Benny ventures into the lactose-tolerant world of gaming with this review of Dairyman from Tasty Minstrel Games and Homosapiens Lab.
Dairyman is at its core a dice roller with dice manipulation. That seems to be where the cream is at, but the whey this game unfolds is quite interesting. The first thing that struck me about Dairyman is the cover. Just look at this happy little farmer and his cow. I find myself staring at the box hoping they get themselves into fun adventures when I’m not around. I even like to face them toward the Caylus box, with the king and his disapproving countenance glaring at them.
On with the cream then! Inside the delightful little box is a bunch of dice (1 yellow, 4 red, and 8 white). I’m not really sure what the dice represent, I like to think of the White dice as cows, the yellow as the cheese that stands alone, and the red dice as the farmer’s failure at the stock market. In addition to this pile of dice are 3 Barn tiles, milk tiles that are 2 sided, and a bunch of these little snowflake tokens.
Each turn, the player rolls all the Cow dice and the Cheese die. They must assemble 2 or 3 dice into a total value of 10. In doing so they place the dice near the first Barn. The player may roll the remaining dice again for Barn 2, then if they manage to roll 10 total pips again, may roll for Barn 3. Beginning with the roll for Barn 3, the player takes 1 snowflake token and places it in front of them. The player can stop after rolling 1 group of 10 pips or may continue on. It is important to note that the groups of 10 are used to buy Milk tokens.
The Milk tokens range in value from 10 to 40. Players may use the Cheese die to flip a Milk token if the Cheese die matches the Milk token (yellow die in the corner). This “saves” the Milk token and makes it more valuable. Other Milk tokens have a Snowflake icon which indicates they can be flipped to the Ice Cream side, “saving” the Milk as well as providing a special power than can be used later.
Here’s where Dairyman really moves past the herd, unlike many push-your-luck games, Dairyman is bad at stockbroking and so he apologizes and offers you a Backorder token (red and worth -5 at the end of the game), but that Backorder token allows you or any players who possess 1 or more Backorder token to roll a Red die for each Backorder token in addition to the Cow and Cheese dice. This is super helpful for those who roll really low (that would be me).
The sharp part of this however, is that when the last Backorder token is taken, the player(s) with the most must discard their most valuable Milk token due to spoilage. Pretty cheesy, if you ask me. But this is why you age that milk into cheese or freeze it into ice cream!
Snowflake tokens have the added benefit of being able to freeze a die so that it is not rerolled on the following attempt, this can be really useful when trying to get to 10.
Overall, I really enjoy this game. It scales well. The downside I have with it, as with many games, is that there is no option for solo play. This small detail aside, there is a lot of cheddar in this little box, a smooth and creamy play style, and a gouda game! Definitely worth the price to check it out!