Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beer and Boardgames

Something I've recently gotten into as a hobby is designer board games.  Things have come a long way since the era of games like Monopoly, Sorry!, and Life.  One thing that hasn't changed is taking a game and pasting a theme over it (I'm looking at you Cthulhu Monopoly).  Because, Capitalism.

Here are some games that feature beer either in the game's theme or as a game mechanic.

Red November by Fantasy Flight Games

In this game, you're a Soviet-esque Gnome that's part of a crew on a submarine that is starting to fall apart.  Fires are breaking out randomly,  Compartments are flooding, your missiles are going to launch, your oxygen supply is depleting.  So pretty bad stuff until you look out your window and see a giant kraken you now have to deal with.  How do you get through all of this?  Grog! Grog improves rolls or makes you brave enough to enter a room on fire!  It also makes you pass out, which obviously, is a bad thing when your submersible is on fire and about to crushed by a giant kraken.

This is a cooperative game that feels like a disaster movie.  The lighthearted art makes the dire theme less depressing and at times really funny.  It reminds me of Mr. Incredible's interview at the start of the movie where he talks about constantly saving the world and wishing it would just stay saved.  It's like that but with fire, floods, and your submarine's life support systems.

Here is a Text review and video review of Red November.  A the time of this writing, it's back in print and also pops up on EBay and Boardgamegeek occasionally.  The first edition is a smaller box but is from I can tell the same game, although with slightly different artwork.

BrewMaster: The Craft Beer Game by Cold Creek Publishing

While Red November focuses on drinking beer to solve your problems (or create new ones), BrewMaster is all about gathering ingredients, making beer, entering competitions, and trying to become the best brewer at the table.

This considered a light-weight game and as a review on boardgamegeek stated "don't expect a highly strategic card game. It takes roughly as much brainpower as rummy." 

This is available at White Labs site

Biergarten by Steamboat Gothic Studio

This little card game has you playing cards to build the best beer garden in the land or on your table.

Every player plays cards matching the color of umbrellas to score points.  It's a very simple game to teach and to play and would actually be a great game to take to a brewery when you're drinking some beers.

This game recently finished on Kickstarter and is now available from places like  You can also order it here.  And here's a review using a prototype.

Drinking Quest by Jason Anarchy is a light roleplaying game based around typical medieval/fantasy tropes with a lot of alcohol references.

So, this is a thing.  And it's a thing that did relatively well on Kickstarter.

Here's a video of group playing the game.  NSFW language from Metal Jesus Rocks (and friends).  But they really capture the spirit of the thing.  Bonus points for the young lady with the elf ears.

And while we're talking RPGs, In the Greyhawk campaign world for Dungeons and Dragons, there is Wenta, Goddess of the Harvest, who's symbol is a mug of beer.  The deity "advocates staving off winter's chill with beer and ale" so her clergy tend to celebrate a lot.  Probably a pretty fun bunch, to be honest.  Like if this was a real church, I'd sign up.  The depiction of her as a "young, rosy-cheeked, buxom woman" was probably developed by guys sitting around the table drinking St Pauli's girl and not thinking inclusively.  A cleric (it's the priest class for the non-nerds reading this), however, would be a great character to role-play with a beer or six (just to help get into character, of course).

Beer Empire just finished up on Kickstarter.  I found the how to play video a little boring but I'm not a huge fan of Euro games.  That said, this looks like a more in-depth version of Brew Master.  The Board Game Geek link has the video and other information.

Beer & Pretzels by Bezier Games is a very simple dexterity game where you throw tokens into a marked off area and tally the points.  Here's a video that concludes with the reviewer (Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower) overly enthusiastically defeating his daughter in a round of this game.  Here's a text review show casing some of the manufacturer's humor.  This one doesn't seem like it's worth buying as there's not much there.  Just grab some coasters and have some fun which will probably annoy almost everyone around you at a bar.

Unfortunately, as Beer & Pretzels starts to illustrate not all beer themed games are going to be good.  In fact, some are downright bad.  Here's some of the bad ones I found:

Beer Nerd by Winerd Entertainment

This looks like a roll and move trivia game about beer.  On Boardgamegeek, it has 3/10 rating (based on one vote).  To put in perspective how obscure this is, the only things I found with similar few ratings either aren't out yet or were obscure games published before most people had color televisions like Double Quarterback or Munro Tabletop Hockey with the latter of these looking pretty awesome!

Beer and Vikings - This sounded amazing.  I like beer.  I like Vikings.  I was going to send this Dice Tower review link to NowBeerThis (who also loves beer and vikings) but after watching it, oh boy.  It seems like a bad "take that" card game that drags on too long.  This reviewer reviewed it a little more favorably.

Good artwork but not a great game.

Much like with beer, there's games available with various themes, mechanisms, and difficulties to suit everyone's taste as well as player counts from 1 to a dozen or more.

These two hobbies, much like hockey and beer, also go very well together.  They also do a similar thing as beer, which is to bring people together to share an experience and enjoy some time in each other's company.

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