Dulce is all about strategically converting beans into delicious desserts from designer Julio E. Nazario and published by Stronghold Games. Players will plant fields of cacao, coffee, peanuts and vanilla, eventually harvesting these beans to deliver to factories. Let’s dig into this resource management game and see what sweet treats it serves up.
Farm to Table
Each player has a board that contains a score tracker and 4 starter factories. You’ll choose a lead player to to remove 4 cards from their deck and shuffle the remaining 20 cards. Each round the lead player will pull the top card of their deck and announce the number to the other players at the table.
In each of the 20 rounds, players will use the same exact card but the way you use it is totally up to you. Cards can be used as fields, factories or can be discarded to harvest beans.
Planting a field means that you add the card to your player board. You can overlap and even gain bonuses by placing like bean types on top of one another. When you add the field to your board, you’ll add the beans of the corresponding colors that represent the 4 bean types.
Building a factory lets you add the card factory side up next to your player board. The factory will tell you what beans it needs to create its confectionary masterpiece. Each time a factory creates a dessert, you score a single victory point.
Discarding a card allows you to harvest beans from a single row or column on your player board. It’s important to diversify your fields when planting them so your harvest action can produce a variety of beans.
I really like the multi-use cards the Dulce gives players. Using a card for one thing means your missing out on something else. Careful planning will mean your harvests and dessert production will lead to multiple points, especially in later rounds.
At the end of the round, if any of your factories can produce desserts, you score points for each of them that are produced.
Dulce has an engine-building mechanic with the way that beans create byproduct when they are used in the factories. Each resource shown on the factory cards have 1 to 3 circles for each bean. Beans are harvested at a level 3 resource. They can be used as any level resource after being harvested. Players get the most bang for their buck when they have factories that use a level 3 resource and another factory that can use the byproduct of the bean as a level 2 resource.
This is a nice efficiency puzzle that awards players who really think through the factories that they build. Even when a byproduct can’t be used by a factory, your chicken can eat the beans! Your wooden chicken meeple will feast on leftover beans. Players can move their chicken backward 3 spaces for a single egg resource. These eggs can be used as wilds but don’t produce any byproduct.
After the 20th card is revealed, the game is over and the player with the highest score wins.
Dessert for One
Dulce’s gameplay is smooth and the game ramps up nicely during the 20 rounds. The color choices are warm and inviting and I love the isometric illustrations throughout the cards and player boards. We’ve had a couple friends and family mention that they’ve struggled with the color choices for the resource cubes. We found new players regularly assigning the wrong cubes for vanilla bean, peanuts and eggs.
I think it’s worth mentioning that Dulce is pretty much a solo game that has 4 player boards in the box. Nothing your opponent does will affect your game. You’re really only comparing scores at the end of the game with hopes that you come out on top. At most, you’ll find yourself looking over at your opponents to check their score to make sure you’re in the lead.
Personally, this isn’t a big issue for me because I really enjoy the mechanics of the game. But, for players looking for some sort of interaction with the people around them, this game probably isn’t for you. Dulce doesn’t spur me into competitive gameplay. It’s more of a casual stroll by myself, eventually arriving back home to share how great my walk was with my “competitors”.
Dulce is going to be a game that comes to the table on a relaxing weekend morning rather than a game night with friends. Overall Dulce is a delicious little resource puzzle that can be enjoyed even when no one else is at the table.
- Delightful artwork from box to cards
- Creating an engine to use the beans byproduct works so well
- Tough decisions from round to round keeps players engaged
- Every game is a solo experience
- Decisions later in the game can cause AP in some players