Chai: high tea (reprint & expansion) by steeped games

Designer: Dan Kazmaier và Connie KazmaierArtists: Mary Haasdyk & Sahana VJPublisher: Steeped GamesPlayers: 1-5Time: 20-60 MinutesTimes Played: 3

“Everything goes better with a bit of tea, or does it?”

About a year & a half ago, a small game popped on the radar of folks in the board gaming scene when it hit Kickstarter. Chai, a game about making tea and selling it to the right customers in order to be the best tea house. Good leveraging of the board game truyền thông, simple game mechanisms và a charming table presence propelled it to $135k in backing. So what is Chai

Chai is a set collection game, where you are trying to lớn collect the right ingredients khổng lồ fill tea orders. There are two different types of ingredients — Tea flavors and Pantry additives. When you have the correct ingredients, you can fulfill orders and claim a tip.

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A player’s turn is pretty simple, as they can only bởi one of three things. A player can buy Tea flavors from the market, they can get Pantry additives from the pantry or they can reserve sầu an order card và use a special power.

The market is filled at random with eighteen flavor tiles at the beginning of the game. There are six different flavors for your tea in the game. Lemon, Ginger, Berries, Lavender, Mint and Jasmine. When the player buys flavors from the market, first they will take three coins, of those three coins, they will have to lớn at least spend one. When choosing flavor ingredients to buy, you are going khổng lồ purchase all of the ingredients of the same kind that are orthogonally adjacent to each other. In the pholớn below, the player could buy two Berries or two Ginger, or three mint. The price the active sầu player pays is where the highest value tile comes from, so the Berry would be one coin, and the three mint would be three coins. The player can buy as many flavor ingredients as they want khổng lồ. After buying tiles everything shifts to the left. After the active player is done, they then refill the Marketplace with tiles drawn randomly from the tile bag. At most, a player may hold twelve sầu flavor tiles.


Another action a player may take on their turn is to lớn take three items from the Pantry. There are five sầu different Pantry items — Milk, Sugar, Honey, Vanilla and Chai. Before taking items from the Pantry, the player may pay one coin lớn reset the Pantry, clearing all five tiles & placing five new ones from the bag in the Pantry. At that point the active player may choose three from the Pantry or draw from the bag. Any combination of picking from the pantry or drawing from bag khổng lồ get three is fine. At most, a player may have up khổng lồ six Pantry items at the over of their turn.


The third and final thing a player may vì chưng on their turn is that they may reserve a customer thẻ from the display row & then use one of the three abilities that are on display. There will be a mix number of customer cards on display based on the number of players. A player may choose to lớn reserve one of the face up cards or take from the draw pile. After that, they may use one of the three abilities. Abilities range from gaining three coins when fulfilling an order to lớn take a pantry công trình for miễn phí, or a marketplace công trình of a certain cost. There are several in the box, so there is a decent amount of variation. At the start of every round a new ability thẻ will replace one of the older ones.

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After doing one of those three things, a player may then complete a customer’s tea order. You may either complete one that you have reserved — three is the max — or you may fulfill one that is face up in the display. To complete an order, simply discard the needed ingredients và clayên the thẻ as yours, and the victory points that go with it. One thing of note, when you fulfill an order card, you must have the base tea leaf. Each player has six of their chosen tea leafs at the start of the game. If someone fulfills an order that requires a tea leaf of yours, you must give them a leaf, but they must also give you a coin. You cannot refuse. If anyone runs out of their given tea leaf, those types of tea orders may no longer be fulfilled. After you have fulfilled an order, reveal one of the Tip Tokens that was chosen at the beginning of the round and gain the benefit on the token, should it have one.


Chai is played over five sầu rounds, with each round ending after a number of tea orders have been fulfilled equal to the number of players in the game. At the kết thúc of the game, the player with the most points from cards, coins left over & in the three lớn five player game, a diversi-tea bonus, wins the game và is the best tea merchant.

Let’s get this out of the way, the version of Chai that I am playing is the deluxe pháo version I believe. Really wonderful production, from the wonderful tea cups to the really well done playmat. Does it need lớn be produced like this to lớn work? Absolutely not, but they did, & it more than definitely helped propel the funding upward. They knew their potential audience & geared everything towards that. Behind all of that shine though, the working nuts và bolts so to speak, there really isn’t a whole lot there.


Cnhị is dead simple to teach & play. Each turn you get one action to hopefully complete one order, và make no mistake, you should be completing orders just about every turn, someone will be. You are simply taking ingredients lớn fill orders. It begins to lớn feel lượt thích that is all you are doing relatively quickly, there is not a whole lot of tension here, & that will appeal to some, but khổng lồ me, that laông xã of tension really makes the game feel like an exercise in just repeating the same thing over và over again until you are done.

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The way everything is phối up, there really isn’t much competition for the orders, as everyone is well aware of what is available và what others have sầu that they are working towards, there is little mystery here. Even if you feel like someone else is looking at fulfilling a thẻ before you, hopefully you have things phối up well enough that you can just take the reserve sầu action và take the thẻ before them, & still fulfill something else. Even when doing that little bit of denial though, chances are, something is going to lớn come out that will be just as good for everyone else involved.


Chai, to me, feels lượt thích someone happened upon a theme that they really enjoyed, & then they just slapped that theme onto lớn some really basic mechanisms, và pretty components. Outside of the Marketplace — which while interesting the first couple uses, it doesn’t really hold up as a central mechanism — this feels really straightforward và bl&, mechanisms wise. It’s part of this new kiến thiết thought that we need khổng lồ minimize competitiveness in favor of getting more people to the table. Don’t get me wrong, I am really glad I got to lớn play Chai, but I really should know better. I shouldn’t piông chồng up & get excited about games that others describe using such descriptors as “zen” or feel like they have to lean inlớn the art or production khổng lồ beat home the point that the game is good. Rarely have sầu we found that lớn be true, in fact, I think I’d rather see praising mechanisms and game play, and then being surprised that it looks fantastic, rather than the other way around. Chai is up against some really good competition in its field, maybe it’s not fair to compare, but I’d rather play Splendor, Century Spice Road or even Jaipur, they have sầu depth of play. Whereas Chai, what you see, is what you get, a simple game that tries to be flavorful with a wonderful table presence, but kind of just falls a bit flat.