Base price: $20.
2 – 4 players.
Play time: 15 – 30 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 2
Full disclosure: A review copy of Truffle Shuffle was provided by Alderac Entertainment Group.
I’ve really been on a roll lately after Gen Con (though, eagle-eyed readers may notice I wrote this review at two completely separate times; such is life). Wrote seven reviews so far this week, and may actually have time to finish them all before Sunday, which is wild. Went from legitimately behind to almost four weeks ahead in the span of a week. The dream. I think Gen Con was a really good way to get re-energized about making stuff, since it’s been a bit harder for me to get the nuts and bolts of board gaming done in the last couple months. Harder to get groups organized, harder to get motivated to get groups organized; standard stuff. But, we’re back on the upswing, so let’s see what’s going on in our latest game to review, Truffle Shuffle!
In Truffle Shuffle, your goal is to become an extraordinary chocolatier! However, in the interest of speed, you’re not entirely paying attention to what the customer is looking for precisely; you’re just trying to get truffles in boxes to fulfill orders. The better the order, the more money you make, which is good! Getting through that stack of chocolates is a multi-person job, however, so you’ll compete against friends to see who can sell the most and end up with the most money. Will you be able to come out ahead?
First off, set the coins nearby:
Next, shuffle the cards!
Each round, you’ll make the same configuration of cards:
- 4 face-up cards
- 5 face-down cards on top of those
- 6 face-up cards on top of those
- 7 face-down cards on top of those
- 8 face-up cards on top of those
- 9 face-down cards on top of those
The remaining cards get set aside as a draw deck for future rounds. Place some coin tokens below the now-complete tableau, each round, as bonus coins (depending on your player count):
- 3 players: 2 / 1 / 1
- 4 players: 2 / 2 / 1 / 1
- 5 players: 2 / 2 / 2 / 1 / 1
You should be ready to start!
Truffle Shuffle is a drafting game of collecting truffles! As you do, you’ll be able to fulfill orders and earn money. Earn the most money after three rounds to win!
Each round is composed of several turns, each of which has two main phases. Let’s go through those.
This one’s simple. You can either take any uncovered card (any card without other cards on top of it), or you can play a Take 2 or a Skip. A Take 2 lets you choose, one after the other, any two uncovered cards (including a card that your first take uncovers). A Skip skips your current turn, but lets you take three cards on the next turn (one after the other, like a Take 2).
This one is optional (and you cannot do this on the turn that you play a Skip), but you can discard sets of cards matching some criteria to earn coins. These criteria are generally things like one card of each color, four cards of the same color, small and large straights, flushes, small and large straight flushes, and sets of numbers. They’re worth different amounts of money, but you get the listed amount on your reference card.
If you are one of the first players in a round to fulfill an order that uses at least four truffles, you gain the highest available bonus coin, adding it to your coins (in addition to what you get for fulfilling the order).
End of Round
After the last card is taken, the round immediately ends. Note that players do not get to Fulfill an Order at this time; you can only do that on your turn.
If you have more cards than the number of players, discard down to that number. Then, reset the tableau following the setup instructions, using cards from the draw deck. There are exactly enough cards for three rounds; you will never need to reshuffle during a game. The player to the left of the player who took the final turn of the previous round takes the first turn of the next round.
End of Game
After the third round, the game ends, and the player with the most money wins! If there’s a tie, the tied player with more cards left wins.
Player Count Differences
Not a ton, really. The key thing is that with more players, the overall score per player tends to decrease. This makes sense, right? The number of cards don’t change as the player count changes; there are just fewer cards available per player as the player count increases. As a result, you’d expect players to get fewer cards over the course of the game and fulfill fewer orders. Plus, you’re now competing with players for high-value cards (wild colors, wild numbers, special actions, etc.), and the lay of the land can change pretty drastically between your turns. Nothing wrong with it, as long as you’re okay with a bit tighter of a game with more players. At two, you’re just going back and forth the entire time, pretty simply. With three, it’s a nice medium. It generally comes down to what you’re looking for out of the game, but personally, I tend to prefer two or three players for Truffle Shuffle. That said, it’s hardly a strong preference.
- Going for an early order fulfillment is a useful way to get some extra coins. The Bonus Coins are nice, and they provide an easy compromise for going for an early, potentially less lucrative order. You can’t always get a set of five 5s of the same color right out the gate. If you can, I mean, then that’s even more money, but sometimes it’s worth rushing for a few quick orders just to get the bonus coins.
- Keep an eye out for the various abilities of each color! Each color has a very specific card ability (Take 2 / Skip / Color Change / Number Change) that’s worth keeping around, since they’re pretty useful to pick up. Knowing that means that you may want to choose certain face-down cards if you don’t have anything else better to do.
- Holding onto cards is a good way to score a few points, but keep in mind that you don’t get to retain very many cards between rounds. In a four-player game, I suppose that you can hold on to an order until the next round so that you can fulfill it on your first turn and get the bonus coins, but at lower player counts you can’t do that, so just try to set yourself up to hit the ground running or something. You don’t want to be left with a bunch of cards you have to get rid of.
- Figuring out when to play a Skip can let you set up pretty big combos. If you play a Skip at the right time, you might notice that your opponents are avoiding taking a card because it’s covering a very good card. If you Skip now, you can pick both cards up on your next turn, meaning you get the good card! Doing stuff like that is the point of the Skip card, so try to make it work for you.
- The Color and Number Change Cards are very helpful, but you need to have an extra card to spend with them. I like using them a bunch, but I definitely got my wires crossed in my first game, to my detriment. I had an order to fulfill (I thought), only to realize the number that I thought I was going to change was a number that I needed for the order. Embarrassing. Try to avoid making the same mistakes as me. It’s useful to have a couple extra cards in your hand for the Change cards, if you can.
- You can make specific drafting choices to trap other players into doing what you want. Eventually, you get to a point in the round (well, you can) where players can only take certain cards because other cards remain covered or are gone. If you set players up in those scenarios, they may have to take a card that you want them to take, leaving the card they uncover for you. It’s, I’d say, the entire foundation of strategy for 7 Wonders: Duel.
- A fun, mean thing to do is to use a Skip / Take 2 to end the round ahead of other players’ expectations, so they have to discard a bunch of cards. It’s rude, but effective. If you see a player winding up for a big Skip (meaning they played the Skip but haven’t taken their three, yet), you need to dump cards because the round is about to end. As I mentioned earlier, don’t get stuck holding a bunch of cards.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Delightful theme for a game. It’s fun! I have to assume most people like boxes of chocolates, and it’s got the “you never know what you’re going to get” of a face-down card drafting game, so, that’s also fun. It interweaves theme and gameplay together nicely, even if the “shuffle” isn’t as big of a part of the game as the name might imply.
- I also appreciate how straightforward this one is to teach and play. It really is just “take a card, make a set, play it for coins”. It’s a great way to teach someone the ins and outs of drafting games like this. I’d probably recommend teaching this before 7 Wonders: Duel, so that they can learn some of the strategy without as much of the hate-drafting. That game is a lot of hate-drafting, let me tell you.
- Once players have a good sense of how to play, the game moves pretty quickly. You’re really just taking a card on your turn; you can almost have the next person start while you fulfill an order and deal with everything that entails. It has nothing to do with the tableau of the game, anyways. The longest part of the game is the setup between rounds. I started doing that in diagonals, and that helped a lot.
- Decently portable, as well. You can just pack all the cards up and take it with you if you want, but the box isn’t that small, either. You never spend coins, so you can even forego the tokens and use a tally sheet, if you’d like.
- I like that the cards usually tell you their color based on their backs. Sometimes they’re wild, which is a fun little surprise. I generally like cards that give you some-but-not-all of the information on the front on the back (which is why I found Mantis so clever).
- A good amount of abilities on the cards can change up play, which is nice. Each suit having its own favored ability is a nice touch, but collectively, they can really shake things up in the draft if you get the right cards at the right time. I respect that the rulebook details how to execute on a big combo like that and land a bunch of points! It’s a good thing for new players to know.
- The art style is very pleasant! I could look at chocolates all day, granted. I just remembered I have some fancy chocolate in the fridge that I definitely need to eat sooner rather than later, so, thanks for reminding me, readers.
- The game does that one thing I don’t like as much where it has you play three rounds mostly for the benefit of getting to use all the cards. Only being able to save a few cards from round to round doesn’t quite feel like a significant amount of state for me to feel like I’m not just playing the same game three times. There are too many cards to track numbers or colors and use that information in a useful way, for instance, so the fact that you use the same deck for all three rounds doesn’t add that much useful information. Contrast this against another game I was just playing, Hanamikoji: Geisha’s Road, where you do preserve useful state each round (the tiebreakers stay in place from round to round, so you can slightly deprioritize winning certain things), for instance.
- While I love the art style, the truffles are slightly asymmetrical, which frustrates my desire to have all the cards face the same way. It’s the kind of thing that only really aggravates folks who are very particular about having all the cards face the same way. There are a few truffles that are deceptively asymmetric, which makes it very difficult to figure out which way is up for those guys. I usually look at the card backs, but the green truffles have a symmetrical icon, which presents an additional challenge. This is the exact kind of thing that only I care about, so, it ends up in the Mehs.
- My desire to have cards well-ordered and particularly arranged makes this game challenging to set up each round. This seems like the kind of game that would benefit from a starting playmat. I found this kind of setup annoying when I was playing 7 Wonders: Duel, and it’s … worse, here. There are so many cards. There isn’t even a really useful way to have another player help out, since each row relies on the row before it and they sit underneath of each other. It’s not terrible, but it is an intense setup component for a short game.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, I think Truffle Shuffle is fun! I think I find the setup a bit stressful, just because my desire to lay cards perfectly does not work with the reality of having to lay that many cards, and some part of me needs to accept that. But beyond that and my difficulties with the minor asymmetry of the cards themselves, it’s a very pretty game that’s a very solid introduction to light drafting. And who doesn’t like chocolate? I think this is one of those games that I’d have loved to have when I was getting into board gaming, just because it does a good job of presenting its core mechanic with a fun theme and great art (no surprise from Dylan Mangini) that almost everyone can get behind. Where I am now, with gaming, I think I want games with a bit more depth (even for introductory stuff) than what Truffle Shuffle provides, but I can’t fault it for being exactly what it says it is. I like what it is! The Flatout folks have a good overall design sense, and that’s reflected in the consistent high-quality output from their group. It’s a drafting game that you can teach to anyone and just set up and play, and that’s pretty good. If you’re looking for that kind of thing, you enjoy chocolate, or you just want another quick and portable card game, you might want to check out Truffle Shuffle! I had fun with it.
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