Full disclosure: A review copy of That’s Not Lemonade! was provided by Tuesday Knight Games.
You know, there’s a fun genre of games I don’t play enough of, and that’s press-your-luck. I think from looking at them I seem to be a bit picky about what I do play, given that all the press-your-luck games I’ve reviewed I haven’t loved, but it IS generally a genre I enjoy. My favorite is PROBABLY Coloretto? Though I do have soft spots for Deep Sea Adventure and Impact. Either way, here’s another one, so, as we do, let’s check it out and see how it goes.
In That’s Not Lemonade, you play as various folks around the neighborhood getting lemonade from a local stand. It’s hot outside, so the more you have, the better you feel. Unfortunately, one of the local kids is a bit of a prankster, and they might be swapping out your lemonade for … something else. Can you still manage to enjoy the balmy day with a nice, ice cold beverage? Or will the first thing that comes to mind as you gulp down that drink be, “That’s Not Lemonade!”?
Setup is pretty simple. Give everyone a character tile:
You can name them, if you want. Actually, yeah, do that. Give everyone a little red cup:
Definitely not shot glasses and I’m upset you would accuse me of such a thing. Now, shuffle the cards:
If you’re playing with 3 players, remove one That’s Not Lemonade! card. At 2 players, remove two.
You’re ready to start!
Game’s pretty simple press-your-luck. Start a round by discarding one card face-down to the center of the play area; that’s the Buried Card and nobody gets to see that one.
On your turn, you may take or pass. If you pass, flip your cup upside-down so that other players can see you’ve passed. On your next turn, you may take or pass; you’re not out of the round once you pass.
If you take, draw the top card of the deck and look at it. If you got a That’s Not Lemonade! card, well, gross. Tip your cup on its side; you’re out of this round; sorry about that. Otherwise, you stay in.
The round ends when:
- All players but one are eliminated.
- All players pass.
- The deck is depleted.
When that happens, reveal your drawn cards. The player with the most lemons wins the round! If there’s a tie, break it in favor of the player with the most ice cubes.
Keep playing until one player has won three rounds!
Player Count Differences
Not really many, beyond the cards you pull out. You’re still drawing cards kind-of-at-random, but you will see some major Gambler’s Fallacy in play at 6 players if two rounds go by and nobody’s drawn a That’s Not Lemonade. To be fair, the odds of drawing one are now the highest they’ve ever been, but, you know.
At two it’s a bit underwhelming; it’s sort of like Coup. You want it to eventually get to two so you have a crowd for the tension, but starting at two there’s not enough established game for it to feel really tense. One player might just start, draw a That’s Not Lemonade; round over.
I’d say 4 – 6 is probably my preference, for that reason, but it’s not a particularly major one.
- An early pass can put you at a pretty bad disadvantage. This is negated if you draw a double lemon, but all other players being one ahead of you likely isn’t what you want. Once you start getting double lemons, passing isn’t a terrible idea, though, since you’re sort-of-insulated (by virtue of having two lemons on one card already).
- If I have four or five lemons, I’m out. Especially at higher player counts; that means everyone is either eliminated or has a bunch of ice, so I win either way. No value in risking it all; I doubt that there’s a That’s Not Lemonade International Hall of Fame.
- Knowing some basic probability is your friend. It doesn’t actually help you since you can’t manipulate probability, but it can give you some insight as to the risk-reward function you’re trying to evaluate. Your risk aversion is really going to determine when you stop, though.
Beyond that, there’s not a ton of strategy.You can’t really … influence cards. You just take one or you don’t. Don’t get too attached to the idea of winning any one round. We had someone go from 0 rounds won to winning the game, as they won three consecutive rounds.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Very light game. It’s not a ton of mental energy to pick up or play. Could likely be played with anyone.
- Kid-friendly. It’s a teensy bit puerile, sure, but kids will also likely appreciate it, and it’s still entertaining for more experienced gamers.
- The tiny cups are a nice touch. They’re a cute way to signify that you’re in, out, or eliminated. Also thematically pretty consistent, even if they are just solo cup shot glasses.
- The art is both very good and very cute? The actual card backs are particularly striking; very well done. The character art is very cute and diverse as well, which I always appreciate.
- Very portable. It’s just cards and a few tiles; you don’t explicitly need the cups, though they do add a nice tactile bonus to the game.
- It would be nice to have some sort of lemon or sugar tokens to track how many rounds a player has won. I ended up grabbing some nearby tokens from a different game that was open (since my entire home is just a mess of board games, loose baggies, and video equipment) and making it work, but it would have been nice to not have to do that? Makes me wish I still had my preview copy of Seize the Bean handy; using the tiny sugar cubes from that would have been a very nice aesthetic touch.
- Not really much to it, strategically. It’s got a lot in common with blackjack. If you’re into that, great; if you’re looking for a filler game where you feel like you have a lot of control over the outcome, this might not be the particular game made for you. I’d love some variants with events or effects or something to make the game feel a bit less luck-of-the-draw.
- Like I said, the two-player game is a smidge underwhelming. That’s okay; I find the higher player counts more amusing anyways, even though they eventually dwindle down to about two in terms of which players are still in the game and aren’t eliminated.
Overall: 6.25 / 10
Overall, That’s Not Lemonade is a cute, light little game. It’s essentially a kid-friendly drinking game (or as friendly as drinking, well, you know can be), which gives it a lot of opportunity for play at various family events, provided that your group is okay with the EXTREMELY mild toilet humor at play, here. If not, well, I don’t know what to tell you. As far as the game goes, it’s light, fun, and pleasant for sure, but I’d probably end up playing Push if I wanted a serious press-your-luck game of a similar weight, whereas this one is much more equipped for a good laugh. That’s not necessarily the fault of the game; I just don’t feel it was designed to carry a lot more than it does, and that’s fine. Art-wise, it’s super good and I’d highly recommend it. I think I just wish that it had something to excite me a bit more than “draw a card from the deck and hope it’s not bad”. That said, the act of doing so is fundamentally very funny and fun, so, we arrive at about this score in my books. If you’re looking for a family-friendly press-your-luck game and you’re not afraid to get a bit silly; That’s Not Lemonade might be worth checking out! It’s definitely cute.