In this Q&Play, The Inquisitive Meeple combines (and remixes) his previous (p)review of Rocky Road a la Mode and interview with designer Joshua Mills into a single article giving you a double scoop of Rocky Road.
Note: Parts of this preview comes from an old in-depth preview of Rocky Road done by The Inquisitive Meeple (from a year or so ago). The more in-depth preview can be found here. The following preview is from that, but edited down and rearranged (and slightly updated) for the Q&Play format. Also note, this preview was written with 2 and 3-player player count in mind and not 4-players.
If the games of Patchwork and Splendor had baby (a weird frozen dessert treat baby), it would be Rocky Road a la Mode. My first reaction to seeing the game laid out as I read the rules was that this had to be inspired by Patchwork (scoring track) and Splendor (engine building). After I played it, I would call it almost Splendor Lite. It is different than Splendor, but still has the same vibe. Now, if you have Splendor already, is it worth getting? I think if you really enjoy Splendor you will enjoy this. You may find that it has enough differences to own both. (Want to see more of a comparison between the two? Check out this article) If you don’t have Splendor and was thinking about getting it vs. getting Rocky Road a la Mode – both Mrs. Inquisitive Meeple and I would recommend Rocky Road a la Mode over Splendor – it is cheaper, gives the same vibe but does it in half the time (at least when comparing the games with 2-player count). Also, I would say Rocky Road would be easier to teach to new gamers or families/children over Splendor, and has more of accessible/fun theme for families as well.
I really like games that fall into that filler or gateway game area of our hobby. I also enjoy games with cards that can be used in multiple ways. In this, Rocky Road doesn’t disappoint. Is it the most fun game I have ever played or the deepest game for a filler or even the best new game of the year? – um, no. However, between my 1st play of the game to my 2nd, there was a 3 day gap. During the 3 days, I found the game on my mind quite a bit and wanted to play it again. That is always a good sign in my book when it comes to games. One of the people I beat in that first game was my 10-year-old son, his response after losing was that Rocky Road “… was really really fun even though I lost.”
All of this is to say that Rocky Road is far from freezer burned, this game is a refreshing treat. It is easy to teach and understand and plays as smooth as soft serve ice cream.
I think Green Couch Games has their next big hit on their hands. Rocky Road has a good chance being yet another evergreen title for the game company.
Note: This is a cut downed (and slightly edited) interview with Joshua Mills done by The Inquisitive Meeple (a year or so ago). The more in-depth interview can be found here: Milkman Mills Shares the Scoop on Rocky Road a la Mode.
Josh, could you share with us the story behind Rocky Road a la Mode’s creation?
Josh: I set out to specifically create a game for my wife. She was really into the multi-use cards in Isle of Trains and the punch it packs in 54ish cards. The next thing I needed was a theme. I initially conceived the game as a card version of my dice game Milkman. I was stuck at this phase for a long time, challenging myself to come up with something interesting visually. Then one day the concept of sliding a card up underneath another to track the player serving customers popped in my mind. The Milk truck became an ice cream truck and I was off to the races. Conceiving the action was quick but how to allow players to take them was another challenge. I didn’t want to do dice because I wanted that portability of a card game so I let things stew in my mind some more. One evening my wife and I played patchwork reminding me time tracks are super fun. That week I finally made the first prototype, knowing I was leaving for Grandcon in 5 days.
My first reaction seeing the game in person and learning the rules was this is like if Patchwork and Splendor had an ice cream baby. You have the movement on the track similar to how Patchwork works. However you then have permanent treats and location cards which work like Splendor (and the Noble cards). Did those games influence you, and did any other games influence you?
Josh: Of course Splendor and Patchwork influenced Rocky Road along with Isle of Trains (and every game I have ever played for that matter). I started with the hook of sliding a card under another card to represent serving customers but knew I need a reward besides just VP on cards. I like the Splendor engine building system but the theme (what theme?) never really did anything for me. Splendor fell flat with my wife but I thought she would still like the type of system it if was just easier to get into on a thematic level. I also like how Isle of Trains was a card game but had a board and a time track would allow me to do that same thing.
The cover has a nice chocolate/rocky road ice cream cone on it – yet it is no where to be found in the gameplay, what is up with that?
Josh: This question make me feel like I just got in trouble in school.
We can’t talk Ice Cream without me asking – what is your favorite flavor of ice cream is?
Josh: This is a very hard question. I love Americone Dream from Ben & Jerry’s but you can never go wrong with a Neapolitan. It a little something for everyone.
What was your favorite part of designing the game?
Josh: The first day I made a prototype, played it with my wife, made another prototype, played it with my wife, made another prototype, and played it with my wife. The game went from an idea to something that was really working in the 5 hours while she watched Gilmore Girls.
What was the most challenging part of designing it?
Josh: Anytime you have so much information on a card, how that information is presented becomes super important. I’m not saying it has to be pretty but it does have to allow players to understand what they need to know. It was challenging for me to capture all that and make it streamlined enough for the prototype.
What was the biggest lesson you learned in designing Rocky Road?
Josh: If you feel in your gut something is there even with the smallest of idea, don’t stop pushing on it. Eventually the stars will align (you’ll play Patchwork) and it will come together.
As we wrap this up, is there anything else you would like to add?
Josh: To everyone that has made it so fun to be a part of this community, thank you.
The last word
Thanks to Josh for taking time out to do the original interview, also for Jason at Green Couch games for sending a copy for preview (last year) for an honest review of the game. Rocky Road a la Mode is currently being sent out to Kickstarter backers. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, have no fear the game available for pre-order on the Green Couch Games website (click here to be taken to pre-order). Until next time, thanks for reading and stay inquisitive…