15 May 2020
Two hobbies make for a joyful brew
Homebrewers are a community of artisan spirit crafters, built on competition and experimentation, but also a mug full of comradery. Homebrewers, the board game, has managed to represent the spirit of this community without spilling a drop.
It has a healthy dose of competition as players are brewing stouts, ales, porters and IPAs to climb up the prestige rankings, collecting rewards and victory points along the way. Yet, there is also the spirit of sharing and helping, as players also get to exchange dice to get the most out of their actions each turn. Brewing is at the heart of everything the players do, whether that’s through keeping their equipment clean and ready, or by throwing a mad mixture of sweet, savoury and fruity flavours into a still to see what happens.
Action dice determine everything a player can do in a turn. While there is always the luck of the roll in play, it never feels restricting as players have numerous ways to manipulate the outcomes of the dice to get to the result they need. For example, spending money to switch to a more useful dice side or a free re-roll if the first try yielded the same result on all dice. However, the main mechanic is the trade between players themselves.
Competition in Homebrewers is created through decisions players make and not from the scarcity of resources or limited spaces on the game board. While all players want to climb up to the top of the rankings, refusing to trade with someone for an action as a means of denying them progress within the game doesn’t work. A trade is always mutually beneficial – a player getting rid of an action that is not useful for them this turn for one that
is, and vice versa. Having played many games, where players race to get that one good spot on the board or collect a resource before someone else snatches them from right under your nose, Homebrewers’ built-in generosity is very pleasantly refreshing.
However, players can still get ahead by using their ingredient cards wisely. Once a flavour has been added to a recipe, it will start the game engine that generates a specific benefit each time it is brewed. The more ingredients one recipe has – the better the eventual pay-off. However, there are various mechanics in the game that encourage a variety in alcohol types and flavours, like bonus point cards and intermediate scoring turns.
Joyful to play, Homebrewers is equally so in looks and components. Especially delightful are the player tokens in different shapes of beer glasses, one type for each colour. Homebrewers has the standard myriad of fiddly cardboard components. The upside of this, however, is that extra pieces increase replayability and spice up the game with new challenges, making it slightly different to play each time.
Everyone from a brewing aficionado to someone who has never had a sip of alcohol in their life will find Homebrewers a delight. While ales and IPAs play an important part in the game, at its heart Homebrewers celebrates a community of people from the same hobby, who want to share it, make it better and learn, all while having fun. As board gamers, we can definitely relate!
PLAY IT? YES
It is rare to ﬁnd the game that has exciting competition, while also encouraging players to share and help each other. Homebrewers took these seemingly unﬁtting ingredients and mix them into a deliciously fun brew.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED… PIONEER DAYS
When you rely on the luck of the dice for your actions, it can feel pretty unfair at times. However, both Homebrewers and Pioneer Days ﬁgured out how to utilise dice action mechanic, while giving players options to manipulate the outcomes through strategy, rather than luck.
Designer: Matthew O'Malley, Ben Rosset
Artist: SaRae Henderson, Adam Rebottaro
Time: 45-60 minutes
What’s in the box?
◗ Game Board
◗ Medal tile
◗ 7 garage boards
◗ 7 character cards
◗ Start player token
◗ 20 Wooden player pieces
◗ 5 Wooden score trackers
◗ 5 Player power tokens
◗ 16 Action dice
◗ 10 Charlies’ cards
◗ 52 Money tokens
◗ 40 grain tokens
◗ 54 ﬂavour cards
◗ 12 quality track tiles
◗ 8 Event tiles
◗ 11 Judging category tiles
◗ 5 sanitisation tiles
◗ 5 reminder cards
This review originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products