Your Price: $42.00
(Worth 4,200 Funagain Points!)
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The Cafe International is a meeting place for guests from many nations. At a table an Indian drinks coffee with a Frenchman; at the bar a Spaniard converses with an African. The task of the players is to divide the international guests as skillfully as possible among all the tables in The Cafe. At the most, two ladies and two gentlemen may sit at a table. That's how the players get points. Guests which are forced to sit at the bar cost the players points. The player who can most successfully cope with the onslaught of guests will win this entertaining game.
This game has everything going for it: nice pieces, terrific board, easy rules and hours of playability. I gave this game as a gift to a friend and we finally decided to play it. Well, we played it three times in the same night! All of us were intrigued by the simplicity of the game. We learned the game in minutes and only had to look at the rules twice just to verify table placement.
The object is to seat people of various nationalities at tables, scoring points in the process. Tables with patrons of one nationality score higher than ones with mixed nationalities. On a turn you have to score points. If you can't, you have to send someone to the bar. The first five spaces on the bar are positive points; after that they're all negative. This makes the game interesting as the tables become full and you have to place someone at the bar when all the positive points are taken up. There is even a Joker tile which can represent any nationality. On your turn, you can even exchange a Joker tile already on the board with a tile of the nationality it's representing. This costs a turn, but can be advantageous. Just don't get caught with it at the end of the game (it's worth -10 in your hand; all other tiles are -5). Even though we all could see each other's tiles, we didn't feel it took away from the game. In fact, it added to the strategy. Next time, we're gonna keep the tiles facedown and see what happens. This game is excellent.
Every once and while, you're driving someplace out of town, hit the 'seek' button on the radio and you find some forties music station, and get a great tune from The Ames Bros., or the Inkspots, the Mellotones... Straight forward tune, wonderful harmonies, fun lyrics. That's what visiting Cafe International is all about. No complex, 'let me check if you can place that there' tile rules aka Java. Just a straight forward, fun game you can teach anyone in two minutes. Try teaching Java to a new player, you'll be at it for a while... and keep the rule book handy.
Basically, all you do in Cafe International is 'seat' one or two of your patrons (tiles) at a coresponding table maintaining balance between males and females, or No place to seat someone? Put 'em in the bar! The better you arrange your patrons, the more points you get. As the restuarant fills up, it gets harder and harder, and you have to start losing points. Do the best job of making the most of your patrons early, and lose the least during the endgame, you win. The graphics are clean, patron tiles heavy stock and wonderfully UN-P/C, scoring system clear.
The only challenge I had with the game is a personal gripe of mine, laying out all your tiles exposed to everyone. It allows for way too much 'kingmaker' play, slows the action with too much over-analysis, and as stated in previous reviews of this game, a little dry. With one quick fix, Cafe International transforms into a fantastic game. Go to your local charity thrift store, pick up an old Scrabble game (there's almost always one there) and use the tile holders for your patrons. It keeps your tiles hidden, opponents guessing and the game incredibly lively! Also, the english translation on scoring doesn't show bonus points for seating a matched couple, only triples and quads. Basicly, seat any couple, threesome or foursome, score 2 / 3 / 4 points respectively. If they all match nationalities, double it.
For a wonderful game to play, especially with non-gamers, get Cafe International, some tile holders and enjoy a good cuppa joe!
I award Cafe International 5 stars because it is a great game for those looking for a light game with enough strategy to satisfy in that department.
As soon as the box is opened, it becomes clear that Cafe International is a quality game (the newer Amigo version anyway--I have seen the Mattel version and it's not as high quality). The clear, colourful, clean artwork is printed on a substantial board and chips.
Once 5 people chips are distributed to each player, players take turns to place 1 or 2 people chips into the cafe, or exhange a joker from the board. The tables display which nationalities the people must be, sitting at them, and it is necessary to keep a near-equal balance to the lady/gentlemen split at each table.
Players score points for every person placed into the cafe, apart from some of them that are forced to wait at the bar. The number of points scored depends on how many tables are affected, and how many people are at the affected tables--the more people, the more points.
Each game takes around an hour to play, and is highly recommended for people of all ages looking for a game which is light yet not shallow.
I was glad to see the Games Magazine 2001 Buyers Guide mention this game. This is not a 'Gamer's Game' like Modern Art or Civilization. It can be played in under an hour, has a balance of luck and skill, and is good fun. The game has an atmosphere that a well-designed game should have. The play flows well and each tile picked gives a small rush of joy or disappointment. Make a reservation soon.
Great game for gamers or newbies.
Easy to learn and play the first time out of the box.
And it's fun. And the theme fits the game play.
This one will make new players want to try more German type games.
Not quite a filler, but a relatively short game to play when you want something more.
This is an enjoyable game to play with my kids, and I think therefore a good one to begin getting children away from Candy Land and into strategy gaming. My 6-year-old daughter understands the game and enjoys it.
PLEASE NOTE: The English rules that Americans are using have a significant error (now confirmed by Amigo and Rudy Hoffman).
Namely, if you initiate a new table with a same-nation pair, you get FOUR points, not two (the English rules say two). And if someone then adds another same-nation guest to that table, they score SIX points, not three (the English rules say three). And if you finish a same-nation table, you get (logically) eight points (the English rules do get this part right, saying eight).
If you look at page 5 of the colorful German-language rulebook, you'll see a chart showing the different scoring counts, same-nation tables vs. international tables. The former score double the latter. Why the English rules fail to note this quite obvious illustration is a mystery to me. (And no, I can't read German.)
Thus, anyone playing Cafe International using the English rules translation by Jeff Goldsmith isn't scoring the game right.
This is a fun game with a hint of strategy. Because other folks have explained the mechanics, I won't elaborate on that. However, I do feel that the suggestion of keeping each individual's tiles a secret makes the game more fun--and certainly adds a needed degree of strategy and suspense to it. It's a very light game--definitely not for deep thinkers. Sometimes in my family, it's more fun to play a light-hearted game. Especially if we have all had a stress-filled day. The components in the Amigo version are very nice with the English rules well presented and easy to follow. Definitely a game that is quick, easy and quite enjoyable themewise.
This game is based on the amusing concept that each player is a waiter at the Cafe International, where patrons of many different nationalities line up to be seated. By the curious rules of this cafe, every table is a four-top, but they are interlocking four-tops; so at two adjoining tables, one might be for Germans only and the next for French only, but at the seat in between, either German or French could be seated. Also ladies may not outnumber gentlemen at a table by more than one or vice versa. The patrons, represented by tiles drawn by the players, must be seated properly in the cafe, for which the waiter makes money, or, failing that, at the bar. After the first five patrons have been seated at the bar, though, a waiter must actually pay to seat a patron at the bar. When either the cafe or the bar is full, the game ends and the player with the most money wins.
Your chances of winning depend primarily on the tiles you draw. There are small strategies you can deploy -- deciding whether to play one tile or two, deciding whether to seat a patron at the bar rather than set up a good play for the next waiter -- but these are really fairly trivial. If you want deeper strategy in a tile-placing game, go for Acquire or Euprates & Tigris or something of the sort.
The charm of Cafe International, however, is its appeal for those who find something as complex as Acquire tedious. The game only lasts a half hour or so, keeping a healthy distance from anyone's boredom threshold. The colorful tiles of the different nationalities (as seen by the German caricaturist) are fun, and the whole cafe/bar idea has humor enough to keep the proceedings lighthearted. It is easy to learn, easy to play, and gives everyone at the table a chance to win.
Thus while personally my enjoyment of Cafe International is less than that of my own favorite tooth-gritting contests, the fact that I can bring it out to entertain just about any group with minimal rules explanations comes close to raising its overall rating to a 4-star.
The cafe in this award-winning classic European game (Spiel des Jahres 1989) has two tables each for 12 nationalities of people. Each table has four chairs, half of which are shared by adjacent tables. Players start with five faceup guest tiles, and earn winning points by placing one or two of them at an appropriate table on their turn. Each table must have equal or nearly equal numbers of men and women. Guests who cannot be seated at a table may be placed at the bar, but at the cost of a penalty. End your turn by refilling your hand to five tiles--less one tile for each high-scoring time you filled a table with four people of the same nationality! Caf International serves up a simple but elegant playing feast.