Rice Cake and Pancake are adorable and make me want some Boba Tea!
|Designer(s)||Ta-Te Wu||Artist(s)||Ta-Te Wu, Fuwa||Publisher||
Sunrise Tornado Game Studio
Mahjong is a Chinese game that was developed sometime in the 1800's (or potentially earlier as highly debated). The game has spread to other countries and spawned many variants. It has a lot of common with many card games where players are creating sets and straights. Watching professional Mahjong with the nice wooden pieces is so satisfying.
Boba Mahjong is a nice twist on Mahjong that makes the mechanics easy to learn while retaining some of the feel of Mahjong gameplay. Mahjong has always been a game I have been really interested in after seeing it in many anime series, but I felt like it was probably a little to hard to learn. After playing Boba Mahjong, I finally made the effort to go and learn the basics of Mahjong, which isn't too difficult really. So Boba Mahjong may be a great card game that could be a gateway into Mahjong for others as well.
Box and Components
I received a prototype that will not be like the final version; they will have a better picture of what the final box will look like during their Kickstarter campaign. So I will be purely looking at the game based on the mechanics and the layout of the cards; that said, the rules are also still subject to change between now and the final product. However, I would expect the rule changes to be minor and mainly fine tuning the wording.
My prototype has the following components:
- 52 Boba Cards - This deck consists of five "suits" of cards. Four suits are types of Teas numbered 0-8 and a set of Toppings.
- 2 Player Aids - This provides a good break down of the player turns and the end of round scoring summary.
- 15x Victory Tokens - These tokens are exchanged at the end of each round for every 5 points earned that round.
The numerical card layout is much like a standard playing card with the number in the corner and the suit in the middle of the card. The topping cards have a topping icon in the corner and a bit of text on the lower portion of the card that provide a unique ability when using the Advanced Rules. The overall look and feel of the cards are nice and clean. I really like the appearance of the card and art design; this will make the game appealing to a wide audience.
Per the designer, this is an idea of the size of box the final version will come in. The box will be of a similar size as the game the blue arrow is pointing to in the image. I don't have either of the games shown as reference, but I would say they are slightly smaller than the boxes the Tiny Epic games come in.
Setup is pretty straight forward.
- Provide each player a player reference card.
- Shuffle the Boba Cards together to create the Boba Deck.
- Deal five cards to each player.
- Create three "Mixing Piles" by flipping over three cards from the top of the deck into their own piles. If you have any 0 cards, flip over replacement cards for those piles. Reshuffle the deck with any revealed 0 cards.
The first player is the person who most recently had a Boba Drink.
Players will perform the followings actions in order:
- Draw Card(s)
- Create Set(s) OR Draw Card(s) (again)
- Discard Down to 7 Cards
This is the break down of those actions.
You have two options when drawing cards to choose between:
- Draw two cards directly from the Boba Deck
- Draw one card from the face up Mixing Piles
The reason you may want to draw from the face up Mixing Piles is it is predictable. You get less cards, but you increase the chance of getting the cards you need rather than two random cards.
A set consists of three cards that follow certain rules. When you create a set, you may either use three cards from your hand OR two cards from your hand and one from one of the mixing piles. The rules for sets are as follows:
- A Straight: a sequence of three numerical cards in order that do not loop. Straights do not need the suits of the cards to match; only the numerical value is important.
- Valid straights would be, 1-2-3, 2-3-4...6-7-8
- An invalid straight would be 7-8-1.
- 3 of a Kind: three cards of the same numerical value regardless of the suit.
- Valid 3 of a Kind would be 1-1-1, 5-5-5, 8-8-8, etc.
- Three Toppings: Similar to 3 of a Kind, but all toppings are the same. So any three topping cards can be used. Ignore the text portion of the topping card unless you are playing the Advance Rules (described later).
0's are wild cards for numerical cards; they can be used in place of any other card in a set except toppings. So you could have a 3 of a Kind with a 0-3-3 or a straight is 3-0-5. You can even use two or three 0's in a set.
Once you create a set, you will select one card from each set to keep as an ingredient for the end of the round scoring. The remaining will be discarded to the Mixing Piles prioritizing empty piles first. However, 0's are not added to the Mixing Piles and are discarded to a separate discard pile that may not be drawn from.
During a single Create Set(s) action, you may create up to three sets if you have the cards to do so. All cards kept during a single round are stacked on top of each other; over multiple rounds, you will have separate stacks of cards.
Discard Down to 7 Cards
Just like it sounds, if you have more than 7 cards at the end of your turn, you need to discard down to 7 cards following the same rules as discarding during the Create Sets action.
End of Round
Once a player has 5 or more ingredient stacks, the round ends after their opponent takes another turn. Select up to six of your collected ingredient cards and determine the score/quality of your Boba Drink as follows (the rest are not used at all):
- Freshness - You judge the drink based on matching ingredients (Matching Values). Count up the number of cards in that have the same numerical value (your highest set).
- Smoothness - You are judge on how well everything blends together nicely (Straight). Make the longest straight you can and earn points based on how many cards are in that straight.
- Complexity - You judge on how complex the appearance of the drink is (Toppings). Simply count up the number of topping cards you saved for your ingredients and earn points as shown on the card.
- Presentation - Finally, you judge on how well the overall mixture of the components of the drink (card colors). You will count up the total number of cards of a single color OR count the number of different colored cards you collected (whichever is higher). You get more points the more cards you have for this quality.
It is possible you may have enough cards to score multiple awards in the same category (e.g. set of 2-2-2 and 3-3-3 could award 6vp (3vp + 3vp) for Freshness).
0 numbered cards are considered to be only a numerical value of 0 and is not wild in this case; the suit can be used for the Presentation and the number for Freshness.
Add up the total of the four category scores; you will receive a Victory Token for every 5 points earned (rounded down). Examples:
- 10 Victory points gets your 2 Victory Tokens
- 14 also gets your 2 Victory Tokens
- 16 will get you 3 Victory Tokens
Continue into a new round if neither player as collected six or more Victory Tokens.
Once a player collects six or more Victory Tokens, the game is over. The player with the most Victory Tokens is the winner. If there is a tie, the player who received the most Victory Points (value prior to rounding down for the Victory Tokens) in that last round is the winner. If there is still a tie, continue playing until the tie is broken.
Mixing Pile Notes
Players may review the contents of the Mixing Piles at anytime without changing their order.
If the deck ever runs out, create a new deck with all cards underneath the top cards of the Mixing Piles; the top cards will remain as the start of each pile.
The rules provide Advanced Rules you can opt to use once you are more familiar with the game. There is two parts to the Advanced Rules: Common Score Cards and Topping Powers.
- Common Score Cards provide an additional score card that may be used during the end of round scoring. Essentially, after setup each round, you will take the top card off of the Boba Deck and place near the Boba deck but away from the Mixing Piles. This card will remain there as a reminder throughout the round of the optional card that can be used by both players at the end of the round as one of their six scoring cards.
- Topping Powers utilize the abilities listed on the Topping Cards. Essentially, once you select the Topping Card to keep after creating a Topping Set, you will use the Topping Powers listed on the card kept. The cards placed into the mixing piles do not have their effects triggered.
So these are simple additions, but I feel after players are familiar with the game, they will be used as base rules.
Boba Mahjong is an cute card that perfect for two players; it is really easy to learn and quick to play. I love that it inspired me to look further into traditional Mahjong. I love the illustrations on the box and really want to pick up some of the designers other games because the art looks adorable on those as well. It will definite be a game I pull off the shelf for when Amanda and I don't have a lot of time and want something quick and fun.
The game is live on Kickstarter until September 23. 2021 along with two other adorable games (1 2 3. Cheese and Pier 1).
We received this prototype in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.