Juicy Fruits is a resource management and economic game from designer Christian Stöhr, published by Capstone Games and Deep Print Games. Players will produce 5 different fruit types as they ship cargo and build lucrative businesses on their island. So grab your mangosteens and let’s see what this game is all about!
The Juiciest Fruits
Each player is given an island with boats sitting along their beachfronts. In the center of the island are 5 fruit baskets containing bananas, oranges, pomegranates, limes and mangosteens. On a turn, a player can slide a single basket of fruit into an empty space to earn that specific resource. Now, these aren’t some cheap cardboard resources. These are chunky, colorful, wooden resources that feel “oh so nice” in your hand.
The island is a wonderful slide puzzle that begins to open up as you fulfill the shipping orders sitting on your beaches. Each boat earns a number of points when you ship the required fruits. Fulfilling a shipping order means the boat leaves the island, opening up more space on your island. Every little space means more fruit production as you slide the various baskets in every direction.
Juicy Fruits puts these wonderful wooden components on full display as they’re earned and spent every turn.
A Bustling Island
Fruit production isn’t the only thing happening on the players island. In the center of the table, players can spend their fruit to claim a business that can be added to their island. Businesses are populated on the central board at the start of the game. Some of these businesses give end game points, additional fruit bonuses, or even produce ice cream and milkshakes.
Adding businesses to your island is tricky. You always need to evaluate how many points you’re getting for the amount of space it takes up on the island. I’ve learned the hard way that a poorly placed building can put a strain on your fruit production, leaving you less space to move on your turn.
Juicy Fruits comes with a two-sided scoring track which I really like. One side has a juice factory that players can spend resources on. I can’t imagine not using this side of the board because it’s another avenue for earning points. Players can take as many actions in the juice factory as they would like as long as they have resources to spend. The handful of points earned along this track can make a difference in your total score and it adds another layer to the gameplay.
The game ends when the license track reaches the X on the right side of the central board. The license marker moves down each time a player purchases a business, buys all the ice cream of one type, or reaches the end of the juice factory. With more aggressive players, the game may come to a close pretty quickly. In my experience, Juicy Fruits will play in about 30 to 45 minutes.
Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?
Juicy Fruits will definitely go down as a surprise hit for me in 2021. This is the first game that I’ve seen with the Capstone Games Family logo on the box. I think they hit the sweet spot with this release for a couple reasons.
The slide puzzle mechanic is unique and easy to teach newer or younger gamers. It’s a mechanic I’ve not seen in any other game on our shelf but is super intuitive. The colorful boards, high quality components, and awesome table presence instantly puts a smile on any players face.
With a variable setup of different boat values and different buildings on the central board, no two games will be the same. I like being forced into slightly different strategies because my “go-to building” isn’t present during a game.
Other than constantly losing this game to my wife, I think my only issue has to do with the balance of the ice cream cart that can be purchased. These ice cream carts come in 3 colors that allows the player to only make that ice cream type. These ice creams range from 7 to 16 points. Players tend to save up loads of fruit and buy multiple ice creams at a time. This usually leads to a jump of 21 to upwards of 40 points.
In my experience, it’s been tough to catch up to an opponent who does this. In games were multiple players have ice cream carts, it’s been less of an issue. If a player purchases an ice cream cart, you almost have to buy one to stay competitive. While there are plenty of other avenues for points, this one seems slightly too powerful.
I’m writing this review for Juicy Fruits while wishing I was playing the game right now. The game is bright, fun and cheerful and is a great fit for our game shelf. There’s plenty of strategy in the game without feeling overly complex. I can’t recommend Juicy Fruits enough. Just remember, if you purchase the game, please send over some tips so I can actually win a game.