A game set in the heart of Berlin, you’re a barista, skilled in the craft of coffee. You’ve had it with your day-job and you’ve opened up your own café in the interesting, colourful city of Berlin. The thing is, other coffee shops have opened up too and you’ll be competing against other up-and-coming cafés and you’re determined to be the best.
In Seize the Bean, you’re competing to get reviews, specifically good reviews and lots of them. The person with the most, positive reviews at the end of the game, wins.
How do you get good reviews? Well, you must successfully serve customers in your line, fulfulling orders and making sure your customers get what they came in for. Each turn will provide you with limited actions which you will use to attract certain types of customers, gain resources, or even boost your actions for more effective results. By looking for opportunities in the ever-changing city, the players can take the right products and upgrades and build up their shop and clientele to victory.
How do I play it?
Good question. During the game, players take their turns over the course of a Game Day. The game is played over as many Game Days that are required until a player takes the last of the Available Good Reviews. Once the last review has been taken, the game ends.
Game Days or player turns are divided into four steps. Each step is completed by all players, in turn order, before moving onto the next step.
First of all, you need to serve your customers.
It’s mandatory, that’s how you’re going to get your good reviews and make your customers happy, as well as triggering certain abilities during the game. Customers that haven’t been served become impatient, which is not a good sign and may force a player to take a Bad Review Token. Bad reviews are never good for business.
To Serve a Customer, you must pay the required ingredients that are shown on the top left of the card. Immediately upon doing so, you will take the rewards, if any, that are located below the ingredients. Rewards are usually Good Review Tokens which are good for business!
After paying the required resources to fulfil a customer’s order, you may also choose to pay the bonus ingredients if there is an option to do so on the card. If you do, you also immediately receive the bonus reward that is indicated underneath the bonus ingredients. Yay, more reviews.
Then there are the different actions you can take.
You can acquire resources
The Resource Actions allow you to take resources from the central supply. Each Action has a base amount marked on the Player Board and can be increased by adding Product Cards to your Pantry. The Action’s new amount of acquired resources is depicted horizontally across the Product Cards.
You can scoop the beans
The Scoop icon is special in that it allows you to literally scoop out Beans, Or you can skip the use of the Scoop and simply replace it by taking six beans, but why would you? it’s fun. When using the Scoop it is recommended that house rules be set in advance, such as fallen beans must be put back and players only get one chance per scoop (ie. no retries or floor Beans, please!).
You can take City Actions
The City Actions allows you to take Customer, Product and Upgrade Cards from the City. Each Action has a base effect marked on the Player Board and can be increased by adding Upgrade Cards to the your Pantry. The action’s new effects are depicted horizontally across the upgrade cards.
You can Attract Customers
The Attract Action allows you to take a customer from the city and place it into your discard pile. By default, they may only take visible, non-buried customers. Later on in the game, this action may be modified by upgrades that you have installed.
You can Stock Products
The Product Action allows you to take a Product Card from the City and place it into your pantry which is on the left side of your Player Board. By default, you may only take visible, non-buried Products. When placing a Product Card in your Pantry, each card should be placed so that the icons of the previous Cards are visible and the three resource bars and Special Ingredient bar line up appropriately.
You can Install Upgrades
The Upgrade Action allows you to take an Upgrade Card from the City and place it into your Shop Decor.
At the end of the day, you’ll draw new Customer Cards from your Customer Decks directly into their Line. The cards go into your Line from left to right in the order they are drawn. The amount of Cards you draw is equal to their current Hype. If they already had Cards in their Line those do not count towards the total they must draw. If they run out of Cards but are required to draw more, they must shuffle their Discard Pile into a new Deck and draw from it. If they still run out after doing this then they simply stop drawing Cards.
The Cards in the City all advance one column forward, stacking up as necessary on the fifth face-up column to create the various City Discard Piles. A new card is drawn for each row, from the respective City Deck, and placed in the first column.
All players remove their Meeples from their Actions and put them back onto the Action Step part of their Player Board.
The First Player Token is then given to the player who has the Next First Player Token, and it is then passed to the player to their left.
As long as there are still Available Good Reviews, play continues again from the Serve Step with the new First Player starting their Serve.
Seize the Bean ends when there are no more Good Reviews available.
I was curious when I initially heard about Seize the Bean. I love deckbuilding games, they are high on my list of favourites but a game about making coffee in Berlin, well I love the idea but would it be an interesting game?
Sure, the concept is awesome but it would need to executed well, and the designers got it spot on.
Seize the Bean is probably one of the most thematic games I have ever played. Why? well, the satisfaction of making customers happy, the pressure of making sure customers are served and satisfied, and a never-ending line of customers with very different orders. All the stuff that comes with working in a busy, popular and rather cool coffee shop. Working somewhere super busy is stressful but rewarding and although I wouldn’t go as far to say that Seize the Bean was stressful, there’s definitely a lot going on.
I also love the diversity in this game. You can tell that so much care and consideration has gone into providing an accurate representation of customers that are likely to come into the shop, plus the artwork is striking. Berlin is a vibrant, diverse, busy city and that is perfectly captured throughout the artwork and gameplay.
The combination of deck building and resource management in Seize the bean is pretty nifty, and unexpected. I know I shouldn’t equate cute artwork to simple gameplay but don’t be fooled by the cool components and eye-catching cutesy artwork, this game can get pretty tense and it’s pretty difficult to manage your resources, keep your customers happy and keep growing your shop.
The component quality also looks pretty neat. Of course, I played a prototype but even the quality of that was outstanding. I’ve mentioned it a couple of times already but nice, clean, cute artwork, and one of the stretch goal gets you 3D printed sugarcubes, coffee beans and little milk cartons. What’s not to love?
Seize the Bean is an innovative, light-hearted but complex game with enough decisions to keep you hooked. Along with stunning artwork and clever gameplay, this one is a winner from me.
Currently on Kickstarter with 12 days left to go, you can check out the campaign here:
Thank you for reading, and see you next time!