Matcha: The Japanese Tea Ceremony In a Card Game

Matcha: The Japanese Tea Ceremony In a Card Game

Matcha is a card game for two players ages 10 and up. It’s designed by David Harding with art by T.J. Lubrano and is the fourth in Grail Games Mike Line.

It retails for $15 but can be found online for around $10.

In Matcha, the players are trying to collect five different types of utensils for the Japanese tea ceremony or four of one type. The first to do so wins.

How it works:

The game has 16 cards numbered 1 to 4 in four suits, plus two 0 cards.

There are also six mat cards, which are laid out on the table in pairs, one with a number and one with a suit.

The 0 cards are removed from the deck and the cards are shuffled. One card is placed at each mat. The 0 cards are then shuffled back into the deck, and each player is dealt five cards. Two cards are removed.

The cards placed at the mats are turned face up.

Players play one or two cards face down to the first pair of mat cards. Because they only have five cards, they will have to pass at least once.

Players reveal their cards. To gain tea utensils displayed on the cards, they must match either the number or suit of the card, depending on which mat they are playing to. If both players match, a hierarchy of suits and number determines who gets the utensil.

If neither player matches, neither gets a utensil. If one player matches the card, and the other does not, the player that did not match gains a tea whisk.

If only one player plays a card, that player automatically gets the utensil without revealing the card.

Play continues until someone wins.

Why you might buy Matcha:

Matcha is an elegant game. The rules, though a bit difficult to learn, are easy to remember.

The game forces you to guess what your opponent is thinking. You have the ability to count some cards, but because there are two removed, you won’t know exactly what your opponent has.

The information is revealed slowly, so as your choices narrow, your ability to make an informed choice increases.

This is an excellent two-player game. It’s not mean, but it is strategic, and there’s enough luck involved that no one will feel too bad about losing.

It seems to go on exactly the right amount of time.

The artwork is beautiful. This is the same team that created Elevenses, which is also a tea-themed game, but the two games feel quite different. What unites them is the lovely card art and components.

While you can’t show your card to your opponent, you can talk about it. And lie about it.

You can’t ask for a better price.

Why you might not buy Matcha:

This is a small card game with lots of luck. If you want pure strategy, this won’t do. Sometimes you simply won’t have the hand of cards you need, and the best you can hope for is blocking your opponent.

You probably won’t feel like you are setting your table for tea, despite the art and the text in the rulebook.

My conclusions:

When I first read the rulebook, I wasn’t sure how Matcha would work since cards are placed face down.

But as soon as I started playing, it all became clear. I love the simplicity of this game. I’m always up for a game I can play with my husband after the kids are in bed, and this is a perfect ending to the day.

At $10, this game is a steal.

Full disclosure: I got a review copy of Matcha from Grail Games. I wasn’t required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.

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I'm a journalist living in Central Oregon. I have two little kids, which for me has meant staying home. And playing board games.Lots of board games.I'm also an avid reader and a theology nerd.You can follow all of my interests and personal quirks on Twitter @teresawjackson and at www.tablebyteresa.com.