Title: Boba Mahjong
Designed By: Ta-Te Wu
Art by: Holly Chiu
Published By: Sunrise Tornado Game Studio
Released: Coming to Kickstarter January 4th, 2022
Player Count: 2
Time to Play: 30 Minutes
Boba Mahjong is a unique take on set collection and rummy. Players will face off trying to create the best sets of bubble tea. Players work to collect cards to create sets, and then use specific cards from those sets to score points for future sets.
How to Play:
Give each player a player aid. Set the victory point tokens off to the side within reach of all players.
Get set up for the round: Shuffle the deck and deal each player five cards. Place three cards face up to make the mixing piles. If a card in the mixing pile is a zero, shuffle it back into the deck and draw again until there are no zeros face-up. Place the deck nearby the mixing piles, creating the supply.
You are now ready to begin.
Whoever most recently had a boba drink goes first.
On their turn, a player will do three things. First, the player will either draw two cards from the supply or pick one card from the mixing piles.
Then they can either repeat this step OR create up to three sets. To create a set players can use three cards from their hand, or two cards from their hand, and one card from a mixing pile. Sets can be three of a kind, a straight, or any three toppings. Zeroes are wild and can be used as any number.
Once a set is created, the player then needs to decide which card from the set they wish to keep to score later. Here is where you will begin to use your sets to make more sets. For each turn, any sets created should be placed in a single stack in that individual player's tableau. The other two cards, that were not added to the player's personal stacks, will get returned to the top of the mixing pile(s) of the player's choice. Unless, a card that should be returned is a zero, in that case, remove it from the game.
The active player then checks that they do not have more than seven cards. If they do, they must discard down to seven. It is now the other player's turn.
Play continues until one player has five stacks of cards in their tableau. The opposing player then gets one more turn that round. Players then select six cards from their individual tableaus for scoring. Players can score points in four possible categories, freshness (same number), smoothness (straights), complexity (toppings), and presentation (same or different colors). Players take their total number of points and round down to the closest interval of five, taking one token for each set of five points.
If no player has reached six tokens, set up for another round. Play rounds until someone gets six victory tokens!
What's purr-ty cool:
Boba Mahjong is a sweet little two-player game. It is super easy to learn to play but allows a lot of interesting choices with all the different set collection options players can choose to work with. The double-layer of set collection is something we have never seen before but really enjoyed. You have to think about what sets to work on collecting in the first part of your turn so that you can draft the cards you actually want for the sets that will score at the end of the round.
We also think that it was cool that no matter how many cards you manage to collect in your tableau before the round ends, you only get to pick six to score with. This helps balance out the game for if someone got lucky with cards (or was super strategic) and collected a lot more cards than their opponent. Yes, the more cards you have the more choices you can pick from for your final set, but the scores will likely be a lot closer than if one player only collected 7 cards and one player collected 13. This helps to stop one player from blowing another player out of the water.
We like that despite its adorable use of color (seriously it looks cute on the table, and reminds me of the inside of a lot of bubble tea stores), Boba Mahjong is designed to be color-blind friendly. Each color is labeled with a type of tea or ingredient, so even if you cannot differentiate the colors, you can still work to collect matching sets.
Boba Mahjong takes up very little table space and plays pretty quickly, making it a great game on the go. If you are looking for a simple, yet thinky set collection game to play with your best board game friend, you can't go wrong with Boba Mahjong!
For more information, you can check out the Kickstarter!
The cat's meow:
"All I wanted was to chew on the box, but mom kept taking it away saying that was not how you played the game." - Pudgy Cat
Disclosure: Pudgy Cat Games was provided a copy of this game in exchange for a review, however, this review reflects the honest thoughts of the author.