Born to Serve follows a bunch of superheroes, with no funding and no way to save the world, each now looking at the lonely job of being a table waiter or waitress at the local restaurant. With ten heroes all fighting over the same job, you really need to be on the ball to keep the money flowing.
In front of each player there is a shed of loneliness full of tokens and their hero card which has different abilities. In front of each players area is a middle-ground that works as the restaurant. There are a bunch of servers at the top of the board that can be called on during your turn, as well as a mix of tables that you can start to bid on to earn the tip. You do only have a limited number of tokens per round, and using all of your tokens will result in less for the rest of the game, so you really need to budget everything carefully.
Some tables have the tip price there for on display, while others have face down cards that you cannot see. These face down cards can only be guessed at, or read by a superhero with the ability to read them. Abilities are pretty simple. They are listed on your superhero card, you get two and one can be used each round. Once you have used your ability, you must flip your hero card to the back. When it’s your turn you can do one of three actions with one of your action tokens:
- Place a marker on a table you are hoping to win. This needs to be placed on the lowest number opened space on the table that’s chosen.
- Place a marker on a staff member at the top. This is a more complex move, as it will do whatever the card says. Green cards happen during scoring while red cards happen as soon as you claim them.
- Take a break, by banking one of your tokens this round to use in later rounds.
This continues until everyone is out of tokens, then the round ends. It is then time to see what tables are finished being served and can be banked. Tables that have all their spaces filled with service markers are scored. This is done by seeing who has the most tokens on the table. If there is a tie, the person with service markers on the higher number wins. Players who helped out on the table but did not win receive some money, while the winner of that able receives the full value and full tip displayed on the side.
Tables that have not been served at all then get discarded, as the customers have walked out and tables that have some service done on them, but are not yet complete, remain unchanged and on the board. New tables then get placed with new cards and this continues through the lunch and dinner rush.
Turn by turn, Born to Serve isn’t a very challenging game. It’s just about managing your tokens, trying to keep them out of the void (where they can be lost forever) and keeping your eye on the tables you want to win. Yet, we had LOADS of issues when it came to reading the very confusing rule book. We watched tutorial videos, we read the rule book over and over, yet still had trouble. There are points in the rule book when it refers to other sections by names that do not actually appear again in the book, so we are just assuming we played the game correctly.
A lot of us felt that some of the superheroes had powers that were unbalanced. I just didn’t end up using mine often, but when I did I got a token back from the void, which I guess is a really good superpower as otherwise the token would be gone forever.
Overall, the packaging for Born to Serve is great. There is a cool comic book aesthetic, a funny story about superheroes in crisis and some cute aspects to the game. I just wish it wasn’t like pulling teeth to understand the game itself — that it was easier to jump into and enjoy.
You can purchase Born to Server on their website.