Designer: Reiner Knizia Artist: Andreas Resch
Publisher: Pegasus Spiele 1-6 players 15-20 min. ages 5+ MSRP $24
Charlie and Carlotta are mice who live in the walls of the Smith family’s house. They are preparing for a big dinner party for all their friends and they need your help to gather groceries. The Smith’s pantry is full of delicious food: bread, carrots, cucumbers, fish and, of course, CHEESE! By rolling dice everyone will collect these tasty morsels but your team must be quick! The Smiths have a mean black cat who prowls through the house. If you take too long, the cat will catch you red-handed and the meal will be ruined.
Mmm comes with a nicely illustrated, double sided game board. One side is for younger or less experienced players. The other provides a greater challenge once you are more familiar with the game.
The board is has two basic areas: a grid with illustrations of the food found in the pantry and a hallway showing the location of the cat. The five different types of food are depicted in the grid, some items of food take up as few as two grid squares while others may take up 3 or 4 squares. The hallway has ten spaces that lead to the pantry door.
The mean black cat has a wooden token which will go on the board and will move up the hall as the game winds forward.
There are three wooden dice. Each die has 6 different faces: One face for each type of food and one face with a big X.
Last but not least there are 56 round mouse tokens. These tokens will be placed on the grid as you play.
Mmm! is a cooperative game where players work together to cover every food item displayed in the pantry with a mouse token before the mean black cat reaches the door.
Each player gets a turn and on that turn you begin by rolling the three wooden dice.
As mentioned earlier, the dice have faces that correspond to the five different types of food, plus an X.
After this roll, you look at the results and must place at least one die on the board on a space that matches the food symbol you rolled. (For example, I rolled a carrot, so I can place that die on a carrot space on the board). The X side is bad luck. It cannot be placed on the board.
Now, you have a choice to make. You can reroll any remaining dice OR you can stop and gather food.
Rerolling has its risks and rewards. After each reroll, you must be able to place at least one die on the board. If you cannot, then the mean black cat moves forward one space in the hallway on the board! If the cat reaches the pantry space on the board, everyone loses.
Gathering food happens once you decide to stop rolling. Replace each die on the board with a mouse token, the tokens cover up grid spaces and parts of different food items in the pantry.
After placing your mouse tokens, look at the board and check to see if you were able to cover up the last space of a food item in the pantry. If you did, great! Your team will celebrate. If you did not cover the last space of a food item, then the mean black cat will move forward one space toward the pantry door.
After that, pass the dice to the next player and continue until one of two things happens:
- Your team covers the entire board with mouse tokens. Huzzah! You’ve gathered all the food for the dinner party and your team wins the game!
2. The mean black cat reaches the pantry door and catches you stealing food. The dinner party is ruined and you’ll have to try again.
For a cooperative game that can easily accommodate very young players, there’s a surprising puzzle element that is engaging and fun for players of all ages. The press your luck element encourages players to try and cover more spaces each turn, since each player is under pressure to cover a food item on his or her turn to prevent the cat from moving. Covering up the small 2 space food items may seem like an easy way to avoid the cat penalty BUT if your team covers up all the small food items early, the cat may rocket forward later in the game since it will take longer to cover up food items that take up 3 and 4 spaces. Weighing all the options with the team before placing dice or deciding to reroll is a really fun, important and necessary part of the game.
The other element that really makes Mmm stand out is its variable difficulty levels. These variations come in two different forms. An additional rule twist and a more difficult board layout.
In the basic version of the game, you may place dice on matching spaces anywhere on the board. In the advanced version, all dice placed must be in the same row or column as the first die placed on the board. This one twist changes the strategy and decisions you make on every turn and makes for even more interesting discussions. It adds another layer to the puzzle that makes the game more fun by making it more challenging.
The back side of the board also offers more challenges by having a single 2 space food items of each type and adding a 5 space food item for each type. This means it will take a team effort to cover the 5 space food items without making the mean black cat rocket forward on the board.
There are very few games I can think of that scale up or down so well according to the age or experience level of the players at the table.
It should come as no surprise the good Doctor, renowned designer Reiner Knizia, has found a way to strike such a fun balance between randomness and strategy. I really enjoy the cooperative puzzle solving aspects of Mmm and how they are balanced by elements of chance.
Each turn the dice rolls can help or hinder your team’s chances of success.
But the discussions and decisions you make as a team – when to reroll, when to gather food and where to place your dice – are equally important. Too much luck and players would feel like they have little real control over the outcome. Too little and the game becomes a dry intellectual exercise with less room for teamwork or discussion.
Mmm offers a fun to players from 5 to 95. Better still, the game allows you to dial in the kind of fun you want to have with the game. The basic game offers more randomness, the advanced more challenge and forethought. This allows the game to speak to a wide audience.
Flexibility and teamwork combined with a dice based puzzle suitable for almost any age. That is most definitely a recipe for Major Fun!