Everyone should have a dream. Sometimes those dreams require a little help, though. Especially if you’re a hamster who dreams of opening your very own sandwich shop. Luckily, Ham the hamster is not without help. His friends, hamster chefs in their own right, are eager to leap into action, helping him create culinary masterpieces for eager clients.
And if you play Ham’s Sandwich Shop, you’ll get to help him, too!
The Story of Ham’s Sandwich Shop
Ham is a brilliant chef, who has recently opened his very own sandwich shop! And while he’s brilliant, he does suffer somewhat from the slight setback that is being a hamster, and having exclusively hired other hamsters. This means that when things get busy in the shop it can be difficult to keep up – tiny paws do not make for effective sandwich-makers, after all.
But that’s okay! Ham’s chefs are efficient and dedicated, willing to throw themselves (literally) into their work, and ensure that Ham’s customers get exactly the kind of sandwich they’re looking for.
Ham’s Sandwich Shop’s Gameplay
Ham’s Sandwich Shop (henceforth called HSS) is a fast-paced token placement game, where you play as a hamster chef attempting to assemble specific sandwiches from the ingredients available to you.
At the beginning of play, each player selects their chef, and takes their associated hamster deck, which depict their chef holding different ingredients on one side. They shuffle these decks, and then set up the kitchen. To do so, you place several pieces of bread in the middle of the table, and then surround it with 12 random ingredients from the box (there’s lettuce, eggs, cheese, cucumbers, and tomatoes to choose from), divided between colored sunflower seeds, which correspond with your chefs’ colors. Then, play begins.
Players take turns moving Ham’s token around the ingredients, taking the ingredient they place him on, and adding it to one of the central pieces of bread before replacing it. If Ham passes the seed with your chef’s color, you can play one of your chef tokens onto a sandwich of your choice, placing a mystery ingredient that only you know. Players take turns doing this until one of the bread slices has ingredients which match or include the 3 ingredients ahead of Ham. Then, the active player can close the sandwich, and claim a star!
Each time you assemble an accurate sandwich you earn a gold star, and each time you’re missing an ingredient you earn a grey star instead. 3 gold stars and you win the game, but if you get 3 grey stars you’re fired!
Luck vs. Strategy
HSS is pretty much entirely strategy. You have a great amount of control over the ingredients you place, where you want Ham to land each turn, and which sandwiches you complete and claim. While the next chef token you get is somewhat random, since you shuffle them, it’s such a minor degree of randomization as to be negligible.
Number of Players
HSS can be played with either 2 or 3 players – no more. And that’s probably a good thing. Too many players, and sandwiches would have too many ingredients to really have any puzzling elements or challenge. 2 players are perfectly fine, but 3 players are really the optimal number for most variety and challenge in a game.
The Atmosphere of Ham’s Sandwich Shop
HSS is almost aggressively cute. Seriously, the hamsters are adorable, the atmosphere is quaint and sweet, and the gameplay is non-violent. There’s no deep or immersive story to it, but there doesn’t have to be. You might create a little more engagement and excitement by playing more competitively, trying to sabotage other players’ sandwiches, or announcing loudly whenever your chef ‘leaps’ onto a sandwich. But it doesn’t need to be anything more than it is – a sweet, cutesy romp with sandwich-making hamsters.
Ham’s Sandwich Shop’s History and Availability
HSS was funded via Kickstarter and released in 2022, in Korea, Japan, and the United States. It was published by different companies in those countries, including Graphic335, Giga Mech Games, and Underdog Games.
It didn’t make a huge splash in the boardgaming community, but it has been decently received by those people who have played it.
You can find it at your local game store, or online. It’s currently around $30 on Amazon, or slightly less on most retailer websites.
Our Personal Thoughts on Ham’s Sandwich Shop
While most reviews place this game as a solidly ‘average’ way to pass the time, I personally found it quite a lot of fun. I think the slightly lower rating comes from the fact that it relies on quaint art and design for most of its appeal, rather in innovative or unique mechanics. It feels more like the kind of game you’d pull out at a party, except that it’s limited to 3 players.
However, I don’t think this makes it a bad game at all. There are plenty of people who will gladly engage with a game simply for the adorable art (Flamecraft, for example, certainly draws people in with its art before its mechanics), and it can be nice to have a cute, party-style game for smaller gatherings, or just for those of us who don’t go in for crowds.
If you’re into cute animals and soft, sweet art styles, I’d absolutely recommend giving HSS a shot. It doesn’t take long to learn, or to play, and is a fun time killer. Make yourself and your friends a few sandwiches, gather around the table, and get to work!
Have you ever played Ham's Sandwich Shop? Did you enjoy it? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments below!