Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 18 February 2020

More ingredients, more awards!:- Homebrewers

Game: Homebrewers

Publisher: Greater Than Games

Designer: Matthew O'Malley, Ben Rosset

Year: 2019

Homebrewers is a 2-5 player economic dice game in which you play as an eager amateur brewer hoping to win a home-brewing competition. The game takes place over 8 rounds, each representing a month. During the month you will use your dice to perform actions with the intent of brewing ever-better beers. At the end of each 4-month period there will be a competition to gauge who has the best beer with points awarded based on standing. At the end of the Oktoberfest competition you will additionally gain some benefits if you have appealed to the judges' individual tastes

At the start of each round every player will roll a set of 3 dice to determine which actions they can perform in the upcoming round. If you happen to roll 3 of a kind these can be re-rolled. Players can then trade dice with each other until everyone is satisfied. You can also pay $1 to change a die to any face you want (which may in turn give you 3 of a kind allowing for a re-roll). Once dice have been selected each player takes turns performing the 3 actions on their dice. You can also sell dice for money and spend money for bonuses such as changing a die face or gaining a wild action.


You have 4 kinds of beer each of which can be enhanced with ingredients to improve them.
Creating beer needs a few different things, each represented by a face on the die. The barley die face actually represents all the needed physical ingredients to make a beer, letting you put a barley token on your player board over the beer type you want to make. The card die face allows you to claim an ingredient card from the market, or add a card you own to a beer. These ingredients add flair to your beers, giving them a special power when you brew them. Alternatively you can sell them for some large instant benefits. The brew die face allows you to brew a beer. To do this you must have ingredients on the beer you wish to brew. You simply flip this ingredient token over to the dirt side and place that on your cleanliness track, increase your beer tracker on the central board by the amount indicated on your cleanliness track and then get any benefits for ingredients/bonuses printed on the board.  Cleaning actions simply let you remove 1 dirt token from your cleanliness board, the less dirt you have the better your beers will be! Finally the calendar face allows you to do the special action for the month, these vary each round of the game and even feature a powered up variant you can do by spending $2.

Homebrewers is an interesting take on beer making and a decent enough dice game with the basic rules. But adding the unique player powers added a lot of potential to the game. The unique player boards hugely change how you approach the game by giving you a unique cleaning track and a special ability you can trigger once a round. These will naturally shift your strategies to work with your new power, and they are very powerful. But everyone has one, so you spend the game feeling very jealous of everyone else, before ending the game with a close game (in our experience anyhow). Without the powers you will find that your actions feel extremely limited, resulting in a game where you didn't achieve very much.

There are cash bonuses and free actions dotted around the different beer tracks to incentivize you
There is a two-player variant in Homebrewers and it's functional. It plays quickly and easily with an imaginary third player who rolls dice (which everyone can trade with once) and brews beer at random based on a card draw. It can feel a little unfortunate when you discover the deck is more weighted in one way than another, but otherwise it works well and doesn't deter from gameplay, so I'm happy to report that Homebrewers makes for a solid two-player game. It would be better with a higher player count that allows for proper ingredient trading, but for a variant it works well.

Overall Homebrewers is a great beer-themed game. The theme is strong throughout, though I may have been heavily judged for my disgusting ingredient mixtures. Apparently a mix of flavours can work mechanically in the game, but probably not in a real beer! The main detriment of the game was how swingey the dice luck could be, some turns you desperately needed a certain die face and end up having to pay to get in in a game where money is (usually) hard to come by. As this money can be used for extra actions this means people who roll well actively get rewarded! Despite this it's a great game that is well worth checking out.

8/10


Homebrewers was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £38.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk

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