I love tomatoes! When I was a little girl, my grandpa had a huge garden. He grew corn, cabbages, carrots, tomatoes, and a little bit of anything else you might think of. The little cherry tomatoes were my favorite, me and the other grandchildren would eat them like they were candy. He would often send huge bags full of produce home with my mom, and tomatoes were something that we were never without. So when I opened up the box on my doorstep to reveal a game about tomato farming, my mind immediately went fondly to my grandfather.
The first thing I noticed when I opened-up the box was the goofy artwork and whimsical fonts. This was packaged like a children’s game, and mentally I filed it away in that category. However, when I started investigating just a little further, I noticed the 10+ age rating, and began to think there was maybe a little more to this juicy tomato game.
Opening up the box, I found some components that immediately made me say,”OoooOooooOooo”. The game comes with little baskets for harvesting tomatoes and dozens of little red pom poms that represent the tomatoes themselves. In addition to this, there is a deck of full-color cards and a pair of dice. Later, when I showed the game to my players, they had the same reaction when I opened up the box, and began playing with the components like giddy five year olds.
So I read through the rules. They were pretty short and sweet, and had handy reference sections to make it all a little easier to grasp. However, what required grasping was really simple.
The game is all about storing your tomatoes so that you can take them to market. The player to take the most tomatoes to market is the winner. Each turn you can harvest some of your tomatoes into the small basket in front of you. The number of tomatoes you harvest is equal to the number you roll on two dice.
Well, that doesn’t sound very exciting does it? The interesting bits in the game come-in with the deck of cards. There are two basic kinds of cards: attack cards and attack-nullifying cards. The attack cards are things like worms, or “varmits”. The nullifying cards are things such as a hoe to dig up weeds, and pesticides.
Still doesn’t sound real exciting? Yeah, unfortunantely that is what we found-out, too. The game is about causing effects and removing effects. Really simple, and therefore not real great for an adult audience. So why the 10+ age rating?
Two hypotheses exist for me. Firstly, a small amount of math is required. You need to be able to do some simple addition and subtraction based upon the effects in play. This could get to be too much for a small child… maybe. Secondly, there is a small bit of memory that is required in the game.
Each time you gather tomatoes, you put them in your bucket; however, they don’t get to go to market at the end of the game unless you move them into storage. At the end of each turn you have the option to store your tomatoes. If you choose to, you dump out your bucket and count up how many tomatoes you have. If you have 20 or more tomatoes, they are sucessfully stored. If you have 19 or less, they all go back into the bank and are lost. So being able to remember how many tomatoes you have (or being able to guesstimate) is important.
So the end result? If you are an adult gamer, who games with other adults, skip this one. I just don’t think you’ll be very enthused for very long (at least once the novlety of the components wears off). However, if you have young kids, go for it! Don’t let the 10+ age group scare you off. I think this could be great for kids all the way down to 6 or so, as long as you are willing to help them with a little math. Also, the theme might inspire them to eat their veggies a litte, and who can argue with that?!
And now I have a hankering for cherry tomatoes… sadly my grandfather’s garden wasn’t maintained in the same fashion after he passed, but the memory is a fond one. This year, me and a loved one are tending a garden together and have planted roma and heirloom tomatoes, so they will have to suffice for now. But next year, cherry tomatoes will surely have to be on the docket.