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Juicy Fruits: Board Game Meets Puzzle

Juicy Fruits Box Art
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A while back I got an email from Capstone Games announcing the launch of Juicy Fruits by Christian Stöhr, the newest edition to its lineup of family board games. The puzzling nature of this board game immediately intrigued me. That, combined with the family-focused weight of this game, made Juicy Fruits a must have for us! So did we enjoy it? Yes, but it’s by no means a perfect game for this family. Let’s take a closer look!

What’s Juicy Fruits all about?

In Juicy Fruits, you’ll play as a farmer on your own private island. Each player board (private island) is a grid in which you’ll have to move your fruit collecting baskets around in unobstructed, straight lines. For each square you move through, you gain a piece of fruit that corresponds to the fruit basket. You’ll use the fruit to buy potentially lucrative businesses, and to clear boats from your beaches that hog your valuable real estate, and you’ll gain victory points in the process. Your goal is to be the farmer with the most points at the games conclusion.

What’s in the box?

Juicy Fruits components are amazing! The cardboard is thick. No particular concerns with warping or bending. The included drawstring bags are of decent quality. What really shines in this particular board game are the fruit pieces themselves. They’re big and chunky and tactile and just fun to hold and stack as you play. If these pieces had been cardboard punch outs instead, this game would be a lot less charming to play. The only thing missing from Juicy Fruits is a proper insert. This game is a disaster to pack up as everything just gets thrown into the box. Anybody know of a third party insert that’s available?

Juicy Fruits is played with chunky wooded fruit pieces that are fun to stack!
Look at these amazing wooden fruits!

The instructions

Okay, so the instruction book is perfectly adequate. But I do have a small problem with the instructions themselves. This game is marketed as a family game, and I sort of expected the instructions to be pretty simple. Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but compare this game to Summer Camp. If you missed my thoughts on that game, you can catch up here. Both of these games are marketed to families. They are both rated at 10+ years. (The Juicy Fruits website says 8+) In terms of ease of play, its Summer Camp for the win. Juicy Fruits also has an advanced variant called the Juice Factory that will appeal to those looking for a slightly heavier gaming experience.

There are a lot of finicky things about Juicy Fruits.

  • Many of the businesses (the venues, specifically) you can buy with your fruits have a star rating. Oddly, the stars only matter if you have purchased the “Info Booth” stall as well. At the start of each game, you randomly place businesses on the business board. I have yet to play a game where the Info Booth has even been available to buy. I feel like I’m missing out on an entire scoring path for the game and it drives me nuts. (upside – extra businesses will also increase replayability)
  • In the instructions, you’ll find a very detailed process for how to setup the ships that hog your beaches in the beginning of the game. This will provide you with an equal mix of easier and harder ships to clear. As soon as you’re comfortable with gameplay, you’re free to setup the ships anyway you like. This whole bit just felt clunky.
  • There’s too many types of businesses: small venues, mobile businesses, large venues. There’s even multiple types of mobile businesses. And there are placeholder tokens for the large venues because they don’t fit nicely on the business board! A quick reference card would have been nice.
  • Unlike the Info Booth stall, the Lemonade Stand always ends up on our business board. But wait, that’s only relevant if you’re playing the Juice Factory variant, so throw that back in the box and pick a different business to take its place!

So nothing I’ve mentioned here is particularly terrible, and we still love the game despite these things. After playing Summer Camp, which we felt was super simple to learn, and gameplay was so smooth, Juicy Fruits just felt less polished. These two games are very different mechanically, and perhaps it’s unfair to compare them. But in terms of a game being specifically marketed towards families, it’s something to consider.

What we like about Juicy Fruits

The best part of Juicy Fruits is definitely the puzzle mechanic you’ll use to farm your private island. There is something so satisfying about collecting your fruit as your navigate your collection baskets around the board. We also like that there are multiple paths to victory in this board game. One opponent may be focused on collecting stalls for their island, while another might be selling ice creams like they’re going out of style.

We also find it interesting that you can control the game end to a certain extent. Every time you buy a buisness, or you sell out of a specific type of ice cream, you have to move the marker down the license track. Once you hit the end of the license track, the end of the game is triggered! Throughout the game you’ll find yourself making interesting decisions based on how the license track will be effected! For example: If I buy another stall, the game will end. Am I ready for that?

Overall, we’re really pleased with Juicy Fruits. We’re also eagerly awaiting the release of Savannah Park, another upcoming Capstone family game!

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