I want to begin by appreciating the visual beauty of this game. Capstone are kicking off their new family imprint in style, with bold colors and vibrant design. I was drawn in instantly by the aesthetic of Juicy Fruits, and particularly by the fruits themselves. It behooves all of us to start this review by taking a moment to appreciate these magnificent, chunky, wooden fruits. Look at these fruits:
Glorious. Absolutely glorious. In a world overrun with unnecessary and indulgent game production, it’s wonderful to see a game with components that are exactly the right amount of luxe. This game is cardboard from stem to stern, except for those fruits. And given how often you’ll be picking them up and putting them back down, they earn every bit of that special treatment.
Juicy Fruits, the new title from designer Christian Stöhr, is about a series of islands where the local economy hinges on fruit. Each player gets an island of their own, where they will attempt to collect fruit and fulfill buying contracts. The outer edges of the five by five grid that is your island start out covered by twelve random boat tiles with specific shipping orders. One boat for example may want three bananas and two oranges while another wants two limes and an apple. Each turn, players slide one fruit tile any number of possible spaces in any of the four cardinal directions, collecting fruit equal to the number of spaces moved. You shift the apple tile to the left two spaces, you take two apples.
As boats have their orders fulfilled, they leave the island, freeing up more space with which to gather ever-greater amounts of fruit. In addition to fulfilling orders, players can use fruit to purchase different business tiles. Said tiles, which are randomly chosen at the beginning of each game, can allow for the manufacture of ice cream, the collection of multiple types of fruit from a single turn, or may simply add to your score. Once players have purchased enough business tiles, the game ends. The player with the highest score, as you may have guessed, is the winner.
The Core Consumers of Juicy Fruit Are Between Three and Eleven Years Old
Designed for ages ten and up, Juicy Fruits is a respectable Euro Games, Jr. and a great way to transition younger gamers into the world of more complicated titles. The primary mechanic of play, the sliding of tiles to gather fruit and fulfill orders, is a wonderfully tactile puzzle that is sure to be engaging for players of all ages. While doing it efficiently requires some forethought, it is also intuitive and zippy.
The business tiles are what give this game its heft. Paid for in predetermined quantities of fruit, there’s enough depth to them that, in the four or five games I’ve played with other adults, we have barely touched the ice cream carts, a major method for scoring points. There are nuanced timing considerations in this game, such as when to start buying business tiles, or when to rush the end game.
The Wrigley Company Introduced Juicy Fruit in 1893
One area where I can see some potential issues with kids, especially if you try to push that age limit any lower, is the setup time. This is a strangely arduous and difficult game to get out on the table, thanks in large part to the packaging decisions Capstone made. Juicy Fruits comes with two (2) cloth sacks intended to hold the two different kinds of ship tiles, and that’s it. Everything else gets dumped in the box, which means you’ve got a box full of loose fruit pieces, business tiles, ice cream cones, milkshakes, and the players’ fruit tiles.
There are too many components to justify not including either a sectional cardboard insert or some bags. If the game had even two or three more of the cloth bags, that would make a massive difference. I don’t know what factored into the decision not to include anything to help organize all these pieces—perhaps it was admirable concern for environmental impact from the manufacture of plastic baggies—but the game suffers for it.
During WWII , Juicy Fruit Was Included in C-Rations
It’s not often that a game makes me anxious. Great ones often make me tense, quiet, pensive, nervous, etc., but seldom does a game make me feel properly anxious and unwell. Juicy Fruits, despite being a game for all ages, does exactly that. At one point during our fourth game, another player said “I got gamblin’ hands,” by which he meant the high-energy tremor that manifests when the pot is getting just a little too high but you can’t bring yourself to fold. He wasn’t making a joke. He did have gamblin’ hands. I did, too.
I have to assume it’s a function of the planning involved combined with the pace of play. With four adults, full rounds average a minute or two, but it often happens that all four turns are done in less than thirty seconds. Perhaps the human body is simply not meant to withstand such G forces. Even the solo mode of Juicy Fruits, which I have played a couple of times, gave me the shakes.
I love games that reward a plan, of course, but Juicy Fruits has taught me that I prefer them with a placid surface. If I want to plan five or six turns out, I’ll play Beyond the Sun. If I want punchy turns, I’ll play L.L.A.M.A. I’m not sure my constitution is meant for both simultaneously.
Juicy Fruit Has 99% Brand Recognition in the United States
I didn’t get a chance to play with any children, but I was a teacher for several years and could easily see Juicy Fruits being a big hit with the 10-12 age range. Sliding your token to get those chunky wooden fruits is so satisfying, and possibly addictive. I worry players on the younger end of the age range would get lost when it comes to the business tiles, but parents will be grateful to have something they can play with their kids while feeling a little challenged themselves.
I find myself thinking about how fun a Juicy Fruits without the business tiles would be, a Juicy Fruits where players are simply shifting around fruit tiles and racing to be the first to fulfill all their orders. This game was clearly designed with the express purpose of introducing Euro gaming to family game nights, so I understand why it has as much going on as it does, but at the end of the day, all I want to do is shift those little fruit baskets around my island and pick up heaps and heaps of those juicy, juicy fruits.