At the Cafe 14 - Marrakech Game in Play Feature

At the Café #14 – We Playthrough Cascadia, Dragonwood, Blokus and Marrakech

Last weekend my daughter (9) and I headed out for some dad and daughter time at our local board game café. She had a list of games ready that she wanted to try so I had a feeling she would be in charge and make sure she got to try all the games on her list. I wasn’t wrong there and I loved enjoying the time with her as we played an old favourite and three new games for the first time.

Last time we had an outing like this at our board game café we tried three games and we both enjoyed all three. I was hoping it would be another clean sweep. Read on to find out if that was the case.

What You Will Find in Our Cascadia, Dragonwood, Blokus and Marrakech Playthrough

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At the Cafe 14 - Cascadia Box

Play Time: 30-45 Min / Players: 1-4 / Complexity: Low / Age: 10+ we think 7+ / Publisher: AEG and Flatout Games / Designer: Randy Flynn

Game Overview

The first game on my daughters list was Cascadia. This is a game we have played numerous times before and we both just love it. In fact, it is also on our list of the best tile placement games.

Cascadia is a tile laying game that is all about building habitats and settling wildlife in accordance with scoring patterns. It’s a balancing act of drafting the required wildlife and habitat tiles to maximise your points. Wildlife are scored against scoring card requirements, and habitats are scored on the basis of the largest contiguous space for each habitat type. The highest score at the end of the game wins.

Our Playthrough of Cascadia

As I mentioned earlier, we have both played Cascadia numerous times before so we didn’t need to brush up on the rules and we could get right into it. So it was a perfect pick for our first game and also the game my daughter most wanted to play.

Right from the start, our strategies diverged like two winding forest trails. My daughter zeroed in on bears and a continuous elk march, while I honed my focus on salmon runs and those majestic elk herds. I had my sights set on building an epic salmon empire before the final round to rake in those precious points.

As we ventured deeper into the game, our habitats took shape in distinct ways. My daughter had assembled not one, but two formidable bear clans, complemented by a solid elk line and a burgeoning salmon school tucked away in a cozy corner. Meanwhile, I kept pace with the elk and salmon fronts but blazed my own trail by recruiting a squadron of soaring eagles—four in total—with hopes of earning a windfall of points from their aerial prowess.

At the Cafe 14 - Cascadia in Play

The climax approached, and our habitats stood in stark contrast. While my daughter had largely overlooked the eagles, she had amassed an impressive four bear strongholds. I, on the other hand, had hit the eagle jackpot and strategically sprinkled a few sly foxes across the terrain.

When the dust settled, the final scores revealed a nail-biting 104 to 92 victory in my favour. Though my daughter’s bear empire earned her a hefty point haul, my eagle armada, foxy placements, and contiguous terrain bonuses ultimately tipped the scales. For once, dad claimed the crown in a game where my daughter usually reigns supreme.

Our Thoughts on Cascadia

Kids’s Thoughts

My daughter just loves Cascadia, the nature theme complete with cute animals and relaxed vibe are a winner for her.  

Parent’s Thoughts

Cascadia is one of my favourite tile placement games. I just love how relaxed the game is and how you can expand your habitats in any direction you choose. I still love this game.

If you want to find out more about Cascadia check out our full Cascadia game review.

Hit or Miss? 2 Hits

At the Cafe 14 - Dragonwood Box

Play Time:  20  Min / Players: 2-4  / Complexity: Low / Age: 8+  / Publisher:  Gamewright / Designer:  Darren Kisgen

Game Overview

Our next game was Dragonwood. I had heard this was a simple and fun card game for kids so thought we would give it a try. In Dragonwood, you collect sets of adventurer cards to earn dice, which you then use to roll against your foes. Each time you defeat a monster you get points and there are also enhancements you can earn to give yourself some additional advantages. The player with the most points by the end of the game wins.

Our Playthrough of Dragonwood

It didn’t take long to learn how to play Dragonwood so we were straight into it. During the early game it seemed like we couldn’t really string enough cards together to have much of a chance against the monsters arrayed against us. So, it felt like a very slow start accumulating cards.

We also missed the fact that the dice only go up to 4 not 6 which resulted in some miscalculations on our part which cost us some cards with failed attempts to defeat monsters.

At the Cafe 14 - Dragonwood Cards

Once we figured out our error, we were better equipped to judge the odds of success and so were a little more cautious. We largely restricted ourselves to the weaker monsters that we could defeat with two or three cards.

By mid game we were better equipped with some enhancements that assisted our die rolls and were able to defeat more powerful monsters. At this stage the game was a little more fun as we felt we had more options. My daughter was mainly snapping up more of the weaker monsters while I was getting fewer but more powerful ones.

When the dragons came out signalling the end game was near, I managed to defeat the orange one. By game end as we tallied scores it became clear that the greater quantity of monsters defeated by my daughter more than made up for the greater value but fewer monsters I had defeated. A close win for her.

Our Thoughts on Dragonwood

Kids’s Thoughts

My daughter felt this game took quite a while to ramp up. In the beginning she didn’t feel like she could do a lot other than draw cards. While she had fun in patches the high level of luck required and periods of drawing cards meant overall, she wasn’t keen to try it again.

Parent’s Thoughts

I agree with my daughter on this one, I felt like there were long patches where we didn’t get the cards we needed and essentially had to keep drawing cards. I also felt like there was too much luck involved in this game for me.

Hit or Miss? 2 Misses

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At the Cafe 14 - Blokus Box

Play Time: 20  Min / Players: 2-4  / Complexity: Low / Age: 7+ / Publisher:  Mattel  / Designer:  Bernard Tavitian

Game Overview

Blokus is a tile placement strategy game with tetris shaped pieces. Players are trying to play as many of their pieces as possible onto the board. The only caveat to placing a piece is that it may not lie adjacent to your other pieces, but instead must be placed touching at least one corner of your pieces already on the board. When you can no longer legally place any pieces, you must pass. The player with the least squares worth of pieces left over at the end of the game wins.

Our Playthrough of Blokus

Blokus was very easy to learn, and we set up in minutes. For the two player variant my daughter and I controlled two coloured sets of pieces each. This was fine but occasionally she lost track of which colour she was meant to be using and sometimes doubled up, but we picked it up quickly when that happened.

Early on this game seemed really easy, we had all the space we needed on the board and very little to constrain our actions. As the game progressed and the board filled up with pieces it started to get more and more challenging.

At the Cafe 14 - Blokus in Play

Once we started encroaching on each other’s pieces I found myself thinking more carefully about getting rid of my largest pieces at the earliest opportunity but also trying to block my daughter’s options. I guess that’s why it’s called Blokus.

By the end of the game, I had to pass on both my colours while my daughter was still able to place a few more and that was the difference between us. Another win for my daughter, I was now down two games to one.

Our Thoughts on Blokus

Kids’s Thoughts

My daughter really liked this game, it was simple enough for her to grasp quickly but had some nice tension and decisions as the game progressed. It also had polyomino tiles which she loves in games.

Parent’s Thoughts

This was another game we both agreed on. I really enjoyed Blokus and would happily play again.

Hit or Miss? 2 Hits

At the Cafe 14 - Marrakech Box

Play Time:   30 Min / Players: 2-4  / Complexity: Low / Age: 6+ / Publisher: Gigamic  / Designer:  Dominique Ehrhard

Game Overview

In Marrakech each player starts with the same amount of money and the goal is to have the most money by the end of the game. Players will take turns rotating a meeple (Assam) up to 90 degrees and then rolling a dice to determine how far he moves forward. If Assam lands on an opponent’s coloured carpet, you must pay them money equal to the total number of squares their connected carpets cover. At the end of your turn you get to place a carpet of your colour next to Assam on the board.

Our Playthrough of Marrakech

We were a bit confused by Marrakech in the first few rounds. We were able to move Assam around easily avoiding our opponent’s carpets and then plant one of our own. It didn’t seem hard to avoid paying out and so we didn’t yet understand the challenge.

As the game progressed and the board got more and more full of carpets it became apparent that eventually we would land on each others spaces. It also became clear my daughter did a far better job of placing her carpets in a connected group than I did, making her potential pay out greater.

At the Cafe 14 - Marrakech in Play

While my daughter landed on one of my carpets first it was only a small group and resulted in a small pay out. I on the other hand landed twice on large groupings of her carpets and that eventually left me without a single coin. A landslide win for my daughter and a total of 3 games to 1 in her favour that day.

Our Thoughts on Marrakech

Kids’s Thoughts

My daughter really enjoyed Marrakech and she liked that it played relatively quickly. However, she did wonder if the game would suffer a bit over repeated plays due to a lack of variation.  

Parent’s Thoughts

I thought this game was fun too. I now realise there is more skill involved here than I initially thought. I do agree with my daughter though, I wonder if this game will start to feel a little repetitive after a few plays and whether certain patterns of play begin to develop, although the luck of the die roll may mitigate that.

Hit or Miss? 2 Undecided

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We hope you enjoyed the write up of our latest visit to our local board gaming café. If you have any questions or opinions on the games we tried please leave a comment below.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. If you enjoy our content and want to support us you can do that through our Ko-fi page by clicking on the button below.

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