Huh, well, I forgot to write an intro for this when I first wrote this review … two years ago, I guess, so, I’m writing it now. What a treat. Anyways, this is a game I’ve had in my review buffer for a hot minute because I bought it right as I was starting to get more review copies in and needed to create a buffer of game reviews I could dip into in case of an emergency. And … here we are. I’ve reviewed a number of Bezier titles in the past, most notably the One Night Ultimate Werewolf series (and Werewords), so let’s see how I feel about this I-cut-you-choose game.
In New York Slice, you’re trying to eat as much pizza as possible, which makes sense because it’s pizza. However, your friends would also like to eat as much pizza as they can, again, this is all logical. You decide that the only way to make this work is to divide the pizzas up fairly into eleven slices each because you’re a monster. You divide up the pizzas so that everyone gets to choose which set of slices they want, and you choose last. Will you successfully be able to manipulate your way to the top of the food chain?
So the core of the game is the pizzas, so you should set up the slices to get the game started. You’ll want to remove some before you start, depending on your player count:
- 2 players: Remove all slices with an 8 or 10 on them (including the 8/10 Combo Slice). Also remove all slices with a 3 on them (the 3 Veggie slices).
- 5 players: Remove all slices with a 10 on them (including the 8/10 Combo Slice).
Easiest way to do that is to take them out, shuffle them, and then divide them into stacks of 11:
I’ve learned how to riffle shuffle them, but it’s honestly kind of a forbidden eldritch art and I’m being responsible by not showing it to you. You should have 3 slices left over; remove them from the game without looking at them.
Once you have the stacks made, also shuffle up the Specials tiles and put one near each stack:
Honestly, once you’ve done that you’re basically set. You can set aside the scoresheet:
Choose a player to go first, have them set down the 11 slices into a pizza (just do it clockwise so there’s no weird bias), and then you’re ready to start!
So, the mechanic at play here in New York Slice is typically referred to as “I cut, you choose”, in which a player divides a group of objects into sub-groups and then other players choose those groups. In this particular case, it’s pizzas! You’ve got a pizza and you want to split it up so that everyone’s happy. So, one player each round will be the slicer, and they’ll be in charge of the pizza for this round. Flip over the Special tile for this round; that’ll add a bonus effect, ability, or scoring condition for the round.
Now, the Slicer has an important job — they have to split the pizza up! You can create groupings of adjacent slices, but all groups must have at least one slice of pizza or the Special tile (this does mean you can create a grouping that’s just the Special tile, if you want). Once they’ve done that, the player on their left has first pick of the groups! You must take all of the slices of the group and add them to your personal stash. If a slice has a pepperoni on it, you may “eat” the slice and turn it face-down and put it in a pile. When you take slices, you must immediately decide if you want to eat it or not. If you do not eat the slice, you may not be able to eat it later.
There are several types of slices:
Normal Slices just have a number on them. That number is how many of those slices are in the game and how many points they’re worth. That’s fun!
Combo Slices are two halves of different slices. Their primary utility is to help you win ties.
Anchovy Slices are, well, sorry to say, but anchovies are gross, canonically, in this game. For each anchovy still on your pizza at the end of the game, you’ll lose one point. If you’re really smooth, though, you can eat slices of pizza that have pepperoni and anchovies on them, and you’ll ignore the penalty. That’s kinda handy, provided you can make that work.
The last slice type is the Supreme Slice (has a * on it). The Supreme Slice is … really whatever you want to be. As soon as you take it, attach it to another slice of a different kind of pizza. It is now also that type of pizza for the rest of the game. That said, once you pick it, you cannot change it.
The game ends when the last set of slices have been taken. Now, you’ll do scoring. Scoring works as follows:
- First, score slices. The player with the most slices for a given number earns that many points. If there’s a tie, nobody scores. Bummer!
- Score specials. If your Special tile causes you to gain or others to lose points, record it.
- Score slices eaten minus anchovies. For each slice of pizza you ate, score the number of pepperonis on that slice. For each slice of pizza you didn’t eat that has anchovies, lose points equal to the number of anchovies.
The player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
Honestly, not many. You take a few types of pizza out of the game at various player counts, but that’s not the worst thing. If anything, I think it’s hardest to get a handle on what you need to do as slicer at higher player counts, since there are so many people to account for. It’s going to be nigh-impossible for you to make sure you get the best cut and everyone else gets the worst cut, just probabilistically. Either way, I don’t really have a player count preference.
- Consume pepperoni. It’s a really easy way to get a lot of points. Generally, 11 slices have 3 pepperoni per slice. If you eat four of those, you’ve already got 12 points (which is likely more than you’d get from trying to use those four to win the 11). Naturally, this means someone else gets it, but you might be able to do something about that, depending on how everything else shakes out.
- In the same vein, be careful for players eating aggressively. You might be able to split up high-pepperoni slices so that they can’t score too much every round to try and slow them down, or push the high value stuff to one side and keep the stuff they need to win majorities somewhere else. I haven’t seen a robust strategy for beating the Pepperoini, but that’s my best bet.
- Force other players to tie. Then not only did they waste time getting a bunch of slices, but they get no points for them. Don’t forget that three slices are also missing, so there might be fewer of a pizza type than you expected. Don’t get caught unaware by this.
- Usually, I go for the lower-value pizza slices. They’re a bit easier to get (less contention) and if you get 3 – 7, that’s still a lot of points, even if you let other players get 8 / 9 / 10 / 11. Best case, you all come out of it with 19 points from pizzas, which is pretty swell.
- Don’t sandbag a split unless you know your opponent needs it. When I say sandbag, I mean specifically creating a “bad” split, or a split that has a low value in either points, majority stakes, or overall pull in the game. If you do, you’re just going to get stuck with it because nobody will want it, naturally. The only time sandbagging a split makes sense is if you can knowingly force your opponent to take it.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Pretty solid rulebook. Honestly, it’s a breeze to get through. Quickly explains the rules, low on flavor text, and then an appendix of what the various Special Tiles do. It’s very nicely made. Plus, it looks like a pizza menu! That’s also a delightful touch, being so on-theme.
- Great theme. Lots of people like pizza, and there’s even veggie pizzas and pizzas with chicken / soy pepperoni for all players. I suppose if you do like anchovies you might feel personally attacked by this game, but that happens sometimes. Thematically, the game is really solid, and the parts and components really work towards that theme — the box looks like a pizza box, the scoresheet is a check; the whole thing is really nicely made.
- Pretty simple game. It’s probably a solid game for families or for introducing people to the mechanic. Skyward (from the same people as Entropy / Entropy: Worlds Collide) is a bit more advanced version of this mechanic, as you cut and then others choose what buildings you want to construct. This is a bit more stripped-down, similar to how Dominion is just a no-frills deckbuilder, which might appeal to some players.
- Plays reasonably quickly. You might see some stalling on the slicer’s behalf, but the turns move quickly in spite of that.
- The person slicing the pizza usually has a lot of opportunity for analysis paralysis. Yeah, like I said, the slicer is occasionally going to get overwhelmed (similar to Castles of Mad King Ludwig, if you’ve played that) by how to make sure that they advance their own goals while inhibiting others without setting themselves up to get clowned on by other players. It doesn’t usually take a terribly long time, but I’ve seen some rounds drag on far longer than they need to as a result.
- It often feels to me like the best strategy is just “eat almost all the pepperoni you can”. It scores so many points relative to the other pizza slices and denies a lot of players the ability to collect them. I’m not sure if we’ve been having bad luck on the shuffles or just aren’t playing strategically enough, but I have usually only seen one player run the game that way and they generally win.
- Putting the game away in the box is an absolute nightmare. The insert isn’t …. really equipped to hold the pieces in a way that makes a ton of sense. You essentially need to fill the bottom with the Special Tiles and then stack the pieces on top in a set of pizzas that are going to slide every which way as soon as you close it. It makes me stressed every time I even think about opening it, which isn’t really a great way to play a game. What it really needs is a removable insert for the pieces that locks them down into sections or something. I’m surprised they didn’t go with that, but I imagine it was to save money on the game or something. Unfortunately, putting it away is now a pain.
Overall: 7 / 10
Overall, New York Slice is a pretty fun game, especially given that I’m not a fan of the I-cut-you-choose genre. I think that they did a really solid job on the components and the overall representation of the theme in the game (though I do agree with some other opinions that cakes would have been a better way to make the game appear more colorful, since pizza cheese tends to be kind of orange / yellow, so the game is overwhelmingly warm in color). I really wish that the pizza was easier to put away in the game box and that I felt like there were a wider array of strategies (though one of the promo Special Tiles I have can be used to ban another player from eating and another does give players a penalty for overeating). Even then, I think it’s a solid example of the “mechanic-as-game” school of making a game that’s little more than a proof of concept of a certain mechanic put into practice. That may sound aggressively critical, but I mean it as praise! It’s nice to see a wide array of game mechanics, and seeing one distilled into its simplest form is a nice starting block for people who come after to use in their designs (sort of like how there are many deckbuilders that take after Dominion [like Paperback] or Ascension [like … Hardback]). I think New York Slice is a game that’s definitely interesting in that regard, and if you love pizza or are looking for a nice introductory game, it might be worth checking out, as well!