Let Them Eat Cake designed by Peer Sylvester (The King is Dead, Singapore and Wir sind das Volk!) and from Osprey Games is a game about the French Revolution…..err, um…, at least, involving a revolution against the other players in order to garner the most cake for themselves during the time of the French Revolution. The game doesn’t take the revolution very seriously but it does use one of the revolution’s key symbols in the Guillotine, to frighten and intimidate others into giving you the best and highest valued cakes so that you can win the game!
What is Let Them Eat Cake About?
Each player starts the game with a set of voting cards in the colors of the other players in the game (remember, you can never vote for yourself. That is not very patriotic!), three pawns, three medals of honor, and of course, some cake. Each round consists of a series of elections where the players vote for others to carry out the business of various office, from the Head of Committee who can break all ties in voting to the Food Inspector who decides if the cakes given out that round are fit to be eaten or not. Each vote, after negotiating, bribing, and pleading, is simply a matter of each player secretly choosing a voting card of the player they wish to vote for. Each player’s votes are multiplied by the number of pawns they have left alive to a maximum of three, and whoever is the Head of Committee will break any ties. Importantly, once you’ve used a voting card, you cannot reuse it until you’ve played all your cards, demanding shifting allegiances throughout the game.
The first vote of the round determines the Head of Committee, the official tie-breaker. Soon thereafter players determine the Enemy of the Revolution by counting their medals of honor, and the player with the least amount must place one of their pawns on the Guillotine, immediately and potentially permanently reducing their voting power. Next, players elect a Guillotine Operator, who decides whether or not the pawn on the Guillotine is executed or spared.
Once settled, a Secretary is elected to divvy out cake and generals randomly drawn from the Pantry Deck to the players, one card per player. But before these cards are taken, the players elect a Food Inspector who may, at the cost of a medal, declare all cake unsafe and force those players to return their unfit cake to the bottom of the Pantry Deck.
Throughout the game, players will accumulate medals, generals, and cake. Fewest medals always make you the Enemy of the Revolution, but the player with the most Generals is immune to such accusations! Each player can also spend their Generals to force a re-election or simply choose the winner of a vote. The game ends when one player reaches 40 or more cakes, a player has their last pawn executed, or the Pantry Deck runs out. The living player with the most value in cake wins!
What I Liked About Let Them Eat Cake
Negotiation – I typically enjoy games with high player interaction but don’t enjoy party games. This game has lots of interaction between the voting and the negotiation so it keeps it interesting and engaging and doesn’t feel like a party game as there is considerable strategy in the use of your voting cards. In our plays, I have seen cakes being used as a bribe for someone’s pawn’s life to be spared or to kill another player. This is the key to the game and with the right group, the negotiation process is fun and smooth!
Planning out Your Votes – Due to the fact that each player cannot vote for themselves and has to vote for everyone during the course of the game (you don’t get your voting cards back until all cards have been played), there is a lot of thought and strategy that goes into how you vote. If you don’t plan well, you will not be able to affect an election and will be at other player’s mercy BUT if you do plan well, and have laid a solid foundation of alliances (that you mostly have honored), you can maneuver your way through the dangers of the Guillotine and come out alive at the end with an assortment of valuable and delicious cakes.
The Art and Components are Top Notch – As with all recent Osprey Games releases, the components are top notch. The clam shell box is nicely made, durable and small, allowing for easy storage. The Guillotine must be built each game (this is pretty cool and thematic) and I just love how the pieces fit together. The art is really good and whimsical, turning a fairly dark and depressing theme of taking people’s heads, into an enjoyable romp through history.
What I Didn’t Like About Let Them Eat Cake
The Voting Seemed Mundane – I only felt as if the voting was truly tense near the end of the game as we neared the 40 points in cake. You vote so much during the game, that it turns it into a mechanic that you simply have to do to move the game forward. I was looking for a more tense and interactive process.
The Generals Seemed Too Difficult to Use – I say this because each round, the player with the fewest medals of honor is declared the Enemy of the State and must parade one of their three pawns onto the Guillotine, which in the end is the way that you lose the game. I was able to collect several Generals but unfortunately to use them, you must lose a medal of honor and discard them. This put me in jeopardy for the next round and caused me to pause each time to consider if I would use them. I also was very disappointed in using a General to take a high value cake for myself. This also lost a medal of honor, which is very thematic as the people would not have liked that, but the next step in the game was the Cake Inspector and we found that each time someone claimed a large value cake in this manner, the Inspector would simply say “Let Them Eat Cake” and it would be lost.
At it’s heart, Let Them Eat Cake is a negotiating game that either pits players against each other or forces them to make temporary and convenient alliances. This paradox plays out really well as those alliances will change throughout the game as one player either doesn’t follow through with their promise or decides that if he does what he said he would, it will help out the other players too much. The components are top notch and the art is fantastically flippant. Overall, this is a great game for groups that enjoy party games with negotiation and voting. If you are interested in buying Let Them Eat Cake, check it out on the Osprey Games website at https://ospreypublishing.com/let-them-eat-cake.