Another group of thirsty patrons enter through the tavern doors. If you keep the beers a-flowin', then profits be growin’! (Who let that rhyme-spewing bard in here?) The Taverns of Tiefenthal was the much-anticipated, alliteration-loving title from Wolfgang Warsch. One could argue his most popular hit was Quacks of Quedlinburg – also by Schmidt Spiele. Taverns, though, is a corker of a game, too. It’s for 2-4 players, and once everyone knows what they’re doing, it plays in about 60 minutes.
The Taverns of Tiefenthal is part-deck builder, part-dice drafting, and part-dice placement. These tried-and-tested mechanisms all weave together over eight formulaic rounds. The game sees you brewing beer, serving guests, making money, and upgrading your tavern. The winner of the game is the player with the most valuable deck at the end. But how do the rounds work? How do you improve your deck? And what’s the deal with the dice? Pour yourself a beer, and take a seat at our table. It’s time to learn how to play The Taverns of Tiefenthal…
Tavern Got A Clue What These Extra Bits Are For?
I appreciate that setting up the game might look intimidating. There’s a lot of bits, and Taverns of Tiefenthal comes with a bunch of add-on modules, each providing even more components! I’ll talk more about those modules in a separate blog, but for now, let’s focus on learning the base game.
Place the Monastery Board in the middle of the table, summer-side up. (The snow-side is for the advanced modules.) Place the players’ Monastery Marker discs on the zero on this track. The 3D moon is the Turn Marker, which can sit next to this board for now.
There are many cards here. Some feature Bards (with white cube icons on them); again, they’re for another module. Back into the box they must go! Separate the remaining cards by type. There are five different Tavern Cards: Barbacks, Dishwashers, Servers, Tables, and Brewers. Sit them in separate face-up stacks, in this ascending cost order.
Put the Noble cards (purple lady) in their own face-up stack. The remaining are a range of Guest Cards. Separate the eight 3-beer guests (check the top-left corner to find these) in their own pile. Shuffle the rest of the Guests and draw the first four, face-up. Keep the other Guest deck face-down.
Serving Up A Treat
Give each player an empty tavern board. Each player then creates their tavern like a jigsaw, clipping 10 tiles together. Note these tiles are all double-sided; these need to sit on the default side up, with the coin cost in the top-left. The Bartender should sit so the U-shaped bar is empty, not on the side with victory points on it. Place your yellow cube on the zero within your Safe, and your brown cube on the zero in your Beer Storage.
Each player has their own starting deck of seven Regular Guest Cards in their player colour. Give each player a Server, Table, and Brewer Card, too. Now they have a deck of 10 cards. Also give each player a ‘beer coaster’ and four white dice. Each player has three dice in their own colour; keep these separate, but within arm’s reach. Give the 3D Beer Mug to the starting player. Now you’re ready to start playing The Taverns of Tiefenthal!
The Taverns of Tiefenthal consists of eight rounds. Within each round, there are seven simple phases. Serving your guests is the most complex, but also the most interesting! Let’s digest each phase one at a time.
A New Evening In The Tavern
Move the Moon along one number on the Turn Track. Each number shows the bonus for the round, which each player receives straight away. In Round 1, players get a Counter Guest that sits at a barstool. This is a one-time-use token that players can activate whenever they want. I’ll explain Counter Guests in due course, when you have greater context behind their actions.
Other bonuses (in later rounds) include gaining a free card into your deck. Others provide an extra free, personal die for the round. In cases where there are options (picking between bonus A or bonus B) players pick in turn order.
Single Guests: Reveal Yourself!
Next, guests (plus equipment and staff) arrive at your tavern. Remember your starting deck of ten cards? Shuffle them, then reveal your top card. Each player does this in a simultaneous fashion. Depending on the card you reveal, you place it in a specific sector of your tavern. If it’s a Guest, place it on one of the free trios of tables. If it’s a Table Card itself, place it to the right of the tables. If it’s the Server, place it to the left of the dog on your tavern. If it’s a Brewer, place it to the right of the Brewer on your board.
Each type of card has artwork that matches their corresponding section of the tavern. If in doubt: beer-related cards sit on the right. Dice-related cards sit to the left. Guests sit at tables. Placed your card? Reveal the next one, and place that, too. Continue to do this until you’ve filled all your tables with Guests.
Remember that Counter Guest chit? It’s double-sided; you pick which side you want to use when you receive it. One side is a hooded lady. Discard this Counter Guest after you’ve filled your tables and discard all your drawn cards thus far. (Including non-guests.) Then redraw cards from your remaining deck in the same fashion. Deck depleted? Shuffle your discard pile and continue drawing. This Counter Guest is handy if you’re unhappy with the luck of your initial draw!
Can I Take Your Order?
Did any players draw Servers during that Guests Arriving phase? For each Server that you drew, you take one die of your colour and roll it. (For Round 1, you’ll at most have one Server.) Keep the outcome to one side; you’ll get to use that die result later. Then everyone rolls their own four white dice and places them on their own Coaster.
The First Player drafts one of the white dice from their Coaster. They keep it to one side. Then the next player clockwise drafts a die from their own Coaster, and so on. Once everyone has one die, you all pass your Coaster with the remaining dice on it clockwise. Thus, you’ll receive a new Coaster of dice too, from your neighbour. The First Player then drafts one die from their new Coaster, and so on. This continues until all players have four white drafted dice.
Dice And A Slice
Time for more simultaneous action, now in the form of dice placement! Each player allocates their dice into their own taverns (including bonus dice of their own colour). You’ll have drafted dice with the intention of placing them into optimal places within your tavern. You can place dice onto locations where there’s a square dice silhouette.
Guests have a specific die face with regards to placement. Your Regular Guests desire either a 1 or a 2. A green arrow points at the reward, should you place a die here. Guests pay out coins. The arrow has a ‘1x’ on it, meaning you can only place one die here. You can place any one die onto the Cashbox to earn one coin. Likewise, you can place one die of any number into the Barrel, to earn one beer. (In the first round, placing a 3 or a 4 there is common.) With bad luck, you might not be able to place all your dice.
You can place either 1s or 6s onto the Brewer. The green arrow here has an ellipsis (…), meaning you can place multiple dice here. Each die placed here earns you a beer. It’s worth noting that if you drew your Brewer Card earlier on, it has a ‘+1 beer’ on it. This means every die you place here earns you not one, but two beers. A third Brewer means each die here is worth three beers, and so on. Last of all, the Monk requires a 5. Again, the ellipsis means you can place as many 5s here as you like. (More about him later.)
Serving Guests: Time To Earn Top Thaler
Everyone finished with the dice placement? Now you move onto the real guts of the game: serving the guests. This is where you earn the big bucks! The First Player performs their dice actions first. They can activate their dice in any order, and there are good reasons why they might want to do this. When you complete an action, it’s good practice to remove the die/dice from your tavern. That way you won’t forget and activate dice twice (naughty, naughty)!
Removing dice from Guests earns you the stated number of coins (Thalers). Likewise, you can earn one Thaler from the Cashbox. There are no physical coins in The Taverns of Tiefenthal. You can store up to two coins in your Safe at the end of the round, rolling over into the next round. In such a case, move your yellow cube to signify this.
Chances are you’ll spend this virtual ‘money’ straight away, because you lose anything you cannot store. Spending Thalers gets you Tavern Cards. Remember the five types you separated during set-up? They each have a cost, ranging from 2-6 Thalers. Four of them are worth end-game points too (in the top-right). That’s the aim of the game, remember!
Purchasing Tavern Cards: Goodies For Next Round
You can buy one Tavern Card of each type during this phase. We know three of the Tavern Cards already but what are the other two? The cheapest is the Barback. It costs 2 Thalers, but it's worth zero VPs. If you buy it, the card sits face-down on the top of your draw deck. (Meaning you’re guaranteed to draw it in the next round: hooray!) The Barback, when drawn, earns you one beer without any dice needing to sit on it.
The final card is the Dishwasher, costing 3 Thalers, and worth 1VP. Again, once purchased, this joins your deck for the next round. When drawn, it sits next to the Dishwasher Area. For each Dishwasher drawn, you can add +1 to any die result. If you draw, say, two Dishwashers, you could either add +2 to any one drafted die. Or, you could add +1 to two different dice – your choice. This mitigates ‘unlucky’ dice among the draft.
Flipping Heck! Permanent Upgrades
The alternative/additional option to buying cards is to upgrade your tavern itself. Each area in your tavern has an upgrade Thaler cost in the top-left corner (except the Bartender). Next to the cost is the permanent reward once upgraded:
- Tables* – provides a fourth table.
- Beer Storage – provides space to store five excess beers, instead of two.
- Brewer* – provides two beers per dice placed here, instead of one.
- Barrel – provides two beers per dice placed here, instead of one.
- Safe – provides space to store five excess Thalers, instead of two.
- Dishwasher Area* – provides a permanent, ever-present 1x use of +1 to die rolls each round.
- Server* – provides a permanent gain with an extra die to roll each round.
- Cashbox – provides three Thalers per die placed here, instead of one.
- Monk – provides two-movement along the Monastery Track, instead of one.
As soon as you upgrade a tavern tile, flip the tile over. You then gain a free Noble Card, which sits face-down on top of your deck. You’re improving your business and it’s appealing to Tiefenthal’s fancy folk! Nobles are Guests that sit at tables. They desire a die with two pips and they pay out two Thalers. Not the best return, but they’re worth a whopping 10VP each! You can upgrade as many tiles within your tavern per turn as you can afford.
Some sections (listed above with an *) offer discounts on the upgrade price. The discount sits next to the stated cost, itself. You claim the discount by removing a card sitting at said tavern area. (For example: upgrading the Server usually costs 12 Thalers. But if you remove a Server Card sitting in your tavern right now, you get a -4 Thaler discount. So throwing the Server card away – not into your discard pile – means you pay 8 Thalers to upgrade it. You flip the tile – giving you a permanent Server anyway – and claim a Noble Card.) You must have executed dice actions using these cards before you discard them.
On the plus side: haven’t triggered the die/dice on a just-upgraded section? Now they’re going to pay out according to the improved benefit!
Beerz Meanz Heinz (Wait, That’s Not Right)
Money is important, then. What does beer provide though? Spend beer to buy one Guest card from the public flop of Guests. Each Guest has a cost in beer, alongside an end-game VP value. They have different die requirements and pay out a better rate of Thalers. Some also come with a free one-time bonus, such as an extra Tavern Card. (In such a case, both the free card and the Guest both sit face-down in your deck.) Buying Guests? Replenish the flop so there are always four Guests face-up.
The Monastery Track has a table showing you can buy Nobles themselves, with large amounts of beer. You can spend beer on Nobles as well as buying one Guest per round. It’s worthwhile since you can only store a certain amount of beer per round. (Plus, Nobles are worth 10VPs each!) If storing beer, move your brown cube to the allocated number within your Beer Storage tile.
Talking of the Monastery Track… Remember the Monk sat at the bar? For every die you place here, move your Monastery Marker one space clockwise. Every other space marks a threshold with a reward. Most of these give you free Tavern Cards, face-down into your deck. One spot allows you to remove a Guest from your tavern that round. (This is a form of thinning your deck of your Regular Guests.) Also, remember the double-sided Counter Guest? The other side is an extra free movement along the Monastery Track. You can trigger this Counter Guest during this phase.
Rinse (That Glass) And Repeat…
Once the first player finishes activating their dice, the next player clockwise triggers theirs, and so on. Once all players have done this, everyone picks up the cards sat around their tavern from that round. They add them into their individual discard pile.
The First Player beer mug moves one space clockwise. Then you move the Moon marker along the Round Track, and players each get their reward for the round, in turn order. Then everyone starts drawing cards from their decks, again. Of course, the first few cards you’ll draw are the ones you bought in the previous round. If you draw a Noble, it sits at a table, like a Guest. Sociable Nobles, however, share tables with fellow Nobles. They don’t fill up your table quota quite as quick. (See, I can be alliterative too, Wolfgang.) But as always, once your tables fill up, you stop drawing cards…
The Taverns of Tiefenthal continues like this for eight rounds. At the end of the eighth round, players add up the value of their deck. (The lion’s share of your tally is likely to come from Nobles in your deck.) The player with the most valuable deck wins! Tie-break? The player with the most Thalers and beer left in their storage is the winner.
Now you’re ready to try out some of the advanced modules!
That brings us to the end of this how-to-play guide. If you haven't already picked up a copy of The Taverns of Tiefenthal, make sure to grab one today! For anyone who is still undecided, why not check out our full review of the game?