Tomatoes: that most delicious and yet misunderstood of nature’s bounty. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? How do you pronounce its name? How many can you stockpile before your neighbors become covetous of your horde? Gamewright’s succulent offering The Big Fat Tomato Game (hereafter to be known as TBFTG) attempts to answer one of these questions.
TBFTG comes with 5 plastic baskets, a pair of red dice, 60 cards, and 150 small, red, fluffy tomatoes. Yes, the Gamewright does take some liberties with verisimilitude in order to make the game work but you will forgive this inconsistency once you see how the fluffy tomatoes are employed. The artwork is top notch (and funny), the rules are clearly explained, and the props are cute. Some great design work here.
At its most basic the game consists of players rolling the dice and collecting that number of tomatoes into their baskets. Once a player collects 20 or more tomatoes in his or her basket, the player may dump out the basket to form a stockpile. Your stockpile scores you points at the end of the game. If the game stopped here it would be about as much fun as real-life industrial tomato picking, but I have as yet to introduce the cards.
As a player you start your turn by drawing cards until you have 5. These cards either help you or hurt your opponents. Once you have your cards you have five actions that you can take but only in this order:
- Play a green helpful card on yourself (if you have one)
- If you have any pests in your garden (placed there by another player) you take a penalty
- Roll the dice and put tomatoes into your basket
- Play a red attack card against an opponent )If you have one)
- Discard any cards you don’t want to keep (you will draw back up to 5 next turn)
At any time during your turn, you may empty out your basket to form a stockpile. If you have 20 or more in your basket, you may keep them. Less than 20 and you lose them all. So sorry. Keep better inventory. Only stockpiled tomatoes score points at the end of the game. But tomatoes in your basket are usually safe from attack (unless someone kicks over your basket with a special card).
There are a lot of different cards and all of them have special times at which they can be played. This might seem daunting at first but each card comes with clear instructions on when and how it can be used. Your first game may be a little slow as you take some time to read what each card can do (and laugh at the clever illustrations), but they quickly become intuitive and play moves fast.
The TBFTG is probably the closest you can get to having a tomato fight that won’t stain your walls. Like so many games that we adore here at Major Fun, the attack cards are wonderfully mean spirited and it keeps everyone on their toes. Sometimes it’s fun to just run up and kick over someone’s tomato basket and unleashing the Tomato Zombie is major fun.
For 2-5 players, ages 10+
The Big Fat Tomato Game designed by Casey Grove (a farmer of course!) © 2012 by Gamewright.