Theme and What is it?
You are the master of your craft, boxing up chocolates to make a decadent chocolate sampler. When boxing chocolates, make sure to fill boxes that fit well in your sampler, as you’ll earn bonus points for grouping similar chocolate types together. Can’t quite organize your chocolate sampler to your standards? That’s okay, because as a master chocolatier, you can craft a wild chocolate that assumes the flavor of all the adjacent chocolate types.
The Chocolatier with the most stunning chocolate Sampler wins the game.
Chocolatiers is an easy-to-learn family-weight game with a delectable theme. With your in-hand Chocolate cards, pay for boxes of Chocolates to add to your Sampler. Create a Sampler with pleasing groupings of Chocolates and no empty spaces to earn big points – and win the game.
Setup is easy and fast. Each player receives three Chocolate cards. 6 Chocolate cards are added face-up to a Chocolate Tray in the center of the play area; the rest are set nearby as the Chocolate deck. Each player receives 3 Wild Chocolates. The Box tiles are shuffled and placed into a face-down stack, then 5 are revealed as the Box tile line. Scoring tiles are laid out.
The game begins with the first player (who was the last person to eat chocolate) and proceed clockwise. Each turn, players may take two actions from 4 possible actions. Actions may be taken more than once per turn. The available actions are:
- Take Chocolate: Take 1 Chocolate card from the Tray or discard 1 Chocolate card from your hand to take 2 Chocolate cards from the Tray. Refill the Tray back up to 6 cards.
- Box Chocolates: Discard Chocolate cards from your hand matching each of the chocolates on a Box tile of your choice, then take the Box tile and add it to your Sampler. You may discard 2 matching Chocolate cards to substitute for any 1 chocolate on the Box tile any number of times. Refill the Box tile line to 5 tiles.
- Place a Wild Chocolate: Place 1 of your Wild Chocolates on any one of the 4 space of a Box tile in your Sampler.
- Reserve a Box Tile: Claim a Box tile from the Box tile line and place it in front of you (not in your Sampler). Place one of your Wild Chocolate tokens on the center of the Box tile to mark it as reserved. You’re claiming this tile to be paid for later. Once you pay for the Tile, you can place it in your Sampler and re-claim the Wild Chocolate token. Refill the Box tile line to 5 tiles.
At the end of your turn, if you’ve got more than 6 Chocolate cards in your hand, discard excess Chocolate cards of your choice to get to 6 cards.
The end of the game is triggered when a player places their 6th box in their Sampler. All players take equal turns. After the final player has taken their turn, award Score tiles before Final Scoring.
For Final Scoring, add your total points from 4 sources:
- All points shown in the center of each Box tile in your Sampler.
- Any points on Score tiles awarded to you.
- 1 point for each Wild Chocolate that was not placed in your Sampler or on a Reserved tile.
- Add 1 point of there are no empty Chocolate spaces on Box tiles in your Sampler.
The box for Chocolatiers is pretty small, but inside is a light-but-thinky game suitable for the family. BGG rates it 1.25/5 on their complexity rating. It has just enough strategy to appeal to all but the most hard-core gamer and is approachable for non-gamers as well.
On the table, this game does not take a lot of room. You need space for the Box tile line, the Scoring tokens, and the Chocolate Tray. Players need space in front of themselves for a 2×3 (or 3×2) grid of their tiles. Up to four players can play this game on a standard card table with room to spare. I believe the grid for a 5th player would still fit on the table. It does not sprawl.
Game Build Quality
The insert is simple but functional cardboard. It keeps the Box tiles on one side and the rest of the components on the other side of a central partition.
The components are nice – the tiles are thick cardboard and have spot-gloss coatings to make the chocolates glisten. The card stock for the Chocolate cards is a minor quibble for me. They feel a bit thinner than I expect with the quality of the other components. After just a few plays, the cards began warping and bending. But if you handle them carefully, they’re fine.
The quick reference guide is useful and, once you’ve played the game a couple times, will be more than sufficient to setup and play the game using it if necessary, instead of referring to the manual.
The art for the game is clear, colorful, and appropriate. The chocolates throughout the game are all distinct, and do not rely solely on colors to distinguish them. Color-blind players should have no trouble with this game. Iconography is clear and easy to understand.
When we approached Chocolatiers, I was expecting a very light pattern matching game. What we got was a medium-light Splendor-like experience that offered more strategic depth than we anticipated. Let me be clear – this isn’t a deeply strategic game – but it offers more than I expected. A pleasant surprise.
There is no direct take-that, but this game does require some agility with your plans. You may be working to collect chocolates toward the boxing of a specific tile, but then someone swipes that tile before you get to it and you now have to rethink your whole strategy.
My game group really liked the Wild Chocolates. Placing them in a square in a Box tile turns the Wild Chocolate into all adjacent chocolates and this contributes toward Final Scoring. Optimal placement of the Wild Chocolate tokens bridges gaps to make your groupings larger, scoring more points.
Chocolatiers does not overstay its welcome, and all players have enough information to gauge how close the end of the game is.
Age Range & Weight
The difficulty of this game is 1.25/5 per BGG and I feel that is an appropriate rating. The box suggests 8+ as the age range, but BGG says 6+. There’s no reading required to play the game. Since I don’t have kids, I cannot comment on ages other than to say that there is a bit of strategy, but I feel that most kids 6+ should be able to play and enjoy the game — though it will make them want chocolate.
We really enjoyed this game. It was more strategic than we expected, and the production quality is good except for the cards (which were a little thin). The manual and handy quick reference guide were mostly free of typos and were easy to understand.
This is an enjoyable candidate for an evening of lighter games.