Animal Board Games Bluffing Board Games Card Games

Sweet & Spicy Game Review

A beautiful pile of BS

Justin reviews the new spin on Spicy–Sweet & Spicy, the card game published by HeidelBAR!

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.

Following close on the heels of my man Tom Franklin’s review of 2020’s bluffing game Spicy, I had the chance to get a different iteration of the Spicy system to my table: Sweet & Spicy (2023, HeidelBӒR Games). Sweet & Spicy is a member of the “Radiant Culture” series of games, a series noteworthy for the vibrant artwork done by people from all over the world. Our team has reviewed other games in this series, including Spicy, Coyote, and Anansi.

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of bluffing games. If you call and invite me to your house to play a game of Coup or The Resistance, I’m going to pretend I’m not feeling well. If this is a hidden role game where I need to lie about my identity (you pick it: Among Us, Werewolf, Blood on the Clocktower, Spyfall, etc.), I’m probably going to play because I love hanging out with my friends for a few hours, but the fake identity collection of games on your shelf are never going to be the games I pick first.

But, if I only have to bluff my way through a game for 5-10 minutes? Oh, I can work with that.

Spicy is essential a game of Bull****, for anyone who played the card game with friends 40 years ago or yesterday. Someone puts a card on the table, then any player can call out “BS!” (or, in the case of Spicy, “I challenge you”, which is significantly less fun) if they think the card’s suit or its number is not what the previous player said it was. Challenged cards go to the winner of the challenge, and at the end of the game, points are scored based on the cards won via previous “Spicy Stacks.”

Now, what makes Spicy interesting: great-looking cards, plus the requirement that players have to guess whether the suit or the number is the item you might have lied about. Sweet & Spicy keeps the core Spicy game elements intact—albeit with a change in the three suits on the cards, to a somewhat disastrous effect—and adds trophies that grant a bonus to a player who can play all their hand cards and survive potential challenges from other players.

The other addition are the Total Wild cards, one of which is dealt to each player during setup. Total Wilds are unchallengeable, so they can be played to get a card out of your hand and potentially set up the ability to play out your hand of cards to get a trophy by playing a legitimate card to the active Spicy Stack.

That Cat is a Lie

Sweet & Spicy worked wonders with my two kids (ages 10 and 7), who only needed to hear the words “bluffing game” to sign up as soon as the HeidelBÄR care package arrived at my home (via their new US distributor, Czech Games Edition).

We whipped out a three-player game of Sweet & Spicy in about 15 minutes. Howls of laughter were heard throughout the home as my seven-year-old played card after card, pretending that he did have a 3 Chili or a 5 Pepper or a 10 Lemon, all the while hoping that other players would call his bluff. He loved it when we did, whether he was telling the truth or not. My 10-year-old had similar thoughts, and both kids picked up the rules quickly. It was hilarious to watch them play cards and challenge other players while trying to throw the active player off the scent of a potential bluff.

My wife joined in the fun the next day; she, like me, doesn’t like bluffing games. But in this environment, I was surprised that she had a good time with Sweet & Spicy. When we wrapped up her first play, she said that she wouldn’t pick the game but would play it if the kids wanted to play again. That’s about the best endorsement you’re going to get out of her with a game that requires you to lie!

My review group was less enthused about Sweet & Spicy. The laughter was still there, particularly because many of us tried to challenge players on almost every turn. That also extended the game; 25 minutes is way too long for a game like this. One player said that he would much rather call out “Bull****!” than, “I challenge that the card you played is a chili”, which I agree with. Slapping the hand on the table to talk it out that way quickly gave way to each player yelling out “Bull****!” when they wanted to challenge, so as a house rule, I definitely approve this change.

The addition of trophy cards that are earned when a player runs out of cards was less of a factor than I expected. Players almost never run out of cards, especially if others challenge their cardplay. Usually, my games of Sweet & Spicy ended when the draw deck ran out, not when a player earned a second trophy or when the three trophies in the game were collected by players.

In terms of the negatives, the major miss—and I mean, major—was the choice of images for the three suits in Sweet & Spicy: chili, lemon, and pepper. Sure, the suits do cover a nice range of sweet and spicy items. But the icons don’t work. First, the easy one: pepper is pepper in what looks like a pepper shaker. That pepper shaker is blue. But at least in the US, the chili makes people think that the chili is actually the pepper, because everyone thinks peppers are red.

So, during each game of Sweet & Spicy, EVERYONE who joined me at the table (seven different people across four plays) thought that the chili icon was pepper. That means when you say “3 Pepper”, a player might think that’s the 3 with the pepper icon, as the designers intended, while others (many others!) will think that the 3 should be paired with the icon that looks like a pepper in almost every other context: the chili!

That led to games where players just began to say “3 yellow”, “3 red”, and “3 blue” instead of using the proper suit names.

The other problem, also with the pepper icon, is a bit tougher. I will say that the item doesn’t quite look like a pepper shaker…but it looks a lot like something less appropriate. So much so that my 10-year-old had questions as soon as they saw the cards.

“Daddy, uh…what’s going on with the pepper picture?”

There’s no getting around it, and some of the other cards featuring the cats used in much of the artwork created similar questions about the nature of the pictures. In this way, “Spicy” is right, but not the way nature intended.

Otherwise, for an otherwise family-friendly version of Bull****, Sweet & Spicy is a good time at the table with players who enjoy a bit of bluffing in their card games. Like Spicy, Sweet & Spicy can be had for a very reasonable price and is incredibly easy to teach. Plus, you can use the cards from Sweet & Spicy to play base Spicy.

If you like quick bluffing games, I would recommend a single purchase of Sweet & Spicy to play both games. Just make sure to grab the right players to join you!

  • Great - Would recommend.

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

1 Comment

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  • In The Netherlands we ave the exact same problem as you had with Pepper and Chili.

    I love the game, but that flaw in the game design gets in the way of having fun.

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