Ring Side Report-Board Game Review Brew Crafters

2015-02-01_1422748959

Product– Brew Crafters

Producer– Dice Hate Me Games

Price– $60 here http://www.dicehatemegames.com/games/brew-crafters/

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 90 minutes (2-4 players)

Type-Euro

Depth-Medium

TL; DR-An excellent intro to hard core Eurogames with a clean aftertaste. 97%

 

Basics-Crack open a cold one!  In Brew Crafters, players take the role of different microbrewers trying to be the local best.  While this is a Eurogame through and through, it’s actually not that complicated.  Each turn is divided into two basic rounds.  Round one is action selection at a market.  Here each player takes turns placing two meeples on different market spaces that get you money, the first player marker, specialist for your brewery, hops, malt, yeast, and special ingredients.  Next, players enter the brewery and place their brewery worker meeples on either brew beer, expand, or research with multiple workers from multiple players being able to take the same action.  To brew beer you have to spend the ingredients for each type of brew, and then the brew enters the pipeline.  The initial pipeline brews one beer at a time, but it takes two extra brew actions to be able to sell that beer.  When you start to brew a beer, you get victory points for the brew.  Also, if you are the first player to brew a beer, you also score extra points.  The expand action gets extra locations for your brewery from a garden that makes fruit or hops to a tasting room that brews beers in two rounds instead of three.  The research option lets you move up tech tracks that start by giving you extra resources, provides a resource every four turns in winter, increases productivity, and ends with a way to story extra victory points at the end of the game.  Each turn is one season starting with spring moving all the way to winter.  At the end of each year’s winter, each player has to pay for their brewery workers, specialist, and add-ons to their brewery.  If you can’t pay for your additions, you get money from the bank, but take a small victory point penalty.  At the end of three years, the player with the most victory points wins.

 

Mechanics– This game is deviously simple for a middleweight Eurogame.  Place two workers to buy ingredients, then place one action worker to do stuff at the brewery.  That will be about ~60% of your turns till you get a second action worker.  That seems simple, but the complexity comes from what that brewery worker does in your factory.  Players get a ton of options, and finding the best interplay of those options is how you win, and you don’t need encyclopedic knowledge of the rules to find that optimization strategy.  And, just like any good euro out there, just because you find one working strategy doesn’t mean it won’t get trounced during the next play through as the other players may be refining a strategy of their own.  It’s all amazingly well done as the mechanics work together like a well-made clock. 5/5

 

Theme- I liked this one.  I did feel like I was creating a microbrewery from the funny names of the beers to the farmers market where I got the ingredients to brew.  Also, the mechanic of not having to pay until the end of a year is interesting twist in the theme and mechanics.  I don’t pay to build on the brewery at the time, but I have to pay a bank for the loan to build my stuff and pay my workers after a bit of time.  That honestly feels more real than paying up front like in other Eurogames.  Like all themes in Euro-worker placement games, there are a few hiccups like “why can’t I buy more hops from somewhere else?”, but overall this is a slam dunk. 4.8/5

 

Instructions– The rule book is thick, but not too heavy.  It describes the rules well.  It’s thick but not so heavy to be overwhelming.  That said, I don’t want to give a backhanded compliment, but this game does the absolutely best at the worst thing in game design.  The game makes use of both iconographies to show some action as well as some wordy patches.  That’s not bad, but the heaviest word section is the different additions to the brewery and how they affect game play.  All of the brewery additions can’t be written in simple symbols. So the book does do a deep, well done explanation of each addition.  Also, each player gets a player card that describes how each place works in the brewery.  That in my opinion is the best way to deal with the bad situation of complex addition in a game.  It’s not perfect.  It’s a little clunky, but it does do a good job of getting the rules across.  4.5/5

 

Execution– More videos!?  I put up an unboxing video to show off all the components of this game right here http://youtu.be/7ONr50Lvfo4 . And, man, are there a ton!  All the pieces are well done and made from some nice chunky cardboard.  I like what’s in this box.  Nothing’s like a five pond board game.  I would have liked some more bags, but bags did come with this box so I’ll take what I can get.  Keeping your parts organized will be the best thing you can do to keep this game playable.  If your parts get mixed up, you are going to hate the amount of time it will take to play the game the next time.  But for $60 bucks, you get a ton of well done stuff in this heavy package.  5/5

 

Summary– This is an awesome version of Agricola that I can get my wife to play.  It’s got development of your property while still having worker placement, action selection, resource management, and tough choices while not being the punishing experience that Agricola can be.  Even if you don’t get what you want, you can still get some great options that allow you to build for you next turn.  I get all the fun development aspects of the classic worker placement Eurogames while not having the getting destroyed because I didn’t get the option I needed that turn.  That right there makes this a great introduction to hard core Eurogames.  Great components, theme, and mechanics make this an awesome game. 97%

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