Gaming

Make a Run for the Border With the ‘Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game’

Every now and then, a game comes along that sounds, on the surface, like it just shouldn’t work at all. And yet all of the ingredients somehow come together and result in a truly fun game. 

What Is Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game?

Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game is a game for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. It’s currently available at Target.

Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game was designed by Chris Castagnetto and published by Ravensburger, with illustrations by John Gaertner.

Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game Components

The components. Image by Rob Huddleston.

Inside the (very cool) box, you’ll find:

  • 112 meal cards
  • 50 crew cards
  • 18 crave chips
  • Rules

As is often true with party games, the components of the game are simple and to-the-point. Most are the meal cards. The 112 card deck is made up of 90 menu item cards, 12 sauce packet cards, and 10 action cards. All of these cards are plastic coated, full color, and poker-sized.

One of each of the menu cards. Image by Rob Huddleston.

The menu item cards represent six of the more popular items on the Taco Bell menu: the crunchy taco, bean burrito, chicken quesadilla, cinnamon twists, Crunchwrap Supreme, and a freeze. Each has a big picture of the menu item that definitely isn’t also designed to maybe make you want to go buy them immediately after the game. They’re color-coded, with the name of the item and the design on the background (the Taco Bell logo, although I’ll admit I didn’t notice that at first) matching to help further identify each card.

The action cards add even more special abilities, but there are only two of each in the deck. Like the rest of the cards, these are bright and fun cards that simply show the card name and a description of what to do when you play it.

The sauce packets represent special effects that can come into play during the game. There are three each of four types of sauce: Diablo, Fire!, Hot, and (Mild). Each of these cards contains the name and a description of the card’s ability, along with the Taco Bell logo. 

One of each of the crew cards. Image by Rob Huddleston.

The crew cards are larger, 80mm x 120mm, plastic-coated cards. Each of these are divided into five sections: artwork showing a person or people enjoying Taco Bell in some way and a name for the card, neither of which factor into gameplay. The important parts are the point value for each card, shown in the top right corner, and “hunger” value, which is the number or combination of cards that need to be played to “feed” this crew member, and their craving. Each of these elements is shown in nice, bright sections that are easy to see, ensuring that the simplicity of the game is maintained throughout.

The crave chips, showing each point value and the backs. Image by Rob Huddleston.

The final element in the game are the crave chips, which are a set of triangular cardboard pieces that show a corn chip on the back and a point value, ranging from 1 to 4 on the back.

How to Play Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game

The Goal

The goal of the game is to have the most points at the end.

Setup

The game set up is always the same, regardless of the number of players. Image by Rob Huddleston.

Shuffle each deck separately. The meal cards should all be placed facedown in a deck on the table. The crew cards are likewise placed facedown in a deck, but then six are drawn and placed faceup on the table. 

An initial hand. Image by Rob Huddleston.

Each player draws 10 meals cards from the deck to form their hands. Players can look at their hands but should keep them private from the other players. 

The crave chips are shuffled and placed in a pile near the crew cards, with the chip side facing up.

According to the rules, the person who last ate Taco Bell goes first. Alternately, the youngest player starts.

Gameplay

The player whose turn it is starts by playing one action card from their hand, if they have any, and if they want to. This is always optional, but if you are going to do it, you need to do it first. 

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Then, they do one of two things: either discard cards from their hand and replace them with an equal number of new cards from the menu deck, or “feed” a crew member.

Discarding, or “making a Taco Bell run,” simply allows the player to get rid of cards they don’t want in the hopes of drawing a better hand. When doing this, the player may discard any number of cards, then draw back up to 10. 

Feeding the crew. In this example, because one of the cards played matches the craving, the player would also draw a crave chip. Image by Rob Huddleston.

Instead of discarding, a player can choose instead to “feed your crew.” To do this, they discard cards matching the “hunger” item on one of the visible crew member cards. They then take that crew card and place it faceup next to them, draw a new crew card to replace the one they picked, and then draw new cards from the menu deck to bring their total back up to 10.

Generally, any combination of cards is OK for feeding a crew. So if the card asks for “5 matching menu items,” any set of 5 is fine. However, each crew card also has a craving–a specific menu item that crew particularly wants. If at least one of the discarded cards matches that item, then the player also draws one crave chip at random from the stack. They can look at the chip, but should place it facedown (chip side up) next to them, keeping it secret from other players.

Everyone should always end their turn with 10 cards.

Game End

The game ends when all of the crave chips have been drawn. At that point, everyone reveals their chips, and adds up the total points from their chips and their crew cards. They player with the highest point total wins.

Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game is GeekDad Approved!

Why You Should Play Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game

Lighter-weight party games like Taco Bell are often overlooked as fun little fillers, not to be taken as seriously as heavier, weightier games with tons of components and 20 page rule books. And very often, that is exactly what they are. But sometimes, they turn out to be a lot more. 

A game based somewhat loosely around a fast food franchise should definitely be in the former category, but here’s the thing: Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game is a whole lot of fun to play. Every time I’ve brought it out at game night, I’ve had some eye rolls and jokes about the restaurant, but those end about one turn into the game as everyone starts to realize what fun they’re having, sometimes almost in spite of themselves.

What Taco Bell gets right is in keeping everything simple, but maintaining a level of player choice and player interaction that isn’t always common in games like this. There are almost always multiple low-point crew that you can feed on any turn, but if you wait another round and discard instead, you may be able to collect the cards needed for that bigger 7 point crew … except that everyone else gets to go in the meantime, and any of them might grab that card you’re saving up for before you have a chance to. And then you have the added decision of whether or not to try to go for the crave chips. Is it worth taking a lower-point card now that gives you a crave chip, or wait for the higher point card and risk not also meeting the craving? 

The game also has a real sense of humor that forces you to not take it too seriously and just relax and have fun. Case in point: the “Tacos Every Day” card, which allows you to draw 2 cards, unless it’s Tuesday, in which case you get to draw five but everyone else also draws two. Because, you know, Taco Tuesday is a thing, even in the game.

Taco Bell Party Pack Card Game is a beautifully designed, extremely fun game that is certain to bring a smile to the face of everyone in your gaming group. And if it means you have to go out and get some tacos afterwards, so much the better. 

Pick up your copy today at Target.


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

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This post was last modified on October 20, 2021 10:22 pm

Rob Huddleston

Rob is a geek with a 17-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son. He is a college professor teaching design, programming and 3D printing, watches a ridiculous number of movies, plays as many board games as he can, and loves the history of the technological age almost as much as he loves Firefly.

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