Gaming

Procure Your Produce at ‘Downtown Farmers Market’

Visit the farmer’s market and select the freshest ingredients—choose wisely, because everyone has very particular requests!

What Is Downtown Farmers Market?

Downtown Farmers Market is a game for 2 to 4 players, ages 7 and up, and takes about 20 minutes to play. It retails for $17.99 and is available at game stores and from the Blue Orange Games store. The game is easy to learn and family-friendly, and younger kids may get a bit of practice doing some addition and simple multiplication with it.

Downtown Farmers Market was designed by Johan Benvenuto and Alexandre Droit and published by Blue Orange Games.

Downtown Farmers Market components. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Downtown Farmers Market Components

Here’s what comes in the box:

  • First Player token
  • 65 Food tiles
  • 44 Challenge tiles
There are 6 different ingredients, and each food tile has a combination of up to 3 ingredients. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The first player token is a round disk with a tractor on it, and the rest of the tiles are all 2-inch squares. Food tiles have a green grass background with 1, 2, or 3 ingredients on them. Challenge tiles show a crate with some sort of scoring criteria and a point value—each one is double-sided, with an easier side and a harder side. The illustrations in the game are icon-like: simple and easy to read, which gives it a kid-friendly feel but may mask the challenging puzzle a little.

A compact box with a magnetic flap. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The whole thing comes in a small box, sized just big enough to hold the tiles (and a small removable cardboard spacer to make it easier to get the tiles out). The box has a magnetic flap and has a nice, cheerful cover.

How to Play Downtown Farmers Market

The Goal

The goal of the game is to score the most points by fulfilling your challenge tiles.

Starting setup for a player. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Setup

Shuffle the challenge tiles and give each player four. Players choose which side of each tile they want to use, and put them in a line in front of themselves. Then, each player takes another four tiles and places them in a column, so that the challenge tiles create a “frame” for a 4×4 grid.

Shuffle the food tiles face-down and make a pile. Turn over 5 food tiles to create a line.

The player who most recently went to a farmer’s market goes first.

Starting to fill out the grid. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Gameplay

On your turn, you select a food tile from the line and put it into your 4×4 grid. Once placed, a tile may not be moved. Depending on the number of players, some of the players will take a tile and discard a tile, but the last player will always have a choice of 2 tiles, leaving one behind.

After everyone has taken a tile, the last player will become the next first player, taking the token. Refill the line with four more tiles from the supply.

Each challenge tile has different scoring criteria and is tied to the row or column the tile touches. Some require a particular number of ingredients in the entire row; some give you points for a set of ingredients; some require a specific number of some ingredients (but you can have any number of others).

A completed grid. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Game End

The game ends when everyone has filled their grid with 16 tiles—at which point there will be no more tiles in the supply.

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You score points for each challenge tile whose conditions have been met. The player with the highest score wins, with ties going to the player who has fulfilled the most conditions, and then the player with the highest single challenge tile score.

Young Shopper Variant

For younger kids, you can simplify the game and play without the challenge tiles. In this mode, you draft tiles from a row of 3 and place them into a 4×4 grid (always refilling the row of 3 immediately). At the end of the game, each row and column scores points for the ingredient type that is in the majority in that row or column, with each of that ingredient worth 1 point.

Downtown Farmers Market is GeekDad Approved!

Why You Should Play Downtown Farmers Market

The rules for Downtown Farmers Market are so simple—the rulesheet is only 6 small pages—but it belies the challenging puzzle of the game itself.

Each turn, you take a food tile and put it in your grid. Easy enough, right? But pretty soon you realize you’ve backed yourself in a corner: I want an egg here, but then that means I can’t put any eggs there, but then this row won’t have enough eggs to go with my bread! It can be a bit like playing Sudoku because every tile you place should (ideally) help you score points for both the row and the column.

Some challenge tiles are a breeze: 1 point per egg? No problem. I’ll just put as many eggs as I can in that column. But what happens when that intersects a row that only scores if it has no eggs? Well, then I guess you’re left with 3 spaces to put as many eggs as possible. Oh, but don’t forget there’s also a row that wants 5 ingredients total, so you’ll want at most 2 eggs in that space. And all that is assuming that your opponents even leave egg-laden tiles for you to take.

Many of the challenge tiles want specific numbers of specific ingredients: 7 points if you get exactly 4 milk and 2 corn in this row. Do you grab that 3 milk early on? Well, now you can only have 1 more milk in this entire row. Others want a majority of a particular ingredient, or a number of the same ingredient but you get to choose, or at least one of each ingredient.

Challenge tiles have two different difficulty levels, with higher scores for harder challenges. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

If you choose the higher-value side of every challenge tile, your scoring potential is much higher, but it’s also much more difficult. After you’ve played a few times, you start realizing that your initial choice of setup is part of the strategy as well, since some intersections are much more difficult than others.

If you’re playing with fewer than 4 players, some players will get to discard a tile after choosing one for themselves. That introduces another piece of strategy because you can discard a tile that an opponent wants without being forced to take it yourself. Of course, that’s assuming you’re able to pay attention to what everyone else is doing while you’re solving your own puzzle.

I like that there’s a family variant included for younger kids, though I just dove into the full game with my 9-year-old and she was able to pick it up just fine. That said, I’ve also played this with my teenager and some adult friends, and we’ve all really enjoyed the game as well. I think the simple ruleset, the cute artwork, and the brain-tickling puzzle make Downtown Farmers Market a fresh pick for the whole family. It’s one that players with different gaming experience levels can play together—as long as they like solving puzzles.

To order a copy of Downtown Farmers Market, visit the Blue Orange Games website or check at your local game store!

An array of ingredients. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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This post was last modified on May 27, 2022 10:01 am

Jonathan H. Liu

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit. I can be reached at jonathan at geekdad dot com.

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