Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 21 December 2017

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Harvest Dice

Game: Harvest Dice

Publisher: Grey Fox Games

Designer: Danny Devine

Year: 2017

Harvest Dice is a roll-and-write game, a style of game where you roll dice and based on the results, you fill out a paper sheet in front of you, the most obvious examples perhaps being the classic game Yahtzee. The genre appears to have gained a lot of popularity over the last 12 months, with games like Qwixx from Gamewright games and a whole host of games from Asia, as well as increasing number of print and play games and games from newer designers. Harvest Dice is one of our first experiences with the genre, as it's typically a lighter game than we play, but let's take a look at how it plays.

Harvest Dice is a 15-30 minute game for 2-4 players in which you are planting your vegetable garden with cabbages, carrots and tomatoes. You do this by drafting dice. In a two player game you roll 6 dice per round - 2 green (cabbages), 2 red (tomatoes), 2 orange (carrots). The value on the dice face represents which of the 6 columns you must draw your vegetable into. You have three rows and once a column is full you can no longer plant dice of that number. At any time you can choose not to place a dice, and sometimes you won't have a legal place to play one, so instead you can feed the vegetable to the pig. The more you feed to the pig, the more pig bonuses you get to use to manipulate the dice rolls.
Harvest Dice comes with two game modes ie. two different versions of the score pad.  After our first play, we chose to play on the hard mode, where your options for dice manipulation increase from just adding or subtracting 1, to mean that you can instead choose to change the colour of a dice. Additionally the harder mode is a bit meaner, because there is a chance that one vegetable type may score no points at the end of the game.

The game is extremely simple to play and it's easy to think that it's a very basic design, but there's actually quite a lot of interlinked elements that can form part of your decision making. At the start of a turn it's easy to focus on taking the dice you need, however in a two player game it's pretty effective to see which dice your opponent can even legally play and perhaps 'hate draft' that useful dice into the mouth of the pig! I've seen a lot of gamers on Twitter and Facebook who seem to focus a lot more on the pig than we do, we often only give ourselves the special ability two or three times a game, but using these abilities can be really helpful when the dice rolls don't go your way. Finally, you might be keen to take dice tactically so that the colour of dice remaining when 5 have been taken is the colour of the vegetable you have planted most of, giving it a higher multiplier for end game scoring.

No paints are warded for how neatly you draw the vegetables, but I like to make my garden look good!
We love drafting, so the fact that the simple drafting decisions can trigger multiple impacts is really satisfying. I also really enjoy the spatial puzzle of planting your garden optimally to try and keep your options open as long as possible. Bad luck will sometimes get in your way, but we've only had one game where one player only needed to plant low numbers toward the end of the game and the dice just stopped rolling low! Otherwise the game is quite fair as you are all working with the same dice pool each turn.

Harvest Dice was a really pleasant surprise. Most quick light game don't have much staying power in our collection, but Harvest Dice feels like it packs some good meaningful decisions into a 15 minute game. I'm really happy with how it plays for two players and I also think it will be really portable, especially if we can acquire a roll-up dice tray. It's well produced, has nice colourful artwork and I think I could get almost anyone to play and understand at least the basic version. I'm looking forward to having a filler in the collection that I'm confident to bring to the table to guarantee that shorter gaps in a gaming session are not wasted on a boring game. For the Yellow Meeple, Harvest Dice is a 7.5/10.

Harvest Dice was kindly provided to us by Grey Fox Games.

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