English reviews


Game summary:

A game for 1 – 5 players 

Play time 20 – 60 minutes

Designer: Dan Kazmaier, Connie Kazmaier

Artist: Mary Haasdyk, Sahana VJ

Publisher: Steeped Games

For this review, I’ve played it with the Deluxe version. Below the components, you’ll see the deluxe components. The Game Trayz insert contains the following components:
• 1 Chai rulebook
• 5 tea houses (green, black, red], blue, white) player boards

• 30 base tea tokens (6 tokens of each above colour)

• 40 customer cards (8 of each colour)

• 5 player aid cards (1 for each player)

• 8 ability cards, 3 added deluxe ability cards

• 72 tea flavour tiles (12 tiles of each: mint, jasmine, lemon, ginger, berries and lavender)

• 1 recessed-market board

• 1 double-sided (Celsius/Farenheit) thermometer with round tracker clip (+two extras)

• 6 tip tokens

• 1 money pouch board

• 30 coins (15 copper, 10 silver, 5 gold and 1 first player token)

• 50 pantry tokens (10 tokens of each: milk, sugar, honey, vanilla, and chai spices)

Deluxe edition

• 1 metal 1st player token

• 30 metal coins

• 2 dice for AI solo variant

• 10 deluxe exclusive cards

• 5 deluxe superfan-inspired cards

• 5 deluxe wild pantry tokens

• 5 wild tea ingredient tiles

• 3 unique customer tips

• 3 ability cards

Let’s get it to the table

Feel like a cup of tea then we also have to play a game of Chai right away. Chai is a great game for real tea lovers but if you like to drink coffee, I expect you will like this game as well ;-).

First we’re going to setup the different boards, place the market in the middle of the table. Near this market you also place the other boards like Thermometer, Money Pouch Board, Pantry Board. Place the Tea Cups in a row on top of the playing area.

Shuffle the Tea Flavour Bag with the 72 tea flavour tiles and draw tiles to fill the market board (3 rows) from left to right. When this board is ready and filled with tiles we’re going to setup the Pantry board. Fill this board with 1 of each type token, honey, milk, sugar, vanilla and chai spices.

Shuffle the 8 ability cars and place the deck face down beside the customer pool, then deal 3 cards open to form the Ability area.

Place Teacups equal to the number of player on top of the playing area. Shuffle the 6 Tip Tokens and place one of them in each Teacup. Place the remaining tokens next to the board, you need them for the other rounds.

Place the Thermometer besides the tea cups with the round-tracker clip starting on 0 degrees.

Every player is in this a tea merchant, so every tea merchant selects a color with matching tea tokens and a matching tea house. Place the tea tokens in your tea house.

Finally, the starting player is chosen; the player who drank tea last must start. The first player receives 1 copper coin, all other players receive a silver coin of value 2.

Now we’re ready to play!

Chai is played over 5 rounds, and during each round every player can choose one of the 3 actions. Besides this action, every player can also fulfil an order after playing an action. A round will end when all the teacups has been filled with one order and then the thermometer goes one space up on the thermometer (0, 25, 50, 75 and 100 degrees).

Action 1; Visit the Market
In the market you can buy flavour tiles, there are 6 different flavours (mint, jasmine, lemon, ginger, berries and lavender). You need these flavour tiles to complete the most orders, some order require something else then flavours. On your player board you cannot have more then 12 flavours.

How does it works when you want to buy flavours? When you choose for this action, you receive immediately a Gold (3) coin. When you choose this action you have to spend at least 1 copper coin (1), but there’s not a maximum you can buy.

Choose a flavour you want to buy, on the top of the market you also see the costs for the flavour in that section. When there’s also the same flavour tile horizontal or vertical you can also get this one, but when it’s in a more expansive section you have to pay most expansive amount.

When you take tiles from the market, you slide the remaining tiles directly to the left. At the end of your turn, you refill the open squares with tiles from the flavour bag.

Your money that has been spend goes to the pouch board.

Action 2; Visit the Pantry
In the pantry you can take three items (milk, sugar, honey, vanilla and chai spices). You can need these items also for completing orders. Instead of choosing three from the pantry board, you can also take items from the bag but you have to blind draw them.

After selecting items from the pantry board, refill the plantry board at the end of that players turn.

You can also pay 1 copper coin to reset the pantry board. Take the items from the board, place them back in the bag, shuffle and then select 5 items to refill the board.

On your own tea house, you can have a max of 6 pantry items.

Action 3; Reserve & use Ability
Players may also reserve a customer for their tea house, you can reserve a visible customer or blindy take one from the reserver. But you cannot have more than 3 unffulfilled customer orders in your tea house!

After you’ve reserved a customer, you may choose to use one of the three Ability cards that are open on the table. After the start of a new round, you replace one of the open ability cards with a new ability card.

The metal coins, they really look and feel great! These metal coins are from the deluxe edition of Chai.

Fulfill an order
After taking one of the 3 actions, you can also Fulfill an order. This can be an order directly from the customer pool or any of the orders at your tea house. To fulfill an order you must be able to submit the ingredients listed on the menu, the tea flavours tiles and or the pantry items.

When you’ve fulfilled an order, you take the ingredients from your tea house and place them in one of the free cups. Then take the tip that’s next to the cup and flip it over, you will then receive the bonus shown on the tip.

When fulfilling an order you must also discard a base tea token, if the card shows a different tea token from your tea house you must return a copper coin to the other player. If you cannot pay this, you cannot fulfill this order. If you have no more tea tokens of your own, you cannot fulfill this card either.

When a player flips over the last tip token, this round ends. Move the round-tracker clip one space up on the thermometer.

Here’s an example of a card that you can fulfill. In this case you also need to pay the red player 1 coin. 

A few examples of the Customer Cards, as you can see the artwork is very great and sometimes also funny.

Game ends

The game ends after 5 rounds and when in the 5th round, the last teacup has been filled with an order.

When the final order has ben fulfilled, each of the other player still can complete their last turn so each player has played the same number of turns. Customer order still can be fulfilled but you don’t receive any tips, because all of the tips has been given to the other player(s).

Players then are going to count up all of their victory points from fulfilled customer orders and any remaining money.

When you got an unfulfilled orders, don’t count these negatively and you also don’t receive any points for leftover ingredients.

When you’re playing with 3-5 players, there is also a diversi-tea award. Every player counts the number of different base tea colours and add them to their total victory points.

The winner is the one with the most victory points and is the best tea merchant!

The different pantry tokens that you can choose from, during the game they are going to change. It can happen that not all the different tokens are on this board.

The different tip tokens

A few examples of the ability cards

Final Conclusion & rating:

Weight: 1 / 5
Replayability: 9
My rating: 🎲 🎲 🎲 🎲 🎲 🎲 🎲 🎲

Set up of the game

Setting up Chai is a bit of work, if you have done it before then it will go a bit faster but it is mostly a lot of separate parts. It is not 1 plate but several small plates which you have to put down and where you will put the different parts.

Also, the cards, belonging to the colors that participate in the game must be selected and distributed to the players and then 1 stack of cards is made. This makes it all together that the set up takes some time, but if you play the game more often and also with the same players then this will certainly go faster.

Quality of the components

The quality of the game components is very good! Despite using different parts, e.g. the game boards are of good quality as are the tea flavor tiles. The game is made to be played on a regular basis without sacrificing quality. Even the bags that are used regularly will not wear out or break. Also, everything looks very nice, very nice graphics are depicted on the cards. 

If you are in possession of the deluxe components and/or the playing mat then you have a very nice upgrade of the game. Especially the mat is really an added value to the game, it keeps everything neatly organized on the table and that makes it a lot easier for me to play. But the metal coins are also very nice to play with.

.The only downside I think is the inlay, yes everything is neatly in the box but it still does not feel like an inlay that fits well within the whole box, it’s like I’m missing something. But I must say it fits, looks super nice

Overall impression of the game

Chai, the first time when I heard about the theme I was not immediately very excited because a game about tea, that can’t be very fun, can it? But the graphics I saw at that time were really very nice. After that I kept following Steeped Games to stay informed about Chai and I became more and more enthusiastic. During Spiel I was very curious to see what Chai looked like in real life but I was not the only one at that moment, it was really a crazy at the Steeped Games booth. 

Chai, the first time when I heard about the theme I was not immediately very excited because a game about tea, that can’t be very fun, can it? But the graphics I saw at that time were really very nice. After that I kept following Steeped Games to stay informed about Chai and I became more and more enthusiastic. During Spiel I was very curious to see what Chai looked like in real life but I was not the only one at that moment, it was really a crazy at the Steeped Games booth. 

Then the game itself, Chai is a very fun game. Graphically but also game wise I think it is very well put together. Chai is very nice with 2 players but also with multiple players it is very good. You can interfere with each other by choosing certain cards or perhaps taking away some extra stones for the other player(s). What makes it fun is that in the beginning you are mainly busy with fulfilling orders and then you just manage to fulfill 1 or maybe 2 cups. If you are more experienced you will see that fulfilling the cards will go faster. Chai is at times also a light tactical game, which card will you fulfill, which flavors you need and will you collect etc. For example, do you go for the cards with the most points or do you go for the easier cards with a little less points. All very nice considerations you can make.

I really enjoyed playing Chai, unfortunately not everyone likes the theme but when you see the game it is really a beautiful and fun game to play. Chai will be on our table more often.

I want to thank Steeped Games for providing me with this review copy, this does not affect my opinion of the game.

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