Friday, August 24, 2012

Big Fat Tomato For Your Thoughts

The Big Fat Tomato Game
Designed by Casey Grove

First of all, a big SHOUT OUT to Gamewright games for making this review possible and for creating family fun games. Another big SHOUT OUT to all the farmers across the world for providing food for our tables. It is a tremendous and noteworthy profession that goes forgotten all too often. Especially in this tough year with all of the drought our thoughts and prayers are with you.

the big fat tomato game (TBFTG) joins the farming game fray with other farming themed games such as Agricola, Bohnanza, Nile, and The Farming Game. The TBFTG is a game for 2 to 5 brave tomato farmers who have about 20 minutes to harvest the most fuzzy little tomatoes you can. I would say that depending on the child, some younger than the suggested age of 10+ would be able to play the game and enjoy it.

In TBFTG the objective is to have the most tomatoes in your supply come harvest time. This is accomplished by playing cards that protect your harvest (like fences or hot pepper spray) from pesky varmints and weeds that have or will be placed on you by other competitive farmers. Setup is easy enough and is done by shuffling the cards without the "Market Time" card and then the Market card is placed somewhere in the last 10 cards or so of the deck. Each player takes a basket and the tomatoes are placed in the middle along with the dice for easy access. Each player is dealt 5 cards and the game begins with the player who can make themselves look most like a tomato (this is pretty fun and The Wife and I had a laugh while doing this, but if that isn't your style you could always play the highest roll of the die).

A turn is played out something like this: A player may play one green thumb card (used to either rid their harvest of unwanted pests or to build up fences) and one red thumb card (an attack card against another player). The player then rolls the two die to see how many tomatoes he will gather from the middle and place in his or her basket. The red cards will effect your harvest by limiting you to only one die, subtracting from your harvest by one roll of the die etc. There are other cards as well that I won't go to great detail on, but they can be played out of turn to stop attacks or reverse them and steal other's tomatoes etc.

The other key portion of your turn is to decide on whether or not you will "bank" or empty your tomatoes from your basket into your supply. This is key to the game for multiple reasons. First of all, you should try and keep track of the number of tomatoes in your basket (this shouldn't be too hard for the older players, but maybe a bit more challenging for the younglings) because if you choose to empty your basket into your supply and you don't have at least 20 tomatoes - well, you loose all of those from your basket into the middle instead. You want to empty your basket when you can because these tomatoes will be more safe from other players and only the tomatoes in your supply (not your basket) count toward your final count come market time. At the end of your turn, you can discard any cards you would like and then you draw back up to 5.

The game ends when the "Market Time" card is drawn from the deck. The winner again is the player with the most tomatoes in their supply. The game goes pretty quickly, and I might even suggest trying out going through the deck once and then randomly shuffling in the Market card on the reshuffle to lengthen the game and add more of a suspense to when the Market card will actually show up (this suggestion may not work as well if playing with lots of people because the tomato supply in the middle might dry up so to speak).

Everyone knows I'm a sucker for a game that comes in a nice tin. It might be because my mother collects tins or it might just feel like I'm getting something extra. Either way, the components of TBFTG come in a nice tin with great packaging. I love the little tomatoes, the baskets, and the cards. The cards shuffle well and seem that they will hold up nicely.

Overall, the game is a nice quick family game with great components and it plays really well. Sometimes you will find yourself without the proper cards in hand to rid yourself of your current predicament, but that is all part of the game and you will just have to rise above it like any good farmer would do and hope that no flying hippos will swoop in and make matters worse. I give TBFTG 2 fingers up, or in other terms 7/10 stars and that is How Lou Sees It!

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