DISCLAIMER: I didn’t write this, one of the other lovable scallywags of Gateway Games did. Here’s a gameplay primer of “How To Serve Man” coming to Kickstarter This Sunday!
Step into the shoes of an intergalactic Chef, competing against other Chefs in a knock down, no-holds-barred Cooking competition! The featured ingredient for the this contest… Human Beings!
Impress the Celebrity Judges with your culinary prowess while making sure your ingredients don’t run away and beat out your friends to become the champion of Space Kitchen Arena!
In this light worker placement game, players gather resources, cook them up, and combine them to create Dishes to present to the Celebrity Judge panel. Doing so will allow you to claim a Judge for the rest of the game; each Judge claimed awards bonus points for future Dishes and helps shape the Chef’s overall strategy.
The Chef that does this the best, while watching the clock as well as dealing with the inevitable hazards of outer space, wins!
HOW THE GAME WORKS
“How To Serve Man” is a worker placement game. Each player has “workers” (in this case Chefs) that they place onto the board to generate different effects. As the players use these spaces, some of them become unavailable to use by the other players until the following round. Choosing where to place your Chefs, and which spaces to prioritize over others, is part of creating a strategy to win.
Players have two types of “workers” at their disposal: one Master Chef and two Sous Chefs. Both can be placed onto the board in a similar fashion, but the Master Chef (the Chef actually competing in the competition) has a few special abilities that can really help out in the kitchen. The Master Chef provides bonus points when completing a recipe, can choose new recipes to complete from the Cookbook, and can push other player’s Sous Chefs aside to use the cooking spaces they are currently occupying. Like the Sous Chefs, any action they perform is taken by assigning them to the board.
So what do the board spaces do?
I’m glad you asked, fictional participant in my narrative! The game board is set up to represent Space Kitchen Arena, an intergalactic coliseum of culinary combat, in orbit around Alpha Orionis. It is fully equipped to handle the fierce food fight that is about to ensue. Let’s take a look at the Arena spaces.
The Meat Pens: This is where the succulent human livestock is kept, alive of course. Everyone knows that the fresher the human, the tastier the flesh! Assigning a Chef to this space allows the player to take 2 “Meat” Meeples from the supply. Since there is more than enough to go around, any number of Chefs can be assigned to this space during the round.
The Vegetable Bins: What good is a juicy, char broiled Human flank steak without a side of mashed glorpfruit and some delicious roasted keepleberries? The vegetable bins are stocked with fresh plant-based foodstuffs before every match, leaving no Chef wanting for sides. Assigning a Chef here gets the player 2 “Veggie” tokens from the supply. Like the Meat Pens, there is no waiting at the vegetable bins, as any number of chefs can be assigned here.
The Pantry: Anything else our cosmic Chefs may need to complete their dishes is found in the Pantry. Breading or butter, spices or space dust, there isn’t anything that can’t be found in the Pantry…unless of course, it happened to slip into an alternate dimension while we weren’t looking. Assigning a Chef to the Pantry allows the player to take any combination of 2 Fat, Carb, or Spice tokens. To keep everything fair, there is no limit to the amount of Chefs that can rifle through the Pantry at one time.
The Cooking Stations are where the magic happens, or at least the mysterious alchemy of cooking. There are three Cooking Stations where Chefs can turn raw ingredients into finished ones:
The Oven is where the players can trade in a Meat or Veggie along with a Carb token to turn them into a Baked ingredient of the same type.
The Fryer allows the player to do the same, but instead using a Fat token to get a Fried ingredient.
The Boiler is where the Chefs can turn a Raw ingredient into a Boiled one with the addition of some Spice.
Each of the cooking spaces only allow one Chef at a time, so if someone jumps on that Fryer before you, you’ll have to wait until next round to use it.
All cooking appliances have been graciously donated by Jaxl’Trl’s Restaurant Depot and Intergalactic Warship Repair. “Jaxl’Trl’s: try us, you’ll q’rrarb us!”
The Blender: It’s… a blender. You put stuff in, hit a button, and it makes it drinkable. Assigning a Chef here allows the players to take any two ingredient tokens they want and blend them into a nice smooth Sauce token. Only one Chef at a time can be placed here, thanks to Chef Asloodan Keelsa, who broke the spare pitcher.
The Gamma Wave Oven: Although serious gourmands frown upon it, sometimes Chefs need that extra few seconds that a Gamma Wave can provide. Even the best Chefs are sometimes forced to nuke a stubborn forearm or two to get it on the plate. The Gamma Wave oven allows a Chef placed there to copy the effects of any of the three Cooking Stations, but at the cost of a Victory Point.
The Replicator: Using technology similar to that of the Omnicron-V cloning facilities (but without the side effect of creating blood-thirsty, murderous, frenzied Omnicrites), the Replicator creates a duplicate of any ingredient placed inside. Assigning a Chef here allows players to duplicate one Baked, Fried, Boiled, or Sauce ingredient, taking a copy of that ingredient from the supply. But be careful: human culinary purists insist they can taste that unpleasant “clone flavor”. Players lose 2 Victory Points by using the replicator.
The Cookbook: A first edition copy of the famed cookbook “How To Serve Man” is presented here for any of the Chefs to reference during the battle. It is protected by a quasar force field to avoid blood splatters or smoke damage. Assigning a Chef here allows the player to draw new Recipe cards from the Recipe Decks to add to their hand of Recipes. Thanks to the size of the book, two Chefs can be placed here at one time, although there have been casualties due to accidentally losing another Chef’s page.
The Presentation Table: Finally, here the meal is assembled and presented to the Celebrity Judge Panel. It is fully stocked with every eating utensil in the known Universe, with the exception of the Tenticle Flostiginators used by the now extinct Tenticoids (which let’s be real, were just floppy chopsticks anyway). You must assign a Chef here to complete a Recipe from your hand and score Victory Points based on the complexity of the Recipe. Since the insatiable appetite of the Judges can be…sated by no one, any number of Chefs can be assigned here during each round.
That’s the Kitchen!
So what about those Recipes and Judges you mentioned?
Recipes and Judges are vital components to the competition, otherwise we’re just making dinner.
The Recipes are torn (sometimes literally) from the pages of the famed cookbook “How To Serve Man”. In the game, they are cards that each Player holds concealed in their hands, secretly gathering the components to complete. Divided into three courses, Appetizers, Entrees, and Desserts, Recipe cards are each printed with a set of ingredients that are required to complete them. They are also assigned a Victory Point value based on how difficult the recipe is to complete. Recipes can provide anywhere between 2 to 30 Victory Points, so how the Players plan their time spent completing them can be very important.
It’s also important to consider that every time a Player completes a Recipe, they also claim a Judge. The Judges are a wide panel of Celebrities and VIPs that have chosen to sample the Chefs’ offerings, and then spew forth their uneducated opinions on the Chefs’ life’s work. The Judges range from stars of TV and film, to political figures, to washed up has-beens looking for a free meal. Whomever they are, it’s the player’s job to impress them enough to score extra points. Each time a player completes a Recipe, they claim one of the Judges from the Judge Panel, which is replaced with a new one from the deck. That Judge will either provide Victory Points based on what ingredients they like, or incur a penalty based on ingredients they do not like, when a Recipe is completed; or they will provide a bonus (or penalty) at the end of the game. During the course of a game, Players will accumulate a pool of claimed Judges that will dramatically alter their Victory Point totals, so playing to your Judge’s preferences is a big part of winning!
Is there anything else you need to tell me about?
Only that space is a vast expanse of unpredictable and chaotic forces, constantly colliding into each other with consequences that nobody could possibly foresee.
Is that really pertinent?
As a matter of fact, yes! This final twist to our game reflects that uncertainty. Each time a Player completes a Recipe, after they have tallied the scoring, they must draw and resolve a card from the dreaded Event Deck! The effects of the Event Deck forces players to adjust their strategies to react to the changing environment of Outer Space!
Cool. So…are we done here? Can I go?
Actually, I failed to mention that your part in this game is much bigger than it seems.
We have to stock those Meat Pens from somewhere!
Hey, wait…No! Let me…Where are you takin-
Thank you all for reading this quick overview of “How To Serve Man” and look for our play-through video to be completed in the next 1-2 weeks. There, we will explain everything in detail and play a whole game of “How To Serve Man”, preferably while drinking a nice Chianti.
Suggested Ages: 10+
Game Length: 45-60 Minutes