Smirk & Laughter Launches With ‘Nut So Fast’

Nut So Fast cover

Maybe almond the lead, but I probably walnut be for long. If you get ahead, I shell try to cashew!

What Is Nut So Fast?

Nut So Fast is a quick-reflex game for 3 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. It retails for $19.95 and releases this week at Origins Game Fair; you’ll find it in game stores as well as directly from Smirk & Laughter or from Amazon. It’s one of the first releases from Smirk & Laughter Games, the “friendlier” imprint of backstabby Smirk & Dagger, and it’s definitely kid-friendly. Because the game requires quick observation and snatching up objects off the table, it may not be suitable for players with significant visual impairments or limited mobility, but there’s not really anything inappropriate for younger ages.

Nut So Fast components
Nut So Fast components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Nut So Fast Components

  • 12 Nut tokens
  • 72 Nuts cards
  • 6 Time to Score cards
  • 18 Nutty Pose cards
  • 3 Number cards
  • 6 player aid cards
Nut So Fast nuts
The four types of nuts, with standard Carcassonne meeple for size comparison. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The nuts are definitely the highlight here—they’re chunky wooden tokens, painted white and then with goofy faces illustrated by Chris McCoy. They’re really substantial, thicker than most wooden tokens.

All of the cards are square, which I’ve never been really good at shuffling, but the card quality is fine.

Nut So Fast reference cards
Double-sided reference cards remind you of the rules. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The reference cards give you a little rules reminder—though since you can’t see both sides at the same time, you might find it better to share with the player next to you so that you can see both sides at once.

How to Play Nut So Fast

You can download a copy of the rulebook here.

The Goal

The goal of the game is to have the fewest points (collected cards) by the end of the game.

Nut So Fast nuts setup
The nuts setup for a 6-player game. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Setup

The nuts are set up in the center of the table: you always use the almond and the pistachio, and one less walnut and cashew than the number of players. All the nuts should be within reach of all players, so I usually put the almond and pistachio within a ring of alternating walnuts and cashews… but you can make it trickier by just mixing them up.

Nut So Fast silly pose setup
Set up three nutty poses, next to the number cards. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Set out the three number cards, and then deal out three nutty poses, one for each number. All players should take a look at the three poses (and practice them, if you like). The rest of the nutty pose cards are put back into the box.

Give each player a Time to Score card, and then shuffle and deal out all of the red Nuts cards. Players should not look at their cards—stack all of your Nuts cards face-down on top of the Time to Score cards.

Nut So Fast nuts cards
Nuts cards have 2 to 4 nuts, or a number. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Gameplay

Choose a starting player. In turn order, each player flips over 2 cards from the top of their deck, side by side, so that all players can see them—if any triggers appear on the first card, the second card is not flipped. Depending on the results, players will race to grab a particular type of nut, do a nutty pose, or do nothing.

Nut So Fast game in progress
4 cashews appeared, so everyone races to grab a cashew. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

If there are exactly 4 matching nuts (no more, no less) across the two cards, you grab that particular nut. If there are two sets of 4 nuts each, or 7 or 8 of the same nut, then you grab the almond (which is never pictured on the cards). Finally, if a card shows a number, then instead of grabbing a nut, all players race to do the corresponding nutty pose.

Note that everyone is only allowed to use one hand for flipping cards and grabbing nuts—and if it’s not your turn to flip a card, you’re supposed to keep your hand near your cards rather than hovering over the center of the table.

Nut So Fast silly pose
A “2” appeared, so everyone does silly pose #2. (Thanks to my friends and daughter for allowing me to share this nut so flattering photo.) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

If none of the triggers occurs, the flipped cards stay in front of that player, and the next player flips two cards.

There are, of course, consequences for being too slow.

Cashews and Walnuts: There will always be one player who was last and didn’t get a nut. That player takes all of the cards in front of the active player and places them at the bottom of their own deck (under the Time to Score card).

Pistachio: Only one player was fast enough to grab it. That player takes all of the face-up cards from the active player and chooses a player to put them at the bottom of their deck.

Almond: Only one player was fast enough to grab it. That player takes all of their own cards that are below the Time to Score card, and places them on top of their deck, which cancels out all of their points.

Nutty Pose: The last player to do the nutty pose gets penalized, taking all of the face-up cards from the active player and placing them at the bottom of their own deck. If you can’t tell who was last, nobody is penalized and the cards stay where they are.

Nut So Fast nutty pose cards
There are a variety of nutty poses. The “?” card lets the first player pick a pose for the round. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Round End

The round ends when the Time to Score card appears at the top of any player’s deck. Everyone counts up the number of cards below their own Time to Score card, and scores that many points. Reshuffle and redeal all the cards as in the initial setup, and then deal out three new nutty poses.

Game End

The game ends after 3 rounds. The player with the lowest total score wins.

Nut So Fast nutty pose
Quick! Everyone do the nutty pose! Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Why You Should Play Nut So Fast

Nut So Fast is all about quick observation and speedy reflexes. You need to count quickly and then grab the right nut before somebody else does, or else you’ll end up scoring points. Part of the trick is being able to shift gears quickly, from “4 of a kind” to “oh, that’s two sets of 4 of a kind” to “wait, I need to do a pose!” It’s silly fun to play, or even just to watch other people play.

The “flip card, grab something” isn’t a totally new concept, of course—Ghost Blitz is one of my family’s old favorites in that genre—and if you broaden the range to “flip a card, react quickly” then there are even more options available. What Nut So Fast brings to the table is a few tweaks that mix it up a little. Flipping two cards instead of one means you’ll usually have to combine two cards to find the sets, but it also means you can get fooled by the first card if you’re not paying attention.

The almond in particular is a rare case but really powerful, since it cancels out all of your points for the round up to that point, but since the almond itself isn’t pictured on the cards, it’s easy to forget about it while you’re counting up walnuts, cashews, and pistachios.

The nutty poses really throw you off: if you’ve got your arm spring-loaded to reach forward and grab, it can be really difficult to suddenly touch your nose or cross your arms. The downside to the poses, in my opinion, is that it’s also hard to tell who was last, because chances are everyone turned to look at the pose cards instead of each other. Even when we had a few people sitting at the table who weren’t playing, they sometimes found it hard to judge who was last to do a pose.

I would generally recommend playing this on a round or square table, rather than the long rectangular table you see pictured above, simply because the people sitting on the ends are at a disadvantage, but we typically put the adults there and had the kids sit closer to the center. Also: watch out for sharp fingernails and rings!

Overall, it’s a fun, light, silly game that we’ve used to kick off a game night or fill in at one table while we’re waiting for another table to finish, because you can also easily tweak the game length by adjusting the number of rounds. The kids particularly enjoyed it and request it often, though it doesn’t satisfy my itch for more strategic games. If you’ve already got another favorite quick reflex game, this may not unseat it, but if you’ve never played a reaction-based game and are looking for something nutty, you’ll probably enjoy Nut So Fast.


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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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