Casey Grove wanted to make a splash. But he made a ‘splat’ instead.
At least that was the goal behind his debut board game, The Big Fat Tomato Game. On the surface, it’s a seemingly routine card game. Yet there are countless twists and turns as players defend their garden from run-of-the-mill varmints, zombie intruders, and flying hippos. It’s a grounded concept with more than a dash of absurdity with every draw, shuffle, or roll.
And this all-out food fight has received rave reviews. Since initially published in 2012, The Big Fat Tomato Game has been a smash hit with families. The gameplay is easy to set up and even more accessible. Each round is fast-paced, keeping kids engaged and eager to play again. Not only has the board game received countless awards, but it has also been translated into other languages.
Despite its now global reach, The Big Fat Tomato Game grew from something organic. Casey Grove just loves games. When he isn’t working full-time in the food service industry, the Pennsylvania native is likely digging into the latest board game himself. He even recently created a YouTube channel, Wood 4 Sheep. Here, he reviews quirky, lightweight board games and chronicles his own tabletop games through different stages of development.
Farming games allow him to be transported back to a simpler time. Games like Agricola, La Granja, and Viticulture have long been household staples. Yet, for fans of The Big Fat Tomato Game, Casey Grove slices up three other farming-inspired board games.
Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden (Deluxe)
You don’t need a large family or an entire crew to enjoy this odd little card game. It’s designed for 1-2 players. The goal of Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden is straightforward but ripe with strategies and fun. Players must draft and place cards on a grid to receive maximum points and tend the most enviable garden. Pull tokens and avoid your invasive neighbors who attempt to interfere. Casey Grove mostly appreciates the artwork, whose design pays homage to vintage seed packets.
Bohnanza is based around trading and politics. While those both sound like weighty concepts, the gameplay is surprisingly light and lively. Up to seven players collect, plant, and harvest fields for coins. But resources are limited. Each item has its own value and availability, adding to the strategy. Players must negotiate and master the “art of the deal” to get an edge.
The farm-to-table movement isn’t just reserved for the top restaurants. Chickapig serves this up in a lightweight, entry-level game designed for children and their families. It’s a “roll & move” on its surface. Yet it employs puzzle ricochet and collision elements throughout as you try to move your piece from one side of the board to the other. But avoid the consequences of sliding through the poop patties left behind by the cows. Casey Grove notes that the hay bales can up the strategy. These can be positioned offensively or defensively.