Board game: Stier zoekt Bier

Because of the Social Distancing I decided to review several board games this period, because playing a game is one of the best ways to spend your time at home! 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 a Dutch game:

Stier zoekt Bier (Bull seeks beer)

Stier zoekt bier is a card game out of a series of (slightly gendered…) card games about bovines, namely Gooische Koeien, a parody on a Dutch television series based on The real housewives, Klussen met Koeien (renovating with cows), which is inspired by Home make-over programs and Koe zoekt boer (Cow seeks Farmer) which is a parody on a very popular Dutch television program in which farmers are looking for a spouse. I don’t think Stier zoekt bier is based on a television program as far as I know. I was a bit put off by it being a cows series and now suddenly the beer is for the bulls. Also the other games in the series are not very good, but this one really surprised me!

Stier zoekt bier is an affordable card game in a  2-deck card box for 3 to 5 players. The playing time is half an hour to an hour and it’s recommended from age 8 and up. The game is not complex, but it’s not easy either, there’s some light thinking and tactics involved

The rule book is a bit confusing and gives an image of a very convoluted game, but it’s not, it actually works. One of the main game mechanics in this game is card drafting. Drafting means that everyone gets a hand of cards, picks one for themselves, then gives the rest of the cards to the player left or right. This way you get a new hand of cards, pick another card again and give the rest away again. In this one you only do it once and keep two cards instead of one.

In this game you are a bar owner who wants to lure the most satisfied customers to their bar. To do that you have to serve certain beers. Pietje Pils only drinks pilsner, Bennie Blond drinks blonde ale, Bruno de Bruyne drinks dark ale and Ozzy Oerstier drinks Urbier. They give points for a certain number of drunk beers at your bar and they all have a maximum of beers they can drink. You can pair up a bull with a bull so they give a double amount of points. The bar owner with the most points at the end of the game, wins the game!

A round consists of 6 phases. At the start of the game one of the players will be declared beer boss, they will start the game.
– In the first phase the players prepare the round by displaying 2 bulls for 3 or 4 players and 3 bulls for 5 players.
– The second phase is the drafting phase. You get 6 cards of beer, keep 2 and give the other 4 to your neighbour. Then your neighbour picks 2 again (and you pick 2 of the 4 cards you received) and discard the rest.
– The third phase is a bidding phase, starting with the beer boss. You can only bid once per round and cannot increase or decrease your bid afterwards, so think carefully. A bid can consist of several beerstyles but only the beerstyle in which you bid the most counts as your bid.
– In the fourth phase the highest bidders get to pick a bull from the line to bring to their café, starting with the highest bid and sofort. When people bid the same amount but in different beerstyles, than some beerstyles are better than others. The order is: Urstyle always wins (only with the same amount), then brown, then blond, then pilsner.
– In the fifth phase you may give every bull in your café one! beer ór a buddy when they didn’t have one yet. It will happen that some people have no bulls in there café yet or that the bulls in their café already drank too much.
– In the sixth phase you have to throw away all the beers you tapped for the bid, or had to tap because there was no more space in your storage, but couldn’t serve to a bull and the beer boss goes to the one who made the highest in the third phase.

Storage? Every player has their own café. In their café they have the bar, where they place the bulls, the bulls they give beer to, their storage where they keep their first 5 beers (you can put those beers closed in front of you) and their tapped beers (all beers a player has in their inventory above the five in their basement, not given to a bull yet, has to be played open). You must keep the beers in the order you received them, you cannot change the order. When you bid, you start bidding from your top-most beer and work your way down. You may use beers from your basement, but have to keep the order in mind. You cannot use your bottom beer when there are still unused beers at the top). This seems confusing, but becomes clear once you play the game.

The game ends when there are no more bulls. The person with the most points wins.

Especially the storage rule seems very confusing, but is very logical once you play the game. It’s also nice in the story. In the story bidding is already tapping beers to lure the bulls to your bar (see and smell the beer!), but if it’s not drunk, then you have to throw it away. You only have space for 5 beers in your storage, so you MUST tap your surplus.

All in all this game is much better than the other games in the series and fun and easy to play overall. It has some thinking, some tactics, some bluffing and a lot of beer. It’s also a very affordable game and is available at most game stores. The cards are sturdy though and of good quality. The artwork is not to my taste, but fitting for the game and all the important aspects are clear and easy to see. I’d definitely recommend this one.

Have you ever played one of the cow games? What did you think of it?

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