Thieving Chefs [Board Game/Card Game]


Designer, Artist


Game Jam Topic




≈ 10 hours in total, Aug. 2014


Team Size












Thieving Chefs is a 2~5 player card game. I made for a game jam organised by Cipher Prime in Philadelphia.


Each player is an immoral chef who is trying to become the best in the restaurant by cooking dishes and stealing other chef’s ingredient while they are cooking.

During the game, the players will draw Ingredients/Sauce Cards, play them to cook delicious dishes and score points for each completed dish. Players can also summon cute pets to steal other’s ingredients!

The object of the game is to score victory points (VP) by cooking as many dishes as you can during the play. The first player who has scored 20 VP wins the game!



Honors & Awards


  • The Most Delicious Game

  • The 3rd Prize



What I Learned


  • Conceptualization:

    • We brainstormed in a zoo (Why?!) which is a relaxing environment and inspired us of having pets in the game.

    • What I found very useful to figure out how the game could be like was, asking important questions and answering them, for example, "How many players?", "Do they cook? How? What do they need to cook?", "How do the players score?", etc. Following these questions, we managed to put our small pieces of ideas together and figure out the game flow.

  • Balancing:

    • Balancing is a big issue for card games. We solved this problem by playtesting early and often. We kept tweaking the number of cards and recipes basic on what we noticed through the playtesting.

  • A Rule Learned:

    • In order to solve design problems, always tying the problem in existing rule set rather than adding new rules.


Playtesting While Eating
Playtesting While Eating

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Dev Night
Dev Night

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Team Photo!
Team Photo!

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Playtesting While Eating
Playtesting While Eating

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Printables: Rule Book, Game Aid, Cards



Fun & Thanks


I was really excited to get this chance making a game with my college classmate Radium, my colleague Don and our friend Zach. Thanks to my friend Zhengyi who helped with the beautiful art remotely in Pittsburgh. We couldn't get the Most Delicious Game Award without your fantastic artwork. We also got the 3rd Prize of that night. Also I want to give special thanks to other playtesters, Zach's roommates and folks at Magic club at Drexel University. Their advice and feedback really helped us make this game robust and balanced within time limit!





Haiyin (Haley) Yang: Designer, Artist

Don Xu: Designer

Zach Howell: Designer

Radium Yang: Designer

Zhengyi Wang: Artist

Game Rules


Turn Order

  1. Score Phase (Eating dishes) & Check for victory

  2. Action Phase (Preparing dishes or destroying other players’ dishes)

  3. Announce Phase (Cooking dishes)

  4. Discard Phase

  5. End of turn


Score Phase

This step may happen anytime during the turn.

If no dish is announced or the ingredients for an announced dish are stolen, do nothing.

If the player has ingredients (and sauces) on board that are announced for cooking dishes, discard the ingredient cards and score the points. Flip the D20 to represent the current VP.

After scoring points, check if the player has scored 20 VP or more. If yes, the player wins the game.


  • Only discard the ingredient cards. If there is a sauce on board, it remains.

  • Points can only be scored if a dish is announced the last turn.


Action Phase

In a turn, the player performs 3 actions in total from either drawing a card from the deck or playing a card on board in front of them. Below are the combinations of actions that a player can take during a turn (the order doesn’t matter):

  • Draw 1 card, play 2 cards

  • Draw 2 cards, play 1 card

  • Draw 3 cards

  • Play 3 cards

When playing a card:

  • If it is an ingredient: Place it in your cooking area.

  • If it is a sauce: Place it in the center of the table. Remember that sauce is shared by everyone in play. If there is already a sauce, discard the old one and replace the one that is just being played. The player may score points with the bonus from the sauce that is just played. (The dish still needs to be announced last turn.)

  • If it is a pet: Pick another player and use the pet on them, take an ingredient that the pet is capable of stealing from their cooking area, and add it into your hand (it doesn’t go in your cooking area). Discard the pet card after using. The other player can still use the rest of the ingredients to make another dish on their turn.



  • In each turn, the player can perform 3 actions in any order.

  • The player can only steal an ingredient in another player’s cooking area. (The player can’t take an ingredient from another player’s hand.)

  • If there are two ingredients of the same that you are stealing from another chef. The target chef (not you) gets to choose which ingredient to be taken by you.


Announce Phase

If the player has ingredients on board that are ready to cook a dish, the player can announce that they are cooking this dish (and score points at the beginning of their next turn if the ingredients are still there). Put the ingredients next to each other so that it is easy to be viewed by everyone.


Discard Phase

The hand limit is 5 cards. If the player has more than 5 cards in hand before ending the turn, they have to discard down till 5 cards to move on.


End of turn

Game passes to the next player clockwise. The next player repeats this turn order. 


Rules & Cards