Become a mixologist without attending Cocktail University! On the Rocks is a marble drafting game from Michael and Christina Pittre where players spend 3 rounds filling drink orders quicker than their opponents. Earn tips for every drink order you fulfill but watch out for spills that can ruin your progress.
Colorful Drinks Made to Order
In each of the 3 rounds, players will select 3 or 4 drink order cards. Each card awards players money for a completed drink order based on the number of ingredients required. Players have to match the drink orders with the same colored marbles as they see on the card in order to serve the customer. So how do we get these colorful ingredients?
Players will roll 2 “ice dice” to determine how many marbles they collect on their turn. On the Rocks has a mechanic that is reminiscent of the classic game Mancala. Players drop their marbles into cups in the center of the table and must take all the marbles in a cup of their choice.
As these blue silicone cups fill with marbles, you’ll start to see “spill” marbles appear. These black marbles force players to take a spill card that can ruin their drink progress in a variety of ways.
Each time you fill a drink order, you’ll receive a new tip card. These are perks that can be used during the game to get new marbles, penalize other players, or benefit you and another player at the table. Each tip card has a dollar value that can really add up if the card is unused at the end of the game.
After 3 rounds of filling drink orders, players will count up their completed order cards, unused tip cards, bonus token (for finishing before the other players) and deduct $2 for each unfilled drink order.
Bartending for the Whole Family?
On the Rocks is a really straight-forward drafting game that allows players to be as risky as they desire as they fill orders. Taking a bowl full of marbles may fill multiple orders, but spill cards can really ruin your progress. When entering a new round players have to decide if they want to choose 3 or 4 drink order cards to fill. Finishing a round before an opponent could catch another bartender off guard near the end of the game. These little decisions have consequences and it makes On the Rocks a lot of fun.
When we first received On the Rocks, I’ve got to admit I was hesitant to see what the game was like. I heard great things from Bob when he previewed the game on Kickstarter, but alcohol and bars are not my scene. Would the game only make sense if I knew the drinks I was making? Would there be a layer of the game that was out of reach because I don’t drink?
I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the game was and how much we enjoyed it even though Erin and I don’t connect with the theme. The table presence of this game is fantastic and it invites players in with the colors and beautiful artwork from Christina Pittre. The game is simple to teach and most players feel comfortable with the gameplay in only 2 or 3 turns.
Our kids are teenagers and this is a game that they’ll probably play with us in the near future. So far we’ve introduced it to a few married couples and had a really good time. Drafting marbles and planning your strategy to edge out the other bartenders is actually pretty chill and relaxing.
We’ve played On the Rocks a couple times each week since receiving the game and it’s honestly become one of Erin’s favorite games. It plays fantastic as a 2-player experience and that might even be where this game shines. As we’ve played at higher player counts, it seems like the downtime increases, especially with new players.
Players can sometimes over analyze which marbles should be dropped into which cups. While this is important, it can be excruciating to wait for 3 people who are dropping 6 to 10 marbles, 1-by-1 into each cup. Once you get a game or two under your belt, this moves a lot quicker.
I really didn’t anticipate enjoying On the Rocks as much as I do. It’s partially because my wife is loving this game and it means the two of us can spend time together playing a chill game with amazing components. While the theme of On the Rocks doesn’t appeal to me at all, I know this will hit a sweet spot for a lot of adult gamers. I’m glad that I didn’t allow the theme to stand in the way of enjoying this beautiful game.