Hoagie from Monkeybeak Games, part of Quirky Engine Entertainment, brings delicious fun to the tabletop. Its deceptively easy rules are reminiscent of the classic card game Uno, complete with reverse play and skip cards. Rather than trying to empty one’s hand; however, players work toward building their goal of collecting the proper cards for a delectable sandwich. A bonus layer of sabotage gives an engaging twist to the matching game.
Gameplay in Hoagie is straightforward. Each player begins with a hand of seven cards and takes turns to play a card and draw another. The object of the game is to be the first player to create a sandwich by laying two breads, meat, cheese, lettuce ingredient cards on the table in front of them. This may sound easy enough, but the real trick of Hoagie comes in the social play as other opponents hand out spoiled ingredient cards that can ruin a sandwich, requiring them to be replaced before a chef can call the sandwich ready for consumption.
Along with good ingredients, the deck is stacked with stinky cheese, moldy bread, gooey lettuce, and fly-speckled meats. Players may play fresh ingredients onto their own sandwiches, or they may lean across the table to stack the spoiled ingredients onto another player’s sandwich. When this happens, the player must replace the spoiled ingredient with a new fresh one before they can win, potentially taking a player from the lead all the way to the back of the pack.
This ever-present danger of backstabbing is the highlight of Hoagie. Players must not only be conscious of their strategy for putting together their own sandwiches, but they must also remain cognizant of the other players, tripping up any sandwich that gets too far ahead. Savvy players may try to avoid looking like they are in the lead by holding onto fresh cards in their hands until someone plays them first. A careful eye will judge when plenty of one type of spoiled ingredient has been played, making it a good opportunity to play the fresh ingredient without anyone having a bad one to spoil the sandwich.
The plethora of fresh and spoiled ingredients, combined with the special action cards, makes for rapid gameplay without any two games being exactly the same. In addition to the strong mechanics, much of the fun of Hoagie is in the rich art by Kacey Schwartz. The cartoon bugs on the spoiled ingredients are hilarious, fitting cutely against the oozy mess of the spoiled ingredients that will make kids and adults alike giggle.
Hoagie is a card game for two to five players aged eight and up. It is a quick game, lasting ten to fifteen minutes for short rounds with fewer players on up to a half hour at the most. With its speedy pace and simple rules, it is perfect for families with young gamers. The replay value is high, and the rich theme of sandwich making with slipped-in some gross ingredients will make it a favorite of game night.