Microbreweries have become very popular in the United States, and it seems more and more are opening. The three local microbreweries near me are packed almost every night of the week. On recent vacations, my husband and I have toured a few craft breweries including Yuengling Lager and Dogfish Head. I enjoyed learning about the history and brewing process on these tours. It was interesting being able to have a backstage visit to see the equipment and unique ways each brewery lovingly crafts their brews. Brew Crafters Travel Card Game enables players, within 30 minutes, to enjoy the process of building their brewery and crafting batches of beer, without the actual expense.
Set-up / Components
Brew Crafters Travel Card Game comes with 46 cards, one Start Player card, four recipe/ingredients cards, three player scoreboards, and three red scoring tokens.
During set-up, each player is given a scorecard, scoring token, and recipe/ ingredients card. Next, the first player is chosen and given the Start Player card. After the deck is shuffled, each player is given four cards to form their first hand. The next five cards of the deck are turned face-up in the middle of the table. Place the rest of the cards, face-down, next to the middle row. Be sure to leave space for a discard pile.
Players are trying to brew batches of beer and build up their brewery to gain the most Rep (victory points) and the player with the most Rep at the end of the game will win. The game is played in turns, and each player takes three steps during their turn:
1. Draw two cards into their hand
2. Chose to play one card -or- Brew -or- Pass
3. Discard Cards (down to 7)
1. Draw Two Cards into your hand
Players can choose to take theirs either from the face-up center row cards or the top of the face-down stack. If the player takes the cards from the face-up center row, draw new cards to replace the ones taken
2. Choose to Play One Card/Brew/Pass
Players may choose to play a card for its brewery effect or to brew a batch of beer
a. Playing a Card: To play a card for its brewery effect the player places the card in front of them where it will stay for the rest of the game. A player can only have one copy of each card. For the rest of the game, the player can use the card for its brewery effect. For example, the oak barrelhouse gives players +1 Rep for each porter, coffee stout, or special reserve that they brew and the Hops expert gives the player +1 Rep for each Ale and Lambic brewed by that player.
b. Brewing: When a player has enough cards in their hand to represent ingredients needed to brew a recipe they may choose to brew. The ingredients are on the upper left-hand corner of the cards. A player can also use two matching ingredients for any one missing ingredient they wish. For example, if a player wanted to brew a porter, they would need to have two malt cards, one hops card and one yeast card. If they did not have the needed yeast, they could substitute two more hops cards. After brewing, players should check their previously played cards for their brewery effects. Players will receive rep based on the type of beer they crafted and from the effects of their previously played cards.
c. Pass: A player may choose to pass and end their turn.
3. Discard Cards
At the end of a players turn, they must check if they have more than seven cards in their hand and discard down to seven cards.
Once a player reaches 21 Rep, the game will end. All players, after that player, in turn order, get one more turn. Next, count up player’s points for the Brewery Tour and Employee Manger cards, if players have these. The player with the highest score wins and, if there is a tie, the player with the most remaining cards in their hand wins.
Brew Crafters The Travel Card Game turned out to be a strategically fun game in a little box. I love the theme, meaningful decisions, and game play. The cards are high quality glossy cards. I usually prefer linen finish cards, but these will stand up to being handled and played with. The Ingredients/Recipe cards are really useful during game play and I am always referring to it as I choose cards for brewing. The included chips proved to be too big for the score card so we switched to glass beads instead. I like how you can see the numbers through the beads better anyways. The artwork and graphic design is also appealing and easily read. The ingredients symbols are simple, clear and easy to tell apart. The worker pictures are drawings of real people and work very well in the game. The box design is really nice as well, it is small and has a insert that keeps the cards secure in the box. The title really does say it, this would make a great travel game that you can take out and play at your local micro-brewery.
The rules are written on a colored, double-sided piece of thick paper that fits snugly in the box. These rules are quick and easy to read and will let your learn or teach the game in just a few minutes. There is no picture of set-up, but it isn’t necessary and would likely take up too much room. There is a picture of the card design and a useful chart of the card brewery effects and the number of each copy in the game. There isn’t a player aide to tell you what to do on your turn, but the rules are simple so this isn’t needed. The cards included instead give your the recipes and number of ingredients. The recipes aren’t written in the rules so the ingredients cards are very important. The rules are simple and straight forward, leaving the complexity to the card play and game choices. We didn’t need to return to the rules during game play. The rules are short but they address any problems you may have. The cards are also clear and makes sense as you play them.
I really like that Brew Crafters Travel Card Game includes a team game for four players, it isn’t something you see very often. I like to see more team games that aren’t trick-taking games. I haven’t played it yet but will let you know how it plays once I am able. It also plays well with three players which isn’t an easy number to accommodate.
As I said earlier, game play is straight forward and turns are quick as you draw two cards and either brew, play a card, or pass. You can watch others as they play their turn and plan yours at the same time. There isn’t much down-time but the little that there is is useful for planning time. I really enjoyed picking a path to victory and getting a strategy of card synergy. The engine building where you start out with nothing but build up over the course of the game is a mechanism enjoyed by many gamers. I enjoy seeing what I can do by the end of game with my cards. I also like games were the cards can be used in multiple ways. The choice of using a card for its ingredient or using it for the brew effects can be pretty significant. Having workers, equipment, and ingredients added variety to the game. Timing is also important, you might want to not brew that lambic until you get out a Hops expert so you can score extra rep.
Brew Crafters the Travel Card game feels like a very well balanced game. Most of our games were won by just a few points and once by the person who had the most cards left over at end of the game. There isn’t one clear path to victory and players are free to explore the different card combinations and brews.
The game also plays quickly, so as to not overstay its welcome. We found that we averaged brewing about three or four batches a game. Because of this, hand management is very important. Being able to use two cards for one ingredient is very helpful, so don’t forget about it like I did during our games. With this rule you don’t feel like you are stuck if you don’t get one of the few coffee or fruit cards.
Brew Crafters Travel Card game is a great value for the amount of strategy and fun that is inside the box. The artwork, meaningful decisions, and multiple use cards combine into a fun and light card game. The theme is fun, and not one I see often. The game does take a fair amount of table space by the end of the game so I wouldn’t recommend it in tight spaces. Overall, it’s a great addition to any game collection.
Designer: Ben Rosset
Artists: Christopher Kirkman
Publishers: Greater Than Games (Dice Hate Me Games)
Game Length: 30 minutes
Ages: 10 and up