‘Caffeine Rush’ game review
By Ed Appleby, Illustrator
When I was a barista, I used to put together overly complicated drinks for large groups of under-caffeinated worker-bees first thing in the morning. Now there’s a game that captures that very experience.
Caffeine Rush is a real time card game for 2–6 players designed by Daryl Andrews and Stephen Sauer, and published by R&R Games in 2015. Players play ingredients cards from one of the colour-coded decks onto complex drink cards. The player who completes the drink card then grabs it, and earns whatever amount of tips the drink is worth. Once all of the drinks are made, players count up their tips and the one that made the most money wins.
This game is fast, which in this case is a good thing. It is reminiscent of classic card games like Snap. The rules and cards may take a few tries to fully comprehend, but, since the average game lasts about 5–10 minutes, you can get in several games in the time it takes to play an average board game.
One of the difficult—yet realistic—mechanics of the game is the labelling system. A drink’s ingredients are written in a two-letter shorthand on the drink cards, yet no words appear on the ingredient cards. Some ingredients’ shorthand is very similar, such as coffee (Co), chocolate (Ch), and cream (Cr). The cream and milk ingredient cards are only distinguishable by how fat the cow is on the carton.
There is a lot of flexibility in scoring for the game, which gives players a way to tailor the game to their group’s play style. Tips can be divided by ingredients, you can lose tips from mistakes, or you can get tipped more based on the size of the drinks.
Caffeine Rush is a game for players who like speed over strategy. Its fast pace and short playtime make it great for casual gaming, though its somewhat complex rules make it a little too difficult for younger players.