Strategically Thematic: Brew Crafters

February 9, 2017

Strategically Thematic is a segment featured on The Dice Tower's bi-weekly Throat Punch Lunch videos about games where the theme and mechanics go together really well.

BGG  Amazon

Hi, this is Ambie from Board Game Blitz, and this is Strategically Thematic, a segment where I talk about theme in different strategic games. This time, I’m talking about Brew Crafters.

Brew Crafters is a game about brewing and selling different types of beer. In the game, you own a brewery and you have to acquire different ingredients like malt and hops in order to brew your beer. There are a bunch of different types of beers, both basic and advanced recipes, that are randomized at the beginning of each game.

One of the interesting mechanics of Brew Crafters is that you have two types of workers - your market action meeples and your Brewery shift tokens. The market action meeples are the ones you use for the usual worker placement - you’ll be competing with the other players to get the supplies you need in a limited market. But in your own brewery, it doesn’t matter what other people do, so actions like building new equipment or brewing beer cannot be blocked.

When you brew beer in your brewery, it goes through three stages before you can sell it. First you brew it - you'll need the ingredients listed on the recipe, and you'll use your processing systems to brew the beer. Also, in order to brew an advanced recipe, you need to have brewed the basic recipe of that type first, so you have experience in making that type of beer. The second stage is bottling it, and the final stage is distributing and selling it. Just like in real life, you don't actually get the money for the beer until you sell it, so you'll need to manage your finances well. Also, if you’re the first player to sell an advanced recipe of beer, you’ll get a gold label, which gives you more points.

The game also comes with a bunch of skilled workers which are randomly chosen each game. As one of your actions, you can hire these workers and have them help you for the rest of the game. The workers are usually specialists in their field - for example this one is a malt importer and lets you get extra malt whenever you get malt from the market. In addition to the workers, you can upgrade your brewery with new equipment and you can research new skills, which will help you specialize. For example, if you get the Brewpub, you can sell directly to people visiting your factory, so you don't have to wait a turn to ship your beer after it's been bottled.

Thematically, it doesn’t make sense to have skilled workers or fancy equipment for free, so I think the way Brew Crafters implements payment makes sense. The game takes place over three years, and at the end of each year you have to pay for each dollar sign shown on your board. This is kind of like a salary or maintenance fee - workers get an annual salary, and equipment needs maintenance and rent to stay functional.

What’s great about Brew Crafters is that you can decide what type of brewery that you want to be. I’ve played games where I’ve been a specialty craft beer brewery, going for high quality beers but low quantity. And in other games I’ve basically been making a bunch of Bud Lights - high quantity but low quality beers. It’s really fun to go for completely different strategies, and the variety in set up makes you want to try new things each time! Even though I’m not a fan of drinking beer, I think the theme of brewing beer is unique and really interesting in a board game, and Brew Crafters implements the theme really well. Thanks for watching Strategically Thematic! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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