Published on July 24th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich1
Unter den Kastanien
Our Review of Biergarten, Now on Kickstarter
Break out the lederhosen, beer steins and pretzels- it’s time for the annual Oktoberfest celebration! Millions of people are in need of a comfortable and festive place to enjoy themselves and drink lots and lots of beer. That is where you come in. As a player in Biergarten, you are building your own beer garden to hold this year’s festivities one card at a time.
*The images in this article feature prototype materials and design. The final product is subject to change depending on the Kickstarter campaign.
Biergarten features all the charm of this Bavarian festival and fair. There are beautiful red, green, blue and yellow flags, crests, umbrellas and flowers all throughout the game which helps reinforce the color-driven matching in this game. 2-4 players are competing to create the most impressive beer garden in preparation for the annual Oktoberfest. Over a series of turns, players will draw a card and build outward from a starting home card. To most impressive beer garden is the one with the most points at the end of the game.
Players gain points by matching like colored crests along the sides of each card. For every matching color, a player will score one point. If a player matches two colors, they gains two points. There are additional 3 point bonuses award for players that match one of every color when completing a shield crest and if a player successfully enclose their beer garden with a continuous wall, that player gains 6 additional points. Those are the only ways to get points and the limited options allow players to quickly and easily build out their beer garden.
At the end of a player’s turn, they may also swap two cards or move one card. This flexibility allows players to adjust their strategy as more options become available. What I enjoyed about this mechanic is that is allowed me to change the placement and arrangement of my beer garden as I went along. I could possibly score more points by simply rearranging the cards in my play area.
I’ve seen so many competitive castle building games, they are pretty much a game genre unto themselves. Biergarten is a refreshing change of theme and one that is well executed. The art fits the rustic wooden kegs and colorful tents that I’ve seen in Leavenworth, WA (a tourist town that was built to replicate a small Bavarian town) and in pictures of the grand Oktoberfest celebration in Munich.
Even for a casual game, I feel that Biergarten moves almost too quickly. It is a very approachable building game and it lasts around 20 minutes but scoring 10 points can occur quickly. I want the ability to really grow and expand my great hall, but players are encouraged to build quickly and keep pace with the point scores of their opponents.
Don’t Chug It!
Keeping up with professionals drinkers at Oktoberfest is all about one thing: pacing. You can’t just keep throwing back boots from dawn to dusk and expect to still be left standing at the end. Biergarten wants you to keep this pacing element in mind- if you end the game too quickly by being the first player to reach 10 points, each other player will be able to take another. In my game with Luke, I was the first to reach 10 but Luke was close behind me. Luke managed to get 3 more points on his last turn which threw him into first place!
coming to Kickstarter soon currently on Kickstarter now and its campaign will run until the end of August. Please share this game with your friends and consider supporting their campaign. If you’re a fan of casual, tile building games and have nostalgic ties to Bavarian kitsch and Oktoberfest, Biergarten will be a good addition to your shelf and will look great next to your German steingut.
Also a big thank you to my good friend Guion for the German translations.