Diced Tomatoes by Arkandiusz Greniuk has a strong balance of luck, strategy, and social gameplay. The scenario behind the game is clean fun: Players try to grow, and serve up, the best batch of tomatoes, represented by cute red dice. Just as in every real batch, there are some bad ones, represented by the sinister black dice that players just might slip to an opponent.
As Diced Tomatoes begins, each player receives a mat that tracks victory points gained by dicing tomato vines. The first player rolls three dice and adds them to empty tomato tiles, which become tomato vines. As the game progresses, players add more and more tomatoes, building up the vine until it has four dice and can be harvested. Dice can be added either by matching the number on the tomato tile or by adding a die showing one number lower or higher to make a run.
The strategy comes from determining where to place dice to maximize their potential. Players begin with only three tomato tiles, meaning they will want to place their highest numbers on them to make best use of the rolls they receive. But they will also want to play even low-numbered dice since ones not placed will be handed to the next player, giving them more opportunities for high scores.
Players score Gratitude points each time they complete an opponent’s tomato vine, which may be exchanged for changing numbers rolled or clearing off a tomato vine, so a player in last place might skillfully restart low-numbered vines and suddenly end up in the lead.
While luck and strategy are key components of Diced Tomatoes, its social aspects really make the game shine. Players may play dice on any vine, meaning they can burn low numbers by sticking them on opponents. The best sabotage is to set down a rotten black die on a high-scoring vine, which opponents will want to harvest despite losing a point for it. Rushing a game by getting rid of too many dice, however, might leave a player with a long-term strategy incomplete while the others have already finished.
Play continues until a player runs out of tomato tiles, having harvested their last vine and running out of tomato dice. Then the player with the most points wins. There are bonuses for harvesting extra tomatoes, so a player who runs quickly through even low-scoring tomatoes may end up the winner by getting ahead on total quantity. With luck as the foundation, just about any strategy has a great chance.
Diced Tomatoes is a dice game for two to four players aged 12 and up. Younger players might join in, too, if they are adept at counting. Dice Tomatoes can serve as an excellent quick-math game in addition to teaching some game-theory on where to place low-scoring dice. The game takes only 20 or so minutes depending on the number of players and how soon they make their decisions after rolling. With its numerous ways to strategize and uproarious social action of players interfering with each others’ strategies, Diced Tomatoes makes for a great warm-up to game night or speedy diversion for spare minutes.