I have a library full of games. At its height it contained almost 500 different ones, these days I brought it back to 206 games according to board game geek. Naturally I have several games about beer and once in a post I’d like to tell more about one of them. This time it’s time for:
Biergarten is a tableau building/tile laying game, a bit like Alhambra or Carcassonne. You place cards in front of you, making your own beer garden. You gain points for cleverly matching the colours of your shields and your umbrellas. You also gain points for an enclosed wall around your garden. The game is for 2 to 5 players and takes about 20 minutes.
FIrst of, the rules seem to be translated with Google translate or such, which makes it difficult to understand the game if you read only one of the rulebooks, so I use the Dutch, English and German rulebooks side by side. It can also be confusing that they call the victory points sold barrels. I understand it is to stay in the theme, but it adds to the confusion when reading the rulebooks. That said, it is NOT a difficult game in itself, it is easy to learn and easy to play with both casual and regular players.
As you probably surmised; The theme of this game is cleverly placing tables and people in your beer garden to sell as much beer barrels as possible. Every turn you place a card in your beer garden. Then you may do a swap or move action after which you adjust your victory points accordingly. As soon as one player has 10 or 15 victory points (deending on the side of the scoring board you play), the last round begins. At the end of the last round you all count your victory points and the person with the most victory points wins the game!
To set up the game, you place the scoring track on the table where everyone can reach it easily. You can choose between the normal game (the lager side) or a quick game (the ale side). Everyone places their scoring piece beside the board. You shuffle the common cards and deal two cards to every player. Then every player chooses a start card out of the home cards displayed next to the scoring board, the other home cards go back in the box. Lastly you place the deck of common cards on the table and place three cards open next to it on display as the supply.
- Draw: On your turn you either draw an open card from the supply, a facedown card from the deck OR blindly one from the hand of another player.
- that player takes a new card from the deck. In the case you took from the supply, place a new card there from the deck.
- Place: Then place one of the cards in your hand in your beer garden. You cannot rotate the cards and they always have to be orthogonally next to another card in your beer garden. There can be a wall between the two cards.
- Rearrange: Then you may either swap two cards in your beer garden or move one card:
- You can swap any two cards in your beer garden, they do not have to be adjacent.
- When you move a card, you can use it to slide a whole column or row one space up/down/left/right.
- Score: Then adjust your score accordingly.
Your points are fluid. You do not necessarily gain points every turn, you could lose points as well. To calculate your current score you have to count your current shields, your current umbrellas and your current bonuses immediately:
- Shields: If the two halfs of a combined shield match one colour, you gain one point. You gain two points for two matching colours. You can count the wild for any one colour;
- Umbrellas: If you have seven connected umbrellas of one colour (they have to be immediately connected on adjacent cards), you get two points. You cannot gain points for this if you are playing the ale side of the scoring board. Strings of umbrellas are broken by wilds, walls and any card that does not have an umbrella in that colour;
- Shields bonus: If you have at least one match in every one of the four colours, you gain a bonus of three points;
- Wall bonus: If your garden is completely walled off (no shields on the outer sides of your garden), you gain six points. Inner walls do not affect this bonus;
In the final round, when one player has 10 or 15 points, that one player skips the draw and play step of their turn, but gets to rearrange their garden one more time. The other players have a normal turn.
And that is it! I really like this game, because it is easy to learn, easy to teach and moderately easy to play. Moderately easy, because especially the rearranging of your beer garden is not as easy at it looks. And especially that part definitely makes this a game worthwile. For me that makes it a game that is both interesting for casual and for regulare board game players. Easy enough to play, difficult enough to stay interesting. It also helps that at the end of the game you have a visually nice beer garden in front of you, so theme wise it works as well. I like the artwork in general. It is very colourful and the scoring pieces are nice. It is a relatively small and light box, so it is easy to take with you, although the finished beer gardens take up quite some table space, so you need a bit of a playing area and cannot just play it anywhere. All in all, I really recommend this game for everyone that would like to have a nice and light beer game in their collection!
Can you show me your most beautiful beer garden in Biergarten?