The line of thirsty customers grows longer and longer at your tea shop. Can you juggle all of their orders and mix their drinks perfectly before your co-workers do?
Based on the Taiwanese bubble tea scene, Bubble Tea is a real-time game of pattern recognition and puzzle solving. You take the little shaker and roll the ingredient dice, which will give you a base like milk or green tea and all of the ingredients that your customer wants, from fruit and jellies to taro and boba.
After finding the correct base tea card, you’ll have to match up the ingredients on the card. Each type of ingredient is represented on a separate transparency, with some ingredients repeated in different numbers and patterns. Since the roll of the dice determines the type and number of ingredients in a drink, you’ll have to find the right combination of transparencies to put on the base card. You can position them any way you want, but you can’t have any ingredients outside of the base card; spilling is a no-no!
Be the first complete your drink and you’ll earn a customer card. The first player to earn three cards wins the game.
I love boba (I’m a SoCal guy, which means I call bubble tea “boba”) so Bubble Tea instantly sparked my interest when it was released. From the little drink shaker to the adorable artwork, Bubble Tea is by far the cutest game that’s been on my tabletop recently. Like Aza Chen’s other games Shiba Inu House and Kitty Paw, the art is absolutely delightful and the game play is quick and easy to understand.
However, Bubble Tea isn’t an easy game by any means. It’s a challenging puzzle to solve and the real-time play gives it a sense of urgency. Trying to position your transparencies so they match the ingredients is a lot tougher than it sounds, especially when you are racing against your fellow teak makers.
Included in the rules is a second way to play the game, which I prefer to the dice-based version. The back of each customer card has a base and ingredients. Players each get five cards to begin and choose one to make. Everybody reveals their cards simultaneously and begin working on their drinks. The first person to complete theirs earns that customer card and its points. Higher-valued customers have more ingredients to fill, but they’re tougher to complete than the lower-valued customers. After the round, players pass their remaining cards to the player on their left and the process is repeated. After five rounds the player with the most points wins.
No matter which set of rules you use, Bubble Tea is a no-brainer for your next visit to the local boba shop. Order your favorite drink, shake up those dice or shuffle those cards, and start making those delicious bubble teas.
Thanks to Renegade Game Studios for providing a review copy of Bubble Tea.
Ruel Gaviola is a regular contributor to Geek & Sundry, The Five By, iSlaytheDragon, and other sites. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can find him talking about board games on Twitter or Instagram.