Sugar Heist, created by Alex Clark and Zach Craley, and published by Studio71 Games, is a card game that literally packs a sweet punch. Players are sugar-crazed babies trying to collect sets of different types of candies into their vaults in order to score the most points by game’s end (1 point per stored card). Problem is, however, that until a vault is locked, other players are going to try and steal candy from it – a lot.
Players take a number of turns until the candy card deck is exhausted two times, which ends the game. Each turn has three phases. In phase one a player may play pairs of candy cards into her vaults. In phase two, the active player draws two candy cards and plays them face up. Then, players may offer to trade candy cards with the active player for those face up cards (and possibly other cards in the active player’s hand). In phase three, the active player may purchase empty vaults and battle cards by spending some of the candy cards they have stored. Additionally, the active player may play battle cards to attack opponents or trigger other wacky events.
Battle cards are the blood sugar of Sugar Heist. Most of the cards trigger attacks on other players’ vaults, allowing you to steal cards into your own vaults. Other cards provide benefits, such as the Mom! Card, which can be held until needed and played in the future to thwart other players’ attacks against your own vault. Occasionally, some battle cards will trigger crib fights and battle royals, which have all players fighting each other at the same time. These large battles provide some interesting twists and mayhem, and level up the fun factor.
Battles are reminiscent of the card game, War, in that players take turns flipping cards from the battle deck until one player draws two Attack cards. If the attacker wins the melee, they get to steal 6 cards from one of the defender’s vaults. This can cause big point swings and sore butts, as players will be at each other’s throats for most of the game. Basically, you’ll have to go into Sugar Heist with thick skin (and a high level of insulin) to enjoy it.
As for strategy, there is enough to keep you engaged. Some of the interesting decisions revolve around which cards to spend out of your vaults (and how many) in order to purchase battle cards. The candy cards you spend would be points if you had them at the game’s end, so you have to lose ground to gain the potential to score even more candy in the future. Additionally, you’ll want to pay attention to what other players are collecting, because if too many similar types are being collected there might not be enough to go around. That scarcity could make the game even more brutal. Suffice it to say that there were a surprising number of choices for a relatively simple card game.
Sugar Heist’s complexity level is a just a notch above other tried and true family games, like Uno for instance. But I also found the fun level to be relatively higher in comparison. I would consider it more than a filler game, and could see two plays of this encompassing a satisfying game night. The card art is quirky and funny, as are the candy names, such as Fruity Booty, Lucky Sucky, and Power Sours. The battle cards also provide a bit of old school nostalgic camp, with players encouraged to yell, “Mom!” when they block other players’ attacks, in true tattle-tale fashion.
Our four-player games took about an hour to play and we were engaged the whole time. There was constant tension, both in trying to acquire the needed cards to lock your vault, and in worrying if you could succeed in the inevitable mayhem you would be facing throughout the game. Also, due to the trading and the constant battles throughout, there really is little down time to speak of. Occasionally, there were even bursts of laughter and exclamations of victory and defeat when a battle would resolve. That is always a good sign that fun is being had.
Overall, I really enjoyed Sugar Heist and I can see it hitting the table on game night on a regular basis. If any of this sounds interesting, I suggest you give it a taste. It’s currently on Kickstarter and should be released later this year. You can get more details about the game and check out the Kickstarter at www.sugarheist.com. Stay safe, have fun, and keep nerding on!
This review was originally published 6/29/20
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