*Disclaimer: I received this product for free for review purposes.
Tasty Minstrel Games used to be one of my favourite board game companies; whenever I saw that friendly dragon, I was immediately drawn to whatever game may be on offer. Eminent Domain is my favourite title from them, and still sits in my mind as an incredibly innovative entry in the board game world. Sadly, I’ve actually not played a great variety of the games in their catalogue, despite always gazing upon their expansive collection.
Just recently, however, I received two games for review from them. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the first of these: a cute little game by the name of Dairyman.
The objective of Dairyman is to earn the most points by making milk, ice cream, and cheese. On your turn, you’ll roll a collection of eight standard six-sided dice. What you’re trying to do is make a combination totalling ten out of two or three dice. If you succeed, you can choose to stop there OR roll again, this time with fewer dice. You can do this as many times as you like, but if you ever fail to produce milk (make a combination of ten), you immediately pass your turn. This forms the core of the game.
If you do fail to produce milk, you get a -5 point tile, but you’ll also be rolling an additional die for each such tile you have in front of you. While it may seem bad to fail to make milk, these extra dice greatly improve your odds of making more milk each and every turn, and thus you can easily make back that five point deficit. However, once all the tokens are handed out, the player with the most of them must discard one of their milk tokens! Then, everyone returns them all to the centre, once again reducing the dice pool to just eight dice.
Once you’ve decided to stop, you can purchase milk from the centre. Each set of ten you made is ten points worth of milk that you can purchase. For example, if you managed to create three sets of ten, you could purchase a twenty and a ten point milk, or a single thirty point tile. Additionally, every time you roll the dice for the third time or later in a single turn, you gain a snowflake (which my lovely girlfriend adored!). These snowflakes can be used to freeze dice in between re-rolls, or to convert certain tiles into ice cream, granting you powers usable once each turn. Other tiles are turned into higher scoring cheeses by spending the lone yellow dice in your pool when it rolls a specific number.
Once the market in the centre of the board can no longer be refilled, the game is over at the end of the round. Whoever has the most points in front of them is the winner.
My Thoughts on Dairyman
Upon first reading the rule book, I must say that I was not really expecting much. It appeared as though the game basically just boiled down to a push-your-luck game with pretty uninspiring dice. However, Dairyman surprised me with some other clever mechanisms that add more to the game and to the push-your-luck element than I originally thought. I found the -5 point chips particularly intriguing, albeit counter-intuitive. After all, failing to produce milk seemed like something I wanted to avoid at all costs, not actively pursue on my first turn!
Still, Dairyman ultimately ends up being quite a simple and inoffensive affair – and that’s not quite enough for my tastes. Sometimes you’ll roll well, and win handily. Other times, you’ll bust on a particularly important roll, and there’s not much you can do about it (especially in the early game). It’s quick to learn, and easy to understand, but I don’t think you’ll be reaching for another glass very soon after your first.
If simple fun is what you’re looking for, Dairyman may be of interest to you. But in a world where games like King of Tokyo or even Liar’s Dice exist, I believe you have better choices available than this cute little title.
Join me next time as I look at the other small game from TMG! Will Zooscape be to my liking, or will it too fall short?