Theme and What is It?
You are a farmer, managing the crops in your garden and fattening up your prized pig. Keep a watchful eye on the market levels and fill your garden with desirable veggies come harvest time.
Harvest Dice is a roll-and-write game from Grey Fox Games designed by Danny Devine. Players will each receive a player sheet that includes a 3×6 garden numbered 1-6 across the top, a table tracking how much you’ve fed your pig, and the market grid for each of the three vegetables. Players will take turns rolling and drafting dice. Each die is used either as a vegetable and planted into the garden, or is fed to the pig.
When planting in your garden, you must follow a few placement rules. Dice must be placed in a column matching the value of the chosen die If it is the first vegetable of its type, it can be planted in any row, but if you already have a vegetable of that type, it must be planted orthogonally adjacent. If you do not have a legal placement option, it must be fed to the pig. You may only feed the pig if you do not have a legal placement for a chosen die. When feeding the pig, you cross off circles equal to the value of the die. Circles are crossed out from left to right, top to bottom. Every sixth circle crossed out grants access to a one-use pig power. When using a pig power you may change the value of a selected die up or down by one, but may not go above 6 or below 1 on the die. An advanced rule allows the power to instead change the color of a chosen die. The last available die in every round goes undrafted and determines the change in the market indicating scarcity and therefore increased value. At the end of the game, vegetables are worth one point for every crossed out circle in the market.
The end of the game triggers when any player either fills their garden, crosses off every circle on their pig, or crosses off all six circles in a single market. Vegetables earn points according to their market value, the pig scores the value at the rightmost edge of the most recently completed row, and every complete row in the garden earns five points. An advanced rule offers five points to the player with the most of each vegetable type and most well-fed pig. The player with the most points is the winner and there are two tie-breakers in place before a shared victory: most veggies planted followed by most well-fed pig.
I don’t play a lot of roll and write games, but I find the genre intriguing and when I saw this at the Grey Fox booth at PAX Unplugged. It’s art style and theme grabbed my interest.
Game Build Quality
Harvest Dice comes with two score pads (one for each version of the game) with plenty of sheets, four pencils (which I really appreciate being included), one pig start player marker and nine Veggie Dice, three each in green, red, and orange. There isn’t much to it, but I am happy with the component quality.
The art is a simple farm theme. The pig is cute and there are subtle additions like the column placards and market spaces that really keep the theme. The scoresheets are well laid out and easy to read.
Difficulty and Age Range Suggestion
Harvest Dice recommends ages eight and up, but I would not be surprised to see younger players enjoy the game as well. The primary difficulty is in the placement rules and managing the dice draft. Younger players should be able to grasp the mechanics, even if the strategy proves more difficult. The advanced rules also offer just enough extra to spice up the game.
I have not played a large number of roll and write games, but I am fascinated with their current growth in the hobby and I am aware of many of them. Harvest Dice works within your conceptions of what a roll and write should offer, luring you in with its cute farm theme, and surprising you surprisingly tactical gameplay. There are multiple long-term strategic thoughts to consider, should you choose, but that certainly are not necessary to be successful as the luck of the dice can just as soon hinder as help your grand plans. The game is simple enough to play with younger players and yet offers a few options for extra depth to appeal to people wanting a little more. It has a small form factor and easily be added to the bag when headed off to game night or a family function. Games are quick and fun and Harvest Dice has a become a go-to game for starting and/or ending a night of gaming for the foreseeable future.