I gathered one nine-year-old and two other grownups to try out the game, and read through the instructions before we started. The game has a new edition coming out and I used the new rules along with the older cards (the new edition will feature refreshed artwork along with the new, clearer rules.) Each game turn plays in three simple steps:
1. If you wish, you may draw a card. It's often smart to not draw a card unless there's a certain one you need - since you can't win until you've played or discarded all the cards in your hand.
2. In step two you can either play or discard a card. You can play some healthy food in front of you, or some junk food in front of another player if you think they might be about to win. In order to win, you must have one of each of the food groups represented on your "plate", have no junk food in front of you, and have no cards left in your hand.
3. If you meet all those conditions, you win!
There's also one RESET card that delivers a stunning blow - if it's played on you, you lose all the cards on your plate and all the card in your hand, and get a new starting hand. Interestingly, you can play this card on yourself if you feel like the combination of cards you currently have is hopeless! The Reset card got played on our 9-year-old player and I feared there would be tears or frustration, but she took it in stride (with a good-natured offer of reprisal!)
The most strategic cards in the game are the "Q" cards. These can be used as wild cards to fill out your plate with food groups you may be missing (except for veggies - they're too important to be replaced!), or you can use them to get rid of junk food in front of you, OR you can use them to randomly steal a card from another player's hand.
Although the game is simple enough to be played by kids as young as five years, there's an interesting balance between helping yourself and slowing down others. The decisions are kid-friendly, yet will keep adults involved as well. My testing group liked it, and nine-yeear-old Sophie declared it "The BEST game EVER... and it makes me so HUNGRY!!!"
Learn more at www.qetchup.com.