The German Burrito Delivery Game
So a group of us got to try The German Burrito Delivery Game last night (henceforth referred to as TGBDG). I’m not sure that’s the exact translation; but it is more evocative translation and is the name suggested by the sounds we would presumably be making if we knew how to pronounce it. In fact, it may be the greatest mistranslation in gaming since Bruno Faidutti informed us that the correct name was “Two Hedgehogs Boinking in the Dark“. (Family blog).
Anyway, being in pre-modern times, burrito deliver drivers use barges on the ruhr, and there are logistics and purchasing, turn order considerations, money management, some special powers and victory points. It’s all quite technical. You can deliver burritos with brown rice initially, but white rice opens up later.
(Let me just stop and say, that if you think this is confusing, you had best avoid the game unless someone can teach you who learned directly from the company founder, because the rules are crap).
The game isn’t difficult. The main decision in the game is where you start your barge (at a burrito shop) and then where you’ll deliver. Each shop uses a d6 to show how many burritos you get. When you start your barge, you can start it any open shop downriver, but going upriver costs money. After everyone picks up their burritos, you can go up to two spaces down river at no cost, but if you want to go further you’ll have to hire a pilot. And whenever you cross some rapids, you’ll lose a burrito overboard.
Anyway, when you deliver the burritos you get $1 less than the number of burritos delivered, but you also get some valuable business contacts. (You mark these on your player board … delivered brown rice burritos to a city, or to an industrial town, or to the main port). As you get better contacts, you gain the ability to purchase franchising rights, corner the salsa market, and whatnot.
For some reason, you also gain the ability to improve the river, which prevents burrito loss. Like a good business man you don’t charge any tolls for creating locks, since that’s what VPs are for.
The only really novel (IMO) part, is that the turn order is based on being upriver. Furthest up river picks shop first. Then once everyone has done that furthest upriver (which may have changed) delivers first. Then farthest upriver (which again, may have changed) claims business contact tiles first, purchases franchises first, etc etc.
There are two kickers that make this game had to evaluate. Some of the business contact tiles are limited, and less than number of players, so you have to guess what people are going for because you could get locked out. That’s interesting, or at least it can be.
But (and this is the brilliant part) there’s also a random event that also prevents anyone from hiring a pilot. So your plan of “I’ll go upstream, deliver carnitas to Essen, then run a priority shipment of Barbacoa to the port …” can be siderailed by bad weather.
So, TGBDG is a logistical game that rewards great planning, but requires you to adapt to events. Which would be a big deal, except that Player A’s plans are hurt by this (since he wanted to hire a pilot, but can’t) and Player B’s plans are impacted not in the slightest since he was just going to deliver some avocados anyway. (Mmm. Guacamole).
And (this is the other brilliant part) there’s a snowballing economy. The first franchise in most cities is cheaper, and may earn a few bucks over the course of the game. First salsa factory at the port? Cheaper, and will earn more VPs over the course of the game. Some business contacts give you a bonus (free action, extra toppings, whatnot), but are limited.
As a simulation of the cutthroat world of random meat stuffed into a tortilla, it’s exemplary. Everyone thought I was going to win after the 3rd turn, just because I had a VP and Monetary advantage.
Turns out they were right.
Now, maybe there are all sorts of shenanigans that could have been done. And I certainly won’t claim we got the rules right. There are games I study the rules with Talmudic rigor, but this wasn’t one. There may be a key point we missed, that provides for an interesting balance.
I mean, I want to like TGBDG. The other reviews intrigued me, and made it sound great.
But right now this sits at indifferent. I’ll play again, just to see if my initial impressions are off.