Zestrea Kickstarter Preview

Look: Zestrea

Designer: Horatiu Roman and Alex Patiu
Publisher: Laura Bularca
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 3–6
Ages: 12+
Playing Time: 45-90 minutes
more info on BoardGameGeek.com

village must survive. As their boyar (the area’s nobility), you have the
responsibility of working to help the villagers. You must do your duty so that the
village can thrive and nobody starves to death. What you really need to do is to increase
the village’s zestrea, or dowry of the maidens. To accomplish this, you and the
other boyar and boyaress must work together to help each other’s villages.

Maidens and Lads

is a game of across-the-table negotiations. Over eight rounds, everyone works
to grow their village’s wealth, land, and population. The only way you can do
this is by cooperating, negotiating, and making deals with the other players.
You can’t make it on your own because the lads and maidens must marry outside
their home villages.
everyone is working to accomplish the growth and stability of their village,
you also have to deal with the trials and tribulations of living through the
hard times. Only married couples produce zestre: wealth and land. But all the
villagers eat. Even when fate seems to be going against you, keep planning and
working with the other boyar to plan for the future.
takes skill and luck to get the highest score from having the most zestre,
land, and couples.

player starts with 1 married couple and 3 lands. All the lads and maidens have
names, but at this point in the game, the names aren’t important.
you want to create the Hard Times deck. Randomly draw out 5 of the 16 Hard Times
cards and place them face down in the middle of the table. On top of the Hard
Times cards, place the 3 Good Times cards. Every game starts with the same 3 Good
Times, and they can be in any order. The rest of the Hard Times cards won’t be
used for the game.
the Fate cards and place them in the middle, along with the Villagers and Zestre

Some of the Hard Times

are 8 rounds of play, which are governed by the created deck of Good Times and
Hard Times. Each of the rounds has five steps.
steps are played by everyone at the same time. There are no structured player
turns that are done by a player, and then move to the next player. Once you get into
this, it quickly becomes a game of constant talking, as everyone is looking for
the next deal they need to make.
1.     Hard
turn consists of turning over the top card of the deck and playing out what is on
2.     Production
roll 1 die for each married couple to see what the couple was able to produce.
3.     Auction
the next Fate card, and it goes up for auction to everyone.
4.     Weddings
and negotiations
between players happen. This can entail a number of different things. Part of
the negotiations includes attempting marriages between unwed lads and maidens.
This round continues until all boyars (players) agree they are done.
5.     Food
is where you make sure your couples and single adults have enough food to survive. Each one consumes food from 1 piece of land, or is paid for by 1 Zestrea. If you don’t
have enough Zestrea, you have to sell land to feed them. If you don’t have extra
land to sell, they die.
this step is done, you start the next round.
all of this, you can also play the Fate Cards you hold. They can make changes to
how well the weddings go, give specific people (a lad or maiden) roles that
stay with them for the rest of the game, and move people around the board.

Some Fates

and Mechanics
a noble, taking care of a village by arranging marriages to allow for production,
was a first for me and the rest of the players. This led to fun negotiations.
open negotiations fit well with Zestrea. There is no structure to the
negotiations, so some players can get overwhelmed. 

and Components
played a prototype, and the components we used are still in development.

  • Cabin
    game, small compact package that can be easily taken with you.
  • Replay-ability.
    The additional cards available for creating the deck of Hard Times and
    negotiations change.

A couple with land and a role, an unmarried Maiden, and a young Lad

of the players had a good time playing Zestrea. One person expressed
frustration because they didn’t care for the format of open negotiations with individual
turns; they prefer games with a structured turn they could deal with, allowing them to see
what the other players do on their turns. They liked the theme and other
elements of the game, though—growing a village and dealing with the situations that
arose the rest of the elements.
got a little louder when two people were trying to make separate deals with a third
player. The pace even picks up when a player is trying to make a quick deal so
someone else can’t jump into the negotiation.
though everyone is competing against each other for the best score, people have
to figure out a way to work together. The competitive cooperation required was
interesting and provided a good evening of entertainment.

Who Like
  • Social
    games, the open negotiations means people have to get involved.

Check out Zestrea on
On Kickstarter now. Campaign ends  November 21, 2019.

Daniel Yocom – Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel’s reviews HERE.

1 Comment

  1. littletinyfish
    October 31, 2019 / 2:56 am

    Those are some beautiful looking cards.

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