Summer is upon us and the heat (at least in the South) is unbearable. As my boss likes to say, “I saw a dog chasing a cat the other day, and both of them were walking.” Most people’s favorite way to cool off in the summer is ICE CREAM! Well, today I don’t have ice cream to review, but I have the next best thing, an ice cream themed game. Rocky Road a la Mode is a card game currently on Kickstarter. It is designed for 2-4 players ages 10 and up. It takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to play and a pledge of $19 will get you the game. (Note: You can pledge $25 to get a mini-game for two players called Rocky Road: Dice Cream)
1. Each player takes a Truck Card and places it in front of them
2. Place the Road Cards (could be upgraded to a board) in the center of the table to form a continuous loop.
3. Place one Rocket Pop Token on each of the three pothole spaces on the Road.
4. Place the Truck Tokens (matching the colors of the Truck Cards in play) randomly on the start square on the Road.
5. Shuffle the Treat Cards and deal three to each player to form their starting hand.
6. Place the remaining Treat Cards face-down in a stack in the middle of the table, turning three cards face-up in a row.
7. Place the eight Location Cards face-up in four stacks. (Note: Each stack will contain two cards with the same location. Place the higher point value on top.)
Players do not alternate turns. The player whose Truck Token is furthest behind on the road takes their turn. On a player’s turn, they may perform one of three actions:
1. Restock – Draw up to five Treat Cards and move their Truck Token an equal number of spaces clockwise on the Road. (Players may draw from the three face up cards or the draw pile, much like Ticket to Ride.)
2. Attract Customers – Place a Treat Card from your hand under your Truck Card by paying its time cost (found in the upper right corner). This will give you two customers to serve on future turns.
3. Serve Customers – Discard cards with the treat types (found in the upper left corner) that the group demands and move up one space on the Road. (You can only serve one group per turn. Once you have served the first group slide the card further under your truck to hide the first group. Once you have served the second group, place the card horizontally under the left side of the truck to show your Loyalty Points/Permanent Supply Bonus.)
1. Rocket Pop Tokens are wild cards that can be used for any ice cream flavor, but are returned to the Road after play.
2. Permanent Supply Bonus can be used to fill an order in place of a Treat Card.
3. When a player has completed a specific amount of orders (i.e., three blue or three orange), he can take a Location Card that will score him two to four Loyalty Points.
4. The first player with nine or more Loyalty Points triggers the end game, giving everyone else a chance to go again until the player who triggered the end game is furthest back on the Road. The player with the most points at the end is the winner.
This was a quick game with a fun theme attached to it. It also had a bit of depth to it that I wasn’t expecting. For starters, you have to manage both your time and resources in this game. Since turns do not alternate (or go clockwise if more than two players), each decision will make you pause and think before you make it. If your opponent is two spaces in front of you, do you draw three cards and give them a turn? Or do you only draw two cards, so you can have another turn immediately? The cards also serve a multi-use function. Will you play the card under the truck to Attract a Customer? Or will you play the card to Serve a Customer? You will have to weigh several options carefully (the time cost, the items required to serve each customer, and the Loyalty Points/Permanent Supply Bonus) before making this decision.
After looking at the game play value, I look at the aesthetics of the game, and this game is not lacking in that department at all. I received a prototype of this game and it was a very nice prototype. The colors had a nice summery feel, and they had a way of making you hungry when playing the game. Unfortunately for my fellow players, there was no ice cream allowed when playing as I didn’t want it to drip on even the prototype of this beautiful game. The choice of color for player tokens was not unnoticed by my wife. We are all used to playing with the standard blue, red, yellow, and green tokens, but this one had a pink token in it – a win for women gamers! Lastly, the cards had a nice feel to them. If they took the time to produce thick, quality cards for a prototype, then I know the actual game will have lasting components as well.
Rocky Road a la Mode is Green Couch Games’ sixth project on Kickstarter. Each one has been successfully funded to produce an excellent, pocket-sized game. I am proud to own all of them and enjoy playing them frequently with family and friends. The project itself is only a few days old, but it has already been successfully funded. It is now up to you to make this game better for yourself and all who pledge. Current stretch goals will make Truck Tokens into actual ice-cream shaped trucks. There will be bonus Treat Tokens added to make new ways of playing the game and increase replay value. The Road Cards will also be upgraded to an actual game board. So if this game sounds fun to you, I invite you to beat the heat, and back this sweet treat!
A prototype of this game was provided to me for free by Green Couch Games in exchange for an honest review.
Copyright 2016 Stuart Dunn