The food is the most important part of a Churrascaria, and thus the most important part of the game I decided to make based on them. The very first arguments prompted by the very first prototype of the game were on the values I had assigned to each item. These first two images are the very first concept image our artist Ellie came up with, and then the very first actual food card art after we decided we wanted to limit the clutter and just showcase the amazing food.
The very first version of the game had sixteen different types of food, with fifteen sides, fifteen desserts, and thirty meat cards. All of them have positive value, with the sides and desserts being the lowest values and the meats the higher values. This was done with the idea being that all players would have positive scores, but those who ate more meat would have the higher scores. In practice, a player could eat a bunch of sides and desserts, but if they ate enough high-value meats they could still win the game.
This led to the first change to the food cards, wherein all sides and desserts were moved to negative values, giving the food cards a point spread from negative five to positive 10. While this did result in players only winning if they ate the most meat, it also resulted in a lot of very low point games with half the players having negative scores. The reason being half the cards in the deck were negative points.
I changed up the ratio of sides and desserts to meat cards next. With sixty cards in the food deck, I decided to do ten sides, ten desserts, and forty meat cards. I had to tweak the number of each value of card a bit to get the final balance right, but this change is what finally got the score spread where I really wanted it.
The next big change was experimenting with giving some food cards special abilities. In my first round of this revision, I gave the special powers to the highest value sides and desserts (ei the -1s). The thought being that if you ended up eating them it should give you some kind of bonus. Unfortunately, this went against theme a bit and ended up encouraging people to eat those side and dessert cards. The obvious fix was moving those powers to the lowest meat cards, which is where they currently reside. To help balance things I also put effects on the most valuable meat cards which gave a higher risk vs reward to them since eating them cost additional actions or gave free actions to other players.
Once all that was sorted out the last two revisions consisted of finalizing the actual selection of foods for the cards, and then deciding between using the English or Portuguese names. My artist had the brilliant idea of adding some flavor text describing the various dishes which made it an easy choice to use the traditional names in the language that spawned them. The final version of the cards look delicious and so far after about hundred playtests with the current spread of points and powers the game has a pretty balanced point spread. And thanks to my artist Ellie, the food looks good enough to eat as you can see in the final version of the card below.