Genre: Dice-drafting Roll and Write
Player Count: 2-4
Play Count as of Review: 13
- Harvest Dice is a dice-drafting roll and write game that supports two to four players. Players will roll a set amount of dice (variable depending on the player count) and choose dice to put into their garden or to feed their pig. The dice come in three colors with each representing a different vegetable. Green dice are lettuce, orange dice are carrots and red dice are tomatoes.
- The core concept of the game is straightforward and that makes the teach simple, but don’t sleep on Harvest Dice being a game with a lack of depth or thought. Players will need to decide whether they want to plant their dice in their garden or feed their pig but that’s not all. There is also the manipulation of the vegetable market that occurs with the lone die that remains after players have made their dice selections. Any vegetable die not chosen increases the value of that vegetable and inches the game one step closer to the end as once one specific vegetable has been left behind six times, the game ends.
- There are other end game triggers, such as someone completing their pig area or all three rows of a garden being completed by a single player so players have variety in how they trigger the end game but each ensures that the game speeds readily along to a fixed end point. One path to victory does not take specifically longer than others, which helps keep the game chugging along at a tight pace.
- This end of game trigger via market manipulation is the core of Harvest Dice and shifts this from a cute game about drawing non-triangular carrots to one where each decision matters. Room for error is little to none as monopolizing one vegetable may mean you have a lot in your garden but they are all basically worthless whereas diversifying your garden may also not prove beneficial as each vegetable will command a different value. Players need to be able to recognize and make adjustments and change direction each time a die gets chosen.
- Planting your garden isn’t the only way to score points and Harvest Dice not only offers multiple paths to victory but also ensures that these different paths are legitimate. Instead of focusing on the garden, players may focus on feeding their pig to not only score points but also unlock pig powers, which can be used to manipulate the dice results by changing the number of pips or the color of the die itself. Maybe players will focus on exploiting just one vegetable to make it more valuable in their garden or do the inverse and tank an opponents most planted vegetable. Players have options.
- Another area that Harvest Dice shines is the scoring. There are easy to see rewards for completing garden rows and the pig pen and the math for scoring the individual vegetable types is simple multiplication. There is a clear and concise scoring area on the player pad that helps players walk through what they need to do at the end of the game.
- I think Harvest Dice is marvelous at two players and adding a third or fourth doesn’t change a thing (minus adding dice to the draft pool). The game scales well and most importantly, players are invested in other players turns because their choices will impact so much. This isn’t Ticket to Ride where you’re hoping that the route you need stays open until your turn; this is your brain running through several probable outcomes as each die is removed from the dice pool and you’re left wondering if you can pivot and make lettuce a worthwhile investment or if you should just turn those pips into slop for your gluttonous pig.
- One of my favorite aspects of Harvest Dice is the actual drawing of the vegetables on the player pad. Some players will follow the examples laid out by the box, some players will draw actual heads of lettuce and some people will get colored pencils and ensure that their vegetables match their true to life representations artistically. Some people will also get roasted by their significant other because their lettuce looks like a square and have to carry that shame through each game. That’s Harvest Dice, baby.
- I feel like I am repeating myself but where Harvest Dice shines is the indirect interaction between players. The market manipulation done via the dice draft impacts every single player in the game and allows players to treat this game as a leisurely stroll through a garden or as a hate drafting knife fight.
- Harvest Dice is the best roll and write game I’ve ever played. Maybe Qwixx is shorter, maybe Railroad Ink offers more brainteasing, maybe Rolling Realms is better produced but nothing packs a punch like Harvest Dice does. It is light enough to teach to borderline anyone while providing a multitude of depth for players that enjoy much heavier games. It never overstays its welcome (with games lasting around fifteen minutes total and maybe twenty if playing with four players) and can either act as a warm-up/filler to a longer game or be the main course to a light-hearted meal. Harvest Dice isn’t just the best roll and write game I’ve played but it’s one of the top ten board games I’ve played period.