Tavern Tycoon, or how not to vibe

Towards an effort of fairness and disclosure, I should say that I have not played Tavern Tycoon in some time. Perhaps if I had hung with it, or gone back to it, I would have a kinder opinion of the game. At this moment I do not.

Some time ago, in some generic medieval fantasy realm or other, some person opened a chain of taverns. That’s about it.

Tavern Tycoon, in the beginning, does not give you much to go on and in terms of gameplay that’s the main problem. This bearded gentleman appears from time to time to give you tips, and that’s well. You also get some vague “magazine” articles about running your tavern, but that seems to open more questions than answers. I’m an experienced gamer, but I wanted to chill and enjoy so I played on Easy. It was not easy at all. Getting your budget set isn’t too bad; once you have your services arranged and your staff hired, the money comes in for the most part. But there’s this whole other page about setting prices and waiting and leaving and lots of other details for which I have no idea wtf I should be doing. There’s nothing to go on but trial and error. For some players that might be fun, for me I like to have some kind of target.

But the money is coming in, so no big deal. Reputation, however, is a whole other issue. I have several dozen dudes (they’re all dudes) wandering around my tavern (none of them can sit still) puking and thinking about forks and knives. The bearded gentleman told me earlier that that means they need a place to sit and eat. Most of main building is tables, plus a few in the out buildings, and there is STILL not enough room for them to sit. Best of all, the tables are all half-full. I guess there is no sharing in this medieval land of wizards and knights. I build more tables and they’re still wandering around, mucking up my establishment, and wondering about forks and knives. Does this also mean they’re not getting service? Maybe so. But my server is hanging around, brewing stuff instead of serving them EVEN THOUGH I TOLD HER TO STOP RESEARCHING. All the while my rep keeps going down and the puke is piling up because my bozo handyman is on break. Should I hire another one? I don’t know. The game is not communicating how well I’m doing, except when Lord Peter says I have a 1.0 in hygiene whether I see puke on the floors or not.

I stop taking reservations and put in more tables, even though I’m pretty much out of space. Still with the forks and the knives.

At this point I could do some research and find a guide or something, but I’m not going to do that. Many of these flaws or discrepancies or issues of player negligence could be written over if I cared about my little tavern, but I don’t.

I think that’s mostly because this game has no feel to it.

The presentation, or aesthetic, is somewhat there. Even if the characters are completely uninspired, the taverns themselves are cozy and warm enough. One gets the expected wood paneling and gentle firelight. I’m afraid that’s where the immersion ends. And while I recognize that it’s not an adventure or story game, it seems like the developers didn’t do much but put some fantasy paint over a generic management game. There are wizards and knights but they just wander around (everyone is so restless) and puke and maybe do a spell.

The theme, running a fantasy RPG tavern, did not deliver.

So, if you enjoy the tycoon/city-builder type games, then this could be for you; if you’re looking for a true tavern “vibe,” then look elsewhere.

What do you think? Is the “tycoon” model working for tavern games?

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