Bet on which flavors will get pulled from the bag in this quick snack of a game.
What Is Bag of Chips?
Bag of Chips is a push-your-luck game for 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. It retails for $14.99 and is available in stores and directly from Blue Orange Games. It’s a quick-playing game that also helps kids learn a bit about odds and probabilities.
Bag of Chips was designed by Mathieu Aubert and Thêo Rivière and published by Blue Orange Games, with illustrations by Mathieu Lidon.
Bag of Chips Components
Bag of Chips literally comes in a bag—it’s a foil bag with a resealable closure. Here’s what’s inside (along with a fold-out rules sheet):
- 4 Board cards
- 36 Cards
- Reference tile
- 25 Chips tokens
- 16 Reward tokens
The bag is pretty small, comparable to those snack-sized chip bags, so it’s nice and portable, but does present the challenge of storing unconventionally shaped packaging on your shelf. It’s also used not just for storage, but for the gameplay: the chips are placed in the bag to be mixed up and drawn out. Those with larger hands may have a little more difficulty reaching the chips at the bottom of the bag. Everything fits in the bag just fine, but I decided to put the reward tokens in a separate small baggie just to make them easier to sort out from the chips during gameplay.
The board cards are tall, narrow cards that form the “board” and they also serve as a handy reminder of how each round works, with icons on the top and bottom that are pretty intuitive. The size of the cards is primarily so you can place the chips that were drawn on top of the cards.
The chips are small cardboard tokens that you’ll punch out, sort of bean-shaped (and not bent Pringles shapes despite the illustration on the outside of the bag). There are five different flavors, indicated by both color and icon. We’ve had some discussions about the flavors, because the game is from France originally and we wondered whether chicken-flavored potato chips are more common there. Is the red one (with a picture of a shish-kebab) BBQ-flavored? I assume the purple one is a vinegar bottle for salt and vinegar, but I’m not sure.
The cards are scoring conditions, with various criteria and a very wide range of point values, generally tied to the probability of meeting that condition. Some are worth points if a particular set of chips is pulled, some require two flavors to have the same number of chips, and some score based on the last chip pulled from the bag on the last round.
How to Play Bag of Chips
The goal of the game is to earn 4 rewards (or 3 rewards in a 2-player game).
Place the board cards in the center of the table, along with the reference tile and the reward tokens. Place the chips in the bag and mix them up.
The game lasts several rounds, and each round has 4 “draw” phases. (Note that the rulebook uses “rounds” to mean two different things, which can be a little confusing.)
Each round, you shuffle all of the cards and deal 6 to each player.
Each draw phase, a player will draw chips from the bag, and then everyone will discard or play cards, following the icons on the board cards:
- Draw 5 chips; everyone discards 2 cards.
- Draw 4 chips; everyone discards 1 card.
- Draw 3 chips; everyone plays 1 card on the negative side, 2 cards on the positive side.
- Draw the last 2 chips one at a time.
When you discard cards, you place them face-down in front of you. In round 3, you will place one card to the left of your discard pile and two to the right. (The card backs have a “negative” and “positive” arrow to remind you which is which.) After everyone has chosen their cards, they are turned face-up.
Once the last 2 chips have been drawn, you check for scoring. If a card’s conditions have not been met, it is worth 0 points and can be discarded. Otherwise, you add the value to your score if it’s on the positive side, and subtract the value from your score if it’s on the negative side. (You can have a negative score.)
The player with the highest score gets 2 reward tokens, and the player with the second highest score gets 1 reward token. (Ties for first place both get 2 rewards but no second place is rewarded; otherwise ties for second place each get 1 reward.)
The game ends when any player has 4 or more rewards—whoever has the most rewards wins! If there’s a tie, continue playing additional rounds until there is a clear winner.
There are just a few changes for a 2-player game: The higher score earns 1 reward and no second place is rewarded. (Both players get 1 reward in the case of a tie.) You end the game when somebody reaches 3 rewards.
Bag of Chips is GeekDad Approved!
Why You Should Play Bag of Chips
Bag of Chips is a snack—it doesn’t take up a lot of space or time or brain power, and it won’t fill you up if you’re hungry for a full meal, but it’ll hit the spot if you just want a little treat. And, to paraphrase a famous tagline, bet you can’t play just once.
I described Bag of Chips as a “push-your-luck” game mostly because that’s what it calls itself on the packaging, though it’s not exactly like other games of that genre. Usually that makes me think of the player deciding whether to continue drawing cards or chips or rolling dice, trying to score as much as possible without busting. In this case, the number of chips drawn each round is predetermined, and you’re just trying to score as many points as possible with the cards you’ve been dealt.
Some cards can be ruled out in the first draw, like those that require none of a particular flavor. Or, if you know you need the same number of two flavors and the more numerous flavor has already been drawn. Some cards are based on the last chip drawn in the round—those can be harder to pin down. There are cards that offer a number of points per chip for a specific flavor, which can be a guaranteed score that will only grow … but those aren’t always worth as many points. The longer the odds on a card, the higher the value.
Of course, you do have to keep in mind that one of the cards you keeps will count against you—you’re always required to put one card on the negative side. With that in mind, do you keep a card that you know is worth zero points, to ensure that you won’t lose any points? Or do you discard those early to keep your options open?
There’s one card in particular that has a golden goblet instead of a point value: it’s the one that requires more chicken chips to be drawn than potato chips, an unlikely scenario given that there are only 3 chicken chips but 7 potato chips in the bag. If you score with this one, you win the whole game, not just some reward tokens. (If you bet against the card and it scores, you don’t place for that round but you’re still in the game.)
Although Bag of Chips is a multiplayer game, it’s mostly about your own choices, independent of the other players. After all, there’s really nothing you can do that will affect what anyone else scores—you can’t take their cards or affect what chips are drawn (or decide to stop drawing chips). That does feel a little funny, that you’re all competing for the highest score but you just have to make do with the cards you’ve been dealt. I suppose you could play a more advanced variant where you draft a hand of cards each round, but of course that would probably double the length of the game, and I think one of the things that makes Bag of Chips so enticing is how quickly you can play a few times.
The icons on the board cards and the scoring conditions are mostly intuitive and the game has been quite easy to teach. It’s a game that’s approachable by new gamers and not at all intimidating, and it may find a spot in my Quiver for on-the-go games (whenever I actually start traveling again). Even though it’s just drawing little colorful chips from the bag, players get invested in what’s drawn next—some of my players would chant the flavor they wanted during the draw. “Onion! Onion! Onion!”
Bag of Chips is a fun, light game that seems like a crowd-pleaser. Just like its namesake, it’s something that most people will enjoy as a snack and would be great to add to the table at a party. For more information, visit the Blue Orange Games website!
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.