Let's start this review off by being clear about something - it's the game that is big and fat in The Big Fat Tomato Game, not the tomatoes. I think...
Either way, in the Big Fat Tomato Game, each player is a tomato farmer attempting to harvest (and stockpile) the most tomatoes. Unfortunately, your opponents are sneaky jerks and might send things at you like Dang Varmints! Each turn is fairly straightforward - you draw back up to five cards and then you can play a green card (these help you). If, after playing a green card there are still bad things in front of you, then their negative effects go into play. Next, you roll dice and add that many tomatoes to your harvest (in the cool plastic basket), and you can play one red (evil) card on one of your opponents (such as the jerk that played his hateful card on you). Finally, you can discard unwanted cards (like the 4th copy of a card that you're tired of looking at). Also, at any time during your turn, you can attempt to "Stockpile" the tomatoes in your harvest. In order to do this, you have to guess that you have at least 20 tomatoes in your harvest - if you're correct, then you get to put them all in your stockpile (random pile of tomatoes in front of you - they are the only tomatoes worth points at the end). But, if you're wrong, then you lose all of the tomatoes in your harvest! Play continues until the Market Stand card is drawn - at which point the tomato farmer with the largest bounty in his stockpile is the winner! (And gets to throw tomatoes at his opponents. Wait - I think you're supposed to do that at comedians. Or was it writers. Since I'm currently writing, I'm going to hope it's comedians.)
|My harvest never looked like this.|
The next thing that I like about the tomato game is that it is a light-weight "take that" game. Honestly, it reminds me a lot of a less frustrating version of Mille Bornes. My wife loves Mille Bornes, but I inevitably run out of gas in the first third of a race and never manage to find a gas station. In the tomato game, however, there is nothing that outright prevents you from gaining tomatoes. Some cards reduce your harvest by a die roll, others only allow you to roll a single die, and some even take tomatoes out of your stockpile. However, none of these cards are devastating enough that you really grow irate if someone plays one of them against you. Plus, there are enough different cards to get rid of each negative that none of them will really cripple a player.
The third pro that I will mention for the tomato game is that it is incredibly accessible. It could be played with kids as well as adults and, though adults may not want to play it all the time, I think that it can be enjoyed by either age group. It's just a nice, lightweight, game with good natured attacking. (If you're curious about "good natured" attacking, it's the kind of attacking that doesn't cause the player to want to attack you in real life after the game is over.) In the games that I've played, the game was fun, but was light enough that we were able to enjoy the company of the other people playing - with the game adding to that fun without demanding all of our focus.
|That's right - zombie tomatoes!|
The other thing that I will mention is something that you need to be aware of, but isn't a true con. This is a card game. And so, you will do better if you draw better cards. This is true of most card games, and remains true in the tomato game. If you draw the awesome card that lets you cancel an attack and send it back at the attacking player, you will do better than if you draw four copies of a less useful card. If this bothers you, then you probably don't play terribly many card games. However, I didn't feel that this game was so luck driven that it bothered me.
Overall, I would give The Big Fat Tomato Game an 8.5/10 as a kid's game. It was really enjoyable, and I think that (assuming your kids can read), this is a good choice to play with your whole family.
If you are looking for great games for kids, you might also check out Hey, That's My Fish!, Scallywags, and Rory's Story Cubes.
I would like to thank Gamewright for providing me with a review copy of The Big Fat Tomato Game.