Flying around the countryside from region to region delivering potions to different towers is beset with certain inherit risks. There is, of course, the threat of bad weather, losing a delivery, and of turning out to be not as brave as you thought you were. Broom Service is a bit of a re-imagining of Witches Brew, but because I’ve never had a chance to play that game, you’re getting a straight-up, comparison-free review of Broom Service. I can tell you it’s a pretty fantastic game that kids and adults alike will be able to enjoy. It’s no surprise it won the Kennerspiel des Jahres for 2015.
Broom Service is sort of a mishmash of pick up and deliver, action selection, and push your luck. You control two witches flying (by broomstick, of course) all over a magical realm to deliver potions to different castles. Each location is looking for a particular ingredient to complete their spell and they’re willing to pay top dollar if you can deliver.
Over the course of seven rounds you’ll make hands of action cards and try to execute them to the best of your ability. If you’re feeling particularly brave you might be able to be able to take some risks and perform an action really well, but be careful. It might turn out you’re not as courageous as you thought you were and someone else could steal your thunder.
Each player has a hand of ten role cards featuring witches, druids, gatherers, and fairies. Every round you’ll choose four of the ten roles to make up your hand. The roles have an action that can be performed bravely or cowardly. For example, you can claim to be the brave Prairie Witch or the cowardly Prairie Witch when you play that card. The cowardly actions are not as good, but they’re executed immediately. The brave actions are much better, but it’s possible that you won’t get to perform them. The first player chooses a role card to play and announces if they’re going to be brave or a coward. Cowards perform the weaker action immediately, but brave players have to wait to see if anyone else has that same role. If they do they must play it, but can also decide to be brave or cowardly. If another player claims the brave role after you have then they will get to play the stronger action for that character and you won’t get to do anything .The last player to claim to be the brave role gets to perform the action. The only way to know for sure that you’re safe playing the brave role is if you’re last in playing order. This is where Broom Service gets supper fun. Guessing and second guessing what your opponents are going to play. When is the right time to make a risky big move and when should you play it safe. Inevitably you’re going to get burned at some point being brave when you shoulda taken the weaker action or missing out on an opportunity for a big move cause you’re a chicken. It’s awesome and tragic at the same time.
At the start of each round players will select four cards from their hand of ten, giving them their actions for the round. Witches are good for moving around the board and delivering potions, Druids can deliver potions and earn you extra points, Gatherers collect the different ingredients needed for the three different types of potions and the Weather Fairy clears up clouds and earns you points. You’ll select your cards depending on what you want to accomplish, but also keeping in mind what your opponents might try and do.
You’ll be limited where you can go on the board by storm clouds. You can’t enter a region experiencing bad weather (you are flying around on brooms after all). Clouds can be cleared off by playing the Weather Fairy. You spend the amount of wands indicated and collect the cloud for it’s lightening bolt (end game points).
For witch roles, the cowardly action allows you to move one of your witch pawns to an adjacent region on the board that is the same type as the witch (Prairie, Forest, Mountain, Hill). The Brave action allows you to make the same movement, but also deliver a potion to a castle in that region.
Gathers collect resources (wands and potions) at different rates depending on their level of courage. Finally Druids deliver potions to castles in the different regions on the board, earning extra points for being stout of heart.
The main way to earn points during the game is by making potion deliveries. Some towers can only be delivered to once, others will take multiple potions. Each tower is willing to pay a certain amount of points for a delivery. Usually the further you’re gone to get there, the better the pay out.
Event cards spice up the action each round. Events introduce a new temporary rule. You might have to avoid a certain area on the board or have a specific number of resources at the end of the round.
At the end of seven rounds you total up your points and the highest total wins. You can trade in sets of resources for points and the lightening bolts you’ve collected from getting rid of storm clouds will also earn points.
Broom Service has a double sided board and a bunch of variants that you can throw in if you want to play a more advanced version of the game. It’s pretty much like having an expansion included in the game box. The second board is pretty interesting. There are warps to transport you to different areas, ways to unlock special abilities, and much more potential conflict between witches for deliveries. You’ll definitely want to start on the basic board and work your way up.
Broom Service is fantastic. There is a lot of player interaction as you try to get in your opponent’s heads and predict what they’re going to do. Selecting your four roles for the round and then deciding wether you’re going to be brave or a coward is a fun challenge. What is the thing you’re trying to accomplish this round and how are you going to do it? There is a fair amount to think about in the base game and even more when you add in the variants. That being said, the rules are simple enough that you’ll be able to hop on a Broom Stick and start dropping off potions before you know it. Broom Service does an amazing job of creating a cute fantasy world with cutthroat competition.