I have a library full of games. At its height it contained almost 500 different ones, these days I brought it back to 225 games according to board game geek, although that’s probably including a lot of expansions. 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 another bigger game:
Dice games have the reputation of being simple games. There has been a spur of a lot of big games getting a simpler spin-off version with dice, like Carcassonne dice. There were also quite some very, very simple stand-alone games around the ’10s like zombie dice, which were stretching the definition of game certainly. So I can understand the reputation. But at the same time there was also a rise of complexer dice games which make the reputation undeserved. There are good and more complex dice games like Roll for the Galaxy, Dice Masters and Star Trek: The Dice Game which are worth your while. Dice Brewing is one of the more complex dice games.
Dice Brewing is a dice-building game, which is a spin-off of a more known board game mechanic called deckbuilding. In deckbuilding you start with a simple deck of cards which is for your use only. You’ll probably go through the whole deck in one round, but only can hold, say 7 cards in your hand during your turn. If you want to reach your goal though, you need stronger and better cards, so you try to gather them in the game to put into your deck. You also want to get rid of the weaker cards from your starter deck so they don’t clutter your play hand. The same goes for dice building. If you need a clearer understanding of the concept, you are welcome to come and play Mage Knight with me some time.
In Dice Brewing you and your team try to proof you are the best brewers in the company. Therefore you need to manage your resources (the dice) in the most effective way to be able to brew the best, most worthy beers. Your resources are light malt (yellow dice), dark malt (black dice) and hops (green dice). The blue dice are.. water? No, Strangely not, the blue dice are the resource skill.
You start your game with a representation of the company, which has four major buildings. You also have a larder, a die of each color and some money. In the middle of the table you find the market and the black market
In this game you try to get the ingredients you need to brew the beers and gain rewards for them, like gold and mastery points. Developing your resource pool is an important part in this game. You can buy special ingredients like fruits, spices and honey from the market. You can also buy action tokens from the black market. These action tokens can give you advantages, but they can also be used to disadvantage your opponents.
You can brew all kinds of different styles of beers in this game, and they all give different rewards.
You brewery consist of a Malt house, a Hops plantation, a School of skills and a Department of seed. In the Malt house you can turn seeds into pale malt, pale malt into dark malt and you can increase the value of your pale or dark malt. You can speed up all these actions when you use a skill die of at least 2. The hops plantation is similar, you can turn a seed into hops and increase the value of one hops die. The school of skills can give you a reroll of all your dice, reroll the pool of dice and select the highest for yourself or receive an extra skill die. In the department of seed you can transform hops, pale malt or dark malt back into seeds (I’m not sure how that works looking at it from a biochemical view, but sure, lets roll with it) or exchange skill or dark malt for money. When you use a certain action, that action will be blocked in the breweries of the other players, because you are all supposed to be working in the same brewery.
You start your turn by rolling all your dice in your active pool. You cannot reroll the dice in your storage. Then you decide whther you keep your dice in the active pool or put them in storage. After that you take turns. Each player can place one or two dice on their brewery, place one or two seeds on their brewery or can place one die and one seed on their brewery. You may use all your dice from your active pool and storage. Dice stay on your brewery until the end of the round, unless you used skill dice to speed things up. In the next phase everyone can buy one token from the market and one token from the black market. After that the brewing starts. For brewing you need to pay the dice and ingredients you need for the beer. You then take the card and the reward. You can enhance some beers for better rewards. You may brew as many beers as you want. In the last phase of the round you tidy up the place and start again.
The game ends when a certain amount of beers has been brewed. You get points for the beers, for your money, and for the green, yellow and black resource dice. The player with the most points wins!
I have mixed feelings about this game and that’s certainly partly due to my own expectations towards dice games. This is a proper game, not something you play quickly in the pub or inbetween other games. But it’s also quite slow and dry and thinky, a bit too dry for my taste. I always expect a bit more excitement from dice games. Hoewever, the game is still a good game to play, the mechanics work quite properly in the theme and it’s a nice game overall. The design is nice, although it would have been nicer if the markets would have been bigger. The coins are weirdly doublesided, so I bought my own replacement coins. The breweries are sturdy though and the artwork is gorgeous. The rulebook is a bit chaotic, so it might take a while to properly grasp the game. But it’s worth your time. Just don’t expect a quick game.
Have you tried any of the beer games I talked about on this blog? What did you think of it?