I am not only a great lover of tea. I also relish European style board games. I spend much of my free time placing meeples, rolling dice, and collecting lumber, wool, victory points, or whatever resources that are in play that day.
My passion for tea complements my pursuit of board game domination. For this week’s blog, I share my favorite teas to drink while playing my favorite board games.
Board game: Lords of Waterdeep
In Lords of Waterdeep, players undertake the roles of secret powers vying for control of a city, Waterdeep, set in a Dungeon and Dragons world. If Dungeons and Dragons is not your thing, do not fear, the actual game play is far removed from the setting.
At the beginning of the game, each player receives a secret lord card and a few agents. Players use these agents to collect resources (4 different colored cubes + gold pieces), construct buildings, gather quests, or play intrigue cards.
Players score victory points in Lords of Waterdeep by completing quests by spending the resources their agents gather. At the end of the game, each player reveals their secret lord card and earn bonus victory points based on how many of specific quests types line up with their secret lord. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game wins.
Lords of Waterdeep is a game of intrigue, where one must heavily weigh the opportunity costs of placing their agents. What better tea to drink while considering the implications of closing off resources to opponents and what resources might be closed off to you by other players than a loose leaf organic Assam tea? The complexities go together well.
Tea: Mana Green Tea Bags
In Pandemic, four different diseases threaten to destroy humanity. Players take on the roles of Center for Disease staff in order to SAVE THE WORLD from these highly infectious illnesses. With nine of the major global cities (eg. Kolkata, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Kinshasa) already having outbreaks.
To make matters worse, on each player’s turn new infections either occur in cities already infected, or in previously clean cities. As time goes on, epidemics occur in previously clean cities.
Players transverse a network of cities collecting clues about the diseases while trying to contain infections before the diseases the reach pandemic scale and destroy humanity. Players must balance keeping the illnesses under control with finding the cures before time runs out. If players can cure all diseases before too many of the infections or outbreaks occur, they will win the game. If not, the world is destroyed.
Two things keep me coming back to Pandemic. One is that it is a cooperative game. Nice to substitute trying to squash your friends with working together. Second is the game’s method of distributing disease through the network. A city can only safely contain three infections. If a city receives a fourth infection, infections explode out to every connected city. If one or more of those cities has three infections, they also explode out new infections. This can create a cascade of infections and outbreaks that can escalate tension quickly. (You can read more about the theory behind the network mechanisms here.)
There are three ways to lose this game, which keeps things interesting as well. The board can experience too many outbreaks of disease, or too many infections distributed throughout. Or players can simply fail to cure all four diseases before all the clues have been drawn.
As you might have guessed from playing this game can stress out players. Therefore, I typically pair a round of Pandemic with Mana Green Tea Bags. Soothing, refreshing, and healthy, green tea gives me and my fellow players the calm and focus required to preserve and save the world.
Tea: Mana Assam CTC
Board game: Small World.
Imagine Risk. Then imagine the game ends while it is still fun for everyone!
And instead of taking place on earth with presumably human armies, the game takes place in a fantasy land with a variety of races – elves, orcs, tridents, rat men—and special powers. Players conquer territories for victory points. Due to the limited amount territory on the board, players inevitably come into conflict, and must conquer each other to expand their territory.
Two mechanics of Small World stand out: special powers and “decline.” Each race comes with a special power that gives an advantage in either conquering/defending territory or gaining victory points. Additionally, other powers are randomly combined with these race powers at the beginning of the game to create unique power combinations. These combinations change every game, keeping play fresh and interesting even for experienced players.
Second, Small World allows, really encourages, players to switch races throughout the game. Players put their current race in “decline,” and pick a new race. They retain territory occupied by their “declined” races, except with the loss of their racial and random power.
Strategy in Small World becomes then about this critical choice – when is the right time to decline? When has a player grown to their limit, and should switch out for some new attractive special power combination?
For this aggressive war game, I recommend Assam CTC to keep your energy up. You need to be ready to drop those Mounted Dwarves that looked attractive but now have grown to their limits for some Flying Orcs to decimate your competitors.