I love food themed games for lots of reasons. First they make me hungry. Second, they are perfect for themed game nights with family and friends. Hojo Pojo is a hot pot themed game from first time designer Rayne Aw. The goal of the game is to out score your opponents by creating food and sauce combinations which are scored at the end of the game. Watch your back because your opponents may have tools that disrupt your meal.
Cook, Eat, Repeat
The ingredients for Hojo Pojo are incredibly cute illustrations that are on square cards that are drawn from the top of the hot pot themed box. Players use a hand of 3 oversized cards to cook ingredients, create dishes or even take things from their opponents. Ingredients are color coded to represent beef (red), seafood (blue) and vegetables (green).
Tongs and ladle cards allow you to cook the ingredients which means they are flipped face up so players can claim them. When you play a bowl card, you roll a die to see what ingredient you can pull for your dish. If the die shows a green face, you can pull any veggie cards that are face up on the table. Place the veggie card in your bowl and claim a sauce card from the sauce deck. If the color matches your ingredient, you’ll receive 3 points. If the sauce doesn’t match, the score for that ingredient is 1 point. Drawing an orange sauce card means your ingredient is now worth 5 points!
There are action cards such as a “rain-bowl” card which allows you to double a dish with another ingredient and sauce. There’s even a “sauce swap” card which allows you to swap a sauce for another chance increase your points on a bowl.
In Hojo Pojo, players can grab another players dish with a chop sticks card. Players can block this with a chop sticks defense card which is really helpful. If you have a really valuable card, you can use the “bowl cover” to keep all players from stealing a dish.
The player with the most points in their bowls in front of them when the sauce deck runs out is the winner.
It’s a Hot Pot Party
Hojo Pojo is a fast-paced game that our whole family enjoyed. Not only is the artwork incredibly cute, but the card sizes and color scheme is unique from a lot of games in our collection. The use of the box as the hot pot draw pile gives the game immediate table presence. At times it can feel a little chaotic but that’s not a bad thing when you talk about engagement around the table.
The game keeps peoples attention because you’re always planning your next turn. Hojo Pojo plays up to 6 players which feels like a solid player count for this game. If you have a lower player count or have less time to play, you can decrease the number of sauces in the game to adjust the game time.
We played Hojo Pojo in the Fall of 2020 prior to some card adjustments and rule changes. I’ve got to say that the changes that Rayne made were excellent. Hojo Pojo falls on the light side strategy wise. It’s on the player to use the tools in their hands to make the best decisions. It can be foolish to play a bowl card with there is only one ingredient color available. This is a fast moving and fun filler game that we really enjoyed.
There is a single card in the game called the “King of the Pot”. The player holding this card reveals it at the end of the game and it allows them to have a “Final Eat Off” with the winner. This is the one item in the game that I’ve disliked. It feels like a catch-up mechanic that is incredibly random as the player with the card gets the chance to pull sauce cards left in the box to meet the number of sauce cards that the winner has. It puts a twist on the end game scoring that we honestly didn’t care for. Leaving out this single card doesn’t change the gameplay or how much fun we had with Hojo Pojo! [NOTE: Designer Rayne Aw has adjusted the way this card is used during the game.]
Hojo Pojo is a great family-friendly game that plays quickly and gets everyone involved. We loved the theme, cute artwork and even the cutthroat feel of stealing your neighbors food.
You can visit the Hojo Pojo Kickstarter campaign now through March 28, 2021.
A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.