Who hasn’t thought about ‘switching drinks’ with someone?
In the US, the idea of the corner lemonade stand and the red plastic Solo cups are icons. The rest of the world has seen this perfect image of innocence thanks to many, many forms of media, and is the basic premise of this That’s Not Lemonade.
There is a competition between the local kids as to who can drink the most lemonade (Make the best lemonade? Something like that. It’s not really important). But the nefarious ‘Little Johnny’ has decided to spice things up by switching some drinks for something That’s Not Lemonade!
Rounds are simple – drink the most lemonade by having the most lemons in your hand at the end of the round, but if get something That’s Not Lemonade you are out immediately.
Win 3 rounds, win the game. Simple, quick and easy!
Setup is incredibly simple. Up to 6 players pick up a cup and pick a character.
The characters don’t really add anything to the game. There aren’t special powers or rules for different characters, just grab the one that puts a smile on your face 🙂
The information at the top of the card shows how many of each card type is in the deck, so that’s handy to know.
If you are playing with 2 people, pull out one of the That’s Not Lemonade cards from the deck. Playing with 3 people, take out 2 That’s Not Lemonade Cards. Pick a dealer, and let them shuffle the deck.
You will probably be ready to play in less time than it took you to read this explanation!
Playing the game
The easiest way to think of the mechanics of That’s Not Lemonade is to think of Blackjack.
On your turn, you can Hit or Pass. Hit means you are dealt a card, pass means that you turn over your cup and can no longer drink any more Lemonade.
If you Hit, the dealer deals you a card and you look at it secretly. If it’s a That’s Not Lemonade card, immediately turn over your cup and put the That’s Not Lemonade Card face up on top of the cup. This means you are out of the round as you recover!
Don’t show the rest of your hand if any though – the only card that is revealed is the That’s Not Lemonade card.
Now the rules do say to put your cup on its side, but we had a bit of rolling so went with the ‘card on top’ rule. Go with what works for you would be my advice here.
If you get Lemonade or Ice, you are safe and the dealer proceeds to the next person.
If you decide that you are comfortable with the number of lemons in your hand, you can decide to pass on your turn which you indicate by flipping your cup. You are still in with a chance to win, but you can relax a little bit and watch everyone try and work out what you have.
If there is only one person that hasn’t got any That’s Not Lemonade cards, they automatically win the round.
Otherwise once everyone still in has Passed, everyone shows their hands and counts the number of lemons. There are 2 cards with Double lemons, so don’t forget to count 2 with these cards!
The winner puts a single lemon card under their character card to show they have won, and everyone resets their cups and play begins again.
The quick amongst you will have noticed though that you have set back up for round two with one less lemon card.
That’s right – the more you play, the more likely you are to take a hit of Ice or That’s Not Lemonade as the lemonade runs out!
Winning The Game
Winning is simple – the first person to win 3 rounds, wins the game. As I said, That’s Not Lemonade is quick, simple and fun – there is not a lot to get your head around!
That’s Not Lemonade is a game that is incredibly simple, but this is a good thing. On each player turn, there is only one decision to make – Hit or Pass.
Analysis Paralysis is all but eliminated, but the social pressure of encouraging someone to drink and their squirming in indecisiveness is always fun to watch.
Each round only lasts a minute or two even with 6 players. Only having a deck of 18 cards with 4 ‘dangerous’ cards means rounds cannot last a long time. Almost everyone has been exposed to Blackjack, but even if they haven’t the Hit or Pass mechanic is easy to pick up on, and only counting lemons makes objectives simple to grasp as well.
Like many games, the first round will be the longest, but That’s Not Lemonade has the advantage of thinning the deck everytime someone wins, guaranteeing that games wind up quickly.
The cups are more than a nostalgia item or gimmick. If your cup is ready to drink from, your in. If it’s upside down, you don’t want to drink. If it’s on its side (by the rules) or covered with a card (my rules) you are busy recovering from a bad experience. This makes the game state easy to take in with a glance, even with 6 players.
Also, each game takes 10-15 minutes even at high player counts. That makes for a great social filler experience while waiting for people, and as the game is about the size of a can of soft drink, easy to have on standby for such occasions.
That’s Not Lemonade is a game with a lot left to chance. It has to be, or it couldn’t be the type of game it is.
Even knowing this, going out on your first card is never a fun experience, and this is something that can happen multiple rounds in a row if you are really unlucky.
It’s chance, and not likely to always happen to one person, but be prepared to potentially counsel players that could be hit by this.
But really that’s the only real downside for me – there is the potential you can get hit with a run of bad luck run in a 10-minute game.
There are people that may look down on a such a simple filler game, but as a general rule I would guess such players would object to most games described as ‘Filler’, ‘Social’ or ‘Party’ games.
There are always exceptions to such rules though, so let them try it. Even players I have met completely opposed to filler games will give one a try if it’s only a few minutes long. But like any game, there is an audience for it and That’s Not Lemonade may have wider appeal to U Mad Bro, there are some that just won’t like it.
Wait, U Mad Bro? What’s that got to do with That’s Not Lemonade?
Ahh, well a lot actually. You see on a simple level That’s Not Lemonade is a retheme of Matt Fantastic’s U Mad Bro.
Gameplay is pretty much identical from what I understand, but instead of lemonade stands players were Jersey Boardwalk Bro’s trying to impress the Babes with washed up bits of Cthulhu. Get the most pieces and win, but if you go Mad – you’re out.
Personally, I prefer the lemonade theme, it feels less forced with the mechanics and eliminates the eye roll that some players show with Cthulhu themed games, not to mention the Jersey Bros.
Want a game that’s quick, fun and takes very little brain power to play? That’s Not Lemonade is probably right up your alley.
I cannot imagine game nights filled with just That’s Not Lemonade, but something to occupy the table while the new game is being setup, an opener, closer or straight up time passer is the perfect time to pull it out.
Setup time is almost non-existent, and the combined social experience is silly but enjoyable at the same time.
Until next time,
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