Pussycats and pastries? Welcome to Cat Cafe! Good thing feline fan, Saggyhead, has a table and is ready to roll!
Cat Cafe is a 2-4 player roll and write game that is just as cute as you would expect. You are filling cat play towers with toys and cushions to help your felines have the best possible life. I am a self confessed cat lover. I rescued my two furry pals about 7 years ago, they were both abused and had lived in the shelter for almost a year by the time I adopted them. After years of love and kindness these two moggies are the sweetest kindest souls, I truly do not deserve them. So a game with cats is likely to pique my interest. I also love the roll and write genre too so Cat Cafe seemed like a game I needed to try.
In my mind the original roll and write is the Beetle game where each number on a die represented a different body part. Many a frantic hour was spent trying to complete a beetle first in my childhood. Cat Cafe is a far upgraded version in terms of gameplay difficulty and enjoyment. It’s less chaotic and more thinky, and I am definitely here for it!
The aim is to fill your cat scratching posts in such a way that you score the most points. The end of the game is triggered by the person who completes their third scratching post. This means you need to keep an eye on what your opponents are doing, for fear you get caught with your proverbial pants down. In each round you will draft a personal die in a round robin fashion. The last remaining undrafted die is used by everyone. Out of the two dice that you draft, you must use one of them for the icon and the other will be used to determine which floor you may place the symbol on.
Each symbol scores in a different way. For example the cat cushions score as many points as the floor number, so a cushion wants to be on floor 5 or 6 to get maximum points. The mice score based on how long a chain of mice icons you have managed to get, getting four in a row gets you a sweet 20 points so mice can be very lucrative indeed. The butterflies are worth 3 points each at the end, but they also get you two paw prints too. The paw prints can be used to adjust the die values to better suit your master plan. These paw prints are not worth anything at the end of the game, but they are so important during the game.
Positive Pants On
If you like cats, then you will really enjoy the theming of this one, it is absolutely choc full of feline goodness. I think the graphics of the game really reflect the carefree fun nature of the theming. It is definitely a fun looking cutesy game, and when you start drawing your balls of yarn and butterfly icons on the sheets, it only becomes cuter.
I really love roll and write games as the skill comes from mitigating what lady luck gives you and working out how to do the best you can with what is rolled. Each game is different because the dice rolls will never be the same. Here there is also the added variability of the drafting. What you pick will directly affect what your opponents can do. In fact, being the last player can have the most effect as you decide what the final dice that everyone has to use is. This can severely mess up the plans of your opponents. Cat Cafe for me brings something new to the idea of a roll and write with drafting, and it is great fun.
The Steep Learning Curve
If you really suck at drawing, you will likely find this game a bit of a struggle to replicate the symbols, but as long as you know what they are then that is all that matters. The main gripe I have with the game is that the rulebook leaves quite a few open questions. The rules are printed on a fold out sheet, and there aren’t too many examples given so there is a bit more work to be done deducing the intricacies of the rules than I would like. I have also replaced the small white light dice with some more exciting and nicer to roll heavier ones. There is more than enough space in the box to keep bigger dice in the box so for us it was a no brainer.
Once you have waded through the first couple of learning games, everything starts to slot into place. This game is marred by it’s rulebook in my opinion as the game itself is actually excellent. I enjoy the thinky nature of it, I like the varied game length based on player decision. The race to get the cat tower first and grab the most points is a puzzle too. Do you try to finish early, but perhaps not have the best combination of symbols or do you try to eke out the game to do everything you want to do, knowing that perhaps your opponents will also be bagging big points too?
-Great game to play as a filler
-The write pad is gorgeous to look at and use
-Just about enough cats in it
-Theme is ever present
-Bit tricky to get the hang of all the rules first time
-The dice are small dull looking D6
-If you hate cats, this is not for you