It is my considered opinion that whenever a person has the chance be a zombie, briefly, she should do so; in the universe of Cheapass Games, zombies may not have more fun than blondes (mostly, they have less hair) but they definitely have a better time than you'd think. Happily, Lord of the Fries offers 3 to 8 players the opportunity to have fun with fast food and enjoy the delights of the undead workforce.
Here's the concept. All the world's a fast food restaurant, and all the players merely zombies. Freidey's is the fast food restaurant of the damned, staffed entirely by zombies; presumably, the wages are too low, the work too dull for real live employees, and I think I've eaten there on several road trips. Being less than alive, the employees are none too smart; Lord of the Fries is in fact a sequel to Give Me the Brain, which takes place at the same fast food restaurant and in which employees must share one brain between them. In this installment, players must fill orders for tasty items from the menu, such as the Cowabunga (one cow meat and a bun) to the nearly impossible Patriarch (fish meat, cheese, bun, fries, drink, and strawberry pie) all from cards in his or her hand. Whoever fills the order gets the points. Whoever gets the most points is The Lord of the Fries.
Gameplay is simple. After shuffling and dealing cards that depict needed ingredients (the amount dealt varies with the number of players) the dealer rolls to find out from which of the six menu zones the order will be selected. The dealer then rolls again for the specific menu item. Starting from the left of the dealer, players must either fill the order (which involves placing all appropriate cards face up on the table) or pass, which requires the ingredient-challenged player to pass a card to the left as well. If an order goes around the table without being filled, on the next go-round, players have the option to fill it minus one ingredient. Play continues until one player gets rid of her last card, and scoring is the value of cards you’ve played minus the value of cards in your hand. This is not a card game for serious players of poker or high-minded players of bridge; play is fast, fun and silly and players have many opportunities to lurch, rumble, and otherwise act like zombies.
If you don’t know about Cheapass Games, you should. They produce what might be considered casual games for the tabletop world. The games are all simple and fun. And most of them come in white envelopes containing cards and/or (when necessary) a board and a rule set; they assume that most people have dice and are clever enough to figure out how to keep score without a special pad, pencil or device. My copy of Lord of the Fries came in such packaging and probably cost $5.95, although the envelope isn’t marked and I really don’t remember; it was a trivial amount. The frugal among you may be distressed to learn that Lord of the Fries has been repackaged in a deluxe edition; it's in a box and the cards are now in color. There are two new ingredients (sauce and veggies) and menus for seven different restaurants, including the original Freidey’s and Love’s Labours Lunch. Even with all these fancy additions, it's still cheap; Cheapass Games lists the price at $14.95, but you can buy it for as little as $9.75. I can’t think of a better way to spend time together at family gatherings than to play at being undead, unless it involves too much standing rib roast, which may result in the same sensation.