Before we get into the review, &ASIAN chatted to Kim-Joy about how her game came to be:
Your fans obviously know of your passion for baking from Bake-Off, but they might not know of your passion for board games as well! Can you tell us a bit about how board games feature in your life, and what made you decide to develop your own?
When I was a child I was very interested in games and loved Pokémon cards. So much so that I remember spending days and weeks cutting out pictures from science magazines, then sticking them on to cards and writing on rules for a game. I can’t remember the game exactly now, but I just remember how obsessed I was with it!
Then when I finished university in Bristol, I made a handmade card game to remember me and my friends’ funny and special memories we had together. So I spent ages cutting out pieces of card and photographs of memories, stuck photographs on the cards and created rules that linked in with the memories. The goal was to ‘collect’ sets of the same friend and ‘bank’ them for maximum points, except there were a lot of cards that let you target others and make them lose out! I’d only created it with a small set of close friends, but then I had others asking if they could be turned into cards too and featured in the game!! It was really fun and I still have that game lying around.
When I moved to Leeds I didn’t know anyone, so I decided to join a boardgame club where I met my partner Nabil and the rest is history! We met Skybound [multi-platform entertainment company] at San Diego Comic Con, and just connected and decided we had to do a game together!!
How was the development process for your game’s cooperative storyline?
Ben (from Skybound) did the game mechanics - which I would have loved to do as I’m really interested in it, but just had no time with writing my new book at the time and everything else going on. So I was really happy to have Ben take over in that area with all his expertise! We all agreed co-op was the way forward, and wanted it to be magical and filled with cute animals and bakes, and puns!
I chose all the bakes and which essential ingredients were required to make up them, and Ben made sure the game stayed balanced. I think being a tabletop gaming fan was probably an advantage to the process, and it was overall just a really fun thing to do and I love it so much!
One of the best things about the game is how insanely adorable the designs and illustrations are. Can you tell us about how these designs and characters were conceived?
Linda Van Den Berg did all the illustrations (she did them for my books too!) and she is just amazing and so talented. Really lovely as well - she’s sent me cards and little bits of her art from Amsterdam (where she lives)! She had the information for which bake and what animal customer to draw along with it, and just brought those characters to life!
Which character or card is your favourite?
I love all the cards, but I really love the penguin pavlova card as I’ve done a recipe to recreate it in real life edible form!!
Want to get playing? Let’s take you through it…
The game can be played by 2-5 players above the age of 8+, which had me feeling really confident (if you know me, you would know this confidence was unwarranted). With the clearly written instructions manual, it was easy (for my teammates) to set up the start of the game for the right number of players and for whoever’s turn it was, they got to hold onto this super encouraging Kim-Joy avatar!
The general structure of the game means there are three lines of:
- Pantry cards (e.g. eggs)
- Layer cards (which are made from combined Pantry items e.g. sponge)
- Bake cards (which are made from combined Layers e.g. Old Fashioned Trifle)!
As customers “queue” in a fourth line above everything, you and your teammates work together to fulfill their orders before they’re out the door!
With this baseline structure, you’re still playing at a level where you do have to strategise a bit, but it’s never too hopeless. You can chill here forever if the group wants to just play casually as you all carry on an actual conversation.
But if you want to turn up the heat, there are ways to do that too:
What can amp up the difficulty or intensity level of your game are these Challenge cards (like the one above): they modify a part of the original game structure to complicate things a bit more.
We were not feeling overly ambitious so we chose an easier Challenge. We also may have been persuaded in our choice…
This Challenge card was perfect as a smaller modification right after we got the hang of the playing sequence. Just cute and needy enough to factor into our strategies, but not so much that it’s overwhelming for our first time playing!
Conclusion: Kim-Joy’s Magic Bakery is a super cute and wholesome game: beyond the engaging narrative and gameplay, what is so darn enjoyable about it is that it has got you feeling really cute and wholesome the whole time too.
I really really need to feel cuter sometimes, because most of the time I feel like this Icing Bag below: neurotic and smiling with fear in my eyes.
If you buy this game, you will not regret it. Adults will enjoy it as an escape from our torturous existence; children will love it for the abundant cuteness. It is perfect for deflecting controversial conversations at family gatherings, and not so difficult that your noob friends (like me) will give up too quickly.
The best part is, the game’s goal is to cooperate as a team so it won’t set off anyone who’s intensely competitive. Genuinely an idyllic game, it is a definite win when you add it to your collection!