Game Bites is a column merging food, gaming, accessibility. I’m happy to introduce my co-writer for this series, my middle child, Jacob:
My name is Jacob Alexander. I’m non-neurotypical. I was diagnosis-ed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and expressive language disorder when I was little. What that means to me specifically is that I have trouble understanding most written and verbal communication. I find pictures and symbology easiest to understand. I also like very detailed directions, which is why I like building models, playing games, and cooking. I will begin studying to become a chef this fall. I like cooking because I like making delicious food for people (it makes them happy). I’m writing this column with mom to share tasty recipes and to help other gamers find games that everyone in their group can enjoy, no matter what their abilities are.
In Game Bites we talk about fun food themed games, related recipes, and accessibility in gaming. So sit back, tuck your napkin in, and have a bite with us!
Carroll County Cake Swap
Are you a fan of the Great British Bake Off? Do you dream of taking home a blue ribbon for most beautiful confection? Then tie on your apron and and get ready to frost and stack the best layer cake you can in Carroll County Cake Swap!
Carroll County Cake Swap is a light strategy/card crafting game for 2-6 players. The object is to stake cake layers from largest to smallest (top to bottom). Ribbons (and victory points) are awarded based on number of layers, cake flavors, and frosting colors.
Players take turns taking cards from one of two piles, the face down draw deck or the face up draft pile, formed from layers discarded by other players. Once a player deems a cake over three layers ready, they can submit it for judging in one of six categories, based on flavor and frosting type. Judged cakes are awarded ribbons (blue, red, and white) based on the number of layers in the cake submitted to that particular category. The first baker to 31 victory points (25 or 21 in 5-6 player games) wins.
Jacob’s Buttercream Frosting Recipe:
½ cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) softened
3 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 3 tbsp heavy cream
Start by beating the sticks of butter in a stand mixer or with a hand miser till creamy. Add powdered sugar (slowly to prevent powdered sugar from flying all over the kitchen!). Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the cream til the frosting is the consistency you like. For a stiffer frosting that works better for cake decorating, add very little cream – for a smoother, pourable frosting use more. Tips: – If you live in a very warm area you might want to use half butter and half vegetable shortening for this frosting to make it less melty. – Try different extracts to change the flavor of this frosting. My mom likes it flavored with orange extract on chocolate cake.
I spied this game across a room (at Unpub 2018) and had to go for a closer look. I’m a huge fan of great art design. In this case the little bunting Carroll County sign, the picnic like tablecloth, and all the bright cake layers completely suit the theme. It’s very pretty – somewhat dainty and sweet, just like the perfect cake. A six page rule book makes this very accessible for people of all levels, but theres enough strategy involved that it doesn’t feel like a kids game. While it’s competitive, its theme, art and the simplicity of strategy keep it from feeling cut-throat. Also, I love that there are a variety of bakers to choose from of different genders and ethnicities. And on a visual accessibility note I appreciate that each color frosting has a fruit ‘topping’ associated with it, making them a little easier for those with color or general vision challenges to identify.
I like food themed games, especially if they have to do with baking. The rules were simple to learn and the rulebook has a good amount of pictures to go with the instructions so that the directions are clear. It is not hard to learn at all. Once you learn the rules there isn’t any reading, and everything is based more on symbols and visual examples. I like that there are several ribbons for each type of award – that way it doesn’t feel as bad if you aren’t the first to finish a cake. A card mat might help with moving the cards around. It’s very good looking and definitely makes me thing of the fair and food competitions. You should definitely eat cake while playing!
Carroll County Cake Swap did well across the board for family fun, yummy food, and accessible play. We’re excited about this awesome addition to our game shelf!