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Board Game Review: Chai

game #3 of Katie’s 100 board game challenge

By Katie KieslingPublished 3 months ago 3 min read

Chai had been on my list for awhile when my friend told me how great it was - she had been playing it at a game cafe. About a week or so later, she texted to say she was going to a giant game store in Vancouver, on a mission to find and buy Chai. I asked, if there was extra copies (knowing that it was sold out EVERYWHERE), could she get me one too? Well, she not only got me a copy, she got me THE LAST COPY, meaning she forfeited one for herself! She is one of the sweetest friends I have, and I think of her and her generous act every time I play Chai.

For someone who doesn't drink tea on a regular basis, you think I wouldn't be so obsessed with a tea-themed game ... and yet, I am. The theme so far with my first three games seems to be light-strategy. (Don't worry, that'll change - my fiancé enjoys the high-strategy games!)

Randomness & Replayability

I know not everyone loves random elements in games, but I think I prefer it ... maybe because it puts everyone on a level playing field?

There are five colours to choose from, and I realized recently that the cards for each colour are unique. My fiancé always plays green, I typically play blue, and my mom will play black. So, this time, I chose a different-coloured leaf to play with from my usual, meaning the types of tea flavours and pantry items we would need could be different.

The tea tiles to purchase are never in the same place every game. You draw tiles from a bag to place in the market, and the ones you need could be worth 1 coin or up to 3 coins. The tiles you need could be adjacent to matching tiles (meaning you can collect multiple of the same tile if they're touching each other), or you might have to settle for collecting the hard way - one tile at a time, spending extra coins.

Even the pantry, which starts with one of each of the five pantry items, will eventually start to show some duplicates.

There are also eight unique ability cards. With three showing at a time, we don't necessary start with the same three ... and one gets replaced every time, and the person who's turn is next is the one to replace it, so their agenda will take precedent and be a deciding factor for which one is replaced. Also, the way the rounds are set up, we only ever see seven of the ability cards in a game.

At some point, I think we'll need to purchase an expansion for this game, but right now I'm still enjoying it as-is. There's enough randomness and choice that it still feels replayable.

More Players is Better

This may be standard across most board games, but I definitely felt like a 2-player game of Chai went too fast. When we fulfill customer orders, we place all our items in a cup and receive a tip. There are only a number of cups equal to the number of players - two for a 2-player game, three for a 3-player game, four for a 4-player game. Each round ends when all tips have been collected, so two customers fulfilled (whether both by the same player or one by each player) means we're starting the next round. There are only five rounds total ... it's like we finally got going with things, and the game is over.

The Design

I get easily swayed by artwork, and I have to say, I LOVE the design of Chai! It brings me joy to play, but it also brings me joy just to look at everything - the box, the components, even the rulebook! I won't go on and on - I know art is subjective.


This one is a 9 out of 10 for me! Like I said, I'm not ready for an expansion YET, but I know I'll need one in the future ... especially if I keep playing it with just one other person, instead of in 3-player or 4-player mode. (I will add though, I have never played a game in solo-mode, and I know this game offers one ... I'm excited to try this out solo, I think it would be nice!)

table top

About the Creator

Katie Kiesling

* 29, she/her, Canadian

* Reader, writer, lover of language

* Board game enthusiast, and wannabe board game designer

* Fiancée currently, Wife in May 2023

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