A to Z Gaming: Rococo

Three cards in a player's hand. One has a gold thimble in the upper left corner, another has a silver thimble, and the other a bronze thimble.

We tailored fancy dresses for a gala in Rococo, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

A dancing couple is in the foreground, each wearing beautiful finery. In the background tall windows line both sides of the room the couple is in, and fireworks can be seen outside. Above them is an ornate ceiling with a painting of the sky and angels on clouds.

Rococo: Deluxe Edition
Players: 1-5
Time: 60-120 Minutes
Designers: Matthias Cramer, Stefan Malz, Louis Malz
Artists: Ian O’Toole
Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games

In Rococo players are taking on the role of a tailor building their business and prestige to clothe the attendees of an elegant soiree. Each turn, players play an employee from their hand to perform tasks from shopping for materials to producing beautiful garments for sale or rental. Whoever can build the most prestige will be billed the top tailor (and winner).

Game table with a large board at the center that shows rooms in a grand building and fireworks at the top. Along the bottom are spaces with cards depicting people, a row of tokens showing different color fabrics and/or thread and lace, and a row of tokens with outfits. To the right of the board are bins with money, thread, and lace tokens. Above and below the board are player set-ups.

Game play

Rococo is set up by putting the game board in the center of the table, and placing the money, thread, and lace tokens nearby. The employee cards are separated by era, shuffled, and then placed in a stack near the board with the last era on the bottom and building up to the first era on top. The drawers where players obtain fabric, lace, and thread are filled randomly from the bag of supply tokens. The garment row is also filled randomly from the bag of those tokens.

Each player receives a player board, tokens of their chosen color, starting money, one lace and one thread token, and the starting cards for their color. The player who most recently used needle and thread is the start player. Then play is ready to begin.

The game is played in seven rounds. At the beginning of each round, the queen’s favor token is returned to the board. The each player chooses three cards out of their deck (but not discard pile), and puts those in their hand. Then players take their turns.

On their turn, players will use one of the cards in their hand to take an action. The cards come in three basic types — master tailors, journeymen, and apprentices — which are indicated by the color of the thimble on the card (gold, silver or bronze, respectively). Some actions require different levels of employee. Player actions include hiring a new employee, gaining the queen’s favor, sewing a garment, shopping for materials, funding a decoration, and deputing. The employee they play may also grant a bonus action, which is only taken after the player’s main action.

An token with a red ornate outfit that shows it needs red fabric and lace lies next to a token with a red fabric image and another token for lace. To the right is a card with a gold thimble in the upper left corner — a master tailor.

To hire a new employee, which can only be done by a master tailor, the player pays coins according to how many employees are available to hire (more coins for more available employees) and then selecting one from the the board and placing them in their hand. To gain the queen’s favor, the player must use a master tailor or journeymen, and then simply takes to favor token and 5 coins.

Sewing a garment requires a master tailor or journeymen. The player selects one of the garments available, pays the coins according to the space the garment is in and discards fabric, lace, and/or thread as appropriate. Then they decide whether to sell the garment or rent it out for the party. If they sell it, the token is discarded and the player takes coins as indicated on the garment. If they rent it, they choose a spot on the board and place the garment along with one of their player markers. Some spots require that the garment was tailored by a master tailor. Some also give the player an immediate bonus.

To shop for materials, the player can use any employee and purchase one thing from the available tokens. The price depends on how many items are available in the chosen “drawer,” with a higher price the more choices there are. The player then chooses whether to keep the token as fabric or discard it for the depicted lace and/or thread.

Several fabric tokens sit in a plastic holder on a game table with blue felt. Two thread tokens sit nearby.

Funding a decoration can be done by any employee, and they simply pay the amount shown in the board and place one of their tokens on it. These decorations will grant game-end points, may help with majorities in each hall at the end of the game, and others will give additional income.

Finally, a player can depute an employee, which entails discarding them permanently from their deck. They receive a number of coins according to the type of employee and take the bonus action from that employee, if there is one, one last time.

At the end of the round, players gain income — a base income of 5 coins plus any bonuses from funded decorations.

After the seventh round, players tally up game-end points from several sources including leftover money, employees and decorations that give game-end scoring, rental outfits, majorities in each hall, and outfits that were moved up to the fireworks area. Whoever has the most points wins.

Three garment tokens in one of the halls on the Rococo board. Two green with identical ornate women's dresses, and one pink with a mens' outfit. Two of the tokens have yellow player markers on them, the other has a purple.

My Thoughts

I first saw Rococo when I was going back through the Game Night play through history (on the BGG YouTube channel) and at the time, the game was completely unavailable. So when the deluxe version went to Kickstarter, I had to back it. I loved the idea of a theme involving tailoring and the game play looked really interesting.

I really like the hand management in this game — you get to choose which cards to play, but like any deck-builder, you have to get through your whole deck before getting access to the discards. That means you can take all of your best cards up-front, but then you’ll have a round with your lesser cards. And it’s interesting how adding an employee gets you an extra action during the round, but since you have to spend master tailors to hire, it might be the only master tailor action you get that round, which can hurt. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to hire another one.

We’ve only played this at 2-players so far, and I bet things get a lot tighter with more, since there will be more jockeying for control of the different halls. But all-in-all I’ve been enjoying our plays, and can’t wait to play more so that I can figure out the right way to thin out my deck.

The fireworks display on the Rococo board at the end of the game. The board has five places for outfit tokens, each is a gold archway, and the first four have a "2x" above them, the last has a "3x." Two of the arches are occupied by outfits with yellow player tokens, including the 3x spot. Another is occupied by an outfit with a purple player token.

Three Quick Questions

How is it as a 2-player game? Rococo works well with two players, though I suspect that at higher player counts the area control will be even more interesting. And, since the materials and outfits aren’t replenished until the end of the round, those actions will also become more of a race. But even at two, we’ve found it to be enjoyable and challenging.

How about the art and component quality? I have the deluxe edition, and everything is exquisite. The art is beautiful , the components are over-the-top, and it all adds to the decadent feeling of the game.

Will this stay in my collection? Yes, we enjoy Rococo, and I’m looking forward to trying to figure out the right strategy and timing for thinning my deck.

An ornate player board with symbols showing the round structure and possible player actions. next to that are a stack of money, a thimble, a thread token, and a pile of yellow player markers.

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