You’ve got to hand it to folk who can say things that are tongue in cheek and get away with it. There’s a fine line between cheekiness and awkwardness. That one liner can make or break a social situation and could have you banished to the wild lands of society real fast. In board games, cheekiness (that pushing someone as far as you can in a non-malicious way) comes through player action. How cheeky you act determines whether you succeed as a victor, or are torn apart by the masses. Maybe you pushed your social luck a little too far? Nice Buns by Big Potato Games is cheeky in name and in how players will toy with one another. It’s a set collection, action selection game for two to six players that plays in around 25 minutes.
How To Play
The objective for players in Nice Buns is simple: collect three sets of matching buns before anyone else to win. The twist? You roll three dice and the player on your left decides which you’ll keep and which they’ll keep. Whomever collects three sets of three matching buns, wins!
The Basics and Fish Buns
To start, the buns are all added to the bag and mixed. Then players set up the shared buffet tray with six buns of any flavour but fish (grey). Finally, each players takes two random buns from the bag – but not fish flavoured. Decide the first players and you’re ready to go.
To start, the active player rolls the three dice and separates them into two groups. The dice are all different and manipulate the game in different ways. These are resolved from smallest to largest so the groupings they are placed in had a big impact on who gets to do what, when. The smallest die allows a player to take X buns from the bag at random. The medium die allows a players to take one of two coloured buns from the buffet. And the largest die allows players to steal, give or return buns to the bag. The player on the left then decides which of the two groups they will keep, and which the active player will keep. Dice are resolved in size order and then play passes to the left, following the same format.
The buns needed for victory come in four colours; green, blue, red and yellow. Once a player has a set of three buns on one flavour, they are immediately added to their plate and can no longer be touched by any player. However, should a grey bun be in a player’s area, it attaches to the largest available set they have and they cannot move that set to the plate. Also! Should any set hit four buns (even including a grey bun) they are all returned to the bag.
How It Feels to Play
Nice Buns is a game we find to be the perfect starting or middle point filler game of a games night. It’s out, it’s intense, it’s done. You’ll argue, plead, scheme and steal. All in order to collect the gorgeous little buns to net those sets!
I Like Big Buns and I Cannot Lie
The biggest seller, and most impressive idea we’ve seen for a long time in shorter take that games, is the dice distribution mechanic. The dice do some wonderfully powerful things that exist for players to exploit. What’s more is how the size dictates their resolve order. Under the right circumstance, all three dice may be ideal for either player… but splitting them makes you weigh up your options more and consider the long game!
Now any game where there’s a deal to be made will often result in someone getting greedy. You’ll want all the dice without sharing. However, because someone else’s decision is final, your greed will need to sit this one out. It’s incredibly rare to split the dice three – zero. The player to the left would undoubtedly take the three! However, that doesn’t always lead to their advantage. Those stinky, repulsive (yet terribly cute) fish buns can instantly ruin a well laid plan.
I feel the reason this works so well is because everyone’s buns are always on show. Having a cheeky look to your right and left will let you know what the opposition needs to get a set. Knowing this enables you to put dice more advantageous to you in a deal they won’t refuse… be that forcing them to risk a big loss, or one designed to net you another set. Without this simple element, it’d be all cloak and dagger and no substance. You’ve got to show everyone your buns in this game – it’s what’s best for everyone.
Rating Those Buns
Nice Buns’ other great mechanic is the dice resolution order. Seems a small thing, but again it can make or break a deal! Knowing that sequence and the dice’s purposes means that any of the three could end the game in those crucial moments… but taking those early dice can be risky!
The smallest die is definitely the most risky, but also the most useful. Because it allows players to take from the bag at random, they could get anything. Sure, they gain up to three buns on a good roll… but that could be three of anything! Including the repulsive grey buns. Depending on how lucky players are, they could effectively gain a whole set. They won’t, statistically, but they could! With that, the second die allows a choice form the centre buffet serving tray. Again, circumstantially good, but you’ll only get one. Whereas the big’un will allow you to do a bit of bun shuffling. Be that swapping one of your with anyone else’s, passing one unwanted one on, stealing one or returning one to the bag!
Buns That Bite Back
Nice Buns really pushes people to get a little spicy with it all. You may look at your neighbour’s buns, see what they don’t want, and offer them something truly revolting with what they’d want. That big die can really ruin your day on a bad roll, but putting it with the irresistible little one may tempt them. Then it’s down to what happens with the die beforehand… but we found this to be a superb balance to it all. Taking the quicker acting die doesn’t guarantee a win, and there’s more control in the larger ones. This leads to a lot of consideration both when making, or taking a deal.
We found the big dice was perfect for dealing with the fish head buns. Be that by returning them or lumping them onto someone else’s plate, it meant we could manage our issues and also cause someone else problems. Whereas the little one was that final moment gambit to steal the win through praying to whichever deity of luck you choose to. Nabbing the one bun you need for victory results in an instant win, regardless to was coming next! And that middle one, the Goldilocks one, is not too random and not too controlled. You know what you can have, and that’s that. Everyone will know whether a win could come from it just by having a cheeky look at your buns!
Some Damn Fine Buns
Big Potato Games know how to make a game look good. That goes without saying! But Nice Buns has some damn nice buns! Some of the best buns I’ve seen, and I know buns. The components in this game are stand out, top notch and beautiful beyond beautiful. Despite the game’s take that mechanic and heavily competitive edge, it’s adorable. Truly adorable.
In A Nutshell
Nice Buns is a fantastic, short and tactical filler game that is stunning to look at and excellent to play. The resolution order of dice combined with the splitting mechanic make for some really cut throat and tricky deals that can really make people think. But, as with any game with dice, the chaos is still there and it works to remove any guaranteed deal wins. This is one of those games I feel will be a superb hit with younger players as a go to family game, or as that filler we use it for. It works, works well, and is excellently fun!