You hear the sound in the distance, the tinkling jingle of an ice cream truck. You rush outside, money in hand, searching for the source of the sound. It rounds the corner and you leap with joy! “Ice cream! Ice cream!” The truck pulls up and the driver greets you with a smile. “What can I get for ya?” You ask for two Creamsicles. He exchanges the sweet treats for money and wishes you a good day. The jingle plays again as he disappears into the distance. You grab a seat on the curb and as you dig into the first Creamsicle, you think to yourself, that there is nothing better than a cold, sweet, delicious treat on hot summer day.
With summertime at our doorsteps, it is hard to ignore the allure of some good ice cream, and it will be even harder to ignore a game that’s themed around it. The newest project from Green Couch Games is about to hit Kickstarter and it is all about being the very best ice cream truck driver. Rocky Road a la Mode is a card game that brings time and resource management to the world of ice cream distribution.
The Big Scoop
- 2-4 Players
- 20-30 Minutes
- Age 10+
Rocky Road a la Mode is all about maximizing your time and resources to ensure that your ice cream truck has the most loyalty at the end of the game. Think Splendor, but with a better theme. Players will collect and use ice cream cards to refill their supplies, to move along the rocky road, to attract customers, and ultimately to gain loyalty points. Players may also gain bonus loyalty points by completing special objectives for location cards.
Each player will have their own truck and will begin the game with three ice cream cards. Players will place their player markers at the start of the road/turn track loop. Flip over 3 cards from the draw deck, and place them in a row next to the deack. Set aside the location cards and place the highest value bonus card for each location on top of its pile. Place one rocket pop token on each pothole spot on the road.
How To Play:
Players will choose from one of three actions on their turn:
- Restock– After announcing the amount they’d like to restock, players may draw 1-5 cards into their hands. For each card drawn, the player’s marker is moved that many spaces along the road. Players may draw from the market or the draw deck. Market cards are replaced immediately after they are drawn (much like in Ticket to Ride).
- Attract– Players will choose an ice cream card from their hand and slide it underneath their truck, hiding the large ice cream icon and the loudspeaker icon. Once a player has done this, they move their player marker along the road the amount of spaces listed on the loudspeaker icon. This is known as paying its time cost. Players may only work on one card at a time.
- Serving– The final option is to serve customers. Players discard ice cream cards whose top left icon matches the needs of the customers on the attraction card. Only one customer may be served per turn. After serving a customer, slide the card up so only the next available customer and the bottom rewards are shown. Once the last customer is served the card his shifted horizontally, so that the rewards at the bottom of the card are now aligned vertically with the left side of the ice cream truck; these now indicate your loyalty points as well as any bonus ice cream you have. After serving, players move their marker one spot further along the road.
Turn Order is not predetermined. As players move along the road, their turn becomes dependent on their marker’s location. The person who is in the last position will always be the active player. This may mean that the person in last may take several turns before play passes to someone else. If two players occupy the same space, the player on top (the player to arrive at the spot last) is considered to be the person in the last position. Manipulating your position on the road is an important feature of the game.
Bonus/Rewards will be visible on the left side of the ice cream truck, once an attraction card is completed. The prize ribbons are your loyalty points and the small ice cream symbols represent your permanent supply of that ice cream. The ice cream symbols can be used in place of a card to complete a serving.
Location Cards have big loyalty rewards. You can get these by getting the of the three of the same kind of ice cream bonus, or one of each kind. As soon as you have completed any of the requirements, you will take the top most corresponding location card. There are only 2 of each kind of location card, so it is first come, first serve.
Rocket Pop Tokens can be found on the road. If you land on a spot with a Rocket Pop Token, you take the token and it can be used as a wild when serving. Once used it is replaced back onto an open pothole space.
The end of the game is triggered when one player has reached 9 or more loyalty points. Play will continue until they player who triggered the end is furthest back on the road. They do not get another turn. Player with the most points wins. In case of a tie, the player in the furthest back position is the winner.
My Ice Cream Brings All The Gamers To The Yard
Rocky Road a la Mode is a really fun game, simple as that. Even though it can be considered a take on the Splendor model, I definitely feel like I am getting more out of my play. With Splendor, I never feel quite as involved and I often end the game feeling underwhelmed. I like the theme of this better, I like the way turn order is determined, and I really love the way you build on bonuses to your truck.
The game plays fast enough to be a light filler, but it still has enough strategy in it to keep my mind from shutting off. It is also incredibly easy to teach– takes maybe ten minutes tops. I’ve played 6 times so far, and each time I’ve been able to teach the game in one try, with barely any questions or confusion during play. I love how polished this game feels. The only thing I would question, is the ratio of time cost (the number on the loudspeaker) to what rewards are listed at the bottom of the card. I think they work fine, but I am curious as to why the designer chose the distribution that he did.
This is also a very aesthetically pleasing game. The art is bright and whimsical, which really gets you into the theme of the game. All of the iconography is recognizable and easy to read. The blue popsicle icon gets a little muddled against the bluish background of the upper left corner, but it is not enough that it is a hindrance. Each color card also has these really nice design patterns, which adds a subtle distinction between the cards. The yellow and orange cards are similar in color, but not so much that you can confuse the two. My only real qualm with the way things look, is that the spaces for the turn track aren’t well-defined. It is often hard to tell where the dividing lines between the spaces are, especially if the track is in the middle of the table. I also think they could have put in some variation to the art of the customer faces; they are the same for every single card.
I’m not sure what kind of card stock they used for this preview printing, but it is incredibly sturdy. I’ve played the game every night since I received it and the edges of the cards have yet to chip. With the amount of card movement in this game, this is a real selling point for me. If they stick with the same material, you shouldn’t have to worry about constant play destroying the cards, and you could probably forgo having to sleeve them. Since this is a preview copy, I’m hoping to see some future changes to the Rocket Pop Tokens– maybe some cardboard chits with Rocket Pops on them instead of the poker chips. I think that the game would also benefit from a solid board rather than just four cards. However, in its current state, this game is great for traveling, considering you can easily fit all of the components in a small zip close bag. According to their website, their hopes are to get a folding board and custom ice cream truck meeples as upgraded parts through the Kickstarter.
Overall, this is a really enjoyable game, both thematically and in play. If you are already a fan of Splendor, you will most likely enjoy this game too. Hell, you may even like it more. This is a great game to play as a filler, it’s easy to teach, and it can still appeal to players who like a heavier type of game. I will definitely be backing this when it hits Kickstarter.
The campaign is now live, so you can check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2005228768/rocky-road-a-la-mode-from-green-couch-games
Since this is my first preview, I encourage you to ask me any questions, or make any suggestions about what you’d like to see done with my future previews. Your feedback is always appreciated and welcome. Thanks for reading! 🙂