Friday, September 19, 2014

Tasty Libations - "Brew Crafters: The Travel Card Game"

I've worked a lot of Wednesday nights this summer and despite being a founding member of our current gaming group, I've had no luck switching our festivities to a different evening. But then again, maybe this is all for the best. My schedule is so schizophrenic now that even if it was changed there's still no guarantee that I'd be able to make it.

Oh well, at least things came into harmonic convergence a few times this summer as was the case back on June 18'th (!) when Dean, John and I sat down to test drive a few new acquisitions.

John brought in a print-n'-play copy of Brew Crafters: The Travel Card Game and he was pretty keen to show it to us. As one of the six titles included in a wildly successful project funded back on April 7'th, this card-game mega-package received over three times its goal benchmark from supporters.

Here's the Standard Reference Method copied right from Dice Hate Me Games:

"Ben Rosset’s Brew Crafters Travel Card Game is a 54-card game based on the big-box Euro Brew Crafters that was Kickstarted last fall by Dice Hate Me Games.

"Just as in its big-box brother, players in
Brew Crafters TCG are trying to manage their craft breweries by hiring workers, installing equipment or using cards to brew craft beers. For 2 to 4 players, 20-30 minutes."

Um, okay. That's not a lotta info, so you can check out the game's super-simple rules right here or just watch designer Ben Rosset's quick n' easy instructional video:


My ultimate goal was to brew up a Special Reserve so I quickly retained a Brewmaster, who promised a +2 Reputation boost if I could produce said beverage in the future. Dean immediately went to work, mixing up an Ale for three Reputation. John followed suit, cranking out the very same type of beer. Planning for subsequent turns, he also brought on a Night Shift in order to drop some bonus cards down in his Brewery.

Paranoid that I was lagging behind, I switched gears and synthesized a batch of Lambic, boosted up to six Reputation by my Brewmaster. Content with this windfall, I passed the turn on to Dean who produced a stellar Coffee Stout for five points, thanks to his own Brewmaster. John then instructed his Night Shift to install a Hops Infuser before cooking up another keg of Ale, netting him four Reputation points. He successfully managed to duplicate this process on his very next turn.

After miscalculating my ingredients order, I found myself woefully short on Malt. My acquisition of a Mash Tun offset this a little bit but it also cost me some precious momentum and gave John an opportunity to surge ahead. I rebounded rather well, first brewing up a Porter for three points and then nailing the Special Reserve for a whopping seven Reputation. My last-minute decision to offer Brewery Tours to the general public gave me a badly-needed boost, but would it be enough?

Dean kept brewing stuff up like Dr. Jekyll on crack. Even though he'd added a metric shit-tun (hee, hee) of Equipment and Workers (a Hops Infuser, a Hops Expert, a Night Shift, a Malt Expert, an Employee Manager and a Barley Grower) most of this stuff didn't jibe well with his plans. As a result, he only received face value Reputation for his resulting Porter and a measly one-point bonus to his second batch of Coffee Stout.

In his never-ending quest to perfect his Ale recipe, John retained a Hops Expert, netting him five more Reputation Points for his next batch. He finished with a flourish, mixing up a last-minute keg of Porter under the skillful auspices of an Ale and Porter Expert, the results of which he lovingly squirreled away in his Oak Barrelhouse.


John...28 Reputation
Me...27 Reputation
Dean...21 Reputation



  • For something that can fit into your back pocket there a whole lotta game here! 
  • Unlike the prototype featured in the video above, the production version looks great. The iconography is easy to understand and the rules summary cards are very handy. Now, some people might kvetch about the low-fi art or the fact that they used Dice Hate Me Games staffers as models but given the nature of the game I think it's fine. Hey, it's not like when TSR decided to save a few bucks and dressed their employees up in Ren Faire outfits to sub in for famous wizards and warriors
  • TWO...PAGES...OF...RULES...
  • I love how the cards are dual-purpose, serving as either ingredients or Equipment / Workers. This simple design aesthetic keeps the game nicely streamlined.
  • Despite the fact that the game is very rules-light, it actually feels kinda sim-y. You use the ingredients on hand to craft specific types of beer. You hire staff and buy equipment to improve your product and lower your production costs. You do your best to adapt when market limitations force you to get creative. All told, it's surprisingly deep and thematic. 
  • Considering that there's only twelve different cards in the mix, I'm not sure what kind of long-term legs the game will have. But then again, it was just one amongst six different games included with the Kickstarter so it doesn't exactly have to be Agricola now does it?

Given its initial success it's almost inevitable that Brew Crafters: The Travel Card Game will soon be available everywhere. Given its easy access, quick play time and hop-a-licious theme, I'd be hard pressed to resist picking it up on sight as a surprisingly deep little opener.

The game scores four pips out of six with a nice crisp, clean tilt-up finish.

Well, unless you got in on the ground floor of the Kickstarter then you probably won't be able to snag a copy of this in the foreseeable future. But, as I already mentioned, a game's success often brings wide release, so keep watching this space for updates!

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