Friday, June 30, 2023

Quests Over Coffee is worth a second cup of coffee

Alexander Shen really got on my radar with Quests Over Coffee. Certainly, it’s the game that has gotten the most exposure at PnP Arcade, thanks to all the expansions. I’d made a copy earlier this year and I’ve finally tried it out.

Short version, Quests Over Coffee is the best game that I’ve played by Alexander Shen.

Longer version: Quests Over Coffee consists of a deck of quest and a deck of item cards. You have to add dice and some way of tracing health, money and luck. The game structure is resolve five quest cards, get a chance to buy items and then resolve another five quest cards.

Quest cards are obviously where all the real game play happens. Each one has a cartoon that gives you some narrative, a failure condition, a success condition and a special condition. Essentially, how high you have to roll to succeed and a combination of dice you need to roll to get a bonus. 

I went in expecting a total luck fest. But you actually have a number of choices. You can buy more dice for a quest with money. You can use luck for rerolls. Items, which you can buy at the shop or earn through quests, give you special abilities (almost always one-shot) And, perhaps most importantly, you deal out five quests at a time and you decide what order to tackle them.

I was expecting roll the dice and hope for the best and found instead a surprising number of options. Quests Over Coffee has proven amusing, fun and interesting. That’s a good combination.

When I made a copy, I also made the first expansion. I was very glad that I did that because that meant I wasn’t playing with the exact same cards over and over again. When I have the time (which might not be until next year), I’d like to make all the expansions. Because Quest Over Coffee is clearly at its best when you have a stack of cards at add more of variety.

I have tried at least seven or eight of Alexander Shen’a puzzles and games. I found them enjoyable but unpolished. Quests Over Coffee, with its charming art and interesting decision tree, I can see succeeding with wider publication. 

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