Please Take Note: This is a review of the game’s final prototype. The art, game bits, and the rules discussed are all subject to change. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the game’s web page or the Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review!
- For ages 21 and up
- For 2 to 6 players
- Approximately 60 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Untested (but presumed Easy)
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Collect the necessary ingredients to create a craft beers to grow your brewery
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek rejected!
- Child Geek N/A
Micro breweries are all the rage, and after trying your hand at making a few of your own craft brews, you’ve decided to create your own business. But making beer for yourself to enjoy is one thing and creating a brewing company is something altogether different. To be successful, you must craft beers using the best ingredients available, come up with new and interesting recipes, and then sell your product. In the end, it won’t matter how good your craft beers are if no one is drinking them.
Pint Craft, by Macrospectra Games, is comprised of 112 cards (83 Brewery cards, 25 Recipe cards, and 4 Season cards) and 107 Ingredient tokens (45 Basic Malt, 20 Specialty Malt, 26 Hops, and 16 Adjunct). As this is a review of a prepublished game, we will not comment on the game component quality, but the proposed card layout and art direction is easy on the eyes and to use during the game.
Brewery Set Up
To set up the game, first separate the cards into three decks. These will be the Brewery deck, the Recipe deck, and the Season deck. The three different card types have different card backs making this process an easy one to complete. Shuffle all but the Season deck thoroughly.
Second, deal out 5 Brewery cards to each player, face-down. Players are welcome to look at their cards but should keep them hidden from their opponents at all times. Place the remaining cards in the deck in the middle of the playing area. Leave room next to the deck for a discard pile.
Third, deal out the Recipe cards, face-up, into card piles in the center of the playing area. The number of piles will be one more than the total number of players. For example, if playing a game with four players, there will be five Recipe piles.
Fourth, take the Season cards and put them in their proper order (Spring, Summer, Fall, and then Winter). Select a season to start with and place this card face-up. The Season deck should remain face-down next to the Season card in play. The cards in this deck need not be in proper seasonal order, but the seasons themselves will always be played in the proper order. The deck is kept face down to ensure everyone is clear about what season is currently active.
Fifth, place the Ingredient tokens in a central spot where they are easily accessible to all the other players. We suggest putting them in a bowl of some kind to make it easy to pass around and for keeping the playing area tidy.
That’s it for set up! Time to make some craft beers! Decide who will go first and begin.
Brewing Up Some Fun
The game is played in rounds with each player taking a single turn per round. On a player’s turn, they will complete the following steps in sequential order.
Step 1: Play Brewery Cards
A player can play up to 3 Brewery cards in their hand, but for every Brewery card they play, their total number of Brewery cards they can draw at the end of their turn is reduced. Brewery cards come in two different types. These are Immediate and Persistent. Immediate Brewery cards have an immediate effect on the game once played and are discarded once revealed. The effects of these cards range from affecting the player who played the card, the other players, or all the players. The Persistent Brewery cards might have a one time effect of persistent game effect, but are not discarded once revealed. Instead, these cards remain in front of the player for the duration of the game.
The Brewery cards have detailed instructions and sometimes require the player to make choices based on what they want the card to do. For example, the “Blind Taste Test” Brewery card allows the player to either flip over the top Brewery card in the Brewery deck that will automatically take effect or draw one Adjunct ingredient of their choice. The primary goal is to collect ingredients so craft beers can be made, but the Brewery cards also allow for the player to improve their breweries, acquire clientele, and influence events in the game.
When a Brewery card is played that allows the player to collect Ingredient tokens, they take the number and type of ingredients noted from the Ingredient token pile. More times than not, the ingredients to be collected will be the basic and specialty malts as well as hops. Some Recipe cards require adjunct ingredients. Adjunct ingredients are special additions that make an ordering beer into something extraordinary. However, they are also harder to come by. As a general rule, a player can always substitute 4 Ingredient tokens they would claim from the Ingredient token pile for one adjunct ingredient of their choice. This is a one time offer, however, and can only take place during the very moment the player is taking ingredients. Additionally, any bonus ingredients earned during certain seasons cannot be used to create adjunct ingredients.
Note: If a player ever runs out of Brewery cards (i.e. plays their last card), their turn automatically ends and they cannot continue to step 2 or 3. Instead, they draw 4 Brewery cards and their turns is completed.
Step 2: Use Ingredients
Throughout the game, players will be collecting Ingredient tokens. These tokens represent base malts, specialty malts, hops, and adjunct ingredients. These tokens are used to complete the visible Recipes in the playing area. All ingredients, once collected, are placed in front of their owning player. During this step, the player uses the tokens to satisfy the Recipe card’s requirements For example, the Oatmeal Stout Recipe card requires 4 base malts, 4 specialty malts, 3 hops, and an oat as an adjunct ingredient. If the player had these essential ingredients, they would place them back in the Ingredient token pile and place the Recipe card they completed in front of them. Each Recipe card is worth Victory Pints (i.e “victory points”…isn’t that clever?) and is automatically scored. The number of points each Recipe is worth is noted by one or more icons of a pint glass. There are no limits to the number of Recipe cards a player can earn during their turn. If they have the ingredients, they can claim matching Recipe cards. However, only the Recipe cards showing can be taken.
Step 3: Draw Brewery Cards
The last step the player takes on their turn is dependent on what they did on the first step. As noted in step 1, a player can play up to 3 Brewery cards in their hand, but for every Brewery card they play, their total number of Brewery cards they can draw is reduced. The number of Brewery cards a player can draw is based on the simple formula noted below.
- Play 3 Brewery cards = Draw zero cards
- Play 2 Brewery cards = Draw 1 card
- Play 1 Brewery card = Draw 2 cards
- Play zero Brewery cards = Draw 3 cards
There is no hand size limit, meaning more cards results in more possible actions.
At the end of each round, the current Season card will be replaced with the next Season. Players should simply find the next Season card and put it face-up in the playing area and place the last Season card in the deck, face-down. Each season brings a special bonus for the round that players might be able to take advantage of. Bonuses are available via completed Recipe cards the player has acquired, but are only possible to use if the Recipe has already been completed in a prior round. In other words, completing a Recipe during a season that would have offered a bonus does not provide the bonus.
Depending on the number of players, a game will have a predefined Victory Pint threshold. Once the threshold has been met or surpassed by one or more players, the Challenge round beings on the next player’s turn. The Challenge round gives all the players one more chance to surpass the player who triggered the endgame Challenge round. The player who triggered the endgame gets to sit back and enjoy the show because they are done for the game. Once the other players have had their final turn, all the Victory Pints from claimed Recipe cards and any acquired through Persistent Brewery cards are added together.
The player with the most Victory Pints is automatically the winner. If two or more players tie, the game goes into something like “Sudden Death” and a face off is started. Only those players who tied play this part of the game. During the face off, the Seasonal card is replaced with the next season and any benefits are awarded to the active players. Then each active player plays 1 Brewery card in an attempt to make as many Victory Pints as possible. This continues until one player has the lead or the players in the face off agree to call the game a draw.
Based on the rules, this is not a complicated game to teach or to learn. A player’s turn sequence is pretty straight forward and the choices the player needs to make is limited to what is on the table and in their hand. Players are not directly in conflict with each other and the game is pretty much focused on completing recipes as quickly and as efficiently as possible. In some ways, this card game has a very Euro-game feel to it, but none of the long game turns or multiple choices that weigh down inexperienced players. This should automatically appeal to the Gamer Geeks as a light game worth playing at their table. For the Parent Geeks, the game play would appear to be very casual and the length of a game is dependent on how well players do versus set number of rounds. And don’t even get me started on how well this game is going to be received by gamers who are also beer enthusiasts.
For the Child Geeks? While I do think the game will be easy for them to learn, I have some reservations about putting this game in front of them. The game is all about creating beer, but some of it is also about drinking it. I have reviewed other games in the past (recently, Viticulture) where alcohol or production of alcohol was the theme. But those games never included the drinking of alcohol. I don’t want alcohol and fun associated with each other with very impressionable, not to mention young, little geeks. There will be a time and a place for such things, but not now. After doing a lot of thinking and discussion with others, I decided that the best course of action was to go with my gut and not put Pint Craft in front of the Child Geeks. I will let you, the Parent Geeks, decide for yourself if the game is appropriate. For the record, none of the other Parent Geeks we tested the game with wanted to play it with their children, either.
For those who did get a chance to play the game (all 21 and over), teaching it to them was very straight forward and simple. More time was spent with the non-gamers, of course, but the game is based on the actions the cards suggest and collecting ingredients to use for recipes. The recipes are out in the open and all the player needs to do is collect those before the other players do. As far as choices go, the player need only look at their hand and make the best choice based on what hey have available. Broken down and pitched in this fashion, no one was confused or stressed about what the game was about or how it was to be played. And so, while I set the game up for our first play session, I asked the table their thoughts on the game so far.
“A neat and easy looking card game that will teach me about beer at the same time.” ~ Parent Geek
“This looks like a Euro-game, but with a distinct American feel.” ~ Parent Geek
“Reads light and looks light, but I can already see how I’m going to be interested in the game play.” ~ Gamer Geek
Let’s open this game up and see if it quenches our thirst or if it leaves a bitter taste of regret in our mouths.
Not playing this game with the Child Geeks was the right call, but the game would be easy enough for them to play. I don’t think my 8-year-old would have a problem with the game on any level, as he has played much more complicated games in the past. The heavy alcohol theme, however, would make me feel uncomfortable playing it with him or any Child Geek. We’ll have to wait a number of years to play this one as a family.
For the Parent Geeks and non-gamers, the game was enjoyed and learned quickly. The game presents the player with a number of choices, but never to a point where any of our players felt overwhelmed or confused. The cards drive most of the action for those who do not have a lot of experience with games, but this did not reduce their level of entertainment or ability to play the game on any level. In fact, the Parent Geeks who had the most fun with the game were those who were also beer enthusiasts. The conversations around the table quickly shifted from the game to craft beers tried and loved. For those who were not craft beer followers, they enjoyed the game, but clearly not on the same level as those who knew about micro breweries and how to craft their own beer.
Gamer Geeks enjoyed the game, as well. Again, I observed that those players who knew their beer enjoyed the game on a more intimate level than those who did not. This only served to make a stronger connection to the theme of the game, however. A person who enjoyed a good craft beer or knew how to brew their own didn’t have a game advantage over someone who didn’t. The game did provide the Gamer Geeks enough of a challenge to keep them engaged and served as an excellent casual game for them to enjoy around the gaming table before or after the big game for the evening.
Gamer Geeks, this is a casual game from your perspective, but it has enough choices and pitfalls to make it a game worth your attention. Your peer group, regardless of their preference for wine, beer, or coffee, enjoyed the game. The most interesting aspect that your peer group enjoyed was the mixing and matching of ingredients and creating the necessary adjunct ingredients for recipes that would award the most points. This made the Gamer Geeks really take note of what ingredients were in front of other players and what Recipe cards were available to claim. The only objection to the game was the final round. Your peer group felt the game should just end as soon as a player reaches the threshold, instead of allowing one last round that could steal the player’s victory. Other than that, no serious complaints and everyone was happy to order another round of the game.
Parent Geeks, this is a game that can be played casually and socially. It is not what I would consider appropriate for family play due to the game theme and the majority of Parent Geeks agreed. Your peer group considered the game challenging, as each play had to be smarter than your opponents’. The game itself didn’t trip any player up and the most complicated thing to consider at times was how many cards to play and where to spend ingredients. In the end, the Parent Geeks enjoyed the game, doubly so if they were also beer enthusiasts, but could not give it their endorsement because it wasn’t family friendly.
Pint Craft is a game I would gladly recommend to other Gamer Geeks and to Parent Geeks who I knew were micro brew followers or created their own beers. If I knew the Parent Geek wasn’t, I wouldn’t bother to mention it. This is because the game is somewhat dependent on the audience knowing about the crafting of beers. Not the actual act or science, mind you, but the industry. For those who do not, the game might come across as a drinking game that used alcohol as its base. An unfortunate assumption, but it’s already happened to me three times while playing this game. For the Gamer Geeks, they didn’t care one bit. In fact, when I told them it was a game about creating a brewery, collecting as many recipes as possible, and gathering distributors and consumers, they automatically asked if it was a Euro-game. They were surprised when it was presented to them as a card game and even more so when they saw how well the game was designed. Yes, they all thought it was a rather light game, but the game play was sufficiently intriguing enough to keep them interested.
As for me, I rather enjoy the game. It scratches a hard to reach itch that so many games cannot touch. Specifically, that feeling of a Euro-game with heavy resource gathering and management, but with none of the Euro-game bulk. The end result is a rather enjoyable game that doesn’t need or ask you to like beer on any level. A player need not even know what beer is and can still play the game competitively against an opponent who brews beer for a living.
The only downside to Pint Craft is its theme. It made most of the Parent Geeks uncomfortable, which means it is highly unlikely the game will be shared with the Child Geeks in the near future. This is a genuine shame as the game is a good one, but also completely unavoidable. The game designer has put some serious thought into the game cards and removing any of them would be criminal. The game is about crafting beers and then selling them to become a successful micro brew company. Thematically and mechanically, the game and cards all work together brilliantly. This is clearly not a game designed for Child Geeks, but then again, not every game should be. It is perfectly acceptable to create games for an older audience in the same way it is perfectly acceptable to create drinks only for those who are 21 and over.
If you are looking for a light Euro-game played with cards where the focus is on gathering ingredients to make craft beers, building a brewery operation that will stand the test of time, and pitching your product to distributors and consumers, then make room in your game fridge for Pint Craft. We think you’ll find its smooth game play and enjoyable aftertaste worth your time.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.