duel: this time, the camper of the year took out one of the kids. The two year old decided the danger was two great and left to play with her mermaid toy on the couch.
Next, we had our first war! One of the cousins cowardly slid under the table as everyone else scrambled to throw or evade one or the two squishy weapons. The sister in law lost the first war.
Gameplay proceeds for two “rounds” that include six of the various burrito brawls per round. The kids got hit with burritos. Grandma was featured in at least four duels. Camper of the year got Dq’d once because he jumped the gun and threw burritos in a brawl he wasn’t involved in. The final battle featured a duel between the winners of the two rounds: the brother in law and the kids, with the kids narrowly clipping him and winning the game! It was a crowning achievement for the two eight year olds.
The game itself was tons of fun! Everyone from all ages got involved. My two year old niece was just waiting for us to finish because she wanted to play with the squishy burrito. In her defense, they are very cute.
The wars got pretty crazy, as everyone was scrambling around the cabin and under tables and away from grandma as she turned out to be a frequent target. The duels were intense. Some of the throws looked rough, but due to the squishy nature of the objects they were throwing, nobody was hurt or bruised beyond maybe an ego. There were lots of laughs, one or two close calls (good thing there was a ref!), and plenty of opportunities for gamesmanship. The game was simple enough for the smallest kids to understand, and crazy enough that everyone at the table really seemed to enjoy themselves, laughing and screaming and ooohing and ahhhing. Grandma complained that the kids were taking too long to discard cards into her draw pile, and reasonably so. Did I mention the gamesmanship involved? Did I also mention the kids won? They’re tiny and sneaky….and can be found cowering under the table one minute and winning a duel the next! I have much hope for the next generation. Don’t feel too bad for grandma, either. She got her shots in, just not always quick enough for the points. The most important thing was that everyone had fun and went home with smiles on their faces, even grandma.
I can easily see this game being a hit at a family game night or the next game night with your grown up pals as well. It’s not one that limits based on age or gender or ability to do math…only your ability to match up cards and throw or dodge a burrito. The burritos are a smooth soft rubber, and they held up well to the rigors of the first game of this craziness. It stands that at some point they may succumb to the grand violence of the game, but I didn’t see major signs of wear after the first go around. Maybe one fingernail scratch/gouge from an overeager burrito tosser. The cards, on the other hand, are a different story. The younger nieces and nephews traditionally tend to beat up card games pretty easily, and this game was no exception there. I’ve already got a few bent corners here and there. Because it’s so fast paced, I can see myself needing to replace the cards before I need to replace the burritos. Also, check the room before you play for avoidable dangers. This game escalates quickly.
Still, this game, much like the original Exploding Kittens is high up there on my recommended games list, as it’s hard to find games that can be fun for such a wide variety of folks at the same time. I would daresay this game even has a wider appeal than the kittens, although they are different enough games that I’m glad to keep both in my game collection. Some nights you feel like outsmarting your friends and making them blow up, other nights, you’d rather blow them up with a squishy burrito. I’m a big fan of the Oatmeal and that style of art, and these cards don’t disappoint. Did I mention that the burritos are so cute that two of my nieces gave them a hug and kiss before they packed up to go home from vacation? They’re that cute–both the burritos and the nieces. Even the booth I picked the game up at was a really fun experience.
Final Grade for Throw Throw Burrito: A+ It’s a worthy successor to the fun of the original Exploding Kittens–even moreso than the subsequent Bears vs. Babies and Crab-based games from the same outfit. I recommend it for game nights for all ages.
Until next time, I’ll be throwing, dodging, and ordering burritos aplenty depending on where I am and if I’m hungry for food or hungry for vengeance!