Jess: A PYL dice filler, you say? I was wondering if we’d ever get around to playing something like this.
Jess: Well, I’m not going to give you too hard a time here – Dairyman is charming and fun!…and sometimes a real kick in the teeth.
Mechanically, Dairyman is soft-serve at best (the joke here is that it’s not hard, and also that there’s ice cream in the game. Look, Mark Twain I ain’t). Essentially, players start their turn with a pile of dice, which they will roll in an attempt to make sets of two or three dice that add up to exactly 10.
Each time you roll, you are locking your dice beneath a barn tile, and every time you successfully lock a 10, you can either stop or keep rolling, or keep pushing your luck. For each attempt at locking dice beyond the second (as in, starting with your third roll), you will earn a snowflake ‘Frozen’ token, which we will explain in a bit.
However, if you ever roll your dice and can’t lock a set for 10, then you have met with the greatest shame any Dairyman can experience and have ‘failed to produce milk’.
Jess: Now wait, do you mean the cow fails to produce milk…or…
Of course, no one wants to deal with a farmer who fails to produce milk, so each time you do, you will get saddled with a -5 point token. On the other hand, the benefit of this otherwise shameful scarlet numeral is that on each future turn, you will gain extra dice to offset your earlier bad luck. And when the last red token is taken, the player with the most discards a milk tile (gasp) and then everyone tosses their red tokens back into the pile.
Anyway, once you have rolled and locked (and rolled and locked, etc.), as long as you haven’t failed to produce milk, you can now add up your sets of 10 and purchase any of the milk tiles on offer, ranging in price from 10 to 40 points. These purchased milk tiles are your end-game points, and sit in front of you in all their lactic glory. The game continues this way until you cannot refill the milk tiles between turns, and then whichever farmer daried the most wins!
Each milk you purchase can be upgraded, either by using the yellow dairy die (making it unusable for making sets of 10) or by spending frozen tokens (which can otherwise be used to lock dice between rolls, to make getting sets easier).
Milk upgraded with the yellow die are turned to cheese, which simply increases their point value.
Milk upgraded with a frozen token become ice cream, which gives you reroll powers for the rest of the game.
Andrew: So, no surprise, I really enjoyed Dairyman. It’s simple, fast, portable, and a lot of fun. It can sometimes suffer a little from the runaway-leader issue because it’s all luck-based, but hey, it’s a 15 minute dicey filler, and it’s a good time no matter what.
Jess: Yeah, totally! My only other complaint is that the rules (for the English edition, at least) leave some ambiguity about a few things.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s a bit frustrating – part of why I spent a few lines explicitly clarifying about when you get Frozen tokens is because it is fairly obtusely-written in the rules, and a few other points besides.
Jess: But overall, I also really like Dairyman and I think it’s a great little addition to the ‘toss it in your backpack’ genre of games you can play almost anywhere!…I still have some lingering questions about just who’s producing the milk, though…
(Gameosity received a review copy of this game. We were not otherwise compensated.)