Plays: 3Px1, 2Px1.
Ice Cream Combo is a real-time game where players race to complete ice creams according to customers' orders. At any one time there are a number of orders on the table depending on the number of players, and these are free-for-all - whoever is the first to complete an ice cream according to the specs claims that order card, and then reveals a new order card to take its place. When a player completes his fifth order, the game ends, and everyone scores his completed order cards.
Every player has his own deck of 30 ice cream cards. Before the game starts these are shuffled, divided into three equal stacks and placed face-down in front of the player. When the game starts, all three stacks are flipper over, and the player can start making ice cream. The first thing you need to do is to convert an ice cream card into an ice cream cone. Ice cream cards are double-sided, the front being a scoop of ice cream of a specific flavour, and the back being an ice cream cone. So you have to sacrifice one scoop to make a cone. You can have at most two work-in-progress ice creams. You can move the topmost scoop between any of your two work-in-progress ice creams and three ice cream card stacks. During the game you are constantly shuffling scoops around to try to make ice creams that match one of the orders at the centre of the table.
The starting setup of a two-player game.
Two completed ice creams. The order card at the top left indicates that you need two flavours, and two scoops in each flavour arranged in this particular way. Complete this order, and you'll earn $3. If you have a cherry on the topmost scoop, you earn an extra $1. The order card at the top right requires ice cream in five different flavours. There's a rainbow coloured scoop of ice cream on the right. That's a joker and can stand in for any flavour.
There are some special cards in the order card deck. If you draw such a card, you execute special actions. E.g. one such card lets you steal a scoop from another player. There is also a card which is an ice cream cone. You can use it immediately, saving you one ice cream card which you need not flip over to become your new ice cream cone.
The player who completes his 5th ice cream declares game end. You check your completed ice creams to make sure they have all been done correctly. Ice creams with mistakes score nothing.
I played with my daughters Shee Yun (10) and Chen Rui (8), and was surprised that they both beat me. I had thought I would easily beat them at such speed games. My little princesses are all grown up now. Sniff sniff. The game is quite hectic. There is not much player interaction, since you rarely get to directly mess with others' plans. If you beat an opponent to an order which he has spent much time and effort on, that can be a big impact because all his work is down the drain now. That can be quite funny, or frustrating, or both. Overall it's a race game. You race to complete ice creams, and when possible you try to pick up odd bonus points here and there, e.g. those cherries.
I'm still new to the game, so I am not sure how feasible it is to pay a lot of attention to what your opponents are doing. E.g. to watch which orders they are going for and to avoid clashing with them, or to intentionally beat them to those same orders. My suspicion is you probably need to focus on playing efficiently. You decide on which orders to go for based on what kind of scoops you have at the time. Just go for what's convenient and hope you'll complete it before anyone else does it. Well, that may be just a newbie talking. Advanced players may be able to make better use of observing others.
My opponent Chen Rui.
Ice Cream Combo is easy to teach and non-confrontational. It's a speed game and it works as a children's game and a family game. It's something you can play with casual gamers or non-gamers. Despite being a real-time game, it feels relaxing. That's probably because ice creams are inherently soothing. Mmmm...