Pizza Theory is a three player game (the two player version is a shadow of what the potential of the three player game shows) published by Gryphon Games in 2012 via Kickstarter. A game lasts around ten to twenty minutes, but don't let the short play time deceive you, as this "pizza" can really fill you up.
Pizza Theory is an abstract game that makes use of a theme wherein the players are trying to top a pizza with their own toppings. It has no randomness and has simple turn actions, but the result of each round is unpredictable since each player has his/her own idea as to how to maximize their toppings on each section of the pie.
I'll be doing something slightly different in this series of reviews, as instead of writing on how it compares to similar games in its genre, I'll replace that section with my five year-old daughter's thoughts on why she likes a certain game (paraphrased of course). It'll be written in a short Q & A style.
The game comes with a pizza board that's riddled with slight indentations that help keep the toppings in place once you place them. It also comes with cardboard topping tokens in three player colors, and three wooden sticks and three wooden dice in three player colors. It comes with an insert that snugly fits every component, and of course, a rulebook.
The cardboard components, which include the tokens and the pizza board are of very thick cardboard stock. They're very sturdy and solid, which assures that it'll stand up to A LOT of plays. The art is colorful and fun... makes the pizza looks slightly realistic. The rulebook is very well written, and all it'll take is one read for you to figure out how to teach and play this abstract game.
Overall, high quality components for a fair price. If you got the game via Kickstarter, then it'll also include the 'Anchovy Expansion', the quality of which is equal to the base game's components. Two thumbs up.
Setting up the game is a breeze. Each player receives sixteen topping cardboard tokens of their respective colors and a wooden stick (also of their own color). At the start of the game, the board is laid down in the middle of the three players, the first player is randomly determined, and each player lays down two of their toppings on their respective section (depending on whether they're the first, second or last player). That's it, you're ready to begin.
On a player's turn, he/she will do three things. The first thing is to place another topping of their color on the board. The only restriction is it can't be beside a topping of their own color (i.e. green can't be beside green and so on). After the first player lays down his/her topping, the second player does the same, then the third player does the same as well.
The second thing a player does is to choose a number from their six sided dice. This determined where they'll lay down their wooden stick or "slicer". They reveal their chosen numbers simultaneously and then lay down their wooden sticks. Pictured below is a game that's just finished, but it gives you a general idea of how the wooden sticks and topping get laid down.
After everything has been laid down, the third and final thing that the players do is to check each slice. If a single player holds majority in a slice, then he/she removes the other players' toppings and replaces them with his/her own. If two players are tied for majority, and there's a third player's topping in the slice, then the third player's topping is removed but it is not replaced with another player's topping. If you're on your own on a slice, or there is no majority, then nothing happens.
There's also a safety rule which dictates that if you only have one topping on EVERY SLICE of pizza, then ALL your toppings cannot be removed/replaced.
That's it. The game ends when a player has laid down all sixteen of his/her toppings. In the picture above, the "white" player has just won.
Q & A W/ MY DAUGHTER:
Q: Why do you like this game Kashieu (pronounced cashew)?
A: I like how the pizza slowly forms and comes together... and I like the red toppings, specially the pepperoni, that's why I always play red Daddy!
Q: What do you think of the components?
A: They're really nice daddy. I like how colorful everything is. The pepperoni looks yummy! Can you make me pizza later?
Q: Did you find it hard to understand how to play the game?
A: No, it was very easy to understand, but I have a hard time figuring out where to place my toppings and slicer sometimes... specially against Mommy. Mommy is very good isn't she Daddy? She always beats us!
Q: Does the game frustrate you?
A: Sometimes, because I want to win and Mommy keeps removing my toppings!
Pizza Theory is a good abstract game, and although my daughter still often makes tactical mistakes and sometimes confuses where it's advantageous to slice the pizza, she enjoys it very much and has seen marked improvement each time we've played. I'm surprised how quickly she's been able to pick-up the gist of how to play an abstract game. The components are beautiful and, in my opinion at least, kid-friendly.
My son likes sitting down and playing the game with us as well, mostly because he loves pizza and he likes how the game looks. At three, he still has a hard time understanding what to do, nevermind the strategy.
Kashieu gives this game her seal of approval, and I imagine she'll only like it even more as her understanding of how to play and how to win deepens. For me... it's an okay game, but I think this is mainly because I'm not really a fan of abstract games. I won't hesitate to play it when my daughter asks me to play, but it's not something that I'd pull out the shelf every time I have a gaming group over.