Published on January 15th, 2016 | by Nicole Jekich0
A Civilized Game of Deception and Death
Our Review of Toast Now on Kickstarter
Invite your friends and even your rivals to participate in this grand and bizarre dinner table ritual which is perfect entertainment for casual gamers. Toast is a party game of deception and deduction. Each player represents a noble of Otravia, which are well-known for their ruthless plots to off their rivals and ascend the social ladder. It has become so commonplace for a guest to fall down dead at dinner from poisoned wine that a bizarre ritual was enacted to switch around goblets before the final toast. Instead of discouraging poisonings at dinner, these nobles turn this ritual into a dangerous game of high-stakes roulette! These nobles will look to use their cunning, thieving and luck to leave this party alive…and each hopes to leave their rival dead.
Poison to go With Your Wine?
The unboxing of Toast will definitely turn heads in the game store as it contains black goblets, folded napkins, a colorful array of glass tokens and some gorgeous character art and card design to get you into a fancy mood. Toast goes great with any casual gaming occasion or fancy party. If players want to use silly voices and wear elaborate costumes like the nobles shown in-game, you are encouraged to do so. The setting for Toast should be one of merriment and elaboration to mask the crafty and deadly deed that each player has planned.
For setup each player will receive a noble card, a napkin, 4 randomly selected wine tokens and a black goblet with a randomly drawn wine token played in the bottom. These tokens represent the wine (clear), poison (red) and antidote (blue) in the game. There is also a single green token that represents a deadly poison which has no antidote and which only comes into play with alchemist character, Count Hellebore. Each noble has an ability which they can use during the game to tip the odds in their favor. These decorated nobles really sell the game’s theme and each character features a name of something poisonous-a great, thematic touch!
Starting with a randomly selected Master or Mistress of Ceremonies, each player will lie down their ‘Target’ card, which points to the noble that is their desired target. Each player can only be a target of a single player and each player will have only one target they are trying to poison. In a basic game, players take turns performing two actions a turn. They can Peek into their own goblet; Pour a single wine token hidden behind their napkin into any goblet; Rotate the goblets clockwise or counterclockwise; and may Swap their goblet with another player. Other than using the Peek action, players must keep their goblets at arm’s length the entire game and there are rules for breaking etiquette during the game. If a player catches someone in the act of cheating. Any breach of etiquette will deduct 1 VP from that player (scores can never be negative numbers).
The goal of the game is ensure your target is poisoned (worth 1 VP) and that you stay alive (also worth 1 VP) after each Toast is called. Players that successfully do both are awarded an additional 1 VP. Players will participate in three full games of Toast and the noble with the most victory points at the end of those three games is the winner!
More the Merrier
Toast will fit anywhere from 2 to 12 players but there are definitely game variations that work better for small versus larger groups. For example, when we played Toast in a 4 player group. Each player was an avid gamer and we were all, perhaps to our detriment, very sober. With only 4 goblets to switch around the game didn’t feel like a grand spectacle. We were all focused and each turn played out very methodically and without distraction. The overall experience with the 4 player basic game was dull for us compared to the lively Kickstarter gameplay video (embedded below) and Peeking seemed like an overly powerful action. I actually would prefer to remove the Peek action and turn all Peeking into breaches of etiquette (that players must catch themselves!) and display any wine tokens that aren’t in play which gives players a bit more information as to what tokens are floating around. Smaller and more focused groups like ours might have enjoyed the Russian Roulette variation where there is more deduction, poker faces and less luck. For the larger groups (6-12) Toast has rules for team play and each team will represent a noble and their taster. Each character has different actions that only they can use and the team cannot share information between each other.
It is difficult to balance a game like Toast where there is a lot of player driven actions but also relies on quite a bit of luck. For those looking for an assured victory on the scoreboards, Toast isn’t that type of game. As a party game there is a lot more to Toast that just following the rules. It also relies heavily on the social atmosphere. Toast thrives in a large group of people and a social setting where there is a lot going on. Usually interrupting or getting distracted from a board game takes away from the immersion and social experiences; however, I feel in Toast players want others to get distracted and take the opportunity to switch cups when they aren’t looking or peek into their own goblet without every player eyeing their reaction to what’s in the goblet. It would be a great addition to any LARP or Murder Mystery as the game only gets better with more theatrics.