Rules for Just Desserts
Version 3.1

Important Note: These rules are OBSOLETE. This page is here for game design historians only. Please go get the most recent rules instead!

Overview: It's a Dessert party, and we are the waiters. During each player's turn, a new Guest arrives at the party. If the player is holding the right Dessert cards to satisfy all of the new Guest's cravings (without anything they dislike) the player may discard those cards to claim the Guest. If they don't, the Guest card becomes available for whoever among the other players first says they've got it. As an extra turn action, each player may also steal away a Guest card already on the table, by offering a Guest more of what they like (and giving a bribe to the waiter you barged in on). The Guests have point values ranging from 1-5, with the more finicky eaters being worth more points) and whoever collects the most valuable group of Guests wins!

Special Modifications: To play with this version of the rules, you will need to make a few small changes to some of the cards in the Beta edition. Specifically, you need to add point values to all of the Guests. Find a Sharpie and write big, bold numbers on the Guests as follows:

  • 5 points: Nature Girl
  • 4 points. Mr. Healthy, Mrs. Jenkins, Boston Cream Pie Guy, Mary Ann, the Hermit
  • 3 points: The Hippie, Wally, Mojo, the Little Boy, the Dude, Inga, Bob Fruitcake, Nana, Roland, Agent 17
  • 2 points: The Tourist, the Professor, the Little Girl, Fuzzy, the Lumberjack
  • 1 point: The Emperor

Setup: Separately shuffle up the Guest and Dessert decks. Deal five (5) Dessert cards to each player. Place both decks in the center of the table, making room next to each for discard piles.

Tastes and Flavors: Before learning how to serve, you must first know how the Desserts are classified and how to satisfy a Guest. Each Dessert has one or more flavor/format icons, and some Guests dislike certain things. To satisfy a guest, you will need to play one, two, or as many as three cards, so that the Guest gets all of the things they crave (without any of the flavors they dislike).

Who Goes First: Flip over the topmost Guest card. Whoever first says they've got it gets to go first, taking that Guest into their hand as part of their draw phase. If no one can satisfy the Guest, all players draw 1 card, repeating as needed until someone can serve the first Guest.

Turn Actions: Here's the sequence of events for each player's turn:

1. Draw Phase: Take a card from each of the Dessert and Guest piles and add them to your hand. (You may not draw from the discard piles.)

2. Guest Phase: Before showing it to anyone, figure out if you have what you need (and if you want to use them up at this time) to satisfy this Guest. Then one of 3 things will happen:

A.) You Serve: If you want to satisfy the Guest, place the card in front of you, face up (and facing away from you) and toss the Dessert cards you played into the Dirty Dishes pile.

B) Someone Else Serves: If you can't satisfy your Guest, get everyone's attention and then place the Guest face up in the center of the table. Now it's a race between the other players, with the Guest being claimed by whomever first says they have what's needed. Again, the dirty dishes go into the discard pile.

C.) No One Serves: If no one satisfies the Guest, the card goes face up into the Guest discard pile, and all players "go back to the kitchen" to draw 1 Dessert card.

3. Steal Phase: Lastly, you now have the option to tempt a lingering Guest into joining you for a second helping of things they like. How this works is explained in the following sections. You only get to steal once per turn.

Stacking, Stealing, Bribing, and Protecting: As you collect satisfied Guests, the cards are placed face up in a stack, with the most recent Guest on top. This Guest can potentially be stolen away from you during another player's turn. To steal a Guest you must discard as many Desserts as required to serve them, AND you must give an extra Dessert (of your choice) to the person from whom you took the Guest. (We call this a bribe.) Since you can only steal the top-most Guest in another player's stack, each new Guest protects the ones below it... however, when that topmost Guest is stolen, the one underneath becomes available for stealing again.

False Calls & Dropped Dishes: Sometimes a player will say "got it!" and then realize that they haven't actually got it. If no other players call it, the Guest leaves hungry and disappointed. The first time you make this mistake, you get a warning; after that, you must pay a penalty: a player who makes a false call must discard a randomly-chosen dessert. (We call this a Dropped Dish.) But the good news is that even when you drop a dish, you still get to go back to the Kitchen with everyone else to draw a new card when a hungry Guest leaves.

The Waiting Room: When no one can satisfy a Guest, the card goes face up into a discard pile of Guests which we call the Waiting Room. During a player's steal phase, they may choose to take the topmost Guest in the Waiting Room, in which case they don't have to pay anyone a Bribe card. When all the Guests are gone, the Waiting Room pile is shuffled and each Guest gets one final chance to find what they're looking for. The Guest deck is only re-shuffled once... after that, they give up and go home.

The Kitchen Never Closes: When the Dessert Pile runs out, simply shuffle up the dirty dishes and keep going.

Closing Time: When the Guest pile runs out the second time, the party starts to end. Each player now gets 1 additional turn, during which they still get to draw a new Dessert card and perform a Steal action. The game ends after the person who drew the final Guest gets their final Closing Time turn.

Final Tally: Add up the point values on all the Guests you end up with when the party's over. High score wins! Keep track of the number of cards you had left in your hand at the end... in case of a tie, you win if you have more goodies leftover to take home from the party for yourself.

A Note About Serving Guests their Favorites: Unlike earlier versions of the rules for this game, there is no special reward for giving Guests their Favorites. There's a built-in advantage just in that fact that playing a Favorite allows you to satisfy a Guest with only one card, but the more important hidden advantage is that knowing you have a particular Guest's Favorite in your hand gives you the edge when vying to be the first to call an available Guest.

Important Note: These rules (version 3.1) are OBSOLETE. This page is here for game design historians only. Please go get the most recent rules instead!

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