Being relatively new to the hobby, I’ve been building a collection but there’s always some risk with buying a new game. Everyone has different preferences around favorite mechanics, preferred themes, level of complexity and so on. So… this post is a bit of a review, but more of a discussion of our first playing experience to help you decide whether this may be a game for you to pick up or not.
I bought Broom Service recently – winner of Kennerspiel Des Jahres in 2015 – and gave it a first play over the weekend. It was Keith Law’s top 10 games of 2015 that first piqued my interest in it. I’ve been following Keith’s baseball musings for quite a while, so I decided to trust his board game advice. (I’m sure there’s a logical fallacy in there somewhere.) Anyway, thanks Keith!
This is a pick up and deliver game with a simultaneous action selection mechanic that sometimes results in performing no action at all. The winner is decided by the total number of victory points at the end. Victory points are collected in one of five ways (note that we played the advanced version of the game):
- During game play as you deliver magic potions to the appropriate tower.
- During game play as you collect special scoring clouds. (Optional variation)
- End of game scoring via resource set collection.
- End of game scoring via the amount of lightning collected during the game.
- End of game scoring via amulet collection. (Optional variation)
The actions a player can take are defined on 10 character cards and each player has the exact same set of character cards. There are gatherers, witches, druids and a fairy. Gatherers provide the “pickup” portion of the game while witches and druids offer the “deliver” actions. Witches can move and deliver while druids can only deliver, as long as the region of the board matches the expertise of the witch or druid. After all, it’s ridiculous to think that a witch used to living in the forest would be capable of delivering a potion on the prairie! Finally, we have the weather fairy. This is the only character capable of clearing away clouds and collecting lightning.
And off we go… All 3 of us were trying Broom Service for the first time, but we decided to play with all possible variations – the “advanced” game if you will. We each had our 10 character cards in hand and 2 pawns on the board, one at each castle location. To start the round, we each chose 4 of our characters from our hand without revealing what we chose. When the group was ready, I played one of my gatherers first to collect more potions, at which point I was quickly introduced to the “take that” mechanic of the game.
Each card gives you the option of a brave action or a cowardly action. The brave action offers more benefits than the cowardly option but it’s only 1 player (at most) will be able to use the brave action for a specific character during a round. In this case, I chose the brave gatherer action and the very next player had chosen the same character as one of her 4 and she trumped my gathering action, leaving me with nothing for that round. And it wasn’t really up to her… During the game, once a certain character is played first during a hand, any other player who has chosen that character MUST follow. They don’t have to choose the brave action though.
Choosing the cowardly action limits your reward but guarantees that you’ll be able to take it. As a result of the brave v. cowardly options, the last player in any round is the position of power, as they are guaranteed the brave option if they have the character that lead the round. To start a new round, we picked up our used character cards and selected 4 characters for the next round. You can re-use any of the 10 characters during any round. The player last player to successfully play a brave action is the first player of the next round. Play continues for 7 rounds.
I haven’t included all of the detail here on the game play and mechanics but it is easy to learn and play began quickly. Game play only slowed down as each player would debate which of their 4 cards to choose, knowing that they could be trumped at any time. It took about 60 minutes to complete a run through and the player who won (not me) got most of her advantage from collecting lightning.
Broom Service was a good pickup for me. It wouldn’t make the top 10 that I played in the last year, but I do look forward to playing it with the more experienced gaming group here on the blog. The simultaneous actions instantly add an element of risk to the game while the cowardly options ensure that you can always plod forward. Game play can move quickly because each player MUST follow “suit” if possible. And there are opportunities to play catch up if a player grabs the lead and variations to add… er… variety. I would also add that the kid-friendly theme shouldn’t worry you if you’re a heavy game player. Give this one a play or two.
This isn’t a formal review but here’s my rating. Trying out a new scale that might resonate with some of you when considering whether to add Broom Service to your collection.
I want to play again… right now!
I want to play again next week.
It’s a keeper, but I might not play for a month or so.
Let’s trade this one away!