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The Taverns Of Tiefenthal is a board game designed by Wolfgang Warsch (who is also responsible for the most excellent The Quacks of Quedlinburg) and released in 2019. It is primarily a worker placement game with deck builder and drafting elements, and is mid-range in game complexity -- somewhat akin to Lords of Waterdeep or 7 Wonders. It plays best with three or four players.

Each player is charged with running a tavern -- buying beer and attracting customers, and upgrading the tavern and their customers as they are able. Each player rolls four dice and selects one, passing the rest around the table. Once all the dice are drafted, the players place their dice around their tavern to gain gold and beer, and then trade those resources for upgrades -- both cards that they can add to their deck, and upgrades to their taverns. Each round, cards representing customers, tavern staff, and beer deliveries are dealt from each player's deck and placed on the board, giving the players some control over how their tavern develops.

Taverns is a satisfying game on these basic mechanics, but much of the fun comes from the complexity of the game, and as such, it is designed in five modules allowing a slow ramping up of complexity. While the starting set-up involves four tavern cards and one bonus track, there is another card, another 'currency' (shots, in addition to steins of beer), two more bonus tracks, and varying starting conditions that come out in later modules, each involving additional tasks and bonuses. Personally, I do not feel that most of these add much, but they are ramped up slowly enough that they are not confusing for those of us who do not necessarily crave the additional complexity. It should be noted that all of this is included in the base game; there are currently no expansions.

I quite like this game, but the designer made it a brief eight rounds, barely enough time to get your pub up and running. I prefer to play for 12 rounds, enough that you can set your system up and see how it runs, and get some of the harder-to-get resources more regularly. The game adjusts well to this modification, and it is easy to house rule various minor odds and ends to accommodate different play styles and preferences.

The game is currently selling for $45-50, which is a good value for game quality and replay-ability. It does require that you have a couple other people at hand who are willing to play a fairly complex game, which can be a challenge to arrange in 2020. Taverns may also be suffering a bit in popularity as 'selling beer' is not the most compelling theme. This is a pity, as it was just starting to take off before Covid-19 hit, and has the potential to become a quite popular game given exposure. While it is a bit too complex for me to recommend it as a good board game for the average person, if you are up for something a bit more complex, it is worth giving it a go.

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