CHEW: Cases of the FDA - Board Game Box Shot

CHEW: Cases of the FDA

| Published: 2015
1 7

Pink sludge passed off as “chicken” by fast food chains? That’s nothing compared to what plagues the FDA in CHEW.

go to: Who would enjoy this game?

Overview

Who among us can’t recall play-acting as agents of the Food & Drug Administration as kids, taking our friends to task on the shady ingredients used in their “secret recipes” or their concealment of side-effects on a radical new pharmaceutical? As government agencies go, what could be sexier than working for the FDA? Well, get ready for “sexy” to turn “disgusting” in Kevin Wilson’s boardgamification of John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Eisner-winning comic book.

Set Up

Chew-Set-Up

You’ll need about 3 minutes to get CHEW from box to table.

Each player receives a Case card and a Culprit card, as well as 3 Chogs (plastic “chicken frogs” that serve as currency) and a starting hand of 5 Investigation cards. The rest of the Investigation deck, as well as the Clue deck, are shuffled and placed in the middle of the play area. Four Clue cards are revealed, and you’re ready to go.

Gameplay

The purpose of CHEW is to connect your Case card to your culprit card. This is done by matching colors that run the length of the cards via the Clue deck until your line (or your “Mystery”) is complete and contains a cumulative clue value of 20 or greater.

CHEW-Case-and-Culprit-Cards

Each player turn is broken into 3 phases: Requisition, Investigation and Connection.

During Requisition you’re able to claim up to 3 assets. These can be Chog tokens, which are required to play most cards during the Investigation phase, or Investigation cards. If your hand of Investigation cards exceeds 7 you’ll have to discard down to that number before proceeding to the next phase.

During Investigation you’ll play cards from your hand to gain an advantage. As previously mentioned, most Investigation cards have a printed Chog cost on them – these are due when played. Investigation cards are typically one-shots, discarded after playing. But some stay in your play area and provide longer-lasting advantages, while others are played into an opponent’s Mystery to slow them down.

Chew Chogs

Each turn ends with a Connection. Your Mystery builds from the left (your Case card) to the right, until it can eventually attach to your Culprit. During the Connection phase you’ll claim one face-up Clue card from the central play area that can legally be added to the right side of your Mystery (the left side of the new Clue card must match the color of the right side of the rightmost card in your Mystery). There are many cards played during the Investigation phase that will allow for more than one Clue card to be added during the Investigation phase. Regardless of how many Clue cards you’re able to claim, the face-up cards are always reset to 4 prior to the next player’s turn.

Chew-Clue-Cards

Clue cards have a printed value in the top right corner. Once these exceed 20 you need only connect your Culprit to the Mystery to claim the victory.

Components

Who would enjoy this game?

Family Gamer {no}
The gameplay is simple enough for pre-teens, but the material is pretty adult. There are mild obscenities on the cards… and if you’re not familiar with the source material it’s worth mentioning that the “power” of the protagonist is something akin to cannibalism.
Strategy Gamer {maybe}
There is just enough decision-making and stability to work for a Strategy gamer in a 2-player game. Anything beyond that will introduce too much uncertainty (the card draw brings too much randomness when only 4 Clue cards are visible but you’re taking every 5th turn, subjecting you to a completely unpredictable set of options).
Casual Gamer {yes}
Easy rules. Cool theme. Swift play time. Winner.
Avid Gamer {yes}
CHEW is really easy to teach, while packing a thematic punch. It’s quite easy to transport as well (more on this below), making it easy to keep handy for impromptu gaming.
Power Gamer {no}
If CHEW becomes a collectible game this changes – an abundance of cards could make a cool theme like this a favorite. But as a stand-alone there’s nothing to make this more than a once-in-a-while diversion.

Final Thoughts

CHEW: Cases of the FDA is not a hastily-assembled “game” thrown haphazardly onto a much-loved piece of pop culture. It’s a game without the parenthetical, and it’s quite fun. And gross. But certainly fun.

However, it will need some help to have legs. At just 5 Cases and 5 Culprits in the base game the “story” will lose it’s punch quickly… it will become an abstract, color-matching and resource managing exercise at that point. Still decent, but not the more rounded experience it is when the story is fresh. Hopefully IDW has a few cards up its sleeve here. Sorry for that.

CHEW---Investigation-Cards

Now about that box… yes, it is much bigger than the game requires (this was probably done to house the included variant-cover issue of CHEW #1 without damaging it). But among the contents the gigantic box holds is a drawstring bag, ostensibly used to hold the Chog tokens but serving no purpose in gameplay and too nice to simply use for storage. In fact, all of the game’s contents – the Chog tokens and all cards – fit comfortably and safely in that bag. You can actually fit the contents in the bag and the bag in your pocket. It won’t be a fashionable bulge your sporting… but we’re boardgamers! What do we care about fashion?

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