Rules for Just Desserts
Version 4.2

Yes, these are the most recent rules!
Please note that rules are totally different from the original ruleset included in the Beta Edition. Please use these instead!

Overview: It's a Dessert party, and we are the waiters. During each player's turn, a new Guest arrives at the party. If the player is holding the right Dessert cards to satisfy all of the new Guest's cravings (without anything they dislike) the player may discard those cards to claim the Guest. If they don't, the Guest card becomes available for whoever among the other players first says they've got it. As an extra turn action, each player may also steal away a Guest card already on the table, by offering a Guest more of what they like (and giving a bribe to the waiter you barged in on). Players are rewarded for serving Guests their Favorite dishes, but getting the biggest tip is all about bringing the right combination of people together at one table. Guests also have point values, and you can win either by uniting a special trio of Guests, or by having the most points when the party ends.

Special Modifications: To play with this version of the rules, you will need to make a few small changes (using permanent markers) to the Guest cards in the Beta edition:

Trio Icons: Each Guest card must have one of the following symbols added:

  • Red / Heart: The Emperor, Nature Girl, and the Hippie
  • Yellow / Diamond: Mrs. Jenkins, the Little Boy, and the Little Girl
  • Green / Club: The Dude, the Lumberjack, and the Hermit
  • Purple / Spade: Nana, Inga, and Bob Fruitcake
  • White / Star: Mojo, the Professor and Mary Ann
  • Orange / Circle: Mr. Healthy, Fuzzy, and Roland
  • Brown / Square: The Tourist, Wally, and Boston Cream Pie Guy
  • Blue / Crescent: Agent 17, The Astronaut, and Candice

Setup: Separately shuffle up the Guest and Dessert decks. Deal five (5) Dessert cards to each player. Place both decks in the center of the table, making room next to each for discard piles. Also, find an object to designate as the Turn Marker.

Tastes and Flavors: Before learning how to serve, you must first know how the Desserts are classified and how to satisfy a Guest. Each Dessert has one or more flavor/format icons, and some Guests dislike certain things. To satisfy a guest, you will need to play one, two, or as many as three cards, so that the Guest gets all of the things they crave (without any of the flavors they dislike).

Turn Actions: Here's the sequence of events for each player's turn:

1. Draw Phase: Take a card from each of the Dessert and Guest piles and add them to your hand. (You may not draw from the discard piles.)

2. Guest Phase: Before showing it to anyone, figure out if you have what you need (and if you want to use them up at this time) to satisfy this Guest. Then one of 3 things will happen:

A.) You Serve: If you want to satisfy the Guest, place the card in front of you, face up (and facing away from you) and toss the Dessert cards you played into the Dirty Dishes pile.

B) Someone Else Serves: If you can't satisfy your Guest, get everyone's attention and then place the Guest face up in the center of the table. Now it's a race between the other players, with the Guest being claimed by whomever first says they have what's needed. Again, the dirty dishes go into the discard pile.

C.) No One Serves: If no one satisfies the Guest, the card goes face up into the Guest discard pile, and ALL players "go back to the kitchen" to draw 1 Dessert card.

3. Steal Phase: You now have the option to tempt a lingering Guest into joining you for a second helping of things they like. As Guests are collected, players will keep them arranged so that all may see who they have so far. To steal a Guest, you must discard as many Desserts as required to serve them, AND you must give an extra Dessert (of your choice) to the person from whom you took the Guest. (We call this a bribe... if you can't pay the bribe, you can't steal.) You only get to steal once per turn.

Tips for Favorites: All of the guests (except for Nature Girl) have a Favorite dessert listed on their card. Any time you serve a Guest their Favorite, you get to draw an extra Dessert card.

Freshening Up Your Tray: During your Steal Phase, if you don't do any stealing, you may instead choose to discard and replace as many cards from your hand as you wish.

Ace Steal Stopping: You may discard an Ace (a Dessert with only one icon) from your hand to prevent someone from stealing one of your Guests. However, the Ace has to be something that the target Guest wants to eat. (The idea is, just as you see another waiter angling to give your Guest seconds, you distract your Guest with a sweet surprise... but that won't work if the person doesn't care for your dish.) The player who was planning to steal doesn't lose any cards, but also doesn't get to do anything else that turn. (Of course, stopping a steal only buys you one turn -- your opponent can still try to steal the Guest the next time around. But one turn might be all you need...)

False Calls & Dropped Dishes: Sometimes a player will say "got it!" and then realize that they haven't actually got it. If no other players call it, the Guest leaves hungry and disappointed. The first time you make this mistake, you get a warning; after that, you must pay a penalty: a player who makes a false call must discard a randomly-chosen dessert. (We call this a Dropped Dish.) But the good news is that even when you drop a dish, you still get to go back to the Kitchen with everyone else to draw a new card when a hungry Guest leaves.

The Waiting Room: When no one can satisfy a Guest, the card goes face up into a discard pile of Guests which we call the Waiting Room. During a player's steal phase, they may choose to take the topmost Guest in the Waiting Room, in which case they don't have to pay anyone a Bribe card. (It's OK to look through the cards in the Waiting Room, just don't change the order.)

Moving the Turn Marker: Because of how the action shifts from person to person during each player's turn, a token is used to help players keep track of whose turn it is. Don't forget to move the token to the next player when you're done with your turn.

Who Goes First: Whoever's holding the Turn Marker goes first!

The Kitchen Stays Open: When the Dessert Pile runs out, simply shuffle up the dirty dishes and keep going.

Closing Time: When the Guest pile runs out, the party starts to end. The game continues until someone wins, but now on each turn all you do is draw a Dessert and perform a Steal action.

Winning: As soon as one player has a trio of Guests with the same icon in their collection of Satisfied Guests, that player immediately wins!

Revision History:


  • Designer: Andrew Looney
  • Playtesters: Kristin & Alison, Robin Vinopal, Josh Drobina, Russell Grieshop, Luisa Robles, the Gnostica 4, the Wunderland Toast Society, and Mad Lab Rabbits Everywhere

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