Alice and the Red Queen are at it again. What should have been a nice afternoon tea has descended into chaos. Who will be victorious this time? Grab a cuppa, a slice of cake and join us for Tea for 2.
Boil the Kettle and Prepare a Mug
Just like me with a scone, Tea for 2 is finished before you even realise it. It is a very quick game that builds on a classic deck builder, but with a twist. Each player has their own pile of Alice in Wonderland themed cards. Simultaneously, the players reveal their top card. In each hand are the various characters from the novel, each with their own unique number. Of course, the Queen of Hearts is worth the most, all the way down to the lowly White Rabbit. Whoever reveals the highest number gets to take a turn. You can add a card to your hand from the piles of character cards or take the action on your revealed card. The reveal is a fun twist and can add drama to the game. It isn’t dissimilar to the bag in Quacks of Quedlinburg or trying to eat an eclair without getting cream on yourself; there is a feeling of danger. The action of turning over the cards might seem simple, but it makes the game tenser. Will you get a turn or will you just stew?
Pour Water and Leave to Brew
Despite claiming to be quick and easy to learn, the game can be pretty complex. The winner is the person who finishes the game with the most stars. There are plenty of different ways to earn them: destroying cards, turning the Pocket Watch or completing objectives. The more cards you destroy, the more stars you will have, but the quicker the game will end. Like with the perfect cup of tea, there is a delicate balance. A lot of the characters have powerful actions, but if you use them, you can’t pick up a card for the turn. There are multiple strategies you can employ to come out triumphant.
The objectives change each time as well. There are recommended ones for the first game, but after that, the choice is up to you. Tea for 2 ends when either you can’t pick up any more White Rabbits or when four out of the five piles of character cards are depleted. Each of the five objectives is linked to one of these character piles. You only score stars for the objectives linked to the depleted pile. Keep a careful eye all the way through. The objective you have been working towards could disappear at the last minute. It might seem simple at first, but with time, Tea for 2’s flavours brew and develop. It is deceptively complex.
Add Milk and Sugar
Tea for 2 claims to be quick to play and even quicker to learn. It isn’t quite as simple as that. Each of the characters have their own ability, which does take a few games to get your head around. We have played this game a few times now and we are still having to check the rulebook every few minutes. There are little diagrams on each card, but some of them aren’t the easiest to decipher. Perhaps if you are better at reading the rules at length, you might get the moves quicker. I just like to get stuck in and play. A few more goes and I should be off-book. This doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the game, however, it just isn’t quite as quick to learn as advertised. We also scored it completely wrong at first. We gave points for all the objectives rather than the ones that didn’t have cards left. That being said, I don’t know when I last played a game where I didn’t get something wrong with the scoring. It always takes a few goes to get it right.
For a simple game, a lot of thought went into the artwork and concept. The cards are good quality and the board is set out like a picnic table. I particularly like the Pocket Watch. At the end of each turn, you can spend Hourglasses to move the hand around the Pocket Watch. At first, I didn’t realise what a vital part of the game this was. The Pocket Watch is the main way you can get the Pink Flamingo. As the two players are drawing cards, if there is ever a draw, the owner of the Pink Flamingo wins. If you are competitive like me, you are going to want to grab it as quickly as you can. There is nothing better than smugly claiming victory. The Pocket Watch also allows you to gain stars, destroy cards and take bonus actions. Generally, it is a great tactical move and always fun to turn the hands.
Like its design suggested, Tea for 2 is the perfect, quick afternoon game. It doesn’t take long to play and the tactics can be as intense or as simple as you want. You can just collect powerful cards or tactically chose them based on the objectives you want to achieve. It is a very enjoyable little game with a consistent theme and engaging gameplay. I definitely recommend having a cup of tea and a slice of cake to hand. There are only so many pieces of tart you can pick up before you want to have slice yourself!