Author Topic: Agricola - my thoughts about a great farming game  (Read 2174 times)

Dragon

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Agricola - my thoughts about a great farming game
« on: March 06, 2009, 02:04:02 »
Agricola is a game that has apparently become quite popular among hardcore gamers. I'm not sure that I can shed any light onto why its so entertaining, but I will say that its a game that I'd love to have in my collection.

I was initially cautious with my opinion about the game because I noticed that it was published by Z-Man Games. This might not be of any concern to others reading this, but a few years ago I had high hopes for a game called Dungeonville which was released by these same guys, one which happens to be James Ernest, the owner and head game designer of a small gaming company called Cheapass Games. I've enjoyed most of the games from Cheapass that I played, but there was definitely a level of humor that had to outweigh the strange and pointless things of some games in order to make some of them fun. Suffice it to say, Dungeonville completely flopped in my opinion. There were some tweaks that I made and played with my friends, which made the game better, in our opinions, but still not worth wasting time on when there were more enjoyable games to be played.

Fortunately, my friend Chris (aka TylerChuit) knew a bit more about the game, enough to convince him to buy it. (I don't remember if he had played it at a Con or seen it played, but in any case, it was good enough for him.) So I got a chance to play it with TylerChuit and Wyldwing one day a couple months back. I was happily surprised with how the game played... plus I won.

Not long after that TylerChuit brought the game over to my place where my wife joined us in a game. We were playing with the "Easy" set of cards. On this past Tuesday night he brought the game over again and we played with the "Interactive" deck. At this point, I'm not quite convinced that the "Easy" deck is any less challenging to play with than the "Interactive" deck, it's just different. This is only my third time playing the game though.

The first two games I played using a Family Growth strategy, which focused on expanding the house and family as fast as I could. This generally takes a lot of wood and control of the Starting Player marker. This last game, using the Interactive deck, wasn't a good one for Family Growth, at least not for me. My wife went that route with her strategy and was the first player to have 5 people in the family, with Chris not far behind. I was working with some Occupations that caused me to spend Food in order to get something else, which I found just didn't provide enough of a benefit.

For the first couple harvests I was broke, struggling for enough food to feed my small family. Everything that I was doing seemed to cost me resources too early and I felt like I was making some poor decisions but things were slowly growing. I was finally able to add a third room to my house and soon after add a third and fourth member to the family since it was getting closer to the end of the game. I think my Animal-related occupation really helped out the most toward the end of the game. I was able to get more animals to breed and for feeding my family. I also got a nice Minor Improvement that worked with Sowing in the fields next to my house. At the end of the game I had filled in all but two spaces on my farm. My wife, on the other hand, had a massive amount of open space, despite having the most family members on her farm.

While I was struggling with building up my family, and my wife was struggling to feed her large family with a low-production farm, Chris seemed to be taking off with Major and Minor improvements that just amazed us. He was able to save quite a bit of resources for building, and was able to make food pretty easily at harvest time. He didn't get the family growth as quickly as Beth had, but he was there by the end. He did have a few more open spaces on his farm than I had though. In the end he counted the score twice and showed us that Beth had almost as many positive points as we had, but had several negatives which set her about 10 points behind the winning TIE between me and Chris. Another fun game, with a new strategy played even!

I guess at this point, if you didn't know what Agricola was, you probably don't understand what the game is any better, but maybe this will pique your interest.
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TylerChuit

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Re: Agricola - my thoughts about a great farming game
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 14:10:46 »
My knowledge of the game was derived from the review on http://www.boardgameswithscott.com  (the best place to go for comprehensive, if sporadic, game reviews), and my friend Jason's recommendation.

This a game I really enjoy as well.  I'm usually not into games that you have to be thinking 4 or 5 turns in advance, but this one is open enough that you can adapt your strategy when you screw up, and still stand a reasonable chance of staying in the game.
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Wyldwing

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Re: Agricola - my thoughts about a great farming game
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2009, 19:59:16 »
When we played it, I enjoyed it! ;D