Saturday, April 3, 2010


What can I say about Agricola? This was my first time playing it, and I must say the hype for it has been great over the years, including one of the vaunted top slots on BGG's list. It's a pricey game, but Andy picked it up at almost half price in a scratch-and-dent sale.

As you can see form the pic, there is a lot going on, but after a turn or two, it moves along a good clip. You're a farmer, with a family. And livestock. And vegetables. And you're growing them. It certainly sounds like a weird setup, and certainly an odd basis for a boardgame, but it is what it is, and somehow, it works marvelously.

Now was it the "best boardgame" I've ever played? I can't say that, but I only played it the one time. I can see the appeal, and each game is going to be different than the last, especially if everyone knows what they're doing. Unlike some games, where you can focus on one element to win, in Agricola you've got to focus on all the aspects at the same time, and build them all up equally. Resources are limited though, and more often than not one of the other players takes a turn before yours, and scoops up that last resource you were counting on.


  1. This game gets a lot of hype (as well as talk of how to pronounce the name) but seems very popular. It was popular last year at GameStorm and that popularity seems to have held on into this year too.

    I have no played but most of my group has. They seem to like it. I am not sure if we have a copy of it or not in our group.


  2. I wonder if my sons would like it? Might be a fun family game.

    Then the zombies could attack.

  3. I know of a couple people who have considered doing a re-theme of it as a post-apocalyptic survival game.

  4. What do those little round chips represent? Could they be replaced with painted models of cows, chickens, barrels, etc? You know, so I could shoehorn my hobby into the game.

  5. For a game that is quite complex, with a horde of components, gameplay is surprisingly simple to pick up. I sort of question the replay value, but with so many groups being so in love with this game, game after game, I'm in the minority.

    @Christian: It would definitely make for a good family game, and with the endless outcomes in-game, skill level is pretty equalized in the long term.

    @Eli: That'd be a cool conversion, but the sheer scope of the game with all its parts would require a very thorough and tedious makeover.

    @Andrew: Exactly, those round pieces are livestock, resources, veggies, and all sorts of stuff. There's a company that makes "vegimeeples" and the like, but you could totally use scale critters and such to the same effect.

  6. I think the replay value is good on Agricola (mind you I've only played about 4 times). For one, your "optimum strategy" can so easily be mucked about with by other players stealing your resources (aka getting there first) or actions. You may have a master plan to feed your brood by sowing grain and baking bread, but if someone beats you to the one Bke bread spot on the table, then you had better have a Plan B. Second, the random sequence of the action space cards for the first couple of stages can have a pretty strong impact. Finally, there are 3 complete decks of occupations and minor improvements. I think it can take a few games to see howto integrate these into your scheme, but they can provide new routes to victory. E.g. in the game at Bob's last week I had four cards that IMO were the difference between my crushing victory and a beggardom. I was able to play a Master Brewer and keep my family surviving on Liquid Bread. I had the basket, so I could visit the wood pile and get wood and food with one action. Those tow allowed me to feed my brood without having to expend too many actions on food gathering operations. I used the axes (which greatly reduces the cost of building wooden rooms) to expand my casa from two rooms to five rooms in one swoop. Finally, I had the conservator, allowing me to bypass the clay hut stage, so I turned my 5-room wooden house into a 5-room stone mansion. That garnered me a bunch of points. Tom had the Clay Seller, so there was never any clay around and most of the players were stuck in wooden hovels. I've never thought the Axe or Conservator all that great before, but in this game they combined to be very useful. I suspect a lot of the cards are similarly useful if you can recognize the best way to use them (although I'm sure some are still pretty useless)

  7. "I was able to play a Master Brewer and keep my family surviving on Liquid Bread."

    You should adopt me!

  8. Nice response Brian, you can have an author slot on here if you want. ;)

    Oh, and adopt me too!