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Icing on the Cake Review

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Icing on the CakeI feel like it’s been forever since I reviewed a game about cakes. The last one I remember doing was back in 2016 for a kids’ game called Happy Party. I’ve actually come a long way in reviewing kids’ games now that I have some of my own (back then I had to borrow a friend’s kids to get some younger reviewers). Having played games with my kids for a few years now, I’m getting a better grasp on not only what makes kids’ games fun, but what little kids’ taste buds enjoy.

The latest game I tossed at them (not literally) is the newest offering from one of my favorite family game publishers FoxMind Games. Icing on the Cake is a tile-laying game where you’ll be creating your own cake from the bottom up. So strap on your aprons as we see what makes this one tick.

Gameplay Overview:

For a family/kids’ game, Icing on the Cake actually has a fair bit going on. The game is played over two rounds, with the first round being the simplest of the two. To start a round, 16 level-1 tiles are dealt out in a 4×4 grid. Then the active player draws a cut card and splits the cake tiles according to the polyomino shapes on the card. Then, each player selects one of the groups of shapes and adds them to their cake.

Icing on the Cake Cut Card
The cut card will determine how the cake tiles are split up.

In part one, the goal is to have the edges of your cake contain frosting and build up a large area of matching color tiles. You earn one point for each edge that contains frosting, and 2 points per tile in your largest area. After four rounds have gone by, everyone should have a full layer of their cake. It’s time to move on to part 2.

Part two plays out similarly to part one, however now there are frosting cards instead of cake tiles. But the gameplay works similarly, with a player splitting the tiles and each choosing a group. What’s new here is that each time you place a card on its matching color tile, you earn a treat token (1 point). If you get a full set of all 4 types of treats, you earn a candle (4 points). After four rounds, the scores are tallied and the player with the most points is the next cake-making champion.

Icing on the Cake Board
You’ll be building out a yummy looking cake over the course of the game.

Game Experience:

I’ve played a lot of FoxMind’s family games and this one is probably the most complex I’ve tried. I actually had to read the rulebook a couple of times (it’s only a few pages long) to wrap my head around the gameplay. However, after a round or two, we all got what was going on. My kids are only 6, and while the box recommends 8+ for the age range, they were able to handle it just fine. I don’t think they could have played this one on their own tough, as I had to help remind them of how scoring works each round.

Icing on the Cake Gameplay
They had the most fun just putting their cake together.

I found the gameplay to be pretty interesting though. It’s a nice variation on the “I cut, you choose” mechanic where players can’t really pick and choose which pieces go with with which set. You are allowed to rotate around the cut card to get the orientation you want, but the groupings will always be sets of 4 tiles. However, this also made it easy for my little ones to cut and grab a section. For them, they were able to do this part quickly, but some of the older players did suffer from a bit of AP as they were trying to maximize their options.

I will say that the rules and theme integrate pretty nicely. You want the frosting to be on the edges of the cake (and lose points if it’s in the middle), and earn bonus points for frosting a matching flavor and cake tile. So kudos to the designer for using the theme well. Like most FoxMind Games, the production values are great, with punchboard candles and yummy-looking art.

That all being said, my kids didn’t love this one. I think the pacing a the game was a bit too slow for them, and the scoring too complex. This is one of the few kid’s games they haven’t asked to play again right away (although they have asked to play it again on later days). They didn’t really care about cutting the cake tiles but did seem to like building their cake with the tiles. Overall they appeared to enjoy their time with it, I don’t think they are too eager to jump back in for another play.

Final Thoughts:

Icing on the Cake could be a good game for kids slightly older than mine. I think sticking around the 8+ range will yield better results. The scoring is somewhat involved, and it isn’t a game I could toss at my kids to keep them out of my hair. For me, the most annoying thing is that cleanup is quite involved. There are a lot of cards, tiles, and tokens that have to be resorted at the end. My kids decided to go play something else while I handled the cleanup. Thanks guys.

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