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[Review] Leftovers

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Joined: 03/23/2011

I really like to support independent companies, because I’m always glad to see more games produced. Many times, the games are interesting, but are often a “step below” games produced by larger companies. Some of this may have to do with the smaller companies getting the leftovers from the larger companies. Still, occasionally, a very good game can be found produced by a shoestring company, and Leftovers (Weber Games, 2003 - Candace Weber) is one of those such games.

The components for the game are less than stellar (although functional), but the game play itself is very unique, and the mechanics very well thought out. Scoring was close, and the strategies were varied. I’m not sure I’ve played another card game like this one before, and the theme fit it very well. It would be nice if a larger company would pick this one up and give it the bits treatment it so deserves. It’s a fun, interesting, quick card game.

A deck of cards is shuffled, made up of five suits (orange - entrée, yellow - fruit, green - vegetable, blue - beverage, and pink - dessert). Each suit has ten cards with a positive value from one to ten, along with five cards with negative values (“-2”, “-4”,
“-6”, “-8”, and “-10”). The theme of the game is that the refrigerator is broken, so players are attempting to eat all the food before it goes bad. Bonus tokens are placed in the middle of the table - one for each player in the game, starting with the value of ten, twenty, thirty, etc. Each player is dealt four cards and is also given a “Go Hungry” card. The player who most recently ate leftovers starts the first round.

On a player’s turn, they MAY draw up to two cards from the draw pile or the discard pile; and if two cards are drawn, they must be from the same pile. The player then has three options, of which they may do one only.
- They may play a “meal”. A meal is comprised of one card from each suit, and can be any numbers, positive and/or negative. The meal may be played in front of any player who does not already have a meal in front of them. The player who played the meal then receives the highest numbered bonus token still in the middle of the table. A “Go Hungry” card (with a value of “-10”) can be played as a wild card in a meal, but only if the player is playing the card in front of themselves and only if it is the last meal of the round.
- They may exchange cards from their hand with cards in a single meal on the table. Cards may only be exchanged if they are in the same suit, and the player may exchange as many as they like but only in one meal.
- They may “eat” a single item in the meal in front of them, turning that specific card face down, protecting it from being moved for the remainder of the round.
The player then has the option of discarding up to two cards to the discard pile.

When a player plays the last meal in front of a player, the round ends after that player’s turn. Players total up their scores:
- Each player gets points equal to the bonus tokens they have accumulated.
- Players receive points equal to the value of their meals (which can be negative.)
- Players LOSE points equal to the absolute value of all the cards in their hand (except any unused “Go Hungry” cards.)
Another round is then begun, and the game continues until one player has reached 200 points, at which point the player with the most points is the winner!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: I really enjoyed the packaging for Leftovers, as it is a small take-out Chinese food carton. I thought it added to the flavor of the game, and really stands out on my game shelf. The cards were of low quality - basically being business cards, with different artwork and numbers on each. Every card has its own name, such as the “-2” entrée being an Old TV dinner, the “9” being Pizza, and the “-10” being “Cat gnawed it.” Each card had a different picture, and it was funny to see the different type of meals being assembled. The tokens were wooden hexagons with numbers on them. The game is of low quality but is inexpensive and works for what it is.

2.) Rules: The rules are on both sides of a sheet of paper and are very clear in explaining the game with a few examples. There is also an entire section on strategies included, which actually gave me some good ideas, and would be helpful to beginners. The game is fairly simple to teach; but the ideas in the game, such as playing cards in front of everyone and the bonus chips, might be a bit challenging for a new player.

3.) Strategy: There are a lot of different ideas and strategies in the game, and it would seem that what a player does is determined by the cards in their hand. Do you place meals down as fast as you can, so that you can get the highest bonus chip, and possibly more than one? Or do you concentrate on making your meal as high scoring as possible, while destroying the meals of other players. When I first read the rules, it seemed to me that getting a 60 point bonus chip would cause a player to win, but the amount of cards left in a player’s hand at the end of a round can really be devastating, especially if they have a lot of high valued cards. It’s almost like a game of chicken - just how much should you load up in your hand? Because if one waits too long, another player can swoop down with the last meal, really plastering the player who was “just about” to play a killer meal.

4.) “Go Hungry”: The “Go Hungry” cards were included, the rules state, for players who get desperate to get that last card they need to complete their meal. I still haven’t come across a situation where a player is desperate enough to use these cards, but I can think (vaguely) of a situation where they would. So I actually have eliminated them from our games and only would bring them out if a player complained too much about the cards in their hands. But, with the selection available, you can draw cards from both the draw pile or the discard pile, this seems like a rare situation indeed.

5.) Theme and Fun Factor: The theme is one that is near and dear to many people’s hearts - that of eating leftovers. (Unless you live in my house - where leftovers are a rarity). Still, it’s an interesting theme, and the mechanics really work to promote it. We had fun laughing at the meals that different folks made, and it was interesting to see if players would build their hands up or keep them as lean and mean as they could. There is a LOT of interaction in the game, and that = a good time.

As I said in the beginning, I really hope that this game is able to be published someday with top of the line cards. But as it is now, it’s still worth picking up. The packaging is cute, and the game mechanics are unique and fun. It’s not your traditional card game; I really don’t even know of a game that I could compare it too. But Candace Weber has really made a brilliant little gem here, one full of different tactics and strategies, and certainly unique. If you like the theme or are looking for something different in your card games, this one certainly fits the bill.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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