Go Nuts for Donuts
Time: ~15 minutes
Times Played: 13+
I’ve mentioned previously that food with faces just makes my fianceés heart swoon so I knew we’d be going home with this game from PAX Unplugged 2017 no matter what. We played a demo round with a stranger and it was actually quite fun so for the $15 price point, we took a chance and purchased a copy.
Go Nuts for Donuts might have my favorite rules in any game I’ve ever played because there has never been a question about them. I take two minutes and explain the rules and we play. This has worked with my friends, for children I mentor, for my parents, and even a grandparent. The rules are so simple, clear, and concise that they should be the standard for games played under fifteen minutes.
The rulebook, while also being clear and concise and colorful, is laid out in a way (fundamentally and design-wise) that makes the game accessible to people who have never played a game in their lives. The rules are two pages long and the graphics and text make everything inviting and pleasant to read and decipher.
The basis of the game is that several donut cards (the amount of players participating plus one) will be laid out in front of the players with each card being placed with a corresponding number token. Those number tokens match cards in each players hands. Each turn, players will simultaneously reveal one of those cards with the intention of securing one of the face-up donut cards. The catch however is that if another player (or more) reveals the same number, no one gets that donut card and it’s sent to the discard pile. This continues for the duration of the game with players trying to gather cards and complete sets with the player with the most points winning.
A common misconception is that this game might be similar to Sushi Go! They are similar in the fact that the food have human features and deal with cards but the similarities end there. Everyone has access to every card available and the decisions of each player, while made in secret and independent of one another, can impact each and every player.
Donuts has the beauty of being a game about set collection that can reward players for not collecting sets. There are cards that give points for having fewer than a certain type of card or for having less than ‘x’ cards. This is a small but brilliant inclusion as it ensures that players that have had bad luck over the course of the game are not necessarily out of the running. It keeps everyone invested and introduces multiple strategies.
It’s hard to imagine when looking at the box but Go Nuts for Donuts! is a game based around deduction and a take-that mechanic. Players are typically able to predict what another player is going to aim for after a round or two as you know what they have taken previously and can see what is available in front of everyone. Players can deliberately try and steal a card from another player and do so not because they need that card but because they don’t want the other player to have that card and players can block by purposefully going for a card that they know another player is trying to get and sending it to the discard deck. Due to this, players can feel personally attacked and might even score horribly when end game comes around since they’re seen as a threat. Players might target perceived ‘strong’ players by stealing cards or forcing discards or blocking. We’re totally fine with that as a group but when you look at the box art and the cute donuts, you wouldn’t immediately think about this tactical targeting.
The game offers strategy due to this deduction but it’s light at best and simple to understand. Rarely if ever will there be run away winners in this game unless players just aren’t paying attention to the cards being grabbed in front of them.
The game scales from two- to six-players with the only difference being the inclusion of different types of cards with more players. These cards are easily denoted by the iconography on the card and when changing player counts, separating the deck takes as much time as explaining the rules.
I do want to make note that the game box is comically large for what’s inside. I have moved everything from the original box to a standard card deck box. While artistically it’s not as appealing, it’s much more efficient in size, storage, and traveling.
Go Nuts for Donuts might be the best ‘family’ game I’ve ever played. This is so accessible to anyone of any age unlike any other game I’ve encountered. This is a game that looks like it would only appeal to children and those with children but you’ll regularly find my group breaking it out and playing a game.