What's Eric Playing?

#57 – Cake Duel [Preview]

Base price: $20.
2 players. (Double pledge to take it up to 4)
Play time: ~10-15 minutes.
BGG Link
Check it out on Kickstarter! (via Kickbooster)

Full disclosure: A preview copy of this game was provided by Sizigi Studios. As this is a preview, I will mostly keep my comments limited to gameplay, though I actually also really like the art here, because it’s super cute little sheeps. Additionally, some wording / imagery may be out of date, just by virtue of the preview copy / set of rules that I have.

So this is a bit of a rapid turnover, as far as Kickstarter previews go, especially since the campaign’s already started, but I think it’s worth talking about so here we are.

Cake Duel is a recent KS launch that aims to be a two-player bluffing game as you compete between rival sheep factions to trick your opponent into giving you all their cake. As someone who has successfully connived their way into more cake, I’m at least on board with the theme. However, your opponent wants to steal your cake too, and since it’s a dueling game, you really can’t share. Will you be able to steal a meal and take some cake?



Setup is pretty straightforward for the introductory part of Cake Duel; for the full game there’s a few slight differences.

Basically, take out the game. You’ll notice you have two types of tokens: Cake Tokens and Round Tokens:

Set the Round Tokens aside in a pile, but choose a player to go first and give her three cake tokens and give her opponent four cake tokens.

Next, you’ll notice the basic cards:

You should have:

And I’ll talk about them in Gameplay. There are also some Special Cards. I don’t have all the ones you’ll see in the Kickstarter, but here’s a sampler:

The Assassin’s my favorite art, but the Quartermaster is probably my favorite effect. That or Pierrot.

If you’re playing the introductory game, shuffle the Basic Cards and deal each player 4. If you’re playing the normal game, shuffle two Special Cards into the Basic Card set and deal each player 4. Do not reveal what Special Cards you shuffled in. It makes it more mysterious!

All things considered, your play area should look like this when you’re ready to start:


As you might suspect from a 10m game, this is not going to take a particularly long time to explain. Cake Duel is played in a best-of-5 series of rounds, where each player is trying to steal all of their opponent’s Cake Tokens. If either player succeeds, they win the round.

But how do you steal Cake Tokens?

Well, on your turn, you attack! If you’re the start player, that is. You play as many Sheep Cards as you’d like of the same type. (Such as playing three Soldiers — no mixing!) Your opponent can then block, and if they’re unsuccessful, you’ll steal some of their cake tokens. You then both refill your hands and your opponent has a chance to attack.

The following cards attack:

And these cards defend:

So that’s all well and good, right? But, it seems kind of straightforward. Well, that’s what makes this interesting — you don’t play your cards face-up; you play them face-down. This means you might be bluffing about those three Soldiers you just played, similar to, say, Coup. This also lets us explain why Sir Wolfy is in the game:

Essentially, you have to claim he’s something else (a Scientist or a Wizard or a Soldier, for instance), but then once your opponent has accepted your play, you flip him up as a taunt of “oooh, I was bluffing the whole time“. Very sneaky. Note that you do not flip up cards normally after you play them. Your entire play for a round should be face-down, save for good Sir Wolfy. Please also note that you must claim the correct number of cards, and you cannot claim that you are playing cards of multiple types (I play two Soldiers and one Archer, for instance). Obviously you also can’t play Attack Cards (for attacking) when you’re supposed to be defending, unless you are claiming those two Soldiers you put down were actually two Defenders. Sneaky.

Now, bluffing can’t just happen without consequences for lying, otherwise there’d be no intrigue to it. Your opponent can challenge your Attack or Block claim; if they’re correct (and you’re bluffing), you lose the round. That said, if they’re wrong, they lose the round. High risk, high reward.

As an additional action, you can pass. This means that you forego your turn as the Attacker, or you accept all damage done to you as the Defender. If both players pass consecutively (similar to Unfair, you might be able to take another turn in a round even if you pass), then the player with the most Cake Tokens wins the round. Naturally, if you have fewer Cake Tokens than your opponent, you never want to pass.

Similarly, you can also eventually run out all the cards in the play deck. If this happens and your hands are depleted (both players must have 0 cards left), the player with the most Cake Tokens wins.

This means the turns in a round progress in this order:

  1. Attacker: Claim Attack or Pass.
  2. Defender: Challenge Attack, Claim Block, or Accept Attack.
  3. Attacker: Challenge Block or Accept Block
  4. Both Players: Draw back up to refill your hand.

As I mentioned, play best of five rounds.

The Full Game

Once you’ve mastered the introductory game, you should try moving on to the full game! The full game adds in some of these Special Cards:

Rumor has it that the Rebel is no longer making it into the game … RIP.

Each of which have a variety of strange effects. I’ll list the ones that came in my preview copy, but you can also potentially make your own!

Note that you can still bluff these cards, which makes it a lot of fun, especially since neither you nor your opponent are sure which cards you’ve actually shuffled in (at first, maybe, at least). As you play more rounds you’re more likely to see which of the Special Cards are in play, so you’ll be able to make better claims, but it’s up to you whether or not it’s worth it to try to lie about having one of these in your hand.

Player Count Differences

I haven’t played it at more than two, so I can’t speak to this, but I hear it’s got a team-based synchronized bluffing thing going on. So that’s interesting.


Pros, Mehs, and Cons




Overall: 8.5 / 10

Tough bluff — got called out on playing an Archer as a Defender.

Overall, I mean, I backed it (that way I’ll have enough to try 4p and update this post… eventually), so that’s pretty much the best endorsement I can give to it. For me, it feels like what two-player Coup should have been; a game about cycling through a bunch of cards and playing them, rather than just guessing what two cards your opponent has in front of them (especially because I think Coup at two players doesn’t work for me — too many degenerate matchups that are just inevitable losses unless someone bluffs really well). I think that’s a much stronger gameplay mechanic with only two people, and I definitely am enthusiastic about playing this game again soon.

Plus, it comes in a sheep box. I was never not going to be excited about this.