Big Dig is a small box Roll and Write. Well, it is technically not a roll and write since there are no dice to roll. I've been trying to come up with a witty reworking of the genre and the best I can think of is “Reveal and Write” since you are selecting Tetris shapes from a tableau of cards to use on your map on your turn. All the shapes are four and five cube configurations that you use to “Dig” out that shape. The objectives vary from game to game, with a set of cards determining which three objectives you are required to do to win each game. Essentially, they all break down to Connect X to Y or dig up/dig out all of type Z.
Once all the cards in the tableau have been chosen, players flip them over (revealing a different set of 4 and 5 cube configurations) and selection continues. On your turn, you can take a shape but, instead of simply digging it out on your player board, you can choose to “Blow Up” a single cube/space on the board. Some items, like rocks, can not be removed any other way. While blowing up a cube is sometimes required but it is usually never optimum, since you are swapping out the chance to mark off four or five spaces for the simple move of marking out one space.
Big Dig is as short as it is simple. It's a filler than can be slipped in while waiting on other players to finish THIER filler game. It probably goes without saying (but I'm going to say it anyway), it does not have the length or depth of other titles that share it's Tetris-shaped heritage. Every game, including your first, will inevitably come down to all the players being within a round or two of completing all the objectives. So, the player going first has a distinct advantage. This is addressed with the single sheet of Expert Rules.
Okay, these are not really “expert rules”. They are a required balance...and even after playing with them, I'm not sure if it ever actually succeeds in equalizing the first player advantage.
Big Dig is a niche game. Not in that you need to like this particular style or type of game but in that it is literally a ten to fifteen minute game. One that can feel samey or repetitive after the first few plays. It is a “I need a light game that I can play during lunch or I need a quick game that I can squander a few minutes” My copy of Big Dig currently resides in my 16 year old daughters backpack. She says she can't wait to show her friends how to play in study hall or to break it out at a meet up at the coffee shop with her friends. And that niche is perfect for Big Dig.
A review copy of this release was provided by the publisher. Therewillbe.games would like to thank them for their support.