Burger Up Review
Designer: Matt Parkes
Artist: Stephen Gibson
Publisher: Rule & Make, Greenbrier
Year Published: 2016
No. of Players: 2–4
Playing Time: 45 Minutes
Main mechanic / Theme: Pattern Building, Hand Management, Puzzle
A cooking competition on the game table
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com (link)
Hamburgers are the specialty. Every one of them is a work of art. Ingredients are added, piled higher to create wonderful specialty sandwiches: Gourmet, Tower, or Colossal. Orders have been placed and now it is time for the cooks to create.
Burger Up is a competition to earn the most money by building specialty sandwiches, not just burgers, to fill the Pending Orders. It’s a race to get the ingredients together before someone else fills the order, and you have to redistribute the ingredients you have put together.
Gameplay and mechanics
To start, players have 2 bottom buns, $2, a pristine spatula, and 4 ingredient cards.
The rest of the ingredient cards are placed in the middle of the table: 3 turned up for purchase in the Market and the rest are a draw pile.
Along with the ingredients there are Pending Orders. The number of cards in the Order Deck is based on the number of players. The top 3 cards are turned over to show the Pending Orders. Each of the 3 showing Pending Orders has a $1 coin placed on it.
Determine who is going first and they get the Player Aid card with the First Player icon. This is important to know because everyone gets the same number of turns.
Players have 4 phases when taking their turn: Market, Build, Burger Up, and Cleanup.
For $1 the player may purchase an ingredient form the Market. Since there are 3 ingredients in the Market a player can buy up to 3 items. Once it is taken out of the Market it is not replaced until the Cleanup Phase. What is out there at the start of your turn is it, no replacing them to see what might come up.
This is where you combine the ingredients in your hand to make a sandwich. Anything can go next to a bun. There are also middle buns as part of the ingredients, they don’t count for how big your burger is (more on that later). All the other ingredients dictate the type of ingredient that can be placed next in your gastronomic delight.
You can play up to 3 ingredients during your turn. The ingredients can go on the same sandwich or be split between them. You can also play fewer than 3, but that might mean you have to play catch-up to other players.
Each of the Ingredients cards can also be played in 1 of 2 ways. Each card lists two ingredients. The immediately preceding ingredient limits what can be played next. There are 5 types of ingredients, so the order of play limits your actions as you move from one ingredient to the next. This twist on turning the cards gives more ingredients to use but requires planning so you don’t leave yourself in a position of not being able to place the next ingredient on your stack.
Middle buns work like a wild card. They allow you to place the bun and start building with a fresh start. Anything can be placed next to a bun.
Since everyone is building to fill the Pending Orders you also need to watch what others are building at their workstations. If you have to change what you’re doing because an order has been filled, you can use your spatula to remove or move ingredients form one bun to either the discard pile or to the other sandwich you’re making. You only have 2 uses of your spatula and every use cost points that are tallied at the end of the game.
Burger Up Phase
Fill the order and collect your pay. Not only do you get the coins placed on the Pending Order card, but any bonuses you are entitled to. The bigger the build the also adds value to your creation. There are also Perfect Ingredients that when used provide bonus payment.
When an order has been filled you place the used Ingredients Cards in the discard pile. Keep the Pending Order card to show you made it and turn over a new Pending Order by drawing the top card from the Order Deck. A coin is placed on each of the Pending Orders. The new Pending Order has $1 placed on it and the others have $1 added to them. The longer it takes to fill an order the more money it's worth.
This is when Ingredients Cards are added to the Market if needed. Then, the player chooses to discard any cards left in their hand and draw their hand back to four cards.
Next player’s turn starts.
The theme of building sandwiches kept the game lighthearted and fun. The change in Pending Orders during play left some cooks scrambling to see how they could alter their creation to meet a different request.
The planning of ingredients across 5 types to meet the Pending Order requirements before another player did created a challenge requiring more strategy than originally expected. This puzzle mechanic, determining the direction of the Ingredients Card, which determines what is being added to the sandwich and what can be played next, is a twist everyone fell to at one point or another as they were building their sandwiches.
Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design and Layout (optional)
The art is done by Stephen Gibson. It has a basic look that fed into the feel and ease recognizing what was being represented.
We had fun with Burger Up. We played more than one game and even playing it back-to-back presented differences that allowed for each game to be independent and not just repeating.
This is one that our younger players were able tot get into more. They have an understanding of what makes a good sandwich and there is a lot going on in broader media with food competitions.
There is an expansion, Burgers of the World Expansion, with a variety of sandwiches from around the world to add to the menu.
There is also a free download, Game Recipe Book, which includes 6 game variants and “an actual burger recipe!”
For the international gamers, the credits show Burger Up is printed in 14 languages.
Since the first time we smacked our spatulas against our grills to see who the top sandwich maker is.
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.blogspot.com.