It's a universally acknowledged truth: Australians love beer. And if you are one such individual that also happens to like board games, Microbrew is for you.
Microbrew is a tidy little 2-player game with both worker-placement and puzzle elements, designed by Nigel and Sarah Kennington.
- Designer: Nigel & Sarah Kennington
- Publisher: One Free Elephant
- Art: Victor P. Corbella
- Year: 2018.
- Game time: 60 minutes.
- Players: 2 (expandable to 4).
- Recommended for people who like beer, worker placement, puzzles, and micro-games.
- Order now on Kickstarter!
The most novel thing about Microbrew is that the entire package fits into an Altoid tin, so you could legitimately slide it into your back pocket and take it down to the pub to play. Indeed, that's how this game came to prominence, winning BoardGameGeek's 2017 Mint Tin Design Contest.
The crux of the game happens on the Brewery, which is your worker-placement hub. You place workers to Mash, Brew, Bottle your beer, Flush your still, advertise or sell your beer. Microbrew has a neat mechanic to deal with the worst elements of worker-placement, which is the blocking aspect. You can never permanently block another player. If you want to play an action but it's blocked, you play the action but give your opponent their worker back.
This is a really neat mechanic, and if you can accurately predict what your opponent wants to play, you can garner quite the advantage to do multiple things on your turn.
The other aspect of the game is the Copper Kettle. You're trying to rearrange the malt and hop tokens to create your beer. It's neat little brain-burning puzzle, and weighing aiming for perfect against trying to earn money for your next move.
Fitting into a tin necessary comes with some drawbacks. The hex pieces are certainly big enough, but having several key cards such as the Copper Kettle and the Brewery come on two cards can get a little frustrating, especially if you're less than dexterous after one too many. Me, I'd have preferred one solid game board, but then you'd lose the appeal of fitting in tiny container.
Nevertheless, this game is a remarkable accomplishment, and is worth your time. The game just raised over $215,000 through Kickstarter, with the game expected to ship to backers in March next year.
Alternatively, the game is still available as a print and play on BoardGameGeek. The artwork isn't as polished, but is still plenty serviceable.
If you want to see more, Tantrum House have done a nice little intro video that shows off the rules and the components (NB with the original Print and Play artwork).