In a lot of families there is a family tradition that is used for deciding how to divide up deserts or other types of food. One person gets to cut the food into pieces, and the other person/people get to pick leaving the cutter with the least desirable piece. The theory behind this practice is that you will cut equal sized pieces as otherwise you will get stuck with the smallest piece. This really isn’t much of a family tradition in my family, but this is actually a clever way of fairly dividing something and was an interesting idea for a board game mechanic. The mechanic has been used in a number of different games including Piece of Pie. Today I am looking at New York Slice which is a re-implementation of Piece of Pie and brings this cutting mechanic to pizza. While it does rely too much on luck at times, between a great theme and simple and quick gameplay New York Slice is a game that the whole family can enjoy.
How to Play New York Slice
- Shuffle the slices face down on the table (make sure the blank/extra slices aren’t included).
- Make stacks of eleven pieces face down on the table. The three extra pieces are put back into the box without any of the players looking at them.
- Shuffle the special tiles and randomly choose one to put face down on each of the slice stacks.
- The player who was the last to win a game will be the first slicer.
Playing the Game
The game is played over a number of rounds.
Each round begins with the current slicer choosing one of the stacks of slices. They will start by flipping over the special tile. They will then create the pizza for the round by flipping over one slice at a time and placing it next to the last slice that was revealed. This is continued until the pizza is completed.
The slicer will then analyze the pizza to decide how they want to slice it. The pizza will be cut into a number of sections equal to the number of players. For example if there are four players, the pizza will be cut into four sections. The special tile will either be added to one of the sections or can form its own section. Therefore each section needs to have at least one slice of pizza or the special tile. When slicing the pizza, the order of the tiles can never be changed.
Then starting with the player to the left of the slicer, each player will choose one section to take. They will take all of the slices in the section along with the special tile (if applicable). The player will immediately have to decide which slices they would like to keep and which they would like to eat. A player can only eat slices that contain pepperoni. If a player eats a slice they will turn it face down and will score points for it at the end of the game. The slices that a player decides to keep will be kept face up. Players are supposed to place slices of the same type next to one another.
After the player is done choosing what to do with their new slices, the next player clockwise takes their turn. This continues until the slicer is left with the last section that none of the other players wanted.
After everyone has taken their section and chosen what to do with it, the next round begins. The player to the left of the current slicer becomes the slicer in the next round.
End of Game and Scoring
The game ends once all of the pizzas have been divided among the players. Players will then score points as follows:
Starting with the slices with threes on them, players will figure out who acquired and kept (didn’t eat) the most of each number. The player that collected the most of each type of pizza will score points equal to the number printed on the pieces. If two or more players tie for the most of a number, no one receives the points for that type of pizza.
Each player will then tally up the points that they earned from their special tiles (see the Special Tiles section for more information).
Players will then count up the number of pepperonis on the slices they ate. They will score one point for each pepperoni pictured.
The anchovies on kept (face up/not eaten) slices of pizza are then counted. The player will lose one point for each anchovy pictured.
Players will then tally up their final score. The player that scored the most points wins. If there is a tie, the player that ate the most slices of pizza wins. If there is still a tie, the tied players share the victory.
There are a couple different types of pizza in the game.
Numbered Slices: These slices of pizza are the standard slices. The number on the slices tells how many of that type there are in the game, and how many points the player that has the most of them will receive at the end of the game.
Combo Slices: These slices of pizza will feature two numbers/types of pizza. These slices will count as half of a slice of each number.
Anchovy Slice: This slice features three anchovies and will be worth -3 points to whichever player collects it.
Supreme Slice: This slice is treated as a wild. When you collect it you will choose one of the types of pizza you already own or collected with it. The slice will become the type you choose for the rest of the game. If the supreme slice is the only slice you own, it will become one of the types that you collect on your next turn.
Each of the special tiles give the player who collects it a bonus/penalty as detailed below.
Buffet: At the end of the game you will gain one point for each different type/number of pizza that you collect and don’t eat. Combo slices count as both numbers/types. The anchovy slice is a different type. The supreme slice counts as the type it becomes.
Combo Craving: Each combo slice that you eat will be worth three points at the end of the game. If you had previously collected combo slices, you can choose to eat them at this time. Any future combo slices you acquire have to be eaten when you acquire them.
Cut In Line: On a future turn when you are not the slicer you can chose to play this tile to take the first section of the pizza before the other players. Your normal turn will then be skipped. If this tile is revealed in the last round or in a two player game, you will replace it with a new special tile.
Day Old Pizza: Lose two points.
Dibs!: Before the pizza is sliced you can play the tile and take one slice from the pizza. If this special is revealed in a two player game, it is replaced with a different special tile.
The “Everyone Else” Diet: Everyone but the owner of this tile will lose one point for each two slices of pizza (rounded down) they ate during the game.
Mystery Slice: After you acquire this special tile you will immediately randomly take one of the three slices not used during the game. You may choose to keep the tile or eat it.
Seconds: Before final scoring you can choose to eat as many slices of one type of pizza as you would like as long as they feature pepperonis.
Sneak-A-Slice: On a future round when you are not the slicer, you may move a slice from one section to an adjacent section. If there are gaps in the pizza, sections that are separated by a gap are considered adjacent. This is done right before you choose your section. If this special tile is revealed for the last round, it is replaced with a new special tile.
Stuffed Crust: Score five points.
Supersize Combos: Each half of a combo slice are now considered two slices of each type.
Tiebreaker: You will win all tiebreakers during final scoring.
You Like Anchovies!: Instead of losing one point for each anchovy that you keep (don’t eat), you will gain one point.
You Love Veggies: Each slice of veggie pizza (#3 slices) is worth three points when eaten. If you have already collected #3 slices from a previous pizza, you can choose to eat them now. If this special tile is revealed during a two player game, choose a different special tile.
My Thoughts on New York Slice
If you are at all familiar with the concept of “I Cut, You Choose” or vice versa, you pretty much already have a gist of what it is like playing New York Slice. Basically players take turns being the slicer who divides the pizza into a number of sections equal to the number of players. To prevent the player from making any section too good though, they will get the last choice of a piece. Thus if a player makes good sections and one that is terrible, they will likely get stuck with the terrible section. Players will choose sections in order to get slices of different types of pizza. The player that collects the most slices of each type will score points equal to the number on the slice. Players can also score points by eating pepperoni and completing other objectives.
If this sounds simple, it should. In fact I was actually pleasantly surprised by how easy the game is to play. The basic concept of the game can be taught to new players within just a couple minutes. The only time you may have to refer back to the rules is for a reminder of the special slices of pizza and the special tiles. New York Slice is simple enough that even people who rarely play board games shouldn’t have any trouble playing the game. The game has a recommended age of 8+, but I think kids even a little younger shouldn’t have too much trouble playing the game. Any regular readers will know that I am a strong proponent of not making a game anymore difficult than it needs to be. New York Slice excels in this area as it keeps the gameplay simple so it doesn’t get bogged down with a bunch of unnecessary rules.
The simple gameplay also allows the game to play quite quickly. With most player counts the game will consist of six rounds. While it will somewhat depend as some players could end up over-analyzing their options, I would say that most games will only take 20-30 minutes. This seems like pretty much the perfect length for the game. It feels like there is enough to the game without it dragging on for too long that it starts to get dull. It is actually kind of odd where the choice of how to slice the pizza usually takes basically the same amount of time as all of the players choosing which sections they would like to take. Some players may suffer from a little analysis paralysis as they try to analyze every possible situation to maximize their points/minimize other players’ points while slicing; but this never gets too bad where players are stuck waiting for a decision to be made.
The simplicity of the game and how fast it plays leads to a generally enjoyable game. The gameplay may not be the deepest as your decisions on any given turn are kind of limited. The gameplay is still satisfying though as you are usually given enough choices where it feels like your decisions matter. The game gives you a number of different ways of scoring. Most of your points will likely be scored through gaining the majority in different types of pizzas. Slices with lower numbers are worth less points, but there are also less pieces available so the competition is not as fierce for those pieces. Meanwhile the larger numbers can score you a lot of points, but there will likely be much more competition. Basically your strategy in this element of the game is to establish a slight majority and stop as there is no benefit to having the majority by one or many pieces.
As any piece that you collect that you can’t acquire the majority of is worth zero points, the game gives players a number of other ways of scoring points. One of these is to eat pieces that feature pepperoni. This is an interesting mechanic as it sometimes gives you an interesting dilemma. Sometimes it will be obvious that you should eat a piece as it features several pepperoni and you have no chance of actually gaining the majority in that number. Many times it won’t be so obvious though. Do you choose to keep the piece hoping that you gain the majority of that number and score more points? Or do you eat the piece and guarantee that you will earn at least a few points from the piece. This combined with the special tiles that give you some other unique ways of scoring keeps things fresh allowing players to pursue a couple different strategies in the game.
While there is a lot that I liked about New York Slice, I will admit that the game still relies on quite a bit of luck. Poor strategy will sink your chances of winning the game, but a good strategy is also unlikely to overcome bad luck. Luck in the game comes from a couple of different things. The first and probably most prevalent is how the pizzas are first assembled. As the slicer is unable to rearrange the slices once it is assembled, the order that the different types come out can have a pretty big impact on the game. You could have been trying all game to get the majority in a particular type just to have the pieces that you need come out at the wrong time or in a bad order. The choices of the other players can also play a pretty big role in how well you do in the game. If you have a type of pizza all to yourself it will be much easier to win than someone who is in a constant competition for their types. The difference between having the majority and receiving a lot of points versus receiving no points is usually only one slice. Players can really mess with each other’s strategies at times. In the last round or two players could end up becoming kingmakers as well as their decision may win the game for one player and lose it for another.
This brings me to the role of slicer. In theory I like the “I Cut, You Choose” mechanic as it forces players to not make any section too valuable. I am not sure which role is more valuable. As the slicer you have the ability to divide up the pizza in a way that is beneficial to you or hurtful to other players. At the same time though you likely will get stuck with the worst section. I can see the benefit to both roles. The problem is that for some reason all of the players won’t have both roles the same number of turns in the four player game. In the four player game two players will be the slicer twice while the other players only get the role once. I don’t know why the game couldn’t have included enough pieces to make it so every player takes each role the same number of times. You could fix this yourself by eliminating two rounds from the game, but this likely will make the game too short. New York Slice is not a game that should be taken too seriously so it shouldn’t be a huge problem for the game, but it does hurt the game a little in my opinion.
While I wouldn’t say that it is a specific reason to purchase New York Slice, I will say that I was actually quite surprised by the game’s component quality. The game’s components are all made of cardboard, but the pieces are quite thick where they feel high quality. The artwork on the cards looks quite nice as well. I think a lot of the credit goes to just how much the game does to implement the theme into the components and gameplay. The game utilizes the pizza theme quite well. The gameplay is built around dividing up a pizza which actually fits thematically. The game also has some nice little tweaks to the components that reinforce the theme like the special tiles looking like a specials board from a pizza restaurant, the scoresheets looking like a receipt, the instructions looking like a menu, and even the box which looks like a pizza box. The only complaint I have with the components is that they don’t fit neatly into the box. Otherwise if the pizza theme is something about New York Slice that intrigued you, you likely will not be disappointed by the game.
Should You Buy New York Slice?
While not a perfect game, I thought New York Slice was a good game. The game is basically built around the concept of “I cut, you choose”. One player cuts the pizza and then everyone chooses which section they want. As the slicer gets last choice their objective is to make all of the sections enticing in some way or else they will get stuck with the worst section. Based on this simple premise the game is really easy to play where the whole family can enjoy it. The game also plays quite quickly making it a good filler game. The game has a decent amount of strategy as well since your decisions will impact who ultimately wins. The game does rely on quite a bit of luck at times though which does hurt the game some in my opinion. The overall theme and components are quite good though rounding out the game in a positive light.
My recommendation for the game comes down to your thoughts on the premise and simpler games in general. If you don’t really care for the premise or typically like more complex games, it likely won’t be for you. If you like easy to play games or think the premise sounds interesting, I think you will enjoy New York Slice and should consider picking it up.