Any game that has a bell that you want to be the first to ring is almost a fatal attraction for your average 6-12 year-old. Especially if it’s one of those neat metal kinds that hotels used to use. Any game that has pictures of desserts and drinks and diner-like meals – especially hamburgers with french fries – well, you can almost taste the fun.
Order’s Up! is is a Lotto-like game. There are 16 heavy, cardstock “Guest Checks,” each showing combinations of 6 different delicious-looking foods. There are 64 food tiles. Four kinds of these tiles are “wild” and can be used for a variety of main courses, drinks, or desserts. There’s a die that you roll to find out if you get a food tile, or you add two more tiles to the “serving area” or you get to swap Guest Checks with another player, or you get a free tile, or you get to ring the bell, or you don’t. And there’s the bell.
The bell is placed in the middle of the playing area. Four food tiles are placed face-up around the bell. The rest are divided into 4 different stacks and placed just outside the serving area. When it’s your turn, you roll the die. If it comes up on the bell symbol, the first player (not necessarily you) to ring the bell gets to take one tile from the serving area and put it on his Guest Check. If the die shows a cracked bell, you can’t ring the bell until it’s your turn again. If you do, you lose one item from your Guest Check.
So there’s recognition and reaction time (and restraint), there’s the drama of swapping one of your empty Guest Check’s for someone’s almost full Guest Check, and then having your almost full Guest Check getting swapped away by someone else. There’s the finding of the right match. There’s the racing to be the first to ring the bell. And then there’s ringing the bell when you shouldn’t.
For kids 6-10, Order’s Up! is absurdly fun. It takes maybe 10 minutes to learn, and each round can be played in 15 minutes. You can, of course, play as many rounds as you feel like. There are enough Guest Checks so that you can make the game more challenging by giving each player two cards to fill. You can easily the challenge (perceptually and physically) by giving the winning player an extra card to fill for the next round.
The game is, like almost all Gamewright games, well and thoughtfully made. The bell is not really very loud. The cards are durable and well-illustrated. The die large and legible. The rules easy to read and describe. The box sturdy, providing easy storage.
Designed by Myles Christensen and illustrated by Lee Calderon, Order’s Up has just the right balance of luck, skill, and social interaction to engage and challenge 2-6 kids.