I’m not going to lie, I don’t like tea. And I’m feeling really bad about it now since Chai tea for 2, is all about the tea! We have even received one of the best smelling teas I have ever smelled from Steeped Games themselves to try out while playing! It was time for me to change my boundaries and try out new things. Other then that, we are excited to learn about the making and creating of tea. So let’s wait no further and join us on this journey. Spoiler alert: the tea was good and since you can buy more from them, we definitely will!
Note that this is still a prototype and the final product might look different.
How to Play.
The setup is quite easy. Both players gets a plantation board, a set of dices and a merchant. Side A is standard play, side B is advanced. Place the five gameboards in the middle in a way that it creates a scenery from the harvest to the production. Shuffle the plantation cards and ship cards and place them on the indicated slots faceup with in the last slot the deck face up. place the tea tokens in easy reach and place the harvest pieces randomly around the harvest board. The tea assistant can be placed under the harvest pieces.
The goal of the game is to produce the right teas and to load them on a ship. The game will end when 3 to 5 ships are filled (both players decide what the goal is). In the beginning of each year (round), the first player will choose a harvest marker with the tea assistant by moving the meeple 1 – 3 spaces. Both players gain the tea tokens shown on the markers and the number of steps shown on the right of the harvest marker. With those steps you can either move up your teas on your plantation board, or take new tea tokens as long as they are unique. To move up tea pieces on your board, simply follow the route on the board and move pieces with the amount of steps you have left. You can either spend all steps on one tea piece, or divide them amongst all pieces. Once a harvest marker has been chosen and used, flip it and move it to the other side of the board. The tea assistant can only move clockwise around the board to harvest markers.
When the tea assistant has been moved, both players roll the dices to be able to use the in each location, then each player (starting with the first player) places one dice until al dices have been placed. Each location has a different use for the dices. The harvest board (most left location) allows player to place dices of any value in order to take any tea piece they want. The market board allows you to buy cards if you place a dice of the same value or higher on the card you want to buy. Tea plantation cards can score you more points or make your tea pieces to move up faster so they can be loaded onto a ship. Some cards have to be flipped after they have been used, they can be flipped to their available side again at another location. A description of how every card works can be found in the rulebook.
Next is the palace board. Here you can place a die in order to become first player, flip all used tea plantation cards faceup again on your plantation board. Or swap and move tea plantation cards on your plantation board. This can be done with any dice value. On the harbor board dices can be placed in order to reserve a ship for your tea. Each ship has a specific tea request and if 3 to 5 ships are fulfilled per player, the game will end. If you have teas in the making or already waiting at the top of your plantation board, you can look for a ship that is requesting those teas. In order to reserve a ship, you need a minimum of two dices with sequential values, like a two and three, or four and five. Simply place them on the ship you would like to reserve. If your opponent however wants the same ship, they can still interfere by placing a longer sequence with dices, or placing higher dices for example. This may continue until a player cannot place dices anymore or chooses not to. The dices that are displaced by another player, will have to go to another ship. If there are no ships available at the moment, they go back to the players supply.
The last location is the production board. Here you can gain more movement for your plantation board to move up more tea pieces. If you have two dices with the same value, you can place them here. The top position will give you five steps extra at the end of the year, the middle position three and bottom position two. The higher value dices will always go on the top. If you have place two dices with value three for example and your opponent places two dices with value four, or with a dice extra, they will be placed above your dices gaining more movement. At the end of the year when all dices have been placed, resolve the harbor board by taking the reserved ships and loading your tea pieces on them, and resolve the production board by receiving the movement for your dices. If the ship goal has been reached, the game will end. The final scoring will then begin. If the goal has not been reached, another year will start again beginning with the tea assistant.
To count your score, simply add up the points that are given trough tea plantation cards and fulfilled ships. If you are playing with side A of your merchant, each tea plantation card, fulfilled or unfulfilled ship, and tea token that matches with your merchant will also give you one point. If you have played with the advanced side instead, your plantation board will show more complex routes for your teas providing more challenge and each merchant will have his own ability that can be used one time in the game, like moving a plantation card or flip facedown cards faceup again.
Playthrough of the game.
As we begin playing the game, we came to the conclusion very quickly that only seven dices is not much at all. There are many actions to perform and the struggle to place the best dices on each location is real. We both tried to keep the highest dices for the best places to claim a ship for example. But since Tomasz often just had better dices, I changed my strategy halfway by stealing the first player token and picking up different tea pieces then him so we wouldn’t fight over ships anymore. But then we both tried to gain the most movement at the production board. When I only had one ship left to fulfill, I wanted to gain a lot of movement so I could slow his process by picking a low number with the tea assistant. But in the next round, he had already placed two five dices on the top spot. I unfortunately did not have two sixes, but I did have three dices with a two. Happy as I was, I kicked him from the top spot, claiming the five extra movements that I needed which also let me complete my last ship. Because of this, I had fulfilled two more ships then him which let me win with more points.
We like this two player game a lot. There is a lot of depth in this game and we like that each area has it’s own activities that you can keep track of. We also noticed that it doesn’t matter really if you roll high or low dices that much. If you have good strategies, the game is designed in a way that you will always be able to use them for something useful. The setup in this game already places you in a good mood since a nice scenery is created. The game is so colorful and the quality of the components are great. Your plantation board also creates mores challenge then you think and is really well thought of. You might pick up a card from the market that allows the tea pieces you want to move up more, but you also have to place it next to the right spot in order to even reach the right tea pieces. In the advanced mode of the plantation board, this gets even more challenging which has led to interesting gameplay and strategies. But even with all those options, the game is not that complicated or hard to learn. It does take some plays to master though.
Chai Tea For 2 is a strategic dice placing board game about tea for solo or two players. It has a nice theme with good quality components which makes the game easy to look at. The rulebook is pretty short and well written which makes it easy to learn what each location does and what you can use it for. Because of the few dices and many options to place them, Chai Tea for 2 provides a nice challenge in order to gain the most victory points. The Kickstarter for this game will start on 04-05-2021. Note that this is still a prototype and the final product might look different.