There are a lot of chocolate-themed board games around! Previously, I played Chocolatiers, which has players creating boxes of chocolates to score points and now have taken on Chocolate Factory, where you are now running a factory that makes loads of chocolates, hoping to fulfil your corner shop orders and some major orders to score big.
Chocolate Factory is a really fun game once everyone understands how to play. Every player is given a starting tile, which represents a factory. These tiles are really important as they show different areas that contain machines needed to make cocoa into chocolate and the chocolate into candies, as well as send your items out to consumers or your own storage area. The factory card has a middle slot representing a conveyor belt which can hold a few crates. This is a really lovely design as you can literally push the crates with a new crate along the conveyor belt middle, showing where your chocolates are for that turn and adding a lot of fun into the game!
The storage area is a side card which contains coal tokens (basically currency to run machines) as well as a few extra chocolates that didn’t make it to orders. Chocolates, at the end of each day, can be turned into coal to be used in the next turn. The cocoa and candy tokens are made out of wood — all of the components to Chocolate Factory are actually really high quality and well made. Surprisingly though, the coal tokens are not wooden and instead are cardboard.
Off to the side of your table, you can place a large scoring area, as well as major orders. Major orders each come below a colored name and can be tracked on this main board. These names represent characters that will manage your factory for the day. There also is a cheat sheet on which candies upgrade to the next candy, as players basically need to refine chocolates again and again to get better chocolates.
To start off each day, a set number of factory parts and managers are placed on the table. Going around, one by one, each player can pick one of the two types of cards, with the last player picking one in each category and then the order reverses and the players select one of the other types to finish their set up. Once all of the factory parts are placed in the factory and the manager cards are dealt, the day begins.
Chocolate Factory has six days in total, so you will need to work fast if you want to gain the most money possible. There is a lot of decision making required when it comes to where to spend your coal, if you want to upgrade chocolates for a corner store order or for a big manager related order, and when to use your manager’s skill. Fulfilling the most corner store orders might seem like the best way to go about it, but it’s really hard to tell, during the game, who is winning and how.
Points are not counted properly until the end of the game, with money only increasing on the main board at the end of the corner store fulfilment for each day, but there are loads of bonus points given away from major orders, extra coal or chocolates as well as whoever has the most corner store fulfillment, and much more.
Placement is another major part of Chocolate Factory, as placing down new factory equipment can cover over your old equipment but also might not have chocolate near it for the next turn. Your chocolate only moves in one direction so planning out how you want to actually use the factory and what to make is a must.
After a few rounds, as there are several phases, your group will start to really understand what is going on and speed will pick up, but it’s only at the end of the game that you’ll find a winner. Our group really enjoyed Chocolate Factory once we understood all of the phases, but we found that the first layout of the factory was quite useless for players who had major corner store orders. Some orders require two or three different phases of chocolate, which cannot be done with the basic setup. This was a challenge and felt overly hard for a beginning round, so we allowed some of these cards to be changed out for a new card before agreeing to begin.
Overall, I found that the quality of this tabletop game was very high — the conveyor belt idea is one that I had never actually run into before. I enjoyed fulfilling orders, but do feel that the major orders at the top of the screen are pointless unless you win, as the scoring rules are pretty weird when it comes to how far from the winning person you are. We also regularly ran out of the tokens for the highest quality chocolate towards the end of the game, playing with max players, which was a bit difficult. If you are playing with less people who don’t all want the highest value chocolate, you probably will not run into that yourself.
You can find Chocolate Factory on Amazon.