Sunday, October 1, 2017

Want fries with that?

"Want fries with that?" 

How many of us have heard that at least once before in our lives? And how many of us immediately formed a picture in our mind's eye of standing at a fast food counter, or sitting at a drive-through window, hearing that and answering without a bit of hesitation "Absolutely!" I took a very unscientific poll on Facebook to answer this very question, which I'll discuss at the end of this blog. No fair scrolling to the end to find out.  

mmmm, fries!
image from Google search

Depending on where you were raised, or where you even live now, the next vision that probably forms in your mind is what the "that" is that you ordered to get the fries with.


Well, if the kid behind the counter asked "Want fries with that?" it's highly likely you had to have ordered something first, like a cheeseburger or chicken sandwich or, well, you get the point. Of course, my first thought would be a scrumptious cheeseburger from my all-time fave Whataburger

A classic combo
image from Google search

Now, dear readers, I must admit that what I've just done to y'all is a sort of "bait and switch." This blog isn't specifically about those golden sticks of fried goodness or an exploration of my favorite fast food eateries. That might be a future blog. What today's blog is about is a game called Lord of the Fries. Hang on, hang on, you'll see how this all ties together, I promise. Imagine going into a fast food restaurant and having your order taken by, and cooked by, and served by......wait for it!.......zombies!

Wow, did this just totally come out of left field, or what? Well, maybe. I mean my penchant for zombie related games is well known. Afterall I did write a blog about the game Dead of Winter recently (just click on the title and you'll go right to it).You can't get more zombie related than that. 

I stumbled across this card game while looking for something quick and easy that Cindy and I could take with us on trips and that wouldn't take up much space in our suitcase. Lord of the Fries is a sequel of sorts to a game called Give me the Brain and was introduced in 1997 by Cheapass Games. Both "LOTF" and Give me the Brain feature zombies in a fast food setting, although LOTF focuses more on filling the order with specific items from the menu.

To play, each person is dealt a random hand of ingredient cards, which they will use to complete a specific order from the menu. At the beginning of a round, the leader (more about this in a bit) will roll a die twice which will determine the selection. The player to the left of the leader will then attempt to fill this order with the ingredient cards in his/her deck or pass, giving up a card from their hand. Play continues clockwise until someone is able to fill the order. If after everyone passes (unable to fill the order) the customer will get impatient, and players can now try to fill the order with one less ingredient.

How many cards a player is dealt depends on how many are playing. A reference card is included in each deck that will indicate how many cards each player gets.This card also shows who gets the card when a player has to pass.

Reference card & die

The player that is able to fill the order becomes the leader for the next round. After the first round, the leader has the option to "call" an order instead of rolling for a random order. This allows some strategy to come into play. Play continues until someone runs out of cards, at which point the "day" ends. A game consists of four "days." Ingredient cards have a certain point value, and these cards are added up. The highest score wins. 

Lord of the Fries base game

Lord of the Fries ("LOTF") consists of the base game which has two decks: Friedey's and a coffee/dessert shop called McFrye's. Each of these has their own ingredient cards and menu specific to that restaurant. Let's look at the Friedey's menu, or as the game calls it, "The Fast Food Restaurant of the Damned." 

Friedey's menu
image from Cheapass website

Notice the menu is divided into four zones. If the leader rolls the die for the order, the first roll will select the zone, and the second roll will determine the specific item. So, if the first roll is a 5, and the second roll is a 2, the order to be filled would be a Chickabunga Conga. To fill this order, a player would need four cards: "Bird meat," "Bun," "Fries" and a "drink." Don't have all four? Time to pass. That player will then have to give up any card in his/her deck. Depending on if the order was called or rolled will determine who gets the passed card. Take a look at the reference card and you'll see how that works.

Friedey's ingredient cards

Notice that each card has a specific point value. In our example order above, the full Chickabunga Conga order would be worth 11 points. Scoring works sort of like the game Scrabble. If a player is able to play their cards to fill an order (some restrictions apply), they get the points from those cards. Once a player goes out, though, any cards remaining in the player's hand gets counted against them. This is also where strategy comes into play, with respect to what cards a player who passes will give up. It is entirely possible, and even likely, to have a negative score at the end of a day. Yep, been there, done that. 

Not hungry enough for food? Just want coffee and a pastry? No problem! Let's head over to McFrye's and see what they have to offer. Note that the first roll of a 4 or 5 will make the order a little more complicated. You'll then have to roll three more times to determine the order. Sounds like something from that nationwide coffee chain I mentioned in this blog

McFrye's menu
image from Cheapass website

With a different menu, naturally, there must be different ingredients. Kinda hard to make a Double tall whipper with bird meat and fries, right? Here's a peek at what you'll have to deal with, no pun intended, if you work from the McFrye's menu.

McFrye's ingredient cards

In my example above, a double tall whipper (I rolled a 5, which determined Zone C, then a 5 then a 3, then another 5), a full order will get you 8 points. Rolling a 3, then a 1 would make an order for just a plain croissant, which would still give you 6 points for playing just a single card. Go figure....

I've played this game several times and really enjoy it. The randomness of the cards and die roll ensure a constantly changing game. Just like going to the same restaurant, though, without a little variety, the experience could eventually get a little stale. No worries, though, as Cheapass currently has four, yes four, expansion decks available. My readers who have read my blogs on Dead of Winter, Pandemic and Flash Point are quite familiar with my fondness for game expansions. Of course, I wanted to get the other expansion decks to add a little variety to an already fun game. So, not hungry for just "regular" food? We have it covered! Now we can choose from Chinese, Italian, Irish (pub food) or Mexican. Cool!

Just like the food court at the mall...

These expansions add not only new menus and ingredients but add a small twist to the overall gameplay in some fashion. Just take a look at the top of the menu and you'll see the change. So, grab your napkins and follow me. I'll take us into each new expansion, showing you both the menu and ingredient cards. I hope y'all are hungry...

Long Wok on Short Pier
image from Cheapass website

Who doesn't love a good Chinese restaurant? A large plate of steaming pork fried rice with a couple of egg rolls, or maybe some General Tso's chicken with a side of steamed dumplings? Yes, please! What? Delivery? Well, OK, we can include delivery as well. It's all the same to me if you eat out or have it delivered. Just depends on whether or not the Cowboys are playing. If they are, I'm staying home and ordering in. I like the twist for this expansion. Hooray for family style!

Long Wok ingredient cards

My late father loved Italian food....I mean, really loved it! He used to travel extensively around the world and could always find the best Italian restaurant anywhere. Seoul, South Korea? No problem! He knew just where to go. All of this was way before the internet, too. Some of the best Italian food I ever had was in Singapore. I visited him a couple of times when he lived there, and the first time I went there he took me to his favorite place. All the way there he told me how good the food and service was. 

When we got there, the Maitre 'D met us with effusive greetings. "Ah, Mr. Newman, right this way. Your table is ready and waiting for you." He then looked at me and said "And you must be Patrick. Welcome to Singapore!" I felt like I was in some mafia movie and my name was Corleone. I kept waiting for the Maitre 'D to kiss my dad's ring. Maybe he did that on a previous visit. As we got seated, everyone at the table got a menu except for my father. "So much for great service," I thought, "they forgot to give dad a menu." I mentioned this to dad, and he just smiled and said "I don't need one. I'm familiar with the menu and even if I ordered something that wasn't on the menu, they'd make it anyway." Yep, we must be related to the Corleones....

I have a feeling, though, that if Ghicciaroni's actually existed, we probably wouldn't get the same service. In fact, I think we'd be lucky if we didn't become one of "them" and start craving brains. Just sayin'....

Ghicciaroni's Family Style Italian Buffet
image from Cheapass website

The twist for this expansion, in my opinion, isn't as effective or helpful as other expansions, but that could just be me. I could take it or leave it. I hope y'all have been paying attention to the brilliant artwork on these cards. Cheapass has definitely managed to capture the essence of each theme. The hilarious menus add much to these games as well. 

Ghicciaroni's ingredient cards

My friends and family know just how proud I am of my Irish ancestry. I even blogged about that as well, and you can read about it here. Would y'all like to join me at an authentic Irish pub, listening to some folk music, sipping on a Guinness, and enjoying dinner? Let's do it!

McPubihan's Irish Pub & Brewery
image from Cheapass website

Yeah, I think I'll stick with Zone A for the most part, at least until I get hungry. If you drink enough Guinness, though, you probably won't get hungry. This expansion's twist is very similar to Long Wok's twist. By the way, Cindy and I have some upcoming travel that may include hitting an Irish pub. I'll definitely blog about that once we are back. That's all I say on the subject for now, as I don't want to set any false expectations or jinx anything. 


Last but certainly not least, we have one of my favorite cuisines represented: Mexican food! Having been born and raised in South Texas, I'm probably biased, but that's OK, too. I could eat Mexican food multiple times per week and not get tired of it. There's just something about a hot plate of carne guisada or a bunch of tacos with freshly prepared pico de gallo that is inherently satisfying. 

Las Cabezas Cocina Mexicana
image from Cheapass website

We all have our favorite Mexican restaurant, and I hope that they don't do what the twist in this expansion allows the "chef" to do. For game purposes, it's a good twist, but in real life? Not so much. Believe it or not, that last time we played this deck, we did have a big bowl of tortilla chips and salsa to snack on. All that was missing was some spicy queso. 

Las Cabezas ingredient cards

If you've been keeping score, that's six decks of ingredient cards and six menus. Pretty cool, huh? Here's the best part, though, there's more! Yes, the people at Cheapass Games have created three extra themed menus to add even more variety! These themed menus combine certain cards from specific decks to create a whole new experience. Dude, this is so cool! Where can we find them? Well, you could look on the Cheapass website, or you could just keep reading. You didn't think I'd leave these off, did you? Not me!

I'll even discuss these "in order of appearance." As I write this blog, it's opening weekend of the Texas Renaissance Festival. This yearly event is a total blast, and something Cindy and I look forward to every year. Be on the lookout next month for a blog on our latest jaunt into the realm. The food choices at TRF are as varied as the multitude of people who attend. Take your appetite and lots of money and you'll leave stuffed and satisfied. Our game's version of Ren food, known as "The Food Court at Yon Medieval Faire," combines cards from the Friedey's and McFrye's decks. There are no special twists with this menu, but that's totally OK with me. Huzzah!

Ren-fare menu
image from Cheapass website

Hhhmmm, what else happens every October? Yes, you in the back, in the clown costume. That's right, Halloween! It's one of my favorite holidays, along with Christmas. As the cliche goes, "I may have to grow old, but I don't have to grow up!"  Abso-freakin-lutely! The inner child in me loves seeing and participating in Halloween activities. Our first cruise in 2007 happened to fall over Halloween, and some of the costumes people wore were simply fantastic. To play with the Halloween menu, you'll need cards from the Friedey's, McFrye's and Las Cabezas decks. I like the variation for this menu. 

Halloween menu
image from Cheapass website

Remember how I mentioned Christmas being my other favored holiday? I'm glad the folks at Cheapass were kind enough to make a Christmas menu to help celebrate this wondrous season. The holidays are always a good excuse to eat lots of things you wouldn't normally eat the rest of the year. I go into plenty of detail about yummy Christmas treats in a blog I wrote last Christmas. Please feel free to read it. Just click here

Yes, I know Thanksgiving comes between Halloween and Christmas, but Cheapass hasn't produced a Thanksgiving menu yet. That might make an interesting project, though. I'll have to give it some thought, and see what nifty and clever menu items I can come up with and what decks to use. The rules twist for the Christmas menu work especially well for those who can think strategically and enjoy playing more cutthroat.

Christmas menu
image from Cheapass website

This, my faithful readers wraps up my blog on a fun, fast-paced card game. It's fun to play and doesn't take up much room. Even the menu items are fun to read, and the staff at Cheapass Games have some talented artists and writers working for them. I will be on the lookout for future expansion decks or menus, should they become available. 

As for my unscientific poll, out of about 100 people who replied, only four wouldn't have gotten fries with their order.......FOUR. That leaves more for me, then. 

Have any of you played this game? If so, what do YOU think about it? What about other unique card games you particularly enjoy? I've heard a lot about Cards Against Humanity, and would love the opportunity to play this game. For those that have played it, I'd love to read your comments below. 

Coming up are some more travel blogs and a detailed account of our trip to TRF. As with last year, I'm hoping to do another Halloween flash fiction. 

Until next time.......

carpe cerevisi

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