Skybound. For 2-5 players
It’s The Great British Bake-Off season. So when I found out that the 2018 finalist Kim-Joy had released her own baking-themed card game, Kim-Joy’s Magic Bakery, I was very excited to play! As I am a fan of tabletop games and baking, as well as all things whimsical, it seemed ideal.
Different scenarios provide different gaming experiences
To my surprise, there are ten different scenarios which slightly alter the rules each time, providing a different experience. The customers that come into the bakery also differ, their individual tastes requiring unique culinary delights. Each scenario comes with a short chapter that you can read in the game’s instruction booklet. And if you play each in order it makes for a very fun role-playing experience. At the back of the booklet is a list of suggested puzzles, combining multiple scenarios, as well as instructions for a free play mode that doesn’t require additional rules. There’s plenty to do here, and I’m looking forward to trying out all the different ways to play.
Like in any tabletop game, the initial set up of Kim-Joy’s Magic Bakery can be a little daunting. But after a few turns the rhythm clicks and the game flows at a decent pace. It took a couple of attempts to get to grips with the rules, and a bit of additional shuffling. Make sure you shuffle the ingredients well before playing to ensure they’re evenly distributed! By the second game we were doing a lot better and achieved a high score.
The first scenario involves a lounging cat that covers two of your layer piles (you construct layers such as biscuits and sponges, using ingredients which can then be used in your final products). You are able to use your actions each turn to move the cat either left or right, should it be blocking a layer you require. It’s a very novel idea which certainly adds to the chaos. And as a pet owner I can tell you it’s relatable!
A challenging final scenario
We also had a go at the game’s final scenario, where you attempt to construct a multi-tiered cake while also fulfilling your regular orders. I’m not sure how possible it is to achieve a gold rating on this with two players. But we did manage to score 12/14 on our first attempt by making the most of each turn and ingredient to ensure that we wasted nothing. Difficulty also scales with the number of players: the more of you there are, the more challenging the customers will be, demanding more complicated bakes. I’m interested to try this again with more people.
A cooperative game of strategy
For a simple game, there’s a lot of strategy involved. There’s also a little bit of luck, as you try to acquire the correct ingredients and manage your resources to bake your goods before each customer leaves, making the most of your three available actions each turn. As this is a cooperative rather than a competitive game, it also encourages communication. It’s important to make sure that somebody else isn’t working on the same bake as you are. You can also spend an action to donate one of your ingredients or layers to another player, should they need it.
The game ends when the final customer has left the bakery. There are always seven customers, or eight if you’re playing the final scenario. As a result, each game has a similar length – not too long, not too short. It’s very addictive, and I can see this being fun at gatherings when you can play through several different scenarios in one sitting.
Overall, I am really impressed. I am used to playing competitive tabletop games, so it’s refreshing to own something a bit more laid back and puzzle-oriented, as you work together with other players to aim for new high scores. It’s a lot of fun. And it really captures the feel of baking as you assemble goods within a set period of time. Kim-Joy’s Magic Bakery will be perfect as a Christmas gift, with its deliciously cosy artwork (the bakes all look so wonderful) and light-hearted stories about forest creatures visiting a magic bakery. I am so happy that Kim-Joy has been able to make this a reality! If you love baking and card games, this is an absolute must to play with friends.
Words by Andy Porter