Agricola, latin german farming fun

I’ve been on holiday, so have not been doing much work but plenty of board gaming, here is a review of the game Agricola.

First Impressions.

Agricola, meaning farmer in latin and designed by a german. This game, unfortunately, has an extremely high learning curve compared to several others I have played, which layers itself on as you move off the simpler family version. The game in a nutshell is a competitive farm development game split into several rounds and stages. Each round has a number of actions that your family members may take to gain resources/food/animals, upgrade/expand your farm or expand your family. This in itself is fairly straight forward until you add more than 1 player and each action can only be done once a round – we found that this proved to be the biggest learning curve, to be able to win you have to (in increasing scale of difficulty) understand the game, plan several rounds ahead and then outthink your opponents. All together people only tend to enjoy this game if they have the tenacity to get through the initial block of “This is so confusing and different to everything else I’ve played!!!”, I have decided that Agricola is best summed up as multiplayer farm chess.

Gameplay.

As most of the complexity in Agricola’s gameplay comes from how the individual actions work and some of the description of said actions can be rather wordy I will keep this gameplay overview to a fairly high level. Inset right you can see the action board, each rectangular area represents 1 action, e.g. the one with the text ‘Plow 1 Field’. This board doesn’t change whichever version you are playing, but there is another board which changes depending on whether you are playing the family/full version or how many players are playing. Also as you can see top right of the image a space with the text ‘Round 1’ in it, this and another 2 boards have spaces for a partially randomised set of cards that gradually reveal actions over the course of the game. Now below you can see a players board with a fully built up farm, the blue disks on the left are your family members. To take an action you simply remove one of the discs from your board and place it on the action space you wish to take, that action is now yours for the duration of the round and no-one else can take it away from you! Lastly in my gameplay summary a harvest occurs every couple of rounds, in this stage you harvest fields (the little brown squares with yellow and orange discs on them), feed your family and then your animals can breed (the cubes in the fenced off area). The harvest stage is probably the most important as failing to feed your family has a big negative on your score, also it’s where you get more food (in a roundabout way through getting vege’s and grain back off your fields and breeding animals).

 

Personal Thoughts.

Due to the complexity of this game I am not going to give one of my usual summaries but more of a list of what I think about this game and more importantly why you may enjoy it as well.

  • Requires you to think multiple steps ahead.
  • Can be played solo.
  • Every game is different.
  • Once you get past the initial learning curve the game is very enjoyable and one of the most strategic games I have played.
  • Encourages flexibility in your thinking (If you want to win).
  • Decently simulates a farm, somehow.
  • Even if you lose you can still set a personal record.
  • Better than farmville.
  • So many different ways of playing one game.

About Simeon Cheeseman

I enjoy a wide variety of computer and board games, have a BSc in Computer Science and have played percussion for 18 years.

Posted on January 23, 2012, in Board Games, Games and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think the different approaches bit is what I like about Agricola. Even though you do have to do a bit of everything, so you’re not getting the negative points, there are multiple ways to feed your family, multiple ways to get the bulk of your points (although you generally do need to max out your family size..) It can get a bit “samey”, but there’s where Farmers of the Moor helps.

    I do prefer it with drafting, so everybody gets cards that work together.

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