Card Games

Pies Game Review

A Thin Slice

Pies is a recipe that calls for one part trick-taking and one part tableau-building, but neither flavor comes through. Read more in this Meeple Mountain review.

I love old paintings and illustrations of fruit, like the kind you find in botany textbooks from the  late 1800s. The attention to detail is astonishing, the gradations of shade and form, the imperfections. The card art for Pies drew me right in, lovingly rendered in an identical style. I found myself falling into the cards as I rifled through them. These cards build a world with a distinct pastoral feel, a book spine covered in dust.

Then I came to the dog, and the pie tokens with Pi carved into them, and I started to worry. They didn’t feel aesthetically consistent. I found myself thinking about the old writing maxim, “You don’t put a hat on a hat.”

Pies is allegedly a trick-taking game, and it’s marketed as such, but that is categorically incorrect. There are no suits, there is no pressure to follow, there are no trumps. It shows none of the defining characteristics of the genre. This is an auction game, themed around gathering fruits and recipes to turn into pies.

Some of the beautiful botany-style art.

Each player, one at a time, puts a card from their hand into the middle of the table. Then, from highest card to lowest, each gets to pick any one of the played cards to add to their tableau. Some cards have recipes, calling for combinations of fruits, while others grant you an immediate bonus. The bonus can be three Pi tokens, which can modify the value of the card you play, the ability to steal a card from another player, or the aforementioned dog, who protects your tableau from thievery.

If you successfully gather the necessary combinations of fruits, you can choose to flip over a recipe card and discard the appropriate fruit. That flipped card is now locked down, a safe source of points at the end of the game.

Pie-shaped tokens, with mathematical pi-shaped cuts in them. A hat on a hat.

From the beginning to the end, Pies is boring. There are precious few decisions. Card play is seldom interesting. The quality of decisions is somewhere between limited and nonexistent. The only joy to be found comes from playing a Pi token, which modifies the value of your card by 3.14, to make your card exactly .14 higher than another player’s card. The dog card comes out of nowhere. The Pi tokens feel like a tacked-on joke for no reason. Their combined aesthetic deviation from the world of the game, suggesting a production that doesn’t know what it is, perfectly aligns with the game’s inability to pick a meaningful lane.

I like pie. Pies I could do without.

  • Awful - I don’t want to play this ever again.

Pies details

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

About the author

Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch was a very poor loser as a child. He’s working on it.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Subscribe to Meeple Mountain!

Crowdfunding Roundup

Crowdfunding Roundup header

Resources for Board Gamers

Board Game Categories