Agricola – Farming? Like back in the day!

Agricola_box

 

Agricola is a farming game where you can plow fields, grow crops, breed animals and upgrade your home. This game can be friendly and very complex. I can say that it can be played with casual people but it is not a casual game. This game’s mechanics or play style is called “Worker placement”. A worker placement game revolves around placing one of many of your player pieces to do various tasks.

In Agricola these tasks involve farming. Like plowing a field so that you can sow grain or vegetable on it later, build fences to make room for animals to roam in or to build rooms in your home to extend it so that you can acquire more “worker(s)” in your team or family. But the most important action a player will need to take in the game is “Taking food”. The reason for this is during the set “harvest” your team must feed your hungry, hungry people. The cost for feeding your people is 2 food per worker during each harvest. Most people always forget this and they get the infamous [beggars’ card].

Now you might be saying huh? 2 food, how hard is that? its not hard but if you have 2 people/workers at the beginning of the game then that equals 4 food in total. This is easy at first because the firs stage of the game has 4 rounds before the harvest can commence. But by the second stage there is only 3 rounds and in the 3rd to 5th stages there are only 2 rounds until a harvest and of course final round there is only 1 round and that is also the end of the game. Many players seem to forget when certain rounds occur or what round it is currently so that they can prepare food to feed their people.

There are 14 rounds in total and each new round there is a new action space to be revealed. The actions are listed below:

Stage 1

  • Build Fences
  • Build a Major or Minor Improvement
  • Collect Sheep (minimum 1)
  • Sow and/or Bake Bread

Stage 2

  • Collect Stone (First Pile) (minimum 1)
  • Family Growth also Minor Improvement
  • Renovate then Major or Minor Improvement

Stage 3

  • Collect Wild Boar (minimum 1)
  • Take 1 Vegetable

Stage 4

  • Collect Cattle (minimum 1)
  • Collect Stone (Second pile) (minimum 1)

Stage 5

  • Plow and/or Sow
  • Family Growth without needing room

Stage 6

  • Renovate then Build Fences

These are the new actions that appear during the duration of the game. They are not always in that order but they do all appear in their respective stages. There are also basic actions that are always available from the very beginning of the game (so long as no other player has chosen that space). They are listed below:

Basic actions

  • Collect Wood (minimum 3)
  • Collect Clay (minimum 1)
  • Collect Reed (minimum 1)
  • Fishing for food (minimum 1)
  • Build a Room and/or Stable
  • Starting Player and/or Minor Improvement (Only in Normal rules)
  • Starting Player and Storehouse 1 food (Only in Family rules)
  • Plow a field
  • Take 1 Grain
  • Play an Occupation (Only in Normal rules)
  • Build a Stable and/or Bake Bread (Only in Family rules)
  • Day Labourer Take 2 food (Normal rules)
  • Day Labourer Take 1 food and 1 building resource (Only in Family rules)

Extra actions for 3 Players

Normal Rules

  • Collect Wood (minimum 2)
  • Collect Clay (minimum 1)
  • Take 1 Build Resource
  • Play 1 Occupation (cost 2 food)

Family Rules

  • Collect Wood (minimum 2)
  • Collect Clay (minimum 1)
  • Take 1 Build Resource
  • Take 2 different Building Resources

 

Extra actions for 4 Players

Normal Rules

  • Play 1 Occupation (1st one at 1 food and each additional costs 2 food)
  • Travelling Players
  • Collect Clay (minimum 2)
  • Collect Wood (minimum 1)
  • Collect Wood (minimum 2)
  • Take 1 reed, 1 Stone and 1 Food

Family Rules

  • Take 2 different Building Resources
  • Travelling Players
  • Collect Clay (minimum 2)
  • Collect Wood (minimum 1)
  • Collect Wood (minimum 2)
  • Take 1 reed, 1 Stone and 1 Food

 

 

Extra actions for 5 Players

Normal Rules

  • Either Play 1 Occupation (1st one at 1 food and each additional costs 2 food) Or, from Round 5, Family Growth
  • Collect Wood (minimum 4)
  • Collect Reed (minimum 1) and Take 1 Stone and 1 Wood
  • Take 1 sheep and 1 food Or Take 1 Boar Or Pay 1 Food for 1 Cattle
  • Build 1 Room Or Travelling Players
  • Collect Clay (minimum 3)

Family Rules

  • Take 2 different Building Resources Or, from Round 5, Family Growth
  • Collect Wood (minimum 4)
  • Collect Reed (minimum 1) and Take 1 Stone and 1 Wood
  • Take 1 sheep and 1 food Or Take 1 Boar Or Pay 1 Food for 1 Cattle
  • Build 1 Room Or Travelling Players
  • Collect Clay (minimum 3)

 

 

Now that I have gone over the actions and rules of the game I will now tell you 2 games I played with my brother and someone new as well as a game with my friends. Game 1 is with my brother and a new player. And when I say new I mean very new. He had only played board games like Monopoly and a few card games. Game 2 was the 3rd game I played with my friends and it was cutthroat and apparently stress inducing for one of them.

 

Game 1 – We should have played this game using the family rules instead of the normal.

Ok, instead of a play by play recount of this game I will just give a short overview. We played with the Easy set of Occupations and Minor Improvements. I had very average cards and my brother had some semblance of a combo but all in all it was a fair game. I started the game as first player and played the first occupation then collected whatever resources remained. The new player his name is Gared (or maybe it was spelt Jarred) only had a basic grasp of the game from what my brother had told him. His cards were pretty good but not knowing what they do even though throughout the game I gave out very helpful advice he seemed to (like all new players) not take my suggestions.

The game was pretty much basic and flowed quite well (for me that is). Collecting Food (to prepare for harvest payment) and resources (to prepare for advancement like family growth to get extra turns). My brother also gathered resources to advance in the game as well but around mid game he was stopped unintentionally by Gared. Who was just playing as best as he could without realising that there were better moves (even though I had told him as he took the action space). The action space he had taken was Starting Player and/or minor improvement.

You might be saying “well maybe he wants to go first or play a minor improvement?” well at first he did play a minor improvement but realised during the turn he could not afford the card (he didn’t have the resources for the card). I told him that he could still take a different action such as [Major or Minor Improvement] or take one of the collect resources actions but he said what’s do is do? (If you were wondering he was already first when he took the action space and literally just made a redundant play). I now saw that my brother who has one of the shortest fuses was about to snap.

I had to stop him by talking to him while Gared was not on the table. He calmed himself long enough to play the game. You now might be thinking “huh? but Agricola requires some patience, right?” It does but he has played it so many times with me who continues to lose against him due to my avarice and lack of timing. He has seen through my plays.

Anyway, Gared continued to play and somewhat struggled to understand the price of less actions lost having 25 points (this is a pretty amazing score since I have played with others and in their first game they barely got over 15 points) at the end of the game. My brother being blocked by Gared throughout the game (unintentionally or maybe just dumb luck or co-incidence) struggled to get the points required to win the game. He had 38 points. I won the game with 48 points as I was able to use all the actions I wanted but I still wanted more (I am greedy after all).

Ok, now this is the reason I have for choosing the game title. I only realised after about the first round that we should just restart the game and play the family version. Now hear me out. I had played this game with many people before and I only tried to play the family version once. As that version is not challenging at all. I only realised around the first round because Gared wasn’t asking questions about the cards. I then told everyone that we should play the family version but it was somewhat too late and I knew my brother all too well. MY brother said “No!!” and for some reason Gared also agreed with him. I knew this was going to be a hard game to play for Gared as having the occupation cards and minor improvement cards add an extra layer of difficulty, regardless of the cards (Easy (E), Intermediate (I), Complex (K)) you use. So I went with it. After the game though my brother also realised that we should have played Family version.

So serves him right….

Game 2 – This game OMG!!!

This game I played with Caps, the monkey (my brother) and Josh. We used complex (K) cards as I remember playing the “Lover” occupation. So the seating position is as follows:

  1. Me
  2. Monkey
  3. Josh
  4. Caps

Round 1 – Fences action

We rolled the dice to decide who would go first after setup was done. All the actions were shuffled to make the game different every time. I rolled the highest (8 on 2d6) which was weird because I never usually go first. After checking what my occupation cards were I played my first action. Occupation action, of course. Playing Wood Craver as my first occupation.

Wood Craver ability = Once per round, you pay 1 less wood for an Improvement, a room of a wood hut, a stable or a fence.

Monkey collected the wood. Josh collected the other wood pile and Caps went for starting player action. This was the first turn and on my second turn for the round I choose to plow a field. Although I should have picked the Day Labourer for the 2 food. Monkey got the other Occupation action space that costs 2 food regardless if it was your first or additional occupation. Playing Clay worker.

Clay Worker = Whenever you use an action to take Wood or Clay, you also receive 1 additional Clay.

Josh took Day Labourer action and received 2 food and Caps Took 1 grain.

Round 2 – Bake and/or Sow

On this round Caps being first player, took the occupation action that was for free. Since it was his first occupation. He played Serf. To be honest I had never played the game with most of the 3+ occupation cards and I wasn’t sure what it did.

Serf ability = Whenever you use the Sow and/or Bake bread action, you receive 1 grain before taking the action. Alternatively, you can exchange 1 grain for 1 Vegetable.

I then collected the Wood, but I should have taken the Day Labourer action or the Fishing action to prepare for the next round. Monkey collected the Clay and Josh collected the reed. Everyone was furious at this as we all forgot about it. Monkey only raged on his second turn because he had not noticed. Caps plowed a field for his second action. I finally took the Day Labourer action. Monkey was about to take the reed action when he JUST noticed Josh’s piece and asked “…when did he take that?”. Caps and I replied “his first turn” and “just then” (respectively). We all had our laughs then continued to play.

Monkey instead took the fishing action for 2 food. Josh being last took the Starting player action and played a minor improvement. He played House goat.

House goat ability = In each feeding phase, you receive 1 Food. Apart from the House Goat, you cannot hold any other animal in your home. (even if you have Animal Tamer.) (You cannot choose to let the House Goat run free to make room for a different animal in your house.)

Round 3 – Major or Minor Improvement

Josh was first this round and he picked the Occupation action. He played Constable. Caps collected the wood (2 wood space with 4 wood on it). I took the clay action space. Monkey took the plow a field action. Josh took the Wood action. Caps took the Sow and/or Bake Bread, he used his Serf card to exchange 1 grain for 1 Vegetable and Sow it on his field. WoW!! Early Vegetable field? I took the Travelling players action to store up some food as I was about to get a really big family soon. Monkey took the Starting player action as he was starting to get the shits and he also played a minor improvement card. Corn Sheaf.

Constable ability = If there are 1/3/6/9 rounds to play, you immediately receive 1/2/3/4 wood. At the end of the game, any player who has no negative points receives 5 bonus points.

Corn Sheaf ability = When you play this card, take 1 grain. (After you play this card, pass it to the player on your left, who adds it to his/her hand.)

Round 4 – Sheep

In this round I was last. Monkey took the reed action. Josh took the wood action (3 wood action space with 6 wood on it). Caps took the clay action space and I took the Day Labourer action space (Fishing had 2 food on it and Travelling Players had 1 food on it). Everyone one the table was like “What?” and I told them not to worry because I was about to break the game. Man, I was snooty, so much arrogance too. Monkey took the Build a room action to get ready for the following rounds. As well as filling up his board. Josh took the Sheep thinking he could eat it but we told him he couldn’t unless he had a cooking card. Like Cooking Hearth or Fireplace from the major improvements pile.

He took the action anyway thinking he had outsmarted all of us but I disagreed. Caps took the Sow and/or bake bread action instead of Major or Minor Improvement action as he forgot it was already harvest time. And I took the Occupation action, it was my second so it cost 1 food in addition to other costs. I played Lover and in total it cost me 5 food out of the 9 that I had collected. But I was able to grow my family very early in the game. From 2 people to 5 people. Giving me 5 turns per round from that point on. I had also forgot it was harvest time and I decided to get beggar’s cards during feeding phase of the harvest.

Lover ability = Whenever you play this card, immediately carry out a “Family growth even without room” action (Similar to the Round card from Round 5). Playing this card costs you an additional 4 food.

Harvest time

Field phase = Caps vegies + grain.

Feeding phase = Everyone except me had to pay 4 food (2 food per family member). I had to pay 7 food but I only had 4 food so I got 3 beggar’s cards. (2 food per family member that took an action that turn and 1 food per newborn family members).

Breeding phase = No one had two animals of the same type to breed.

Beggar’s Card ability = During the feeding phase of the harvest, whenever you cannot or choose not to produce enough Food to feed your family, you must take 1 Begging card for each missing Food. The card has -3 points when scoring at the end of the game.

Round 5 – Stone

Monkey was still first so he collected the Wood. Josh collected the other Wood. Caps took the reed. I took the grain action. Monkey took the plow field action. Josh took the build a room action and also built 1 stable. Caps took the Major or Minor Improvement to build a Fireplace. It cost 2 clay and it is able to convert animals to food and allows the player to bake bread using their grain.

Fireplace conversion rate:

  • vegetable = 2 food
  • sheep = 2 food
  • wild boar = 2 food
  • cattle = 3 food
  • grain = 2 food (bake bread action required)

I had 4 people left since I was last. So I took these actions in order:

  1. Day Labourer
  2. Collect stone
  3. Collect Clay
  4. Starting player action

I didn’t play any minor improvement cards as they were all expensive.

Round 6 – Family growth also Minor Improvement

I was first and I had 5 people therefore 5 actions this turn. I gloated every turn until every one had at least 3 people. I took the Major or Minor improvement action to build a Clay oven. Monkey immediately took the Family growth action and played Acreage as a minor improvement. Josh took the Starting player action and played Corn Sheaf. Caps took the build a room action and built 1 stable. I took the grain action. Monkey raged when I did this as he also needing food. All I said was “Everyone needs food!! [insert evil laughter here]” He instead took the plow a field action and that is when Caps and I raged. I was like “wait, wait, wait a minute!!!!” Caps on the other hand was just silently boiling. And Monkey was like “Take that… [enter Revenge sounding laughter here]”.

Clay Oven = Whenever you use the “Bake bread” Action, you can turn at most 1 grain into 5 food. Whenever you take this card, you can immediately use the “Bake bread” Action. Costs 3 Clay and 1 Stone. Gives you 2 points at the end of the game.

Josh took the grain action. Caps took the Wood action with 6 wood on it. I continued my turns. Day Labourer (this is where Josh and Monkey started heckling me about being desperate!), 2x Clay actions and Build fences action.

 

Round 7 – Renovate then Major or Minor Improvement

Josh was first and he took the Family growth straight away played Crooked plow. Caps didn’t want to chance it and took the starting player action also playing Corn sheaf. I took 1 grain action. Monkey took the fishing which had 3 food on it. Josh took the Travelling Players action which also had 3 food on it. I didn’t really care because I had enough food for the next harvest. Caps took the Sow and/or Bake bread action and this is where I slammed my hand on the table calling BS. He said I was way too obvious to read and laughed out loud. I then took the Major or Minor improvement action to build a cheap cooking hearth at the cost of 4 clay. Monkey now had 3 people and took the wood action space with 6 wood on it. I had forgotten he had more people now and face palmed myself. I collected the other wood and built more fences so that I could breed the sheep (my new food supply [enter malicious grin here]), I then collected all the sheep and made sure to separate them so that more could breed during breeding phase. Monkey couldn’t take any of the action I wanted so it didn’t affect his choice which was to play an Occupation card. He played Animal Breeder.

Crooked plow ability =

Cooking Hearth ability =

Animal breeder ability =

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