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Cascade Cafe – Review

Cascade Cafe is a relaxing path building board game that is inspired by the Suujin Taisen genre. I haven’t played one of those games before but Cascade Cafe brought me up to speed quickly and easily to unveil a very nuanced strategy game that I really enjoyed.

Chains and loops will be your friends throughout the game. Cute art style for the players too.

Each game is 1v1 – either online, offline or with bots. Your object is to score enough points to cross a threshold score first and you do this my laying down tiles that connect together. Each tile you can place and rotate on the board to suit and they have a number in the centre and lines going off in 1 to 4 different directions. The lines are the paths that connect the tiles and that’s what scores you points. Line up tiles numbered 1,2,3 and you’ll get some points. Line up three 3’s together and you’ll get points too. As long as you can keep the chain going, you’ll score bigger and bigger. The paths must always connect though and the big points come from completing paths by creating loops or closed paths. This gives you bonuses and stack onto those chains explained earlier. This can make one move very powerful if you create a big chain. The problem is you opponent will be trying the same.

Alongside this you can collect power points. These are dotted around the board and you can then spend them on attacks. Attack cards are earned through matches in story mode and can range in what they do. Some remove opponent tiles, others switch, remove or add paths to a tile or change the number. Some can help you too, swapping your own tiles around. This adds in a bit of aggression to what is otherwise a tile placement game on boards that until late in the game, have enough room to keep you apart from each other if you want to. In addition to this, random lucky paths are added to a board too. If you place the exact match tiles on these points, you’ll score double.

Cards and attacks do make key differences and swings in the gameplay but you can equally choose to ignore them and focus on yourself instead. You just have to hope the other player will do too!

With these three mechanics combined, strategy and timing is key. You’ll always have some luck about the type of tiles you get but you have a choice of five and there’s always something you can make with what you’ve been given. A good player with a poor hand can still play to its strengths and rival a poorer player with a better hand. My only minor niggles to the gameplay is that sometimes, if you aren’t going to be aggressive with the attack cards, battles feel more like a score attack mode rather than a true versus battle. I had a few matches that ended early because both players focused on our own hands, not the opponents. It just depends on the type of players you are up against. Online works well. The first player to join the lobby gets given a code to pass to the second one to join in. As matches take probably a maximum of 10 minutes, there’s no need for an asynchronous mode. Cascade Cafe is designed to be quick.

A pleasant surprise with depth and options, Cascade Cafe may look unassuming but its a great bit of fun. If you like to take your time and play on an ever changing playing area a game with simple rules, this should be one you look to. It’s cheap too and fully functional despite the early access tag.

Review copy provided by publisher.

Cascade Cafe
Final Thoughts
Really engrossing 1v1 strategy game that can be completed in just a few minutes. Addictive and chill.
Lots of maps, layouts and strategies you can try out.
Online and offline versus mode work a treat.
Chilled, relaxed, indie cafe vibe works beautifully.
Easy to understand.
Some games can end up feeling like a solo race against the other player rather than an aggressive tactical battle.
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