Roux Dat #62: Chocolate Factory, Vagrantsong, and Pocket Detective: Season One

Hey board gamers, we are counting down the weeks to Dice Tower East. Do you have convention plans for the summer? If not, get a couple of friends, find a cabin or basement and do your own small CabinCon! While waiting for our trip to Orlando, we’ve been streaming a lot of games on the channel. Enough blather, let’s get to the games!

This week, we are talking about our first impressions of Chocolate Factory, Vagrantsong, and Pocket Detective: Season One

We Are The Music Makers and Dreamers of Dreams

Mitchell’s got some free time for gaming this summer, and Jay’s in the UK, which means that the tradition of playing games without both of them in the same room continues! (Has anyone actually seen Jay and Mitchell in the same place at the same time? Hmmm…) I’ve been jealous of their recent plays of Chocolate Factory for two reasons — (a) cool theme; (b) design pedigree. The team of Dunston and Gilbert made one of our top twenty-five games of all time, Elysium, and I was anxious to give Chocolate Factory a try.

Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. Players explore and upgrade a factory that makes every kind of chocolate candied goodness for sale, with the help of an eclectic cast of characters. Let’s just say that our first two plays of Chocolate Factory have been a world of pure imagination and fun. Players try to convert little nibs of cocoa into chocolate chunks and fingers and even boxes of candy, all while competing with the other player for sales.

It’s got a pseudo-programming feel, a precursor in a way to the system Furnace employs to convert things, but this is way more thinky and way more satisfying when the conveyor belt drops one or three of the perfect little sumptuous candies, and you send them on their way to the seller.

Roux Dat Says: I saw this at BGG Con in 2019 and marveled at how intricate the system of upgrading the factory floor was in comparison to the relatively light hearted theme. It’s every bit as thinky as I thought, but just enough to melt your brain a bit sometimes without a constant blue screen erupting over the players. I would hesitate to play this with anyone who suffers serious AP, as to me this game plays best when the players are pushing the envelope a bit on speed — that way chocolate falls off every once in a while like it did for Lucy and Ethel. Two caramel covered thumbs up for me.

Train Whistles Cries, Lost On Its Own Track

I close my eyes, sitting alone in the back of the Cadillac of westbound trains, the Silver Ferryman. Apparitions appear, hungry for human companionship, not for fleeting minutes, but for eternity. I’m a healer, not much of a brawler, but I do my best to push faceless shades away from my compartment mates. I notice that the Haints hungrily stare at a burning candle near me, its sickly flame and whispering smoke trail dancing provocatively and calling them forward. A thought strikes. I slide the candle along the floor a few spaces away, and watch as the night visions scream silently but with inhuman speed toward the flame and avoid us. Time to bring some humanity back to the spectres.

Wyrd Miniatures’ Vagrantsong is a boss battler with a pretty slick theme. Players are drifters, finding each other heading on a train to nowhere with riders of unknown origin. Over the course of a few rounds, each hero taking their turn before the boss takes its turn, players will move, explore, battle and try to fulfill quests.

I don’t buy or play boss battles games very often, if ever. But if it has a cool theme, I’ll try it. Dave and Jerod are always up for those kinds of games, so Dave brought Vagrantsong to the Gumbo Pot this past Friday. I don’t know why people are agog over this new retro 1930s comic art, as I hve never been much of a fan. But, I like the way Vagrantsong implemented this art style. Sure, it calls to mind those old pulp paper cartoons, but it feels fresh, like an updated version from an alternate timeline.

Roux Dat Says: This inevitably connected in my mind with Townsfolk Tussle. I only have one play of each, but the idea of battling ghosts on a spooky train ride with tons of replayable characters and a campaign system is way more appealing to me. I told Dave after the game that I would definitely play more scenarios, and Jerod seemed very taken with both the gameplay and the campaign. Now, if I could just find another candle…

Crime Scene Investigation: Gumbo Pot

Faithful readers of Roux Dat know that my wife and share a family history and a personal love of police procedurals in every format. It’s clearly spilled over to cardboard, too. We love the Decktective series, love the Portal Games’ Detective series, and especially loved Van Ryder Games’ Detective: City of Angels game. So we got super excited to open up a box from Lucky Duck Games to find Pocket Detective: Season One inside.

Imagine a full fledged, hour long who done it playing right on your table top, all through a series of cards in a standard size deck. And no instructions! Just pop open the pack of cards, flip the first one, and start playing. That meant my wife and I were engrossed right away in the story of a college professor who met his untimely death, the first scenario.

Roux Dat Says: We loved the system. It’s a battle under your own watch between spending time to investigate clues and reports — a la Detective — and piecing together the clues in front of you to figure out who did it, how they did it and why. We have only completed the first scenario, but wow were we deep into the story. A review of this would necessarily spoil things for players, but I think it’s safe to say that this is a good date night game for anyone who likes poring over clues and going off of hunches.

So that’s another week of our first impression of games we’ve played in the Gumbo Pot recently. Have you played anything good you think we would like to check out? New or Old, classic or the latest hotness, we are ready to believe you. We’ll be back next time with more crime and drama and maybe even a little painting and trick taking games.

Until next time, laissz les bon temps rouler!

— BJ from Board Game Gumbo

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