Teaching Time: 10 mins
Playing Time: 5-6 mins
Setup Time: 10 mins
Value For Money: Mid
The logic behind the story of some games isn’t always obvious or, frankly, sane. Why did I wait until the middle of this massive storm to plunder this unstable sky platform? Why am I building an entire railway line just to get where I’m going? But Taco Fight’s theme is the sort of crazy that ups the notch a few steps at least. Sentient tacos are attacking you, and probably your friends, as vengeance for your troughing on their buddies. You hold them back by using other sentient tacos to block them (traitors to the cause? Is there a taco civil war we’re not told about?), forks to eat them (the fact that they are still living and sentient probably doesn’t bare thinking about at that point) or just punching them in their taco faces (am I the only one who finds that an odd way to deal with food?). Its delirious silly fun that will very much find fans and is well worth picking up for the right group.
Gameplay is, frankly, quite complex. There are attacking tacos which have a spiciness score. They attack each player in waves, during 30 second long rounds players snatch handfuls of ingredients which they can use to build up blocking tacos on their plates, these have to be built up in a specific order and is the most complex manner of defense, hence the fact that they remain effectively from round to round. Alternatively, ingredients can be used for a temporary defense by being piled into rounds of punches, or a single fork can be used to eat an ingredient, but will be removed from the game if so used. Tacos get tougher and more numerous as the game goes on, if enough are defeated the players win, if not they lose.
Which isn’t wildly complex, but it is full of little bits and pieces. So you can’t pull ingredients off your stack in singles, you have to pull them two at a time, you can’t fork or punch your own stuff but can build ingredients on anyone’s plate meaning that the game is a lot easier if you just play someone else’s board as your own, and its all against that punishingly swift 30 second timer. The result is very much a sense that you start a round and unbridled chaos happens for 30 seconds, then you try to work out what actually happened. There’s hopefully lots of shouting and flung cards, and its that 30 seconds that is the main strength and weakness of the game, depending on your point of view.
Starting with people who might consider it a weakness, if you want something serious or are apt to get frustrated when you don’t know exactly what’s going on, or when you even lose because of stupid errors, these are not the tacos you’re looking for. The only mistakes you make in a game like Taco Fight are basically stupid ones that you really only make because of the time limit. Remember, this is a game where all you have to do is grab a handful of cards, without limit on how many you grab, then pull through them until you spot 5-8 of them with fist symbols and then pile up the rest in ascending number sequence and yet it’s a game that’s pretty hard. That’s how tight that time limit is. This game is also not for those that get flustered if their speed game is complex, because this really is. Even on easy level with two players (the least complex version) you can have nine plates with nine attackers, some with specific needs and all the plates at different levels. Many people when playing a speed pressure game like this want to focus on a single task and find even simple multi-tasking at such a point genuinely upsetting, its that simple but pressured multi-tasking that this game is built on, so if you find that sort of thing annoying or worse, this won’t be for you.
For those that will consider it a strength, well, clearly, if you like a game that involves you and your friends engaging in some chaotic good-natured nonsense for about 5 minutes a pop, this game is literally designed for you. If you’re not too worried about winning or losing and don’t stew on mistakes made, and especially if you’re likely to forgive anything of a game that makes someone shout ‘Fork my spicy taco’.
The game looks fantastic, Kickstarter standards are rising every week and Taco Fight is right at the peak of those standards and could easily have come out from any major publisher. In saying that, it does come with an unfortunate caveat, in our copy of the game the sand timer stuck repeatedly during play. The creators have provided timer videos on their website and timer aps are fairly ubiquitous, but I do like physical elements and the poor-quality control on the sand timer did undermine the enjoyment of the game. This is an issue that might correct itself over time, and it might be that my sand timer is the only one so effected, and to be fair I’ve not contacted the creator for a replacement, but it bares mentioning. I bring it up partly because I pulled this game out the box and was so impressed by its finish, I was honestly surprised that they’d been able to produce it to such a high standard. Then I had a few two-minute rounds because of that sticking timer and realized that they hadn’t actually been able to produce to such a high standard.
In relation to the sand timer, the game has a track for it to move along, and flipping it along that track is satisfying, there is something real to be said for the fact that the game is, in part, designed for that timer to be used rather than an app. However, this is a co-op game, and a mighty frantic one. Usually timers work best in a vs game, when it is in one person’s interest to keep a close eye on them, or at least in a co-op game where one player isn’t making active choices so they are able to check them over. In a game like this it often feels like you either lose the last two seconds watching the sands run out or accidentally cheat as you miss they’ve run down. It’s not a huge deal, the game is so fast and frantic that a second or two either way isn’t something to get hung up over, but it is there.
The single biggest reason to pick this game up, and the reason that I backed it, is that it is honestly trying to do something pretty unique, there’s not a lot on the tabletop that it can be closely compared to. It feels very much like something that could exist as a phone app, much in the vein of Potion Explosion in that respect. It does it well and it gives a solid chunk of amusement in the process. I would guess that, like Potion Explosion, it’s unlikely to spawn many imitators but that maybe it deserves to carve out a similar popular niche for itself.
Session wise, it’s a strange beast. A single game takes around 5-10 minutes and there are enough silly mistakes that you’ll probably want to take another run. Certainly, on your first play through, I generally try to avoid video guides if I can help it and we took three or four play throughs until we got a whole game out without mistakes. However, it’s so frantic and high energy that you’ll be hard pushed to enjoy more than a game or two in a row unless you have the sort of hyperactivity usually reserved for sugar rushing toddlers. It should be said, this is part of the tricky dichotomy of this game. To play this game you need to be quite amped up, but you will almost certainly lose at some point because someone else made a fairly silly mistake such as failing to count to 7 correctly under pressure, which means that to actually enjoy all of this game you need to have a quite Zen like attitude to winning or losing. The sort of person who has those two qualities in sufficient quantities to really enjoy this game for long stretches is probably quite rare. It feels like the best place for it is set up on a side table for an adrenaline rush during breaks between euro games rather than sustained play.
If you’re a group that enjoys some proper shouty silliness for 2-4 people Taco Fight does it well. If you want something that’s at all serious it’s probably not for you. Also, if you want your silliness simple you might want to pass by, it is complex. At times that heightens the frantic fun, but at times it can be a little convoluted. It’s a good game finished to a high standard and if this is your sort of thing, it’s a solid recommendation.