Player count: 1 – 6 players
Play time: 30 – 45 minutes
Designers: Dann Kriss
Publisher: Dann Kriss Games
Tavern Masters is a light accessible card game all about running your very own fantasy themed Tavern. For more details on how the core game plays and what I think of the game check out my final thoughts and my d4 DICE review. In this review I will be covering a number of expansions that are available; Dirty Deeds, Dockside, Games of Chance and the Tavern Menu expansions
Take That You Pesky Innkeeper
The core game has no player interaction, however there is a small box expansion, Dirty Deeds that adds a host of Dirty Deed cards, as well as some additional Tavern and Patron cards. This expansion adds a new phase in to the game in between the Night phase and the Counting the Till phase. The first round of the game players draw three Dirty Deed cards and then one additional card each subsequent round. During this phase players can also play a Dirty Deed card or activate Dirty Deed abilities. This expansion adds a lot of player interaction into the game. You will be stealing and generally stabbing your opponents in the back. I like how this is included as an expansion. If you like the more interactive games then you can easily add this in to your game of Tavern Master. However, if you are a more friendly Tavern Master then you can leave this one alone.
The Dockside expansion mainly adds a more of the same good stuff from the core game, plus some new cool additions. A new drink type is introduced, Rum, and where there is Rum there is, of course, Sailors, which are new Patron cards.
There is also the Song deck which comes in to play at the beginning of the night phase. All players draw one song card from the song card deck but any player who has a bard type card in their Tavern draws one additional card. Players can use these song cards to play into their Tavern each round which offer bonuses, abilities and ways to earn more gold.
Probably my favourite additions are the ship cards and the rule that states, “When a ship card is played, the player must say Ahoy..”. Totally unnecessary, of course, but a nice thematic touch. Ship cards have effects that are triggered when played.
The final thing that is introduced in this expansion is the Port Deck. During a round if any player has any Sailors in their tavern they may draw and play one card from the Port deck.
Due to the additional Patrons, Staff and generally having more cards when playing with this expansion your hand size is increased by one.
I think this is a great expansion. There is a lot that gets added into the game but none of it is overly complicated. I would even suggest that you could mix this in right from the get go. It is also compatible with the Dirty Deeds expansion above with 12 new Dirty Deed cards contained within the expansion. If you are not playing with Dirty Deeds these can be left out.
Game of Chance
Who doesn’t like custom dice right? Well the Games of Chance expansion adds just that. But not just that – but new Goods, Staff, Patrons and Dirty Deeds all to be mixed in with the core game. These new cards all behave differently depending on the roll of a die. The Good cards might produce different types of drinks. Patrons will let you play different class of cards from the discard pile and some let you draw additional cards. If you want to mix it up a bit with a bit of chance then Games of Chance is a great addition. As with other expansions this can be mixed into the core game and used with the other expansions.
What’s on the Menu?
If back stabbery, drinking rum on the docks and playing a game of dice wasn’t enough then you can also mix it up with the Tavern Menu expansion. Now this is not an expansion with food and drink items but rather a whole bunch of variant rules that you can play with. You can pretty much mix and match, draft, choose or do whatever you want with these. The main core system is flexible enough that you have the freedom to play and experiment. Want a longer game? Then play till you have 40 gold. Want to be strapped for cash innkeeper then only start of with 1 gold instead of 3. This expansion also works with Dirty Deeds and the Game of Chance expansion.
With these expansions there is a ton of variety that you can add, remove, chop and change to your hears desire. The core game remains the same but you can tailor the experience to the group. Want something with a little more bite then add in Dirty Deeds. Want to change up the starting set up or tweak a few rules then draft a few Tavern Menu cards. The choice is yours. You can even throw everything in all the same time if you want. However, if you do go this route the game does become a little “big”. It turns the light accessible and quick playing card game into something that is a more complex and longer experience. It is still not a heavy/complex game but it does add additional phases and more to think about. For me adding in maybe one or two expansions like the Dockside and some variant rules or the Games of Chance and the Dockside is how I like to play it. I am not a big fan of take that in games so Dirty Deeds is not for me. It is a good expansion, especially if you like that style of gameplay, just not what I am looking for. I can see how this could go down very well with the right group though.
Overall, the core game of Tavern Master can be expanded and enriched by these expansions. It takes a game that I already really liked and adds more enjoyment to the game without making it overly complicated or burdensome with the ability to customise your gaming experience as you desire.
Please note: Tavern Master expansions were provided as review copies from Dann Kriss Games.