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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Great family game
  • Incredible components
  • Wonderful theming
  • Simple gameplay makes it easy to learn and teach

Might Not Like

  • Ability cards seem underwhelming
  • Maybe too simple for veteran gamers

Have you tried?

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Chai Board Game Review

Chai Review

Tea, I think, is such a key ingredient in our world. It’s a necessary additive to our hectic lives. Had a stressful day? Sit down and have a cuppa! Got some great news to share? Let’s have a brew to celebrate! Have to write a board game review for Zatu? Get the kettle on! Yes, tea is a wonderful thing in the world – it’s comfort in a mug. Steeped Games have decided to bring that wholesomeness to us in their 2019 release Chai! So go and put the kettle on and grab yourself some, dare I say it biscuits, as we dive into this world of order fulfilment!

In Chai, 1-5 players will take on the role of tea merchants trying to fulfil as many orders of delicious tea as possible for their customers. Players will compete for flavour tiles and ingredients over 5 rounds of play before counting their victory points and declaring the winner.

Brewing Up A Storm

Setting up is fairly straight forward with each player having their own tea house and speciality tea tokens to work with. The choices are Rooibos, green tea, oolong, and black or white tea. Players will also be given some money to start off with and 1 customer in their tea house.  In the playing area, there will be various boards that will be available for players to visit during their turns. The market board has 3 rows filled with different flavour tiles that are drawn blindly from the flavour tile bag. In a similar fashion, the pantry board, which holds key ingredients such as milk, sugar, and chai spices, is also filled with tokens that are drawn blindly.

Depending on your player count, there will also be several teacups on the player board. These lovely additions are placed at the top of the player area and are where the various tiles and tokens used in fulfilling customers’ orders are placed. Finally, the last thing to do is set up the public customer pool and the available ability cards for the first round.

During a turn, players can do 1 of 3 things: visit the market, visit the pantry, or reserve a customer and use an ability. Visiting the market automatically gives players 3 gold under the pretence that they would have spent the day selling tea and can spend their earnings on some yummy flavours for their customers. The market board is pre-filled during set up and the prices of different flavours range from 1 copper to 3 gold.

The flavours themselves correspond to the various orders from your customers and players can purchase as many flavours as they like as long as they have the gold to spare. Lastly, players can choose a customer from the customer pool to reserve them. This involves placing the customer into their tea shop thus keeping their order for them to fulfil later. Using this action also allows the player to utilise one of the available abilities that are set up at the top of the board. These abilities range from allowing the current player to choose a market item free of charge to be able to fulfil a customer’s order with one fewer pantry item.

After 5 rounds the game will end and players will count their victory points. These come from the various customers whose orders they have fulfilled during the game.

Quali-tea Components

Before we even discuss my overall thoughts on the gameplay, it’s quite clear that a lot of thought and love went into to designing the components of this game. Both Mary Haasdyk and Sahana VJ have done a great job of capturing the theme of the game and encapsulating that relaxed atmosphere. Everything from the flavour tiles to the box itself has been beautifully crafted, so much so that you can’t help but just sit and stare at the bits and pieces that make up this game.

Of course, the star of the show must be the cups. Included in the game are 5 gorgeous cups to use during the fulfilment portion of a round and they are visually stunning. The etched-in details and quality materials make these a highlight of the game and make sure to bring an incredible table presence. You certainly won’t be short of a few admiring glances playing this one!

A Tea-riffic Game?

Chai is a fantastic family game. Everyone can get involved and enjoy it from young players to more experienced veterans. It’s casual enough to enjoy with newer players and can fit perfectly into a lazy afternoon.

There are certain gameplay choices which seem a little lacklustre. Having to use ability cards when you want to reserve a customer is not always beneficial and in fact, in every game I’ve played, they have barely been used. The abilities themselves almost seem too simple and there was no real need for them at any point during our games.

I will say one of the great mechanics of the game, however, is how the market board works. As players purchase tiles, they slide along the market board changing their value. If players are strategic enough, they can manage to get quite a few tiles for a cheaper price, and I suppose therein lies the strategy element of the game.

My biggest issue, amazingly, is part of the components: the rulebook. My first playthrough took a large amount of time as it seemed as though the rules provided were missing some key bits of information or didn’t go into detail enough. The biggest example of this is the ability cards. There are certain cards where the explanation of what they do and how they impact a players turn was not clear enough for it to make sense in the context of the game. Issues like this one kept cropping up throughout our first game and although we kept referring back to the rulebook, we were short on answers.

Thankfully, Steeped Games have made the effort to rectify this issue by releasing some extended rules online which only takes a quick search to find. Overall, these extended rules provide good clarification for many of the details not covered in the main rulebook.

Would I let this deter me from recommending this game? Despite some rulebook issues I still think Chai is absolutely worth it. After a few playthroughs, the game is relaxing and can be great when you want something to play that isn’t highly competitive or stressful. Yes, it’s frustrating that you may need to go one step extra to find some clarifications on some rules, but I do think that the game is worth it in the end.

In terms of more experienced players who enjoy a high level of complexity and challenge, this one may not be your cup of tea but hey, maybe you want a game to wind down with after a heavier gaming session. If so, look no further. Check out Chai today!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Great family game
  • Incredible components
  • Wonderful theming
  • Simple gameplay makes it easy to learn and teach

Might not like

  • Ability cards seem underwhelming
  • Maybe too simple for veteran gamers

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