Crumbs: The Sandwich Filler Game Preview
There’s a whole sub-set of board and card games called Filler games. They’re games people play to fill the gaps – e.g. half an hour free at the start or end of games night – hence the name, filler. Along comes Crumbs: The Sandwich Filler Game, a brilliantly-named filler game about filling sandwiches. In practice, it’s a card game about fulfilling hungry customers’ sandwich orders fast enough to keep them happy, and it’s a lovely puzzle with the feel of something like Kitchen Rush, but without the pressure of the real-time elements.
The 7 Ps
Some of you probably know a variation of the 7 Ps as I know them: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Planning is at the core of Crumbs, and you’ll probably lose if you don’t do it well.
The game is a small deck of cards and some wooden markers. The cards are double-sided: one side shows a sandwich ingredient, and the other has hungry customers’ orders. On your turn, you can pick up all the prepped ingredients of a single kind – bread, eggs, ham, etc. – and plonk them into your preparation area. It doesn’t take an efficiency expert to understand that it makes sense to be able to put the same ingredient in multiple sandwiches at the same time, especially once you understand that you only get five actions.
The good news is that once you complete an order you get a fresh set of five actions, and you get a free restock of one of the types of ingredients you’ve used. It doesn’t take long before the wheels start to come off the sandwich machine though, especially when you get orders with a lot of different ingredients. Ingredients are hard to come by, and although you can use an action to restock an ingredient, that’s 20% of your actions used. Yikes!
Thanks to Crumbs’ small size and small deck of cards, it’s a concentration of an efficiency puzzle – a reduction if you will. It’s extremely easy to teach and to understand, and for your first couple of orders you’ll have a feeling of “This is easy!”. That feeling doesn’t last long though, especially if you’ve got some of the more difficult order cards in your queue.
If you’re the sort of person who likes a bit of randomness thrown into their games, some luck and a bit of “Let’s see what happens now”, Crumbs probably isn’t the game for you. If, however, you’re the type of person who loves a solvable puzzle, you’re going to love Crumbs. It’s like a Perfect Information game. The only unknown at the start of a game is the orders on your second order card. You can start the game, stare at the orders and ingredients, and plan ahead to complete everything you can see.
Unfortunately, this leads to what I consider to be the game’s weakest point. While you’re planning your mental to-do list, there are times when you’ll realise that what’s left to do is impossible with your remaining actions. Sure, it’s almost certainly because your planning was about as good as a tuna and marmalade sandwich, but it’s a really damp way to end a game. Like when someone puts something too wet in your sandwich and you think “You know what? I don’t want to finish this”. It is what it is I guess, I just don’t like the feeling of packing a game away knowing I didn’t actually finish it. It’s like the game’s disappointed in me.
I’ve just been away for a few days with my family, and when I was packing I was looking through my games collection to decide what to take. Invariably it’s small box games. Crumbs epitomises everything that a good small box game should be. It’s small enough that you could happily play it on a fold-down plane table, it’s quick to setup and play, and it packs a really clever puzzle into its 18 cards. It’s important to reiterate just how small this game is. The cards, instructions, and ten wooden pieces fit inside a tuckbox that’s thinner than a standard deck of cards.
I’ve gone back and forth between preferring the solo and two-player co-op modes of play. The solo game is great, but the most prone to that problem I mentioned about that reminds me of Rell from Krull. You remember Krull? That early ’80s film? Rell was a cyclops whose people traded one eye to be able to see the future, but the only future they can see is their own death. That’s what I feel like when I’ve got four actions left and know that I can’t complete another sandwich. Melodramatic? Moi?
The co-op mode is really good fun. You’ve each got half the ingredients so you need to pass items back and forth to one another, and it introduces a ton of chatter and planning. What it comes down to is whether Crumbs: A Sandwich Filler Game is worth the £15 (£12 if you back the campaign) it costs, and the answer is a resounding Yes. The enigmatically named J. Antscherl has combined with Minerva Tabletop Games’ development and experience, and Rory Muldoon’s fantastic illustration-style artwork to make a fantastic debut game. You can back it from 8th August 2023 on Kickstarter by clicking right here.
Preview copy kindly provided by Minerva Tabletop Games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Crumbs: The Sandwich Filler Game (2023)
Design: J. Antscherl
Publisher: Minerva Tabletop Games
Art: Rory Muldoon
Playing time: 10-20 mins