Game Title: Ice Cream
Designer: Joe M. Huber
Publisher: Face 2 Face Games
I scream, you scream, we all scream, for ice cream! In this quick game players compete to serve ice cream to the most customers over four days, or turns. This game is designed for 3-5 players ages 6 and up.
This is a quick game to learn and play. you can play it with almost anyone aged six and older as it comes with instructions in seven languages! The basic idea behind Ice Cream is that the players are purveyors of ice cream. You gain points by serving cones of ice cream but, you can only serve a cone of ice cream if you have the right buckets to serve from. In other words, if you don't have any vanilla ice cream on your truck, you can't serve it to a customer. You can serve partial cones (all but one flavor) but you get less points. Sometimes you want to serve a partial cone, if say the next player can serve it as a full cone and score more points!
The game has four phases in a turn (or day) consisting of; Deliveries, making cones, serving customers and scoring. I'll go into these one at a time for clarity and include the pre-game preparation step as well.
In the preparation phase of the game you remove a set number of "scoop" cards from the deck. This builds in a little bit of variety to the game as this causes a "supply/demand" aspect that affects play on the first turn, but not as much on later turns.
Everyone is dealt a single "ice cream card", hence forth to be referred to as "buckets" to avoid confusion. This bucket is one flavor of ice cream that you can serve. and it is kept face up so everyone else knows what flavor you have.
The youngest player then becomes the dealer and we enter
Phase one: Ice Cream Deliveries
In phase one every player is dealt a new bucket and this one is kept face down. After seeing what you are dealt you have the option of throwing it away and requesting a new bucket. This is only done once, you can't sit there and cycle through the deck. With each player now holding a secret bucket of ice cream we are ready to enter
Phase two: Make the Ice Cream Cones
In phase two we bring out the "scoop" deck (which is already shy a few scoops from the preparation step) and the dealer starts by placing a cone card (there are twelve total in the game) in the center of the play area and placing a scoop card on it. Each scoop card represents a single scoop of ice cream, pretty obvious no? Each cone is limited too four scoops and once the twelfth cone is played no more can be started.
After the dealer plays that first scoop card the next player (clockwise) draws a scoop and either places it on an existing cone, or starts a new one. This is where things get interesting.
Knowing what ice cream you have, and guessing at what the other players have, puts you in an interesting position. Where do you put the scoop? If it is something you have, do you start a new cone? Do you add it to an existing cone with the same flavor or another flavor you already have? Be careful, the other players are watching you and if they see you building a chocolate-vanilla tower of ice cream they might drop a large scoop of strawberry on it! Without a doubt, this is the most intense phase of the game and has been known to induce crying in small children when they see their nearly perfect cone topped with a flavor they do not have!
After all the scoops are played (and any tears are wiped up) we move on to the next phase.
Phase three: Serve Customers
Now that you went through all the hard work of building ice cream cones, it's time to serve the customers! So turn over all your face down buckets.
Look over the cones, are there any to which you have all the matching buckets? What about the other players, do they have any perfect matches? Starting with the dealer we begin to serve customers.
If you have a perfect match, you must serve that customer. If you have more then one perfect match, you get to pick which one to serve. when serving you remove the ice cream from the cone and place the scoops over the corresponding buckets that you own. Put the cone in the cone pile and play proceeds clockwise.
If you do not have a perfect match you have two options:
Option 1: If you are within one scoop of a perfect match, you may serve that cone (useful when another player has a perfect match on that cone) and serve the scoops you can by placing them on your bucket. It is important to note that it must be within "one scoop" not "one flavor." Otherwise you could snag a cone that only matched one of your scoops and toss out three others!
Option 2: Draw a new bucket of ice cream.
After all the ice cream has been served, we go on to
Phase four: Score!
In phase four we do all our scoring. Buckets that were used to serve customers are discarded first. You get one point for every scoop served and one point for every extra bucket you have left more then one, discarding the extras. So, if I served six scoops and after after discarding my open buckets have three vanilla buckets left I get 8 points for the turn and throw away two of my vanilla buckets.
You can carry over one bucket of each flavor to the next turn so it sometimes is a benefit to draw buckets rather then scoring a one point cone. Either you end up drawing a bucket you do not have, which will carry over, or you will get the extra point for the double of an existing bucket!
This goes on four a total of four turns or days. After each turn the player with the lowest score becomes the dealer. The player with the highest score at the end of the game wins!
I have to admit that when I first got this game I was not very impressed. It took me quite a few plays to get the hang of it. Now that I have played a few games (with and without small kids) I have to say I like it. It's not a massive game, it plays quick and it is fun.
If you are looking for a lite filler game and a game you can play with the youngsters in the house I heartily recommend picking this one up!
You can buy this game directly from Funagain games.
BoardGameGeek entry for Ice Cream