Alright, let’s get the obvious out of the way – this game’s name. Frenemy Pastry Party might be my least favourite name for a game, ever. Firstly, it uses the term ‘frenemy’ which just makes me cringe and on top of that, it has the audacity to expect us to be alright with the idea of a pastry party? I think not my friend. All of my parties take place in silence and we eat biscuits, biscuits.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, if the designers want to make a Frenemy Biscuit Party I would be 100% on board even though the word ‘frenemy’ sends a shiver up my spine. Anyway, let’s move onto the game itself.
Frenemy Pastry Party is a light card game that tasks players to make delicious cakes for their animal companions. You might have a raccoon that loves chocolate or a capybara who can’t get enough of mango. Either way, your goal is the same. On your turn, you are going to either pick an ingredient from the table or try to bake something.
Okay, a quick aside. I know I’ve harped on about non-game elements enough already but I need to get this off my chest – you can bake cakes. If you were to turn up to a so-called ‘pastry party’ and were greeted by cakes, you’d be appalled. What is this some second rate pastry party that needed padding with cake, the clearly inferior baked product. And yet, we have cake but no biscuits. Sure, they’ll allow cakes at their party but no biscuits? This an affront, and I am personally offended. I don’t care that each of these cakes and pastries looks so damn tasty that I was forced to buy something similar soon after each game or prepare a treat in advance. And no, none of them tasted as good as the cards make them look in Frenemy Pastry Party. *exhale* Alright, I’m done. Aside over.
Picking up ingredients is simple. Each baked good (I can’t say each pastry as that would be a lie) requires a certain amount of raw ingredients before it can be completed, just like baking in real life. And also like real life, if you really want to bake a cake (in this example we are baking a cake), then you can ask your friends to help. You can declare that you are going to bake something and invite others to help.
Once you’ve boldly exclaimed your intent to bake, you can ask a player from around the table if they have an ingredient you need. For example, I want to bake a cake but I haven’t got any strawberries. I saw Emily pick up some last round, so I know she has some. So I asked Emily “Would you like to bake a cake with me and use your strawberries?”. Emily, the lovely, warm-spirited person she could say yes, and provide that strawberry so I can bake my cake. This gets her a point for using an ingredient and me 5 points for baking a full cake plus one point for each ingredient I used. If we work together, then we both profit from the exchange like an alliance of cakes.
However, Emily is not lovely or warm-spirited, she is – sigh – my frenemy, so she said: “I do not have any strawberries”. Which is a clear lie and she is keeping those strawberries to bake her own cake later in the game. This means I can ask another person if they want to contribute any strawberries to my cake (you can ask two people each turn). And that is how the game plays out.
Once all the bakes have been completed, everyone adds up their points and gets bonus points if they have used the most of the ingredients their animal companion likes, and the person with the most is the winner. I suppose in the fiction of the game, that means they win the party? That’s how parties work, there’s always a winner.
For what it is, Frenemy Pastry Party is good. I love the artwork. It is adorable and the food genuinely makes me salivate. My issues with the game are around the ‘frenemy’ part and not the name this time.
In every game that I played, it was often better to try and collect ingredients for your own bakes rather than help anyone else out. Those five extra points plus using ingredients was such a large boost that working together felt discouraged. If you aren’t baking a cake, then collecting an ingredient is rather boring and needs more because you always know what you are getting. If you didn’t have a choice about helping towards a cake when asked, then I think the ‘frenemy’ element could work better and I would recommend playing with that as a house rule. However, if you need to house rule one of the two rules in the game, then there is an issue. That being said, it isn’t a perfect fix as it takes some of the autonomy away from the player being asked and more or less turns the game into Go Fish.
After all that though, Frenemy Pastry Party is great for a younger audience. It isn’t meant to be a heavy game played with deep strategy. It’s a light game where you are meant to enjoy the bakes, the cute animals and the lovely ingredients. It’s a game you play with a pot of tea and a slice of cake, where you take pleasure in each bake and revel in not helping your friends unless you really want to.
So, is this a game I would recommend? As per usual, if you like the theme then you are going to get a lot more out of it than if you don’t. That being said, who doesn’t like cakes or pastry? If you are looking for a light baking-themed variant of Go Fish, then you could a lot worse than Frenemy Pastry Party. Although, I would completely understand if the name alone makes you want to never eat a vanilla slice ever again.
Thanks for reading and thank you to Mizo Games for providing us a free copy of their game. If you want another game about holding a food related party, then check out my article on Pizza Party (or an excuse to figure out what makes a game a game). If that isn’t enough then why not take a look at our UKGE 2019 coverage.