Game Buzz: The Taverns of Tiefenthal

In 2018, Wolfgang Warsch pretty much blew up the board gaming world as three of his first designs got nominated for des Jahres awards – The Mind got nominated for the Spiel des Jahres, while Ganz Schön Clever (aka That’s Pretty Clever) and Die Quacksalber von Quedlinburg (aka The Quacks of Quedlinburg) got nominated for the Kennerspiel (with Quedlinburg winning it all). Naturally, the eyes of the gaming world have been on him since then. His next big box game, which was recently released in English, is

image by BGG user Bluffcheck20

The Taverns of Tiefenthal was published earlier this year by Schmidt Spiele, with North Star Games releasing the English version in October. In this 2-4 player game, players are running their own taverns, trying to expand and lure nobles in order to have the best one.

Each player gets their own player board, which is actually made up of several puzzle pieces – a main tavern, three tables, a server, a cashbox, a monk, a dishwasher area, a safe, a bartender, a barrel, a brewer, and beer storage. These are all double-sided, and can be upgraded during the game. Each player gets three dice of their color, as well as a dice coaster and four white dice. There will be cards available – guests that cost 3 beers, nobles, and a random assortment of four other guests. There are also five stacks of tavern cards that are always available, and cost money. Players shuffle up their starting decks of seven regular guests, one server, one table, and one brewer.

image by BGG user haamit

At the start of each round, the Turn Track marker on the central board advances. This triggers an instant bonus for all players – gain a counter guest that will allow you to basically do a mulligan (discard everything and try again) or give you an extra space on the monastery track (more on that in a bit); choose between a couple of different bonuses (gaining stuff or rolling extra dice); or upgrade a part of your board for free.

The next thing that happens is that players simultaneously start flipping cards over from their decks and putting them in the correct spots. Guests go to the tables, while servers, dishwashers, brewers, and barbacks go to their own special spots. Once all of your tables are filled (including any you may have drawn from your deck), you stop flipping immediately. It’s at this point you might choose to use a counter guest to discard everything you just drew and start again if you got bad stuff. If your deck runs out, reshuffle the discards and keep going.

Each server you have available because you drew them or upgraded that part of the board now allows you to roll one of your personal dice, though you can’t do more than three. These dice are placed immediately on your board. Then it’s time for the dice draft. Each player rolls the four white dice they have and place them on the serving tray. In turn order, each player chooses one and places it on their board. Once everyone has done this, you pass the tray with the remaining dice to your left. This process continues until everyone has drafted four white dice to their board.

In the next phase, you plan your actions out by allocating your dice to the various areas of your board. This helps things go quicker when you actually take the actions, which happens in turn order. It’s important to note that your plan can change right up to the moment where you take the actions. The different actions you can take:

  • Serve Your Guests. Each guest wants a certain die value, and will give you a certain amount of money (usually equal to the number on the die).
  • Withdrawal from the Cashbox. Any die value can be placed here, and you will get one Thaler for it. An upgraded Cashbox will give you three.
  • The Brewer. Each 1 or 6 placed here gets you one beer per brewer here. There’s one printed on the board (two when upgraded), and brewer cards will get you more.
  • The Barback. You don’t actually have to use dice to activate this. Just having a barback card will get you an extra beer.
  • The Barrel. Putting a die of any value here will get you one beer.
  • The Monk. Putting a 5 here will allow you to move one space forward on the monastery track on the central board. Crossing certain spaces will allow you to unlock different bonuses, like gaining cards or even culling your deck of some of the starting guests.
  • Thalers. When you’ve collected all your money, you can use your stash to buy new tavern cards – tables, servers, dishwashers, brewers, or barbacks. These get added immediately to the top of your deck. You could also choose to upgrade an area on your board. When you do this, you get a noble for the top of your deck. Each noble is worth ten points at the end of the game, and when going into your tables, they stack on top of each other, the only guests that do so. You can hoard up to two gold between turns (5 if you upgrade your safe).
  • Beer. When you’ve collected all your beer, you can spend it to buy one guest, which goes on top of your deck. You can also recruit nobles – 9 beer for one, 14 for two, or 18 for three. These also go on top of your deck, and don’t count towards your limit of one guest per turn. As with gold, you can hoard up to two beer between turns (5 with an upgraded beer storage).

After a player has finished all of their actions, play passes to the next player. Once everyone has done everything, discard all cards and get ready for the next round. After the eighth round, the game is over. Players add up the points from their cards, and the player with the highest score wins.

image by BGG user mordred352

Overall, this seems like an interesting merger between deck building and dice placement. Both the drawing of cards and rolling of dice are inherently random mechanisms, but by allowing players to place their most recently acquired cards on top of their deck rather than in the discard pile, and by putting in a dice draft, a lot of that randomness is mitigated. Plus, with all the moving parts, it seems like it would be incredibly easy to get distracted by all the shiny and forget that the best way to score points is by getting nobles, which at 10 points get you far more than other scoring opportunities. As guests, they only get you 2 bucks, but rather than clogging up your deck like most point cards in other deck builders, they stack, which means getting a lot in one hand isn’t devastating. So there’s a lot of ideas here, and it will be interesting to see how everything sticks together. Having recently played Quacks of Quedlinburg for the first time, I’m interested to try this – I know they’re completely different games, but they look like they could exist in the same universe, and they’re both representative of a fresh new voice in the industry.

That’s it for today – thanks for reading!

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