So you’ve just settled down for a tasty Ice Cream Cone with your absolute favorite flavor and wouldn’t you know it, those pesky robots are trying to steal your cones again. But this time you’re ready for them. You have your complete arsenal of weaponized Popsicles and other frozen treats, so this attempt will be their last.
Robots Love Ice Cream is an absolutely silly theme for a game…and we love it. I have probably played this game more than any other game in the past 2 months. Mostly that is because my 5 year old niece has fallen in love with it, but also because it is a really solid cooperative game. There are real choices, real consequences and lots of humor and silliness.
Most of the time we wait til the end of a review to tell you whether or not you should play/buy a game, but not this time. Go get this one now. It’s a blast. It completely works as a family co-op, but also provides enough strategy and tension for experienced gamers as well (although definitely on the light/fun side). It scales well for different player counts and can be easily adjusted for younger audiences too. But seriously, it’s great. Let’s look a little closer:
Basically the game guides you through the setup for each game. Your goal is to save 5 different planets from the evil Robot Ice Cream thieves. Each planet will be invaded by a different configuration of Robots.
Sometimes it will be 5 Robots, sometimes it will be 10. Each planet gets progressively harder, so you should probably try to get better at fighting the Robots as you go. For each column shown on the Planet, you will place the appropriate Spinston at the top of the column and then draw random Robot cards until the configuration matches the images shown on the planet.
Also, the Robots have already activated their Ice Cream Beam to steal your Ice Cream Cones. For each Spinston shown on the planet card, you are going to place Ice Cream Cone victory tokens on the bottom card of the beam track. They’ve already got a bead on your treats!
In order to fight the Robots you’re going to need a mobile base to launch your weaponized Ice Cream from. So, why don’t you each take one of these Ice Cream Trucks, that should help.
Oh, and as the battle rages on, you’ll be able to upgrade your truck with new components/abilities.
So, the planet is set, they’ve started beaming up your cones, and your truck is ready.
Time to reveal your Weapons. Each player gets 7 cards from the Weaponized Ice Cream deck (shuffled of course).
Put the Boost Deck and Sprinkletonium Deck to the side (we’ll get to those in a second).
So how do we defeat these sneaky Robots anyway?
Each Robot has 3 pieces of information which will help you along the way. In the top left corner of each Robot card is the Robot’s health (a heart symbol made of two crossed popsicles – too cute).This is how many matching Weaponized Ice Cream cards you will need to discard from your hand in order to defeat the Robot. For Example, if you are trying to defeat a Lil Chunk (which we highly recommend), you need to defeat 3 of any one kind of Ice Cream. This could be 3 Rapid Pops or 3 Boomsicles. It doesn’t matter, as long as you use 3 of the same kind. Also, there are Brain Freeze cards which are wild cards that you can combine with others to make up the total needed. Have 2 Hot Fudge Funday cards and 1 Brain Freeze? Excellent, you can send Lil Chunk packing.
The second piece of info on the card is the yellow Sprinkletonium symbol in the top right corner. This is how many Sprinkletonium cards you get to collect after defeating the Robot.
Lil Chunk gives you 2 Sprinkletonium cards once defeated. You use Sprinkletonium to buy upgrades in between planets (critical for the harder battles late in the game), or to draw back up to 7 cards at the end of your turn (super handy). At the beginning of each of your turns you will be able to draw 2 Weaponized Ice Cream cards but only keep 1 of them. So if you only rely on drawing cards this way, you will soon run out and not mount a very effective defense. Don’t be shy about using your Sprinkletonium to draw cards.
The third piece of info is the text at the bottom of the Robot card. This tells you the consequences for not defeating this Robot, this is how the Robots attack. Every Robot that was not defeated gets to use its attack on you. Every Robot. Each Robot has a different attack, some far worse than others, but each one can be tricky. Some only steal your Sprinkletonium, some make you discard cards, or hinder your special abilities. Spinstons cause the Ice Cream cones to beam up one more level, which means you basically have 3 rounds at each planet. By far the worst, however, are the dreaded Lil Chunks. If they are not defeated, they make you draw a new Robot from the deck and add it to the current battle. This can be devastating to your plans. Blow them up as soon as you can.
So here’s how it goes. All players get to act before the Robots get there chance. If you are playing with 4 players, all 4 players act, then the Robots. This is helpful, because hopefully you will destroy some of the Robots, and thus they will not get to attack you (yay!).
So Olivia draws 2 Weaponized Ice Cream cards and keeps the one she likes. Then she uses 3 Boomsicles to defeat a Lil Chunk, receives 2 Sprinkletonium cards for doing so. She can only attack one Robot per turn (unless she has a truck upgrade) so they only thing she can do is spend a Sprinkletonium to draw back up to 7 cards, which she does. A good turn. Each player continues like this until everyone has had a turn.
Then the Robots attack. All of them. For each Robot that was not eliminated, you perform their attack against the players. Then the Spinstons perform their attack last which is to move the Ice Cream cones up one level on the beam track. If the cones are still not saved after the 3rd round, the Spinstons steal your Ice Cream. If, however you manage to defeat a Spinston, you claim one of the Cones as a victory token (huzzah!).
After the Robots attack, the players give it another go. Then the Robots again. You play 3 rounds for each planet and see where you end up. Defeated Spinstons equal saved Cones. Spinstons escape? They took your cones with you. At the end of the game you have to have saved 10 cones in order to win. This means you can only ever lose 3 Cones to the Robots the entire game.
So after 3 rounds, you move on from this planet to the next, but first you get a chance to go shopping. Hopefully you have collected some Sprinkletonium and you now have the chance to buy upgrades for your truck. There are 2 kinds of helpful Boost cards available for purchase:
Truck upgrades and game effects. Truck upgrades allow you to do different or additionally attacks during the game while Game Effects allow you to draw more cards, or purchase sooner, basically manipulating the rules a bit. Both are helpful, but I always go more for the Truck Upgrades, because to me they are better. If you are swimming in Sprinkletonium, you can buy more than one Boost card, but you can only have so many in play at once (2 Truck Upgrades, unlimited Game Effects).
After Equipping your new upgrades, you move on to the next planet to fight more Robots.
Your Weaponized Ice Cream cards carry over from planet to planet, so it is possible to save up and plan for the next planet, although you never know what the configuration will be or which Robots will be randomly selected from the deck. This allows for more of a challenge and replayability.
All of this sounds a little complicated, but I promise you, it’s really simple and fast once you’ve seen a round or two.
After the 5th planet, if you have collectively saved 10 or more Ice Cream Cones from the Robots your team wins. If you want to know who the best Robot fighter is, simply count your Ice Cream cone Victory Point tokens and hail that player as the winner.
Robots Love Ice Cream is a cooperative game but it has a hint of competitiveness in it as well. If you and your friends manage to save the Ice Cream from the Robots, whoever has the most collected Cones from defeating Spinstons wins the game. Because of this, there is a tendency to attack Spinstons any time that they are available to attack. You see, in order to attack a Robot at the top of the column, you have to defeat all the ones before it first. So, if there are not any robots left in a column except Spinston, I may be really tempted to defeat Spinston and gain a Victory point Cone instead of attacking a robot in another column, even if that would be better overall for the team. Most of the time that we have played, we haven’t worried too much about this. We generally just want to defeat the Robots. But…if you get someone really competitive, it coul come up.
So what should you do? You are able to see which Robots are on the field and what there attack’s will be, so plan accordingly. Kill all the Lil Chunks as soon as you see them. Lil Chunk causes more Robots to come into the battle of not defeated, so get to him fast. Also, Ray is no fun either. He causes one of your truck upgrades to fail. Most of the other robots cause you to lose Sprinkletonium so you should always spend one to draw back up to 7 cards whenever you know that you will leave one of them on the battlefield.
Robots Love Ice Cream is susceptible to problems with Alpha gamers who want to tell everyone what they should do on their turns, but who likes playing games with those people anyway.
This game is awesome. From the minute you see the cover and open it up, the art grabs you. It’s silly and fun and absolutely suits the gameplay.
The gameplay itself is light and fun but offers real choices and enough strategy to keep you interested. The upgrades allow you to really build up an “engine” to kill Robots over the course of the game – making it possible to take out the 5th planet just before the Spinstons make off with your Cones.
All in all, this game is a delight. One that can be enjoyed by families and experienced gamers alike. It has won a permanent place in our collection, and 25th Century Games will be Olivia’s favorite game company for some time.
25th Century Games sent us a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review, which is exactly whT we’ve provided. They also sent Olivia some Astronaut Ice Cream which she thoroughly enjoyed.