Matcha (fine powdered green tea in Japanese) is an asian-themed matching game I picked up the other day. It’s a two-player game that lasts about 20 minutes. The goal of the game is to be the first player to have created the best tea, either by getting one of each of the items you need, or four of one item you need.
The game comes in a small box with a cardboard insert, and plenty of space for sleeved cards, which I recommend doing for this game. The cards that are included in the game are 18 cards for the deck, including two 0 cards, and the numbers 1-4 of each colored item (except white, which I will explain soon).
Speaking of items, look at how cute these pieces are! These pieces are the items you are trying to win. Need the red bowl? Then you need to have the best match for the red geisha card.
The game begins with all six of the mats laid out with randomly shuffled cards placed on them from the deck. If a zero is drawn for a mat, replace it with a randomly drawn geisha/item card and put it back into the deck.
The mats are placed in pairs with each pair having one of each type of mat. The geisha/item cards are dealt out onto them randomly. The first pair of mats is a round, and all three pairs of mats are a set. The game is played one round at a time. If all three rounds have been played and there is no winner yet, the geisha/item cards are shuffled back up and dealt back out randomly. You keep doing this until there is a winner.
At the beginning of the game, all six mats are laid out with their geisha/item cards on them, and each player has a hand of five cards. The remaining two cards are set aside, and no one knows what cards they are.
First player places a card from her hand next to one of two cards in the first round. The card is placed face down. Then the other player places his card face down next to one of the two geisha/item cards, and passes turn. Once both players have passed, you award items. The player who placed the card that matches the geisha/item card best according to the mat wins the token.
For example, in the photo to the left, The green card’s best match would be a number 4 card, since the green 4 is on a number mat. The blue card’s best match would be another blue card, since it is on the color mat.
If a player cannot play a card, or chooses to pass, they cannot play any more cards that round. A player may only play one card for each geish/item card, so the max amount of cards you can play before passing is two, one for each item card. If a player plays a card that does not match the item card and their opponent does, they get a white whisk token. If both players play a card that does not match, neither get a token. If both players play a card that matches, the best card wins (highest number then highest color, and both scales are shown on every item card in the top left hand corner).
That’s Matcha! You play until someone has had the best match of one of each color, or of four of the same color.
I enjoyed the game, but the whole white whisk business can be tricky, because if someone keeps playing mismatched cards, they could get four white whisks in two rounds and win the game, making the game having only lasted five minutes. The other player can do their best in this situation to prevent the white whisks from being won by also playing mismatched cards, because then no one would get a white whisk, but it still is an easy way to win, I think.
All in all, I really liked this game, it a was cute filler game, it on average has played about 10-15 minutes for me, depending on whether all players knew the game or not.
That’s Matcha by Grail Games!