A to Z Gaming: Rocky Road à la Mode

Wooden ice cream truck player pieces are stacked on top of each other on the start space of a board showing a road that loops around the board.

We delivered ice cream treats to customers around the neighborhood in Rocky Road à la Mode, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Game box with a cartoon drawing of a rolling road surrounded by grass hills. Three ice cream trucks drive along the roads with music symbols coming out of speakers on top of them. A child holds a hand of bills for the truck in the front.

Rocky Road à la Mode
Players: 2-4
Time: 20-30 Minutes
Designers: Joshua J Mills
Artists: Adam P. McIver
Publisher: Green Couch Games

Rocky Road à la Mode is a game where everyone takes on the role of an ice cream truck driver, managing their time traversing the neighborhood, collecting treats, and attracting and satisfying customers.

Game set up for Rocky Road à la Mode. A small board in the center of the table shows a road that loops around the outer edge of the board and houses and trees inside the loop. A market of cards runs along the top of the board. Above that card market are goal cards showing different sets of ice cream goodies - three blue popsicles, three pink cones, three orange push-pops and one of each. Each player has a card showing a cartoon ice cream truck in their player color, a helper card, and a hand of three treat cards.

Game play

Rocky Road à la Mode is set up with the neighborhood track in the middle of the table, the neighborhood awards placed nearby, and the deck of cards shuffled and a market of three placed out. Each player takes a player card in their color, takes a helper card, and draws a hand of three cards. The ice cream truck player pieces are placed on the starter spot with the start player’s truck on top and the last player’s on the bottom.

Typically, players take turns with whoever’s truck is the back taking the next turn. However, when the trucks are stacked, the truck on the top takes the next turn. The cards are multipurpose and are played for different uses in the game. On their turn, players can restock, attract customers, or satisfy customers.

To restock their truck with treat cards the player will take 1-5 cards and move their truck that many spaces — deciding first how many cards to take. These cards can come from the market or the top of the deck, and any cards taken from the market are immediately replaced.

Player card with a cartoon ice cream truck. Tucked below the card is a treat card with two customers, one on top of the other, each with a speech bubble showing the treats they would like. The customer one the top line, just under the ice cream truck card, wants a push-pop and popsicle. next to this are two treat cards, one with a push pop and the other with a popsicle.

To attract customers, the player will play one card from their hand. They move their truck forward a number of spaces equal to the number show in the upper right of the that card. Then they tuck the card under their player card so that the topmost customer is just below their truck.

To serve customers, the player will move their truck forward one space, and then discard cards matching the treats that their current customer wants. If this was the first customer on that card, they slide the card up so that the second customer is just below their truck. If this was the second customer on the card, it is instead turned sideways and tucked under the back of the truck so that just the symbols at the bottom of the card show. Those symbols can give the player ribbons (points) or permanent treats that they can use to satisfy customers without discarding a card.

If they fulfill one of the neighborhood goals, by collecting set a of permanent treats, they’ll take the highest remaining card for that neighborhood.

If a player has nine or more ribbons (points) at the end of their turn, the end of the game is triggered. Play continues until all other player trucks have passed the player’s truck that triggered the game end. Whoever has the most points wins.

A hand holding a fan of cards. The cards show a square in the upper left with one of three treats: a blue popsicle, a pink ice cream cone, or orange push-pop. On the right is a circle with a number. Below these are two customers, each with treats they would like, which are a combination of the three treats. On the bottom of the card are three boxes with either nothing, a gold ribbon, or one of the three treats.

My Thoughts

I don’t actually remember when I picked up Rocky Road à la Mode — I thought I had gotten in on the Kickstarter, but it’s not on by backed list. Perhaps I watched one of the previews after the campaign ended and kept my eye out for it at the game store? In any case, I’ve had it for several years at this point.

I like how it evokes the feeling of Splendor, where you can get permanent supplies on your truck that allow you to satisfy customers quickly, but as a much faster implementation. I also like the multi-use cards, which lead to many tough decisions about how to use a card. For example, I might agonize over whether to use the card to satisfy a customer if I spend it as a treat, but maybe it has a great reward if I hang on to it as my next set of customers.

Player card with a cartoon ice cream truck. Tucked below the card is a treat card with one customer showing with a speech bubble showing a push-pop and popsicle. Behind the truck, three cards are tucked in, each showing up to three boxes with gold ribbons or one of the game's treats. A neighborhood card sits above the truck with three gold ribbons.

Three Quick Questions

How is it as a 2-player game? Rocky Road à la Mode works well with two players. There’s certainly more consideration that goes on with more players as the person in the back is trying to decide how many competitors to pass as they chose their actions, but you still get some of that with two players.

How about the art and component quality? I was drawn to the art of Rocky Road à la Mode — the customers are a little weird, but it adds to the quirkiness of the game. The cards are good quality. And I like that there is an option to pack this up in a smaller container if you ditch the board and instead use the backs of the player helper cards (which have the same map as the board).

Will this stay in my collection? Yes, I enjoy Rocky Road à la Mode. It doesn’t necessarily do anything new — there’s set collection, Splendor-esque engine building, and a Patchwork-like time track — but it plays super-fast, has fun art, and is a great filler game.

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