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Milena Guberinic
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Mina's Not-So-Mini Review - Fun-Filled, Caffeine-Infused, Bag-Building Challenge!




The Overview


Coffee Roaster is a bag-building solo game in which you attempt to roast coffee beans to perfection! The goal for each bean type is shown on its bean sheet and includes a target roast level (i.e. the total added value of the beans in the cup at the end of the game) and target flavor (i.e. the target flavor tokens to be included in the cup at the end of the game). You will also want to ensure a consistent roast, indicating a skill, and a pure roast, lacking undue smoke, burnt beans, or bad beans.



At the start of the game, you select either 1 (for a mini game) or 3 (for a full game) types of green coffee beans to roast over the course of the game. You take the bean sheet for the bean you've selected and fill the bag with tokens with tokens that represent various characteristics of the bean you are roasting. Each bean starts with a certain number of green beans, which have a roast value of 0, a certain number of hard beans, which taken an extra step to start roasting, a certain number of moldy beans, which must be removed, a certain moisture level, which will dissipate throughout the roasting process, and aroma, acidity, and body tokens, which can be used to perform all kinds of roasting magic!



The game comes with two boards - a roast board and a cup board. You will use the roasting board during the roasting process and the cup board during the cup test, which is the final evaluation of your roast.

To start the game, you will place the turn disc on the space that corresponds to the moisture content of your beans. Each turn, you will

a) Advance the turn marker to the next space

b) Pull the number of tokens from the bag shown on the current space of the turn marker

c) Roast the beans in the following manner:

* Moisture evaporation - Remove any moisture tokens you have drawn from the game. This represents the moisture escaping from the roast. With each evaporation step, the amount of moisture falls and the concentration of beans increases.

*Use immediate effects - Place tokens on the left half of the board to activate their effects. This is optional and includes things like using a 1-roast bean and a 0-roast bean to acquire a wild flavor token, using flavor tokens to remove all the burnt bean and reject beans you have drawn from the game, drawing 2 additional tokens, redrawing 2 tokens, or drawing 5 tokens to remove 2 from the game and return 3 to the bag.

*Use flavor effects - There are 3 flavor effects in the game - concentration (which is activated by the body token), preservation (which is activated by the acidity token), and dispersion (which is activated by the aroma token). Concentration allows you to combine two beans, adding their roast values together to create a new bean. Preservation allows you to select two bean tokens to return to the bag, thereby saving them from the final step of the roasting process. Dispersion allows you to break one bean token into two lower-level tokens.

Once you use a flavor effect, you must place the token on the right half of the roast board. Once you have placed both required flavor tokens, you will acquire a unique effect token to place on the cup board. These will help you during the cup test.

*Increase the roast level
The final step of the roasting step is to increase the level of each bean drawn by 1 (or 2 if in the "crack" stage of roasting).

d) Finally, you return the tokens to the bag.

At this point, you can choose to keep roasting your beans or to complete the roasting process and move onto the cup test, the final stage of the game.

During the cup test, you remove tokens from the bag, one by one, either placing them into the cup or onto the tray. Only tokens in the cup are taken into consideration during the final evaluation. If you have acquired any unique effects, you will use them now. Unique effects include adding a roast-level 3 bean to your cup, adding sweetness to your roast, allowing you to draw two and select one token when placing on certain spaces in the cup, allowing you to redraw 2 tokens, or giving you an extra tray for throwing away unwanted beans.


Board used for cup test


At the end of the game, you will score for
a) Roast points - Add the total value of all beans in your cup to come up with a roast score and gain as many points as shown for that roast level on your bean sheet
b) Flavor points - Gain points for having flavor tokens shown on your bean sheet in your cup
c) Skill points - Gain points for having 3 or more same-valued beans in your cup
d) Negative points - Lose points for having hard beans, burnt beans, smoke, or reject beans in your cup and for failing to get any flavor tokens in your cup or having fewer than 10 tokens in your cup.



The Review


Played prior to review 4x






1. SUPER cute!
Adorable Japanese art is adorable! It's also highly functional, with the illustrations describing the entire process very clearly.

2. Unique, well-integrated theme
Coffee Roasting! The only theme that could potentially outdo coffee making for me would be cheese making! Not only does Coffee Roaster have a cool theme, but that theme is integrated into the gameplay very well. Each bean type comes with a backstory that fleshes out its origin and actual flavor and roasting profile of the bean, which is reflected in the initial composition of the token bag. And the roasting process comes alive through the iterative drawing and redrawing of bean tokens and trying to decide when to stop roasting and start testing. As you take your green beans from their high-moisture/raw state to their cooked state, they become more concentrated and the decision of whether to keep on roasting or stop becomes increasingly risky. Because your beans might burn. Or they may become too smoky. Or they may go beyond their ideal roast level...Coffee roasting is a precision process and you certainly feel engaged in a precise, delicate operation while playing this game.

3. Two options for play time
There are two ways to play Coffee Roaster, so you can adjust the game to your availability. If you have 10 minutes to play a game, you can play a quick single roast. A nice bonus is that you don't have to sacrifice challenge for play time; Coffee Roaster can be just as challenging in its 10-minute format as it can be in its full format depending on the level of difficulty of beans you select. You can choose from a large number of Beginner, Advanced, and Expert beans even for the short version of the game.

Even the full game only takes about 30-40 minutes, so I don't think it would take undue effort to fit a game of Coffee Roaster in anyone's schedule. It takes less time than watching a TV show!

4. High variety and challenge makes for high replay value
Coffee Roaster is so full of beans that it will take you many sessions to reach caffeine saturation. Between the 22 different beans, each of which provides a unique roasting challenge, and the double-sided game boards, which each provide a different level of difficulty, you'll have plenty of reason to keep coming back for more! I just want to roast all the beans!!!

5. Grows with you
Coffee Roaster is one of those games that was cleverly crafted to grow with you. The game boards are double sided, with one side allowing you to dispose of more unwanted tokens onto the trays during the cup test than the other, thereby allowing you to more easily satisfy the target levels and bonus scoring requirements. There are also 3 different difficulty levels for the beans themselves and the differences are salient. The higher difficulty levels are definitely more challenging, either due to a higher proportion of hard beans or less leeway in the number of flavor tokens you will be able to use to gain unique effect tokens to make your cup test a little easier.

6. Probabilities are fun! And so is the decision making in this game!
Coffee Roaster is a game of statistics. Just like any bag-building/deck-building/pool-building game, you are working to ensure that the probability of drawing the most desirable tokens falls in your favor when it comes to take the final test. There are three chief ways to manipulate probabilities in this game - the immediate effects, the cup test effects, and roasting time.

Because you know the exact starting composition of your bag and have a very specific target roast and flavor profile you are trying to achieve, you know what you need to have remaining in your bag at the end of roasting in order to ensure you draw a perfect cup. Each drawing step of the game brings with it a new opportunity to either physically remove unwanted components from the bag or to indirectly remove flavors you don't want by using their effects.

Early in the game, it can seem like you aren't doing much because your beans are green and not subject to the manipulative abilities of the flavor effects. As a result, you don't really have a choice between using immediate effects and flavor effects. If you use anything, it will have to be a flavor token's immediate effect. But as your beans roast, the number of tiles you draw increases and the number of options you have available to you increase. There are a relatively large number of cup test effects to gain and it can be challenging to determine the best ones, as this decision will depend not only on which effect you find most attractive, but also on which flavors you want to remove from the bag and which flavor effects would most benefit the beans you've drawn. For example, it might be a good idea to save a flavor token that requires you combine two beans into one if you have nothing but 2-value beans in front of you because the resulting 4-value bean would just burn at the end of the round.

Coffee Roaster is a game of probability and risk management. You know the starting characteristics of your roast and you know what you want it to look like at the end. Having more tokens in the bag than you will draw means that you have to try to calculate the likelihood of drawing the exact configuration of tiles you want in 10 tokens by drawing 13 (with the advanced cup board's tray) or 14 (with the basic cup board's tray) tokens.

7. Luck pushing is fun!
It would be a lie to say you are completely in control in Coffee Roaster. There is a good dose of luck thrown into this bag of beans, but instead of generating frustration, it creates a good level of excitement, as it should when this luck is well balanced by aspects of the game that are under your control.

And luck is somewhat under your control because you can push it through roasting time. Whether to continue roasting past cracking and introduce smoke into your blend and when to proceed to the cup test are both under your control. If you know your bag still contains moisture or hard beans or smoke or 0-roast beans in your bag or other things you want to ensure you don't end up drawing during the cup test AND you know you have some well roasted beans you could end up burning, you have an exciting choice to make! Do you keep roasting to try to get the crud out of your bag and risk taking on burned beans or exceeding the target roast level?



soblue


soblue 1. Solo only
The only legitimate complaint I could come up with for Coffee Roaster is that it can only be played in solo mode. I'm not really one for playing games by myself. As much as I enjoy strategy, control, and predictability, I enjoy the human element in games. I enjoy the intelligent competition and opposition. And even the collaboration to be found in cooperative games. However, Coffee Roaster is special enough to make me want to tell Peter to do his own thing for a bit while I attend to my coffee beans. And at 10 minutes, it's actually something I can take out while he's in the shower or something.



Final Word


Coffee Roaster is a fun-filled caffeine-infused challenge that will challenge your stats skills. If you like a good mathy puzzle with a bit of luck thrown it, this one is sure to hit all the right notes. And Coffee Roaster has you covered whether you have 10 or 30 minutes to commit to bit of solo fun! I really love this game and intend to keep on playing it, even if it will force me to push Peter aside for a few minutes.

MINA'S LOVE METER heart heart heart heart LOTS OF LOVE




***


***


Mina's Love Meter


Burn it! - I dislike this game so much that it makes me angry. (I rate these 4 or less on the BGG scale)
Dislike - I don't like this game, but I can see why others like it.
(5 on BGG scale)
heart Some like - I find this game somewhat appealing, but it doesn't really grab me. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try this game, but it is unlikely to stay in my collection for very long.
(5.5 to 6.5) on BGG scale)
heart heart Like - I like this game and appreciate the design. I am happy to play this game occasionally when the mood strikes and enjoy doing so.
(7 to 7.5 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart Some love - I love this game. It's not perfect, but it really appeals to me and I will play it frequently.
(7.5 to 8 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart Lots of love - I really love this game. The design really speaks to me. I want to play it most of the time.
(8 to 9 on BGG scale)
heart heart heart heart heart All love all the time - I ADORE this game and can see myself playing it many times and for many years. I would go to sleep clutching it in my arms and want to play it all day every day...only not literally because that would be insane.
(9 to 10 on BGG scale)



To see my other reviews, visit this geeklist.



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Feld Fan
United States
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Thanks for bringing this game to my attention. Sounds fun!
 
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Philipp Eis
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Great review for a great game! For me it was love at first sight.

Like you said: adorable artwork, great theme, tough decisions, nice mechanism, short playtime, massive replayability for a single player game and some push your luck elements!
 
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Denise Lockard
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I,too, love to play games with others but sometimes you have to go it alone. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this. Thanks for the review, Mina
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Chien-Tsun Chen
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Thanks for the review Mina!! meeple
 
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The Games Are About Glory
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Great review. Is the roast board also double sided? I've only seen this side in the photo gallery.

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Philipp Eis
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FrozenHoHos wrote:
Great review. Is the roast board also double sided? I've only seen this side in the photo gallery.




Yes it is, both boards are double sided! The stars indicate there's a "bonus space" for your tokens.

Number 1 (do not know which right now) has one side with "no star indicator" and one with a"1 star indicator". Number 2 has one side with "no star indicator" and one with a "2 star indicator".

So you can set your own level, based on experience.
a) both boards with no star indicator,
b) Board 1 with 1 star indicator, Board 2 without,
c) Board 1 without a star indicator, Board 2 with 2 stars,
d) Board 1 with a star indicator and Board 2 with 2 stars.

So you have 4 combinations in total!

The roast board has one action space more on the left side, right side stays the same. The cup testing one has 1-2 slots more for tokens you do not want in your cup test.

Really clever!
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The Games Are About Glory
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Thanks. Now that I look again I see that the roast board in Mina's photo does in fact have another space. There appear to be two different editions of the game where the design is slightly different. I think that lead to my confusion.
 
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