Before I begin, I was sent a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. You can check out the video review below. Get your own copy here.
Remember being in college when you would drink whatever was cheap? Natty Ice, or if you were feeling classy PBR? Or if you were looking for hard alcohol you would grab whatever was in the biggest plastic bottle? Of course, if times were tough there was always Boon’s Farm. Yeah. Those were days. Woof. In those days the goal was to get into a stupor as quickly as possible and spend the rest of the night being stupid…or stupider I suppose.
Whelp, times have changed. Now if I am going to drink I want something I can savor, something I can enjoy. A nice micro brew, or a craft cocktail. In fact, I particularly enjoy making cocktails at home as well. So enter On the Rocks, a game that showed up at my door out of the blue. Now, a game that combines fancy cocktails and drafting to go along with a theme I am interested in seems like a no brainer to me!
In On the Rocks players compete to be the first bartender to fulfill three orders of drinks, and make the most money while doing it. Each round players will roll the dice, and whatever number they roll that is how many marbles they will draw from the bag and distribute to the cups (jiggers being the bar term) in a clockwise fashion. Once you have distributed the marbles you then draft one of the cups and place the marbles (liquors) on your board.
Now each board has 4 different styles of glass that correlate with different types of drinks that are usually served in that type of glassware. Each time you complete a drink you will receive a tip, which has both a monetary value on it, and a power that can be used. If you do not use the power then you will get the points at the end of the game.
The last thing to point out is that there are special marbles in the bag. There are black marbles that represent spills, and when you draft one of those you will have to suffer a spill penalty, there are gold marbles which are wilds, and allow you to pull any two marbles you want from the bag, then there are clear marbles which just count as a single wild ingredient. Beyond that you will play until someone has fulfilled three complete orders. Being the first to finish your orders will earn you a bonus, and failing to complete an order will earn you negative points. High score wins.
So what do I think?
For the most part the production is great. The jiggers are lovely, the marbles look great, the boards are double layered, the art is good, and the poker chips are excellent quality. The game itself is simple and delightful. It is simple drafting, but what makes it work particularly well is the way each round you are seeding the other jiggers with a variety of marbles. This creates a lovely level of strategy as you are trying to make sure that you get what you want in yours, but that you are also making the others simultaneously attractive and unattractive to the other players.
Though the production is good, the marbles can still decently easily roll out of the double layered board. There are a ton of different cocktails which makes the drafting of new recipes different each time, and the powers on the tip cards, and penalties on the spill cards have a solid variety as well. Though I am not sure that it is particularly cost effective to use the tip cards for anything other than end game scoring.
I am bummed that all these recipes do not include the actual drink recipe on them. That would have been absolutely amazing. Additionally, I have talked about how the production is good on this game, however, there is one place that it just missed. The marbles are super clear in the light, but once the light gets dim it becomes almost impossible to tell them apart. This means, no taking this game to a pub to play, which is a total bummer. The only game play warning I have is that there is a danger for extreme AP in this game. If you are inclined to over analyze things then you can spend forever trying to figure out where to put each marble as before you draft.
Bringing it all together
On the Rocks is a delightful drafting game. Everything about it is delightful, and lovely to look at and manipulate. With the exception of the marbles being hard to differentiate in dim light, and a lack of actual drink recipes included in the game I cannot complain about the production. The game itself is a delightful drafting game that has the added strategic element of seeding the other cups around the board for the other players to draft as well. This combined with a quick gameplay makes this a delightful game, assuming you are interested in the theme.
SHOTS! SHOTS! SHOTS!
* Components are delightful to play with
* Drafting mechanics are a joy
* Wish the drinks had the actual recipes on them
* Potential for serious AP
* Seeding the jiggers with marbles is a surprisingly strategic part of the game, that makes it standout from other drafting games.
* One of the two best 25th Century Games I have played