Small village pubs are the hub of the community. The meeting place, the place to go and whittle away the hours and enjoy a refreshing drink or two. These pubs survive on the local community and regular guests. However, to grow your pub you need to attract new guests and convince them to part with their hard earned cash. Only with this investment will you be able to grow you pub to a level that will entice the Nobles.
But you are not the only pub in the village. Compete with your fellow tavern owners to become the best tavern in the "deep valley". The Taverns of Tiefanthal is a two to four player dice drafting, deck building game from Wolfgang Warsch. It's published by Schmidt Spiele.
Players will draw cards from their deck, filling up their seats with guests and placing dishwashers, waitresses, beer merchants and beer suppliers in their respective locations. When a player fills their tables, they stop drawing cards.
Players now roll their dice, adding in any extra dice for any waitresses they have drawn. In turn order players will draft a die and pass their remaining dice to the player on the left. Players continue to draft until all dice have been taken. Any dice rolls obtained from their waitresses are retained by the player and not passed on.
The dice are then allocated to various cards and actions on a player's board to gain, for the most part, money and beer. Beer can be used to recruit new guests and Nobles. Money is used to hire new members of staff. All cards acquired in a round are placed on top of a players deck, ready for drawing next turn. Money can also be used to upgrade certain aspects of your board giving you permanent members of staff or more powerful actions. Any upgrade performed grants the player a Noble.
Players discard their cards and repeat for a total of eight rounds. At the end of the game players count up the number of victory points and the player with the most is the winner.
Serving up my Thoughts
The Taverns of Tiefanthal is a beautiful blend of mechanisms, that leaves a very pleasant taste on your mouth, just like your favourite cool refreshing beer. It has deck building that integrates in to the game very well, it doesn't feel like it has been tacked on. The deck represents your regular and new customers that come to visit each night then go home at the end of the round after you have successfully filled them with beer.
The money that you earn can be used to hire new staff members, or spent to upgrade your tavern with a permanent waitress or a dishwasher. If you want more tables, a permanent dishwasher or waitress, then you need to purchase them. Beer is used to entice new guests and Nobles into your tavern. They will become regular customers and come back time and time again. When upgrading certain parts of your tavern you get a discount by trashing the matching cards that you have in play. I really like this aspect. It's a push and pull of having that useful card in your deck vs having the permanent upgrade.
The dice drafting adds an extra level of gameplay in to the mix. Not only do you have your dice to draft from but you get passed dice from your opponents. This means you can be very clever with what you draft. You can also see which die your opponent might need and draft that one. As a result, you're denying your opponent the chance to get it. I have always enjoyed dice drafting in games where there is a common pool of dice however, this mechanism of draft, then pass, makes for some very tactical gameplay and I love how it has been implemented here.
Each players board looks like a tavern with all the upgrades being parts of a jigsaw. These upgrades can be removed, flipped and attached back in to your tavern and are really pleasant to play with. The iconography is clear and easy to understand. The basic side of the upgrades detail what bonus/ability you get when you flip them so you don't have to constantly be flipping them over and back again to see what you would gain by doing the upgrade. This is a really nice touch and a great addition.
Taverns of Tiefenthal comes with four additional modules which can be added to the game to increase replay-ability. Each module adds extra elements to the game and builds on the previous module. This offers new ways to score points and new actions to perform. You'll be able to add them in for experienced players of the game. Alternatively, you can remove them when introducing new players. They change up the gameplay enough to make them a welcome addition.
Final Thoughts on The Taverns of Tiefanthal
You get all of this in a game that takes less than hour! It flows well, has a bit of interaction (with the dice drafting) and has plenty of additional content to increase variability and replay-ability in to the base game. The Taverns of Tiefenthal is a big hit for me and I think it's Wolfgang Warsch's best game so far.