When I hear a game has deduction, I instantly perk up and put it on my want to play list. So I was excited to try out Pie Town, a new worker placement deduction game from Renegade Games. In Pie Town, 2-4 players are trying to make the best pie shop in town by making different types of pies, including secret recipes. Everyone has their own secret recipe that gets bonus points, and if you can figure out your opponents’ secret recipes, you’ll get even more points!
Pie Town, a game of spies, lies, and apple pies
Pie Town is played over 9 rounds where players place their dice workers on different action spaces. You never roll the dice, but the face of the dice indicate the levels of your workers, which affects how good the action you do is. There are public spaces that anyone can go on, getting you ingredients and selling pies. There are also private spaces on your own board just for you, where you can hire new workers, upgrade your storage and kitchen, or bake your pies. At the end of each round, workers are taken back, and depending on what action they did, they level up or down.
The personal player board has 3 actions: upgrade, bake, and hire. The bottom half is for storage of ingredients and workers
The main way to get points is by baking pies and selling them. Each pie is a combination of 3 ingredients. There are 6 different ingredients: 3 common ones (apples) and 3 rare ones, and you get more points for pies with more rare ingredients. Additionally, you have a secret recipe that’s worth a lot of points! Each player chooses one rare and two common ingredients at the start of the game to make up their secret recipe, and they’re hidden in their secret recipe box throughout the game. When you bake pies, you show everyone what ingredients you used, but you can bake multiple pies at a time, so the other players won’t know which ingredients go to which pie. This is where the deduction comes in - the game includes dry erase markers for players to indicate which ingredients could be part of a secret recipe.
The secret recipe pie boxes hold the ingredients of your secret recipe
Another interesting thing is that in the public spaces, you can place your worker on top of another worker if your worker is a higher level. Then, in addition to the normal action, you get to spy on your opponent’s secret recipe and see some of their ingredients! But there’s one public space that you can’t spy in, and that space allows players to exchange one ingredient of their secret recipe. That action is key in blocking other people from being able to bake your secret recipe for lots of points.
Some of the public actions: selling pies at the market or going to the Pie Convention to assign a new start player or change your secret recipe
I enjoyed Pie Town. I’ve only played it a couple times, with two and three players, and the game played very quickly and smoothly. There wasn’t as much deduction as I would like, but it was fun being able to spy on the secret recipe and figure out what ingredients were in it after my opponents baked pies. But the end game scoring of the secret recipes doesn’t seem very rewarding, since you just get 4 points for figuring out a secret recipe, which is usually less than baking and selling one pie. The game ultimately rewards baking and selling a lot of pies, which makes sense for a game called Pie Town.
Although the deduction wasn't as exciting as I would have liked, the worker placement of the game was very interesting. The different levels of the workers brought up interesting choices, especially since you need a higher level worker to spy on someone. So if you went first, you'd need to decide whether it was worth it to send a low-level worker out in a public space if someone could take advantage of the same space and spy on you. Also, choosing which workers to use for which spots was a huge part of the game, since you can do more with a higher level worker.
The game was definitely more interesting with a higher player count. At two players, it felt like we both could get a lot of ingredients and bake multiple pies. But at three players, although the game adds extra spaces, the actions were a lot tighter, and some people ended up not being able to bake or sell the pies that they had ingredients for! High level workers ended up being really important, since you get blocked out of a public action space if you don't have a higher level worker to place on top. Also, having more players with more secret ingredients opened up more chances to bake other players' secret ingredients, which was nice to have multiple options depending on what ingredients you had.
One of the public actions is taking ingredients, and the good ones run out quickly!
The components of Pie Town are cute and high quality. The score markers are little wooden pie meeples, the round tracker is a rolling pin, and the fisrt player marker is a chef's hat. The workers are big chunky dice that are really satisfying to play with, and there's a nice cloth bag included to hold all the ingredients. The only subpar components are the secret recipe boxes, which are cute little pie boxes that you put your ingredients in, but it's difficult to open them since they're a little flimsy. Also, after I punched out all the components and bagged them (the game came with baggies!), they no longer fit in the box (if the insert is still included).
Some of the components of Pie Town - the scoring markers and the ingredients bag
Overall, whether you like or dislike deduction, if you like light worker placement games with unique themes, you should definitely check out Pie Town.
Quick, smooth gameplay
Cute and high quality components
Neat spying mechanism
Interesting worker placement with worker levels
Uses dry erase markers
Deduction isn't rewarded much (this is a Con for me, but could be a Pro for other people)
Difficult to show secret ingredients to opponent without looking at them
Secret ingredients boxes are hard to open
Game box is too small for all components when insert is included