- Designer: Christian Stohr
- Publisher: Capstone Games
- Players: 1-4
- Age: 10+
- Time: 20-40 minutes
- Played 5 times with review copy provided by publisher
Capstone Games is a label that I generally associate with longer complex games – but they have started a new Family line of games to target this more mainstream group. One of the releases from 2021 is Juicy Fruits, a game designed by half of the team that won the 2020 Spiel des Jahres for Pictures.
In this game, players are trying to have the most successful island – by collecting fruit and then using it to supply ships and attract businesses to the island. Each player gets an island board that has a 5×5 grid on it. In an X pattern in the middle, the five collector tokens are randomly placed (one for each type of fruit: banana, lime, pomegranate, orange and mangosteen). The outside edges of the island are filled with boats (both simple and complex types). The business board is set up on the table with one business per player in each of the five rows. There is a track on the right of this board which monitors how many businesses have been created. At the bottom of this board, the ice cream and milkshake markers are placed.
The game is played in a number of rounds, going until the marker reaches the end of the track on the business board. Each player’s turn consists of two steps, each with two possible choices.
First, you collect fruits by either moving one of your five collector tokens OR by moving a special mobile business token (which you can obtain from the business board). When you move your collector token, you move it in a straight line through as many unoccupied island spaces as you want. For each space that the collector token moves, you gain one fruit of the type shown on the marker. Add these fruits to your supply. If you move a special collector token, you gain either of the fruits shown on the token PLUS an additional fruit. If you move an ice cream token, you can make ice cream (more on this in a bit).
Second, you can choose to supply a ship or claim a business token. To claim a ship, discard fruits matching those shown on a ship tile. Remove the ship tile from your board and move your scoring marker ahead the number of points shown on the tile. If you want to claim a business token, you must first pay the fee (bribe) shown at the left of the row where your desired token is. You score VPs as shown on the sign, and then you can claim any tile in that row and place it on your board.
Many of these tiles are stationary businesses; once they are placed on your island board, they will never move. They will likely score you points at the end of the game, but they will also inhibit the movement of your collector tokens in the future – so carefully plan where you want to put these buildings. A few of the business tokens are merely placeholders for much larger tiles. As mentioned above, some of the tiles are for advanced collector tokens – you place this basket on any empty space and immediately collect one of the shown fruits. You can then move it on a later turn to gain more fruits. The final type of business are the ice cream cart tokens. If you gain one of these, you place it on your island. On a later turn, you can choose to move the ice cream cart, and for each space moved, you can make one ice cream of the cart’s type or a milkshake. Discard the necessary fruits as shown on the board and collect the marker and score the points.
Once you have completed both steps of your turn, the next player goes. At the end of each round (equal player turns), check to see if the business marker is at the end of the track. If so, the game ends and final scoring is done – any business stall tokens are now scored for their end game scoring criteria. The player with the most points wins. Ties are broken in favor of later turn order.
The game includes an advanced module called the Juice Factory which adds an extra level of complexity to the game – it adds a third step to each player turn. There is also a robust solo game which uses the backsides of the four island boards and pits you against a Pineapple AI…
My thoughts on the game
Juicy Fruits is an eye-catching game with bright wooden pieces and a fairly easy style of game. It is a suitable family game in that most of the game is played in your own area with only some indirect competition seen for the business tokens (two of each is available). This arrangement causes many of the turns to be played quite rapidly – as players can plan their whole next turn while other action happens around the table.
At its core, the game starts out as an efficiency puzzle – trying to figure out how to maneuver your collector baskets around the island to maximize your fruit yield. This will help you fulfill ship orders, and this in turn will open up more spaces on your island. However, you can’t concentrate too much on the ships because as I mentioned earlier, one of the few places for competition is on the businesses, and if you wait too long, you might not be able to get the business you want. Of course, if you go for the businesses too early, you’ll block up your island and make it hard to move around.
While I’m on the subject of businesses, I’d highly recommend getting the blue ice cream truck if it’s available. The point yield for the blue ice cream is high (and with reduced competition). Though I haven’t played the game enough to say for sure, I would pretty much go for this any time it’s available. I’m not quite ready to say it’s overpowered, but in the three games that we have had this business available, the blue ice cream player has won. I guess I’ve just talked myself into trying to play the next game with the goal of winning without the blue ice cream….
In any event, that’s all there is to the game. The choices are fairly easy, and most people should be able to learn the game in just a few minutes. The juice factory module can be added in when you’re looking for something a bit more complex, but honestly, the base game has been enjoyed a great deal this summer so far, and at this current moment, I’m more than happy just to play the “base” game.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Dan Blum (1 play): It’s interesting at the start but once I had opened things up a bit and purchased a better basket, it felt very mechanical – just grind on the fruits you can produce a lot of and buy things. (Ice cream if that works for you, although I suspect it’s not actually overpowered.) We played with the juice factory and I didn’t think it added anything to the game.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y, Eric M, Steph H.
- Neutral Dan Blum
- Not for me…