Board game: Hip Hops

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. Naturally I have several games about beer and once in a post I’d like to tell more about one of them. Again a very travel sized game this post:

Hip Hops (Base set: Brews of the World).

Hip Hops doesn’t get very good reviews on Board Game Geek, and I get that. It is not a particularly clever game, but I think the game is still interesting enough. Hip hops was supposed to be a collectible beer card game. The crowdfunding didn’t do well at all though, so in the end it became a self-published game and it is hard to get, but not impossible. And even though I also don’t think it is such a good game, I do like the vision the designer had, which you can read on the kickstarter page:

One day you’ll visit a new city and pick up a deck of hip hops illustrated by a local artist. It will cover all the most interesting beers in that area, you’ll choose one, go to the brewery. There maybe you’ll pick up its exclusive expansion pack, use it as a menu as you sample its beers over a game. You’ll compare your collection of hip hops with the beer geeks in the taphouse, maybe trade a rare one. You’ll have updated your pocket collection of your favourite beers, and have some unusual cards to beat your drinking buddies with back home. 

So, a collectible card game. The most famous example of a collectible card game is Magic: The Gathering. Every year new cards are published for this still absurdly popular game, which has been a gamer’s household name since 1993, and the amount of money that goes around is out of this world. Originally you needed a starter set for each player to play this game. Each starter set has a pre-made deck, but the fun of the game is in making your own decks. So you need more cards, which come in boosters. Thirty years later it is still going strong with more than 25.000 unique cards in 69 pre-constructed theme decks out of 20 core sets. There are special and rare cards which are worth a lot. Apparently you can now sell the famous Black Lotus for 615.000 dollar. Next to the core sets there are also spin-offs, digital implementations, the special commander series, but also big tournaments and even an RPG based in the world of Magic. There is one thing I know for sure, these days I will not be much of a competitor with my Tempest (1997) decks.

Hip Hops is an easy to learn and play Top Trumps kind of game for 2 to 6 players. All cards list some attributes of a beer like the alcohol content, bitterness and year of introduction. Some cards also list hops used in the beer. Your objective is to get rid of all your cards. Each player starts with two cards in their hand and have to play one on the session pile. When you have less than two cards in your hand, you must take one from the draw deck. When you can’t play, you have to take the whole session pile back in your hand. The first player opening a session determines what to trump: They must choose between having to play a higher alcohol percentage, a higher bitterness unit or an earlier year. When you can play three cards with the same hops, you can take the whole current session out of the game. To match the hops you may play more than one card ánd you may take into account the last played card(s) on top of the session pile. This way you reduce the ammount of cards in the game significantly and minimise the risk of getting a lot of cards back in your hand. There are also 4 special silver cards in the game that trump everything and with which you may change the objective. The first one to lose all their cards wins.

So yeah. Not much game, but it is quick and fun to play. It is also playable on any surface, including the small tables in a train or airplane, and it is small and fits easily in your pocket. It also doesn’t require a lot of brain power, which makes it a perfect pub game as well. The cards are lovely, but it’s a bit of a bummer that not all the information on the cards is correct. I also miss some information on some cards, for example, not all cards have a bitterness unit. But the cards sure are beautiful and I still would have loved to buy the boosters for this.

All and all I am glad I have it in my collection. It would have been nice if it had come in a sturdier box though. And if you really want to have it as well, you can still find it here and there in random stores and pubs around the world.

Which beery game do you bring with you to the pub?

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