Review: Tea Time – five o’clock cup of tea in Wonderland

Tea Time - packaging

It’s time for our regular afternoon tea! Every animal from forest runs towards this enchanted meadow and looks forward to time spent together. Caterpillars have all their legs prepared to stir their tea, the birds sit on the edge of their cups and large animals just walk around the table. Afternoon tea is a regular ritual in magical forest, and its a time, when all the animals gather around the table and talk.

Today, they have an extra guest. Alice from human world. Young girl, who was sitting next to the Hatter, suspiciously watched meddlesome monkeys coming. They ran with a terrible cry, but immediately sat down and quietly listened, what their host has to tell them. Scent of tea has filled the entire meadow amd tea party could begin.

And so easy, as the smell of delicious tea, is also a game from . It is made according to the concept of , who became famous for his games Assyria or Hermagor.

Tea Time - game is ready

Tea Time belongs to a series of new Gigamic games for the year . They were all introduced in spring of this year. Also this new game can boldly sit alongside Panic Lab (review) or Papayoo, because of its metal box cover. Like last reviewed Panic Lab, box is small and flat, and would most definitely fit in your breast pocket.

Size of the box with picture of two tea cups and character with hat must of course match the contents inside. This means, that it could not be very much – its not bigger on the inside. Many times, we have now learned, that number of components does not guarantee fun, so let’s see, what will we find below metal lid this time.

Booklet with rules lies on top of two piles made up of square cards. They are the same size as already mentioned Panic Lab. We also this time will spread cards on the table, but this time not in a circle, but you will make a rectangle out of it. But we will get to it in a minute. There is altogether sixty one cards. One of them is picture of Alice onblue background. This card is different from all the others.

Tea Time - game in progress

Sixty square cards have six different portraits on them. Each of them is present on ten tiles. Cards are two-sided, and while one side shows the colorful world, where Alice is, the second side shows the hazy world, which she came from. Faded colors and gold frame clearly distinguish these sides, but the image remains altogether the same.

On both sides of the box, there are foam liners, which hold all the cards in place. A good thing about the metal box is, that it can be firmly closed (it clicks), because cards will barely fit inside.

And now it’s time to play. This game lets us here at the computer (or mobile phone, it depends where you read our article) organize a tea party. Players get nothing at all in the beginning of the match, everything important is still placed on the table in front of them. According to the number of players, you maybe remove a few cards for each of the characters, but you always play with all six of them. That is important for diversity.

Tea Time - game in progress

The starting player gets a card of Alice, but he would not be able to keep it. But before he uses Alice, he must make a game board out of those square cards. They should be mixed by now. Dimensions of the rectangle are given by the number of players – for two, there is twelve cards per round (3×4), sixteen cards in three (4×4) and twenty with four players (5×4).

Most importantly, the cards are placed according to strict rules – starting players lays them down from the shuffled deck in a way, that sides in front and behind the mirror must alternate. This rule is valid not only for rows, but also for columns. So in one row, you start with mirror and the next must begin with real world and vice versa. This creates diagonal lines effect, which will be players able to use later on. When drawing cards, player stumbles upon a group of identical pictures, but some are behind the mirror and the other in front of it.

Starting player then must exchange his Alice card for some card from the table. He has this privilege. Alice will determine starting player for the next round – whoever picks her up, will be the one.

Tea Time - game in progress

Players task is simple – to collect sets of identical cards, for which they get victory points at the end of the game, according to their quantity. Yet you can collect each character only on one side of the mirror.

But how do they get them in their possession? You can simply always take a set of adjacent cards – up to three in a row, column or diagonal. They must not be with the same picture, but they must be adjacent to each other in a line, without empty spaced between. Of course, it is best, if all fit into your collection, when you choose the ones to pick up. At the same time, players must also pay close attention to the side, which is visible on the card. Why?

We are aware, that each person can always be found only at one location in one moment. If a player picks up the card, they already have, but in a different location, they must eliminate the whole pair from the game immediately – so they lose one card from their collection too. So for example, if you have a queen behind a mirror and you are forced to take a card with queen in front of mirror, you must take both and throw them away. This simply shows, that in most cases, the players will try to avoid cards with the other side, than the one they collect.

Tea Time - cards

Of course, it is not difficult at the start of the round, when you can select from many cards on the table, and you can take any number from one to three to your collection. But the offer gradually narrows, and players are slowly decreasing their picked up cards to minimum, waiting and deciding about what is lesser evil for them. In such a situation, it may be better to give away a card from some of your larger collection, or start a new collection with another figure you do not own yet.

The entire match is then composed of several rounds like that. Collected card will remain in your possession and new starting player (decided by owner of Alice card) will form the same shape on table for so long as there are still some card in the drawing deck. Each round must always have side alternation, just like the first one.

So now the only thing, we have not spoken about, is the end, when you are awarded point for all your collections. The most valuable are the collections of five or more copies of one picture, which indiscriminately will equal fifteen points, for four will you get ten and so on. The important thing is, that having one or two cards only is not worth it, because you will get only one or three points. But if you avoid this image completely, you could get five points instead.

Tea Time - game in progress

This is the only situation, when you try to use that cancellation rule of different sides of one picture. During the closure of the whole game, you try to get rid of those collections, that you think are not worth keeping. Likewise, its not wise to collect much more than five cards of one specimen, although you can then easily use this collection as a possible target for cancelling. Of course, winning player is the one, who has obtained the highest number of points for his cards.

Tea Time is a really simple card game, in which you try to collect a set of different images. Like other games from Gigamic, also this one can be characterized mainly by short and easy rules. The only case you need to reopen it, is when you forget about the score points for different card numbers. And this is just few pairs of numbers, so you will remember them eventually.

When you play the game for the first time, it will look a lot random. Nevertheless, it can be planned real well, if you know it. Coincidence is there present only in the distribution of cards between rounds. All characters and types are equally represented in the whole game, and you can be sure, that all of them are played and available for picking up during the game.

Tea Time - cards

The only chance then is the distribution of cards on both sides of the mirror. Starting player could hardly influence it – only the first card is his choice, then he must follow a given pattern. But this little thing can successfully disrupt your carefully planned strategy. Of course, this is at the same time the reason, why every game remains also exciting. Preparation of individual rounds is still quite fast.

Most fascinating thing about the game is always the second half of round, when the most wanted cards disappeared and now it gets all down to divide those less important. Players will often try to harm the others, because they always know, which pictures are they interested in.We see a relatively strong conflict element in this mechanic.

Unfortunately, you will find each round quite similar. Variability should be ensured by random distribution of cards, but its not enough. At the same time, it is not a game, you should urge to play several times in one afternoon. Its useful for one quick match or to fill some short breaks, when you would otherwise be bored. Game time corresponds to this and is short.

Tea Time - box

Processing is simple. Cards are made of harder material with a smooth surface. When you are first unpacking them, they at stuck together, but if you separate them from each other, they do not bind again. At least not, when you pick up the game from time to time. The illustrations are nice and really resemble Alice in Wonderland story.

Tea Time is a pretty little game to fill boredom or simply to relax. It contains no deep thoughts and wont make you somehow extremely concentrated. You just follow and collect colors from the table by patterns. Simple. For some of you, maybe a little too simple?

DesignerEmanuele Ornella
ArtistChiara Vercesi
PublisherGigamic
Year Published2012
# of Players2 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4 players
Recommended with 2, 4 players
(4 voters)
Playing Time30
Mfg Suggested Ages8 and up
Language DependenceNo necessary in-game text
(2 voters)
CategoryCard Game, Novel-based
MechanicSet Collection
FamilyBooks: Alice in Wonderland, Food & Drink: Tea
Primary NameTea Time

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Tea Time – five o’clock cup of tea in Wonderland
Final word
Tea Time is a simple card game fun from Gigamic company for all the kids and fans of Alice in Wonderland out there. Players will create from cards two intersecting worlds - in front and behind the mirror. Friends from the book are on both sides, but you have to decide, where to meet them. Players get points for collecting different card species and they can make a good decisions based on that. Moreover, if you take one character card in both worlds, they will cancel each other out, so you have to pick carefully, which ones should you pick up. Alice card then decides, who will go as first player - whoever is willing to sacrifice his turn to pick up Alice card. Match lasts for several rounds, but game remains quick and fun. It will not start to bore you. And its hidden inside nice metal box. When playing game many times, you may find games too similar to each other - players will always collect same pictures. But descisions still make a difference. Are you ready to get invited for a cup of tea?
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
interesting idea with cards in front and behing mirror
cards cancel themselves out
scoring
price tag
metal box
short gametime
you get a chance to get rid of cars, you have few
Cons
different matches are much alike
3
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