New York Slice
- Designer: Jeffrey Allers
- Publisher: Bezier Games
- Players: 2-6
- Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Bezier Games
(Obligatory Disclaimer – I have a free-lance relationship with Bezier Games, I have served as developer – aka Game-awesome-maker – for Bezier Games in the past for Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Suburbia and Subdivision. I am also currently working on a super-secret project for Bezier Games at the moment. However, I have absolutely no stake in the success of this game and have had no role in the development or production of it.)
(Another obligatory Disclaimer – Jeffrey Allers is a writer here on the Opinionated Gamers. He has not seen the review here prior to publication. Additionally, Ted Alspach (the publisher) is also a writer here on the Opinionated Gamers. He also hasn’t seen this review. But, I don’t know if he can really read, so even if he saw it, it’s no biggie…)
OK, now that my lawyers are appeased and the court of public opinion can rest easy that this review is on the up-and-up, let’s get to the game. New York Slice is a pizza themed game that will feel familiar to many gamers because it is a re-theme of Piece O’ Cake, a critically acclaimed 2008 release from Winning Moves and Rio Grande Games.
In this new version, players are dividing up pizza pies – trying to score the most points by collecting the best pieces of pizza and eating a few tasty pieces of pepperoni along the way. The game uses the classic mechanic of “I split, you choose” to divide up the pizzas.
There are 69 different pieces of pizza in the box, and they are shuffled face down on the table. Eleven slices are chosen at random, and flipped over and assembled into a round pizza. One of fourteen “daily special” tiles is also added to the pieces. Once the pizza is constructed, the slices are never re-arranged! The active player then splits up the pizza (again, not re-arranging the slices) into a number of portions equal to the number of players. The daily special tile for the round is laid on top of one of the portions, or it can be left on its own as its own “portion” – again remember that you need to have exactly as many portions as players.
Then, in clockwise order around the table, players take an available portion of the pizza. The player who did the splitting will end up with whatever portion is remaining. As a player chooses his portion, he much decide which of the individual slices in his portion that he will eat and which he will keep for his collection. You only can eat pieces with pepperoni on them, and any slices that you choose to eat are placed face down in a stack in front of you. All other pieces are collected and they are placed face up on the table so everyone can see the pieces. If you choose the portion with the Daily Special Tile – you keep this face up in front of you as well; some of these give you special abilities to use later in the game, others you will resolve at the end of the game in scoring. When all players have chosen their portion and decided what to do with the slices, the next player randomly chooses 11 more slices of pizza to make the pie for the next round. If there are not enough slices to make another pizza, then the game is over.
Scoring is done on the included scoring sheet. First, you look at the different types of pizza. There are nine different types of pizza, and each has a unique number of total slices in the box (3 to 11). Going from 3 to 11, each type is evaluated. If one player has more slices of that type collected than any other player, then that player scores points equal to the total number of slices available. If there is a tie for most, no one collects points for that type. Next, each player looks at all of the scoring Daily Special tiles that they have collected, and score points based on how they met the criteria on the tiles. Finally, you look at the pepperoni and anchovies. You will get +1 point for each piece of pepperoni that you have eaten (i.e. on your eaten slices). You score -1 point for each anchovy pictured on your collected slices.
The player with the most points wins. If there is a tie, the player who ate the most slices of pizza is the winner.
My thoughts on the game
I loved the original version of the game – in Piece O’ Cake, you were splitting up varieties of cake and eating up dollops of whipped cream. The theme easily morphs into the world of pizza pies. Like the cakes though, my brain refuses to suspend its disbelief that anyone could cut a pizza into 11 pieces!
In any event, the game is filled with tough choices. The information all starts face up on the table, and as you progress through the game, you can see what pieces different players are collecting. As the chooser, you can try to split the pie to keep valuable pieces away from particular people. However, as you are the last player to choose (and therefore get the section of pizza that everyone else passed on) – you can’t be too vicious with your splitting.
The race for the different varieties of pizza pie is a very fluid thing, and it helps to have a good memory for how many slices of each type of pizza have been eaten in the game so that you know how many pieces are required for the highest total.
The new version differs somewhat from the original version. First, there are more slices in the game. There is a rank 6 pizza (no 6s in the cake game), and there a few extra slices (anchovy slice, wild slice, combo slices of two halves) which can add a bit of spice to the game. The daily special boards are also a new thing to the game. For the most part, these changes are all positive as they add a bit to the overall strategy. The only possible downside that I have seen from the new components is that the old game had a blissful prime number of slices to split up – with only 11 cake slices, they could never be split evenly amongst the range of player counts. In the new version, with the addition of the daily special tile, there are now 12 “things” to split up, and this can be evenly divisible with each player count than 5. Sure, there’s nothing saying that the pizza has to be split up with an even number of pieces in each section, but I will say that in my experience, this seems to happen a lot in my group. I’m not sure that this is a bad thing or not, but it seemed to be a tougher decision to choose when it was never an option to have an equal number of things for all players. I do like having the combo slices (one half of two different slices) which act as a tiebreaker for a particular pizza type. And, as the daily special tiles are both good and bad – they aren’t really quite the same as the pizza slices – so overall, I find that the changes here all a positive move. Finally, having more slices of pizza in the box gives you an extra round in the game – thus giving you one more opportunity to grow your collection (or your tummy if you’re eating the pieces).
Rule wise, there is few other changes from the original. In Piece O’ Cake, you could pass on taking a portion of cake on your turn to eat all the pieces of any one type of cake (to score the whipped cream). This is not offered as an option in the pizza version. Thus, you have to decide as you get the pizza pieces whether you are going to eat them or not. The other complicating factor here is that ties are NOT friendly. In the original version, all tied players would score points for a type of cake. In the pizza version, you have to have sole possession of first place – no one scores points in a tie!
Graphically, the presentation is awesome. The box looks and opens like a pizza box. It’s a nice change from the traditional board game box, and it is well executed. I also have to give special mention to the very well done and thematically appropriate scoring sheet. It looks like a waiter’s ticket from a restaurant, and it does make scoring quite easy to tally up. While I had no issues with the art otherwise, a few of the gamers I have played with mentioned that the photo-realistic pizza art was a bit much – they would have preferred a more cartoon-y art. From my perspective, I can read the number at the point easily, and the art of each variety of pizza is distinct enough that I can tell it apart from the other types – and that’s all that I’m looking for…
Prior to playing the game, I would have said that it would be hard to improve upon Piece O’ Cake, but I think that Jeff has really done a great job in tweaking an already good game and making it even more interesting. I’m looking forward to Citrus 2.0 and Eine Frage der Ähre 2.0 now! The other nice thing about the new version is that all the components of the original version are found here – so you can also be a curmudgeon and play with the old rules as well!
Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers
Greg S: As Dale says, this is an improvement upon the original. The presentation is first class and the theme is attractive to just about anyone (who doesn’t like pizza?). Definitely a keeper.
Now if I can only convince Ted to contact the national pizza chains and convince them to sell the game at their stores!
Joe Huber (1 play of the prototype): I’d also agree that this is an improvement upon the original, albeit a mild one; I’d happily play either.
Mark Jackson (1 play… so far): I’m a fan of all the changes made to the game… the theme, the presentation, the new twists. I liked the original – this is better.
Craig V (1 play): New York Slice has an appealing theme and is a very nice production with it’s thick pizza slice tiles, pizza box packaging, menu-formatted rules, and scorepad that looks like an order ticket, but I don’t care for the artwork on the pizza slices. I would have preferred more of a hand drawn/line art or professional photography of some beautiful pizzas rather than the sem-realistic look that is currently on the pizza slices. Regardless, it’s still functional, doesn’t look completely horrible, and doesn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the game. I never played the original Piece O’ Cake from which New York Slice evolved and can’t therefore can’t compare the two versions, but I feel that everything in this game works well together. I like the fact that there are some extra slices that aren’t used and are not known thereby preventing perfect information about the slices available in the game. I also like how the Daily Special tiles can throw strategy curveballs or even offer redemption for a previous mistake. There are tough decisions in how to split the pizza, what portion to take (especially if you are early in the turn order for the round), and whether or not to eat any claimed slices, but turns generally happen quickly and the total game length ends up feeling just about right. I like New York Slice overall and have enjoyed my experience with it so far. After all, what’s not to like about pizza?!
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it! Dale Y, Mark J
- I like it. Greg S., Joe H., Craig V
- Not for me…
OK, so in my wife’s eyes, his grandest achievement was to slice an ice cream cake into 13 equal pieces… (feel free to make a game out of that…)