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A French-speaking table for four, please

November 8, 2012

Café International is quite an interesting tile placement game where you score points by arranging people at restaurant tables according to a few simple placement and scoring rules. The tiles depict cheesily stereotyped (some would say offensively so) men and women from various nations (plus a continent, in the case of Africa), but ignore all that and you have a pretty neat abstract game which I’ve really enjoyed playing in the past.

Black is one, red is five, blue is ten…

Miss B spotted the box on the shelf and asked to play it. I couldn’t think of a good reason not to, so a short while later we were setting up on the dining table.

The game is fairly intuitive to play, though some of the subtleties of scoring can be a bit tricky (like what happens when you place a person at two tables).  Miss B also obsessed a bit about the bar and the negative scores to be had for late arrivals.

In the early stages of the game it can be quite tricky as you have a lot of space and arranging people so that they have a dining companion can sometimes be awkward.  Towards the end, there are only a few seats left at tables and you will inevitably end up with some unplacable tiles, which can get frustrating too.

All in all, I think that the mechanic works well, but the game is a little too big and long to work well for Miss B.  A cut down version with easier scoring might work very well indeed.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 5¾): “Cafe International wasn’t so good because it could have had all the countries scoring four points instead of eight if the tables were full up in the right country. And if you’re at the bar in the minuses it could have been just in ones not twos.”

The game: Café International (Mattel), 2 to 4 players aged 10+.

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