Thieving Chefs – System Design


Eat This Jam, Philly Game Night

The Most Delicous Game
The 3rd Place

Rules & Cards


Thieving Chefs is a 2~5 player turn-based card game. Each player is an immoral chef who is trying to become the best in the restaurant by collecting 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!

The process taught me the importance of playtesting. After my team came up with the basic rule structure, we made cards and starting playing with them. We experimented with different amounts of ingredients, different dish combos and points per dish. Each playtrhough give us insights into how to create tension and engagement among different players even when it’s not their turn yet.

Game Rules

Turn Order

  1. Score Phase (Eating dishes) & Check for victory
  2. Action Phase (Preparing dishes or destroying other players’ dishes)
  3. Announcement 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.

Announcement 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