Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of Tasty Humans from Pangea Games.
What is this game about?
Tasty Humans is a game in which you (and fellow players, if you want them) take on the roles of monsters who can't wait for conquering heroes to arrive—so that they can eat them. Throughout the game, you'll be filling up your monster's stomach with parts of those heroes (hands, feet, helmets...), with as much attention to your particular appetites as possible. The winner of the game will score the most victory points based on how well they filled up their monster's stomach according to their individual taste.
In Tasty Humans, your stomach is a grid, and the hero parts you consume fall into your belly in Tetris-like configurations. Depending on which monster you play, you will want to create different patterns of adventurer body parts in order to score bonus points. You'll also pick up bonus scoring tiles throughout the game that give you further opportunities to score. The game ends when the first monster's stomach is full.
On each of your turns, you will choose an advancing hero card from a 3x3 grid. Each card will tell you the arrangement of tiles you can drop into your stomach, as well as the type of hero you're eating. Some, such as Clerics or Wizards, have special abilities that allow you to heal wounds or adjust the placement of tiles in your belly. If you choose to eat a hero who is adjacent to a warrior, or two spaces from an archer, then your monster will have to eat wound tokens in addition to the tasty human they chose as a snack. No one injury is going to cost you the game, but if you accumulate too many, they can affect your score, either by interrupting your plans for other tiles or by costing you points because one or more wounds end up placed next to each other.
In both single and multiplayer gameplay, you'll also need to pay attention to which heroes you and your opponent are drafting. Aside from the hero classes and important tile configurations on each card, some cards feature crown symbols. These symbols allow player who has collected the most of them to have first choice of bonus tiles between rounds, which can affect your final score.
How does it play solo?
Tasty Humans comes with rules that allow you to play against an automated opponent who drafts cards from the market, blocks you from getting bonus tiles, and scores based on the cards it has picked up throughout the game. At the end, the AI will score based on the class types of heroes it has collected (don't let it get too many of the same type!), as well as the number of body part tiles depicted across all cards it has collected. So as you play, you will get a chance to hate draft in an attempt to keep the AI at bay. You can also control the AI's difficulty level by allowing it to start the game with more or fewer hero cards.
Tasty Humans is a game I wanted to like a lot more than I ultimately did. I enjoy spatial puzzles, especially ones with echoes of Tetris. In Tasty Humans, it's fun to try to figure out where to drop new tiles, to rotate hero cards back and forth, and to decide which scoring bonuses you want to go for. This game also adds a fun twist, as the monster parts you drop into your stomach don't always maintain the shape printed on the card you draft—tiles can "break off" and drop to the bottom of the column you put them in, without leaving gaps. This adds an extra element of planning and spatial thinking that I did enjoy.
The AI for this game also did a good job of helping you to enjoy the same aspects of gameplay that you would in the multiplayer version of the game, including the need to scrap for cards you want to draft and to try to block the AI from getting too many beneficial cards.
However, Tasty Humans does not play as smoothly or as quickly as I would like. The game feels clunky, especially as you arrange all of the tiny little hero tiles so they can be placed in your monster's stomach. Some aspects of solo play are also a bit finicky—you and the AI pass the first player token back and forth throughout each turn, and whether the AI clears out a row or a column of adventurers during its turn alternates depending on who has the first player token. Little rules like this feel arbitrary and unintuitive, and that made it hard for me to stay in the flow of the game.
I typically do not mind finicky games with a lot of components, but Tasty Humans is a light game, and it feels like it should be a lot snappier than it is. It's not bad, but it also isn't all that exciting. I didn't find myself on edge with anticipation between turns, and did not feel the urge to set up and play again when I finished a game. If I want that Tetris vibe, I'd rather just play another game of Cartographers.
Do I recommend it?
Maybe, if you really love polyominoes games and are dying to add yet another to your collection.
Overall Rating: 3 stars
5 stars – I love it!
4 stars – I really like it.
3 stars – I like it.
2 stars – It's okay.
1 star – Meh.