With packing and having to move at the end of the month, my big games on my shelf are packed. But I made sure to leave out a few small games that I could enjoy either at the computer desk or the bar; Maquis , Squire for Hire , Dungeon Roll (even though I packed my homemade dice tray..oops) and I left out Brewmaster: The craft beer game so I could see what it was all about.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my wife, Shawna found Brewmaster at a local thrift store last year sometime, and I totally forgot we had it. $5, still sealed (and it's 20yrs old!). As a craft beer lover, I was naturally intrigued. 😁
I do have a confession before I get into this... I did not have any craft beer at home yesterday to enjoy while I learned the game. 😯 I know, it's wrong. My apologies.
On BGG, there are very few forum posts about the game. The complexity rating is 1.67/5. Seems about right to me.
It's a small box, small footprint and a simplistic game, but with enough strategy to satisfy gamers like me who like the heavy stuff. I feel it would be an easy game to play with gamers and non-gamers alike, quick to explain yet with some strategy and luck mixed in.
Granted, if you're not a craft beer fan you may not enjoy it.
The components are very simplistic;
-Old school chips (8/player ... up to 5-players)
-75 cards (in my opinion are very nicely done as you can see)
- 1, six side die
-Fold out "main board"
The main board, in it's simplicity impressed me (granted, I'm easily pleased). It's like a laminated placemat in a way. Meaning if you're enjoying a beer and playing with friends, and a spill happens there's no worries. 🤣 Also on the mat is the turn sequence, so you have that reminder in front of you at all times. I like that in some games. Shadowrift has that at the top of the board as well.
Unfortunately, there is no solo mode. And since it's not a well known game, there's nothing in the forums (although there are two variants to take a bit more luck out of the game). As Athena suggested, I may take this one on and see what I can come up with for a solo variant. I actually had a couple ideas I could try. That experiment will require some beers for sure. 🍺
My favourite part of this simple little filler game, is how well the designer did with the theme. They stayed true to the craft beer/micro brewery theme in every way and every reasoning in the rulebook for various parts of the game...
-When you produce a beer, you place a "crowd chip" on that style of beer. Each style of beer can have up to 3-crowd chips at most. In the rulebook FAQ, the reasoning is because not everyone likes craft beer, so the amount of people/crowds you can attract is limited. Cool!
- When there are already 3-crowd chips on a style of beer, and you produce that style again, you replace your opponents top chip with your own. Why? Because the most recent crowd is fickle. Cool again!
- When you win a trophy/award, you never lose it. Why? In the rulebook FAQ they say; "Have you ever had a craft beer that you didn't really care for, and yet it says 5-10 years ago it won awards?? Awards are forever." Amazing!
-In the gameplay, you need 3-ingredients to brew a beer; hops, yeast and malt (like in real life!). Except Belgian style, you need 2-yeast (so 4 total ingredients). Each ingredient card, shows the type or types of beer you can brew using that ingredient. So for example, if you want to brew a porter (because why wouldn't you! LOL) you need hops, yeast and malt cards that can all be brewed into a beautiful porter.
- Everytime you brew a beer, you draw an 'event card'. These cards hold true to the theme as well. I was impressed with the "Big Breweries" card, which ends up taking crowds away from players, from the most popular brews because, like in real life, they try to control the micro brewery market. Cool AND frustrating in the game and real life. 🤣
I played two-handed last night to get the idea of how the game works. I played right to the end to figure out the scoring (which is just the total of your trophies/awards and crowd chips as your VPs). As I said, it's simple but it made me smile throughout. I was impressed with this little game. 😄 The designers did a wonderful job.
In the end, the 'Blue player" won with 10 VPs (to 6 for yellow). 4-awards and 6 crowd tokens. What a brewmaster that blue player was! 🍻