Rocky Road A la Mode

Rocky Road a la Mode

Joshua Mills-Designer

Adam Maciver-Artist

Green Couch Games-Publisher

 

ICE CREAM MAN!!! Every kid has yelled that at one time in their life, when they’ve heard the ice cream truck music coming down the road. Well now you can relive that excitement from the other side. Now you get to be the Ice Cream Truck Driver and you are driving around town, trying to attract customers in order to sell your fantastical frozen treats in the newest game from the team of Joshua J Mills and Green Couch Games, Rocky Road a la Mode.

Please note that this is the Preview version from Green Couch Games and the game art and components have not been finalized.

Set up is super easy, here we go, first, set up the roads that your Ice Cream Trucks will travel.

Next, line up your Ice Cream Trucks in a random order, the truck on top always goes first.

Then, let’s put some Rocket Pop tokens out on the board on the three pothole spots.

Everyone gets an Ice Cream Truck Card to place in front of them

and three treat cards randomly dealt to them

Stack the rest of the treat cards near the road and lay out three face up next to the draw pile. Also, near the road place out the eight location bonus cards in four coordinating piles with the highest value bonus on top.

Now you are ready to play Rocky Road a la Mode.

In the game you are Ice Cream Truck operators, trying to gain the most loyalty points by selling your ice cream all over town, ultimately the game is a race, sort of, to 9 loyalty points, I’ll explain later how that may not always be the case.

In the game, the players are not going to have a set order, the truck that is furthest back on the road is always going to be the player on turn, like in the game Tokaido or in Patchwork.

So, on your turn you are going to take one of the three possible actions.

  1. You can Restock, which is drawing or taking 1-5 cards from the draw deck or face up row of treat cards. The player must announce prior to drawing how many they are going to take and then must move their ice cream truck that many spaces on the road track.
  2. You can attract customers. To do this, take a look at the treat cards above again, you see that number that is on the top right where the speaker is, you know, that speaker that’s playing that music that makes kids go wild, when you choose a card with the customers you want to attract, you move your truck forward the number of spaces dictated on the card in that spot. Then you take that card and you tuck it under your truck card with only the customers and their wants showing.
  3. The last action you could take on your turn is to Serve your customers that you have attracted, to do so, you start with the topmost customer and you discard treat cards from your hand that match the large treat symbol on the top left of each card with what the customers want. When you serve that customer you slide the card up to cover it up and move your truck one spot along the road track. When you have served the second customer on the card, you take the card and you spin it so that only the icons on the bottom of the card are seen coming from the back of your ice cream truck card.These icons are now permanent bonuses. So the next time you fill a customer order, you don’t have use quite as many cards from your hand. These cards also can have loyalty points on them, these count towards your goal of 9 loyalty points to trigger the end of the game.

Along with getting permanent bonuses from the cards, if you collect the correct number of bonuses you gain location cards that grant loyalty points. Players can only collect one location card of each type.

Along the road, when you land your truck on the Rocket Pop Token, you get to take that into your collection and it can be used as a wild to fill customer orders. When spent, the Rocket Pop Token goes back on to the road in the Pothole space that is in front of the truck token that is furthest ahead on the track.

The game ends when one player has nine or more Loyalty Points. Play will continue however until the player who triggered the end of the game’s Truck Token is furthest back on the road. This player does not take another turn. Be careful, in our games the player who triggered the game end has been the furthest back on the Road Track several times, meaning no one else gets a turn, gotta get those points when you can, and do it quickly. Everyone adds up their Loyalty Points and the Ice Cream Truck driver with the most Loyalty Points wins the game!

Great little games that make great big connections. Every time I preview one of these titles from Green Couch Games, I think that Jason could not have come up with a better tag line for the company. These little small box filler games are quickly becoming the jewels of our collection, from Fidelitas to Avalanche at Yeti Mountain we’ve enjoyed each and every title in our family. Rocky Road a la Mode continues that tradition.

This is a fun set collection game that gives off a bit of a Splendor feel, the collecting of cards and using those cards to fill orders to gain permanent bonuses that allow for easier filling of future orders. But it plays quicker and let’s face it, the theme is a ton more fun, I know I’d take selling ice cream over jewels, and that kind of shows if you get to meet me ever in person.

It’s fun trying to build your engine in Rocky Road a la Mode but you better be well aware of what the rest of the players are doing, focus too hard on getting yourself rolling and forget to deliver the goods that can gain you Loyalty Points, and you’ll find yourself scrambling to catch up as this one plays quick, 20-30 minutes tops but there is a lot of fun and decisions to be made in those 20-30 minutes.

I can’t wait to see the finished product, and I should have asked Jason some of the plans for the Kickstarter before writing this, but he’s been a busy man at Origins this week. I can envision some cool Truck tokens and the Rocket Pop Tokens will surely be a lot of fun as well, and probably another play mat for the road!! Oh man, now I’m really wondering what they’ve got in store. One thing I don’t have to wonder about is gameplay though as Rocky Road a la Mode is fun, a lot of fun.

Watch for Rocky Road a la Mode on Kickstarter, 6/20/2016!

Orleans The Review

Orleans
Designed by Reiner Stockhausen
Illustrated by Klemens Franz
Published by Tasty Minstrel Games and DLP Games

Orleans Cover

Orleans is a worker placement, action selection game where 2-5 players(with the deluxe version) fill their bags with the characters that will best allow them to compete to become the most influential and dominant player in various areas of Medieval France. While fighting for this dominance players will collect various goods, coins and victory points in hopes that at the end of the game they have the most points and therefore, the most influential in all the lands, or at least your table.

Orleans 1

Orleans is played over the course of 18 rounds with each round having 7 phases.

In the first phase of the round, the first player of the round will flip over the topmost hourglass tile from the hourglass stack. These tiles have two purposes in the game, the first being that it is the timer for the game and secondly each tile has one of 6 events that will affect the current round.

The second phase is a simple check to see if anyone is alone in the lead on the farmer track, if they are, they gain 1 coin from the bank. Also, if there is anyone alone in last place on the track, they owe 1 coin to the bank. If there are ties for first or last, no one gains or owes a coin.

Third phase of the game is where you get to pull your characters from your bag, yup, this is where the bag building fun starts to rear it’s head. Each person simultaneously pulls character tiles from their bag equal to or lower than the number indicated by your location on the Knight track, at the beginning of the game, everyone starts at four, thus you’ll pull all four of your starting character tiles from the bag and place them on your marketplace which is located along the bottom of your player board. Each player can pull as many characters as their Knight track allows, but can not have more than 8 characters on their Marketplace unless they have a building that allows more, ie The Gunpowder Tower.

Orleans 2

Now is when we start planning, each player simultaneously assign their characters from your market to activate actions in Places that are on your player board. Each of these Places will have different actions associated with them and different characters needed to activate them. Place the required characters on the corresponding action spaces of the Place that you want to activate, a Place is considered activated as soon as all of its action spaces have a character tile.

Phase 5 is where everyone gets to carry out the actions that they have activated. In player order, starting with the first player, everyone completes one action around the table until all of the players pass. We’ll dive into the actions after the phase summary.
Resolve the event shown on the Hour Glass Tile of the current round, one tile does not need to be resolved, Pilgrimage affects the entire round as opposed to having one affect at the end.
Pass the starting player token to the player on their left and rinse and repeat.

Orleans 4

In that action phase is when a majority of the action of the game takes place, through these actions you are going to build your pool of characters and execute actions that will move you closer to your dominance. When you activate one of the buildings on your player board in the City, you get to take the action associated with it. For example the Farmhouse requires a Blue Boatman and a Brown Craftsman to activate it, when you place those characters on the required spaces to activate it, in return for activating the Farmhouse you receive a Farmer character to put in your bag, you move up the Farmer track and collect the goods according to where you are on the track. Pretty simple, other tracks will let you acquire Knights, the red characters that allow you to increase your draw based on where you are on the track, at most you can pull 8 characters, but remember, only 8 can be in your marketplace. In the Village you get the choice between three actions when you activate it, The Boatman allows you to get Boatmen and gain money for your hard work fishing, The Craftsman allows you to move up the Craftsman track and gain a technology tile which you place permanently on a character spot on your board, the first one has to go on a Farmer space, and there are a couple other limitations. Last in the Villages is the Trader, he moves you up the Trades track and gains you access to a building that will become yours to use the remainder of the game, those buildings grant different effects and still have to be activated just like any other spot on your player board. The University allows you to take a Scholar tile, advance on the track and then gain the depicted number of Development Points. The Development Points and the track are pretty important, as you move up the track, you can gain coins, you can gain followers and you can gain an increase of Development Status which is important to end game scoring as it increases your multiplier, which we’ll touch on at game end. The Monastery action allows you to gain a Monk, these Monks are wild Character tiles, they can be used in place of any of the other Character Tiles.

There are a few other spaces in your village to cover as well On the main board there is a map of France and you have a Merchant, who starts in Orleans. On this map are routes, some roads, some are rivers and there are goods along these routes that your merchant can pick up. The goods are worth varying amounts of points at the end of the game, which once again, we’ll talk about later. But back to these other actions, you can ship, which allows your Merchant to move along the river to the next town and pick up a good along the way. Your Merchant can also use the roads by taking the Wagon actions and do the same thing, except move along the road. Lastly you can build a Guildhall in the town which your Merchant is located. Only one Guildhall can be located in each town, except Orleans which can house one of each player’s Guildhall. If you have the Deluxe version of the game, the Tavern, a building that the Trader action allows you to build, will break those rules and allow you to build a building in the same location as someone else.

The final two action spaces on your player board that I haven’t talked about are the Scriptorum which allows you to move up one spot on the Development track and then the Town Hall which is the only action that permanently removes Characters from your collection. The Town Hall action requires one or two character tiles of your choosing to activate. When you take the action, move one or both of your Character Tiles from the Town Hall to any free appropriate space on the Beneficial Deeds Board. You receive a bonus of coins or Development Points, whichever is appropriate where you have placed your characters. Once these Characters have been placed in the Beneficial Deeds Board, they are there to stay and do not go back to your bag.

Orleans Metal Money

So for the most part that is the game, there are some other smaller rules, but we won’t get into those here. Such as penalties if you can’t pay for Census or Taxes. But at the end of the game points are tallied and the winner is whomever has the most. Coins gathered are worth 1 point a piece. Goods are worth varied points from 1 point for Grain to 5 points for Brocade. Your Trading Stations and Citizen Tiles are added together, with the person who has built the most Trading Posts getting the bonus Citizen Tiles. That total is then multiplied by your Development Status point. Add all that together and that’s your points for the game.

Orleans is by no means a heavy, thinky game, but it is an absolute joy to play. The bag building works perfectly here and with the deluxe version there is really nice tactile feeling to pulling your characters from your bag. Now, as with any game that has you randomly pulling things from a bag, there is a certain bit of luck to the game in the drawing and I’ve been on the wrong side of that luck a handful of times and it can be downright frustrating, but with Orleans, there are so many ways to mitigate and so many different things you can do, that will still allow you to progress towards your ultimate goal of more victory points.

I like how the designer has integrated a “culling” mechanic in this and made it a benefit to do in more ways than one, because along with thinning your bag and allowing you to get the character pulls you need, you can also gain benefits by culling them to the Good Deeds board. It’s a nice touch, rather than just sluffing them off like some deck builders where the only benefit you gain from it is that it’s no longer a part of your deck or in this instance, draw bag.

Orleans The Stickering

I’ve heard rumors and folks saying the game is broke, but I kind of feel like I’m doing the game a disservice by even bringing it up, because I have yet to see it in our games. Our strategies have been varied and minus one game where Gabby wasn’t all that competitive at the end, all our games have been tightly competitive in the scoring department. It can be a bit point salad-y, and it can honestly it’s more than a bit multiplayer solitaire, especially in the lower player counts, but with more players there are a couple ways to interact or at least negatively affect what your opponents want to do rather than just being a free for all. Honestly, that’s my biggest gripe, it’s too solitary and I like multiplayer solitaire games for the most part, but Orleans just screams for some interaction, some blocking, some honest to goodness meanness, something to push it into that Top 10 of mine. So while I do enjoy Orleans quite a bit, it’s missing that one thing, maybe that’s a good thing, I’d hate to have to bump one of my Top 10 games out of the Top 10, but it could happen.

I wonder what Orleans Invasion brings to the game.

Hmm

And I do recommend the Deluxe version, while some may say the cardboard chits for the goods are easier to randomly pull from a bag to put on the map, I don’t care, the deluxe bits are fantastic. But, if you can’t, or don’t want to spend the extra money on the Deluxe version, go ahead with the regular, I don’t think you can go wrong here.