While we are patiently waiting for Dinosaur World to arrive to our house, we saw this cute game coming along from Pandasaurus Games. Now, in my opinion, there are two type of people in the world. One type is someone who just looks at the box of a board game (or anything else, think perfume, books, etc.) and decide in a split second if this game looks cute and fun enough to play. The other type however, will look at reviews and di-sect the entire game before deciding to even take a look at the box. Only after a full investigation, they will decide to buy it or not. You can imagine, me being the first type, I wanted this game the moment i saw that cute wolf creature on the front of the box. Tomasz however, being the second type, needed a little more convincing. I am very happy I can usually persuade him to just ‘trust me’, so I don’t have to wait until he is done playing detective. Now let’s just hope my instinct doesn’t let me down.

How to play.

Get ready to play by placing the village board with the day side up on the table. Place the forest deck with all cards suitable for the amount of players you’re playing with, shuffle and reveal the right amount of cards according to the players. Shuffle all potions and reveal four potions to create the potion market. Then, separate the creatures into four different season piles and shuffle them. Place the piles face up. Place all supply tokens close by and choose a character board to play with. If you choose to play with character powers, flip your character to the side with powers. If you have the companions mini expansion, you can also choose a companion to play with. Lastly, each player receives four forage dice in their color and two element dice, one energy berry and one reference card.

Brew is played in turns and before each round all players throw all six dices to see what they have this round. After rolling, you may not roll your dice again this round (unless a potion overrules this). Once every player has thrown their dice, the first player will start with their turn. On your turn, you have to place a die from your dice pool and can also brew and/or drink a potion. You can do these steps in any order. You can place a forest die on any space with a matching symbol. An element die however, can be placed on any empty forest space, or on an empty village space with the same symbol. There can only be one die in a space, with the exception of two spaces in the village. They can hold more dices and cannot be blocked. When you place a die on a forest space with a resource icon, you may gather on matching resource token and place it in your inventory. If you place a die on a creature icon, you may choose and train one of the face up creatures and place them near your character. Once trained, creatures can come with various abilities to help you win the game. Like, gathering more resources for example. You can only have three trained creatures at a time, if you gain more, you have to release an existing creature.

If you place an element die in the village, you can use the special action printed on the spot where you have placed your die. This could be gathering resources, training creatures, or even removing element dice from forests for example. Element die also have special powers to help you during the game. A dice with a fire symbol can be placed on top of other dices. This will cover the existing die which can give you benefits while controlling forests. Water let’s you gather two extra ingredients of the same type, if you place it in the forest for gathering. If you have a die with a wind symbol, you can place this die on a previous placed forest die. If you do this, take your forest die back to your dice pool. You can place it in one of your next turns. This gives you one more turn in a round.

Other then placing a die, you can also choose to brew a potion. If you see a potion from the market you like and you can pay the cost of herbs nesseccary to craft it, you can brew a potion. The herbs that are needed for each potion can be found in the upper left corner. Once you have a potion, you can choose to drink it during your turn as long as you have at least one dice left. Potions give various benefits such as removing dice, returning your own dice, or even letting dice swap places. You can only drink a potion once, but they will still give you points after being used.
If all players have used their dice, the round ends. If there are any forests you control, you may claim them now. You control a forest if you have more forest dice placed in a forest then the other players. You also need to place more forest dice in a forest then element dice. The rulebook also shows great examples of this. Forests can provide you with many victory points at the end of the game. Forests that are not placed, are discarded. After the forests are claimed, check to see if you have any creatures with end of round powers, you may use them now. Then take back all your dice, flip the village board and reveal new forests. The next player is now first player.

The game ends when there are no new forest cards to place. You may now release all of your creatures. If you have forests with matching seasons, you may place a creature in a forest with that matching season. A summer creature will be most happy in a summer forest for example. Forests that have two seasons, can fit creatures from both seasons, but only have space for one creature. If you manage to place creatures in their matching forest, they will score three points instead of one at the end of the game. Add up all the victory points from brewed potions, claimed forests, released creatures, scored victory tokens and leftover ingredients. You score one victory point for every three leftover ingredient points. The player with the most points is the winner of the game.

Playthrough of the game.

After choosing my very loyal companion Pickles, I already knew this was going to be a good game. Pickles and I were ready for our task! I quickly noticed that some forests could give you eight victory points once claimed. This was a lot more then most potions and creatures. Logically, a war started each round to make sure me and Pickles claimed the most and best forests in the game, while making sure Tomasz and his companion would get as little as possible. My tactic was simple, buy potions that allows me to re-use dices, remove dices or swap dices in order to gain control of forests and use element dices with wind symbols wisely. All of this, allowed me to not only gain more turns in a round, but also remove a lot of dices from Tomasz that would prevented me from gaining control of forests. At the end of the game, the strategy worked a little to well as Tomasz was a little beat up about his score. But Pickles and me had a blast throughout the entire game.

During every game we play, Tomasz always has to be very patient with me. The reason for this is that every beast we discover, simply looks very cute and I get distracted by looking at them. The art in this game is not only very fitting to the theme, it’s also very well done, colorful and no beast is the same. The game is also surprisingly strategical and you only have a limited amount of dices to use. The game board having two sides is also a nice idea to have a day and night side on the board. But the best aspect of this game is the war over forests and how far you can go to gain control. The game can secretly be very mean especially when only playing with two. If you play with more people, more forests will be placed each turn meaning you have to choose more carefully since there is no way to cover them all. Overall we really like this game and the strategic thinking that comes with it.

Final Thougts.

Brew is a strategic dice worker placement game with a fantasy themed setting. The art in this game is not only adorable, it’s also very fitting to the theme. But even though this game looks very cute, it can be a very mean game. When forests come into play that have a high victory point count, you’ll have to bring out your best tricks in order to claim control of them. Since all other players will probably not agree for this, this cute little game can turn into a full war of strategic choices. That is exactly why we love this game since it has a lot of hidden depth to it. Brew also has a good amount of replayability since every character has different abilities to play with. If you love small worker placements with a good amount of hidden depth and strategic choices, this game is for you.

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