Safranito is a spicy dexterity game where players are racing to be the first to complete three recipes. How they do it probably flies in the face of kitchen etiquette, but it’s a whole lot of fun.
The board is a large picture of six bowls containing different kinds of spices, plus four smaller circles that represent actions. Each player is given some money and a set of six coins (with a small hole in their centre), and on a given round, your job is to toss your coin onto the board and try and land it so the central hole is above either the spices, or the action circles. If you do so successfully, you’ll be able to buy and sell that spice.
Beside the board will be three recipes that require three different spices each – as soon as you’ve collected the right spices you can trade them in to the bank to complete a recipe.
At the start of each round six new cards are laid out around the board showing which spices are available (landing your disk in an ’empty’ spice bowl means you can’t buy it, but you can sell any in your hand if you choose) so some spices will be more available than others. Additionally, your coins have a value of between 10 to 60, and which one you choose to throw (all players throw their coins face-down) has an effect on the price of the space: all the coins in the bowl dictate the selling price, whilst your own coin dictates the buying price. If there is only one card available, the player with the highest total coin value gets first refusal on buying it, with the starting player marker as the tie-breaker.
Finally the smaller action spaces, should you land on them, give you the following: grab the starting player (to break ties), throw an extra coin, get a secret recipe (i.e. you keep it to yourself and don’t have to show the other players what spices requires), and take a spice from the deck. This last option in particular can be a game-winner.
Once you’re up to speed the game plays quickly and there are multiple opportunities to sabotage your opponents by knocking their coins out the way – and equally, if inadvertently, sabotage yourself!
It’s a game with in-built frustrations. Especially playing with four you can be sure that somebody is going to have a terrible round – but they can be straight back in the game next time. Thematically it’s nonsense, so if you’re really pining for a game about cooking this probably isn’t it. What it is though is a whole lot of fun.
Safranito is a real breath of fresh air. I really like games that combine a proper board game with a dexterity element, but I’m rubbish at accurate flicking, so this is perfect. Chucking the weighty chips across the board is great fun; and though the gameplay is very unthematic, the artwork by Michael Menzel is quite lovely.
Potentially high. Even if they didn't mean it - and they probably did - someone is going to knock your beautifully-placed coin into an empty bowl where it gets you nothing!
Low - there's nothing here to stop the game playing at a clip
Low - it's basically a game of collecting sets.
With the right group of players - i.e. those who don't mind getting pulverized by bad luck in the form of ricochets and broadsides - Safranito will get played again and again.