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Agricola (Discontinued by manufacturer)
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- For 1 to 5 players
- Play time of 120 minutes
- Agricola is a fun family game
- Contents: 360 cards, over 300 wooden components, 50+ tiles, 9 boards, tokens, scoring pad
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In Agricola (Latin for "farmer"), you're a farmer in a wooden shack with your spouse and little else. On a turn, you get to take only two actions, one for you and one for the spouse, from all the possibilities you'll find on a farm: collecting clay, wood or stone; building fences; and so on. You might think about having kids in order to get more work accomplished, but first you need to expand your house. And what are you going to feed all the little rugrats? Agricola is a turn based game. There are 14 game turns plus 6 harvest phases (after turn 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 14). Each player starts with two playing tokens (farmer and wife) and thus can take two actions per turn. There are multiple options, and while the game progresses, you'll have more and more: first thing in a turn, a new action card is flipped over. Problem: Each action can be taken just once per turn, so it's important to do some things with high preference. Each player also starts with a hand of 7 Occupation cards (of more than 160 total) and 7 Minor Improvement cards (of more than 140 total) that he may use during the game if they fit in his/her strategy. This amounts to countless strategies, some depending on your card hand. Sometimes it's a good choice to stay on course, sometimes you better react on what your opponents do. Agricola can also be played without cards (family game) and can even be played solo. Designed by Uwe Rosenberg
From the Manufacturer
In Agricola, you're a farmer in a wooden shack with your spouse and little else. On a turn, you get to take only two actions, one for you and one for the spouse, create your farm from scratch to maintain your livelihood.
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OBJECT OF THE GAME:
Score more points than your opponents! But there's no point scoring during the game. Points are tallied at the end. The object is to build the best, most complete farm. What goes on a farm? Fenced pastures with stables, animals in those fences, fields of grain and vegetables, and your home, which starts as a two room shack that you'll want to build into a more solid house. With end-of-game scoring, you're penalized if you're lacking any type of animal, if you're lacking fields of grain or veggies, if you've got unused acreage, and if your house is a pathetic embarrassment that a homeless cowboy wouldn't bother sleeping in on a rainy evening. You've got to consider everything!
The Mechanics are simple: The game is broken into 14 rounds, and in each round, you have a minimum of 2 turns. At the beginning of a round, you furnish the "action" board with a round's worth of supplies. Put a reed disc on the Reed area, put 3 wood pieces on the wood area, put a couple pieces of food on the Fishing area, put a sheep piece on the sheep action area, etc. When it's your turn, you take your family member (represented by a colored disc) and put it on one of the action spaces on the board. For that round, that action is yours and yours alone. So if you put your piece on the Wood action space, you get to collect the three wood on that space. You put the three wood pieces in your supply area. When the next person has a turn, they have to pick a different action other than taking wood, because you just took that one. Maybe they'll take the Clay action (which is a commodity needed to buy a fireplace or build other things). When it gets back to your turn, you now have one more turn this round. Perhaps you choose to plow a field. That allows you to put a field marker on your personal farm board. Now your opponents cannot use that action in this round.
When the round is over (when everybody has had their two turns), you begin the next round (unless there's a harvest), and the start of the round, again, has you filling the action board with supplies. 3 more wood, 1 more reed, one more clay, etc. If nobody took a wood action in the last round and there were already three wood on the wood space, now there's 6 wood on that space. Every round, things like wood, sheep, reed, stone, etc keep getting added to until somebody takes them. So on your turn you have to decide: Do I want to take those 3 wood, or can I risk not taking them and waiting till the next round, hoping nobody else takes it and I can grab 6 wood with just one turn?
You start off with two people (farmer and spouse) which gives you two turns. You can add a kid to your family, which gives you an extra turn (each family member gets one turn, so a family of 4 gets you four turns per round). But early on if you want to add that kid to give you that third turn per round, it's going to require you build another room on your shack. That's going to take some wood and some reed. But you also need wood for building fences. You need fences to hold more than 1 animal in your field. You need a stable to hold many of one kind of animal in a fenced area, and that's going to require some wood to build, too. Using up action after action just to get 3 wood per shot isn't going to cut the mustard, because you also have to plow fields (there's one action), fill it with grain (there's another action) or vegetables (another), and you still have to feed your family, because come harvest time, each family member needs two food to survive. The way scoring works, you really don't want to be caught at harvest time without enough food to feed your family. There are actions (turns) you can waste on grabbing food, and there are also actions that allow you to convert grain into food, and actions that allow you to buy a fireplace or hearth to cook animals and make them into food for your family. So what do you do with your turns? What will your opponent do? If there are a few sheep on the Sheep action and you're the only one with a fenced area on their farm, you can wait out taking that sheep until somebody else adds a fence, and that might get you extra sheep for that one action. So each turn is a big decision. What can I do to improve my farm, and if I don't take this action, will that action be available to me in the next round, with greater value?
It might be nice to snag the reed action when there's a couple reed sitting there, but wouldn't it be nice to spend the same single action on that reed when there's four reed on the reed action spot?
You cannot waste moves in this game. When you waste a move or make a bad move, it will end up costing you in the end. You'll have situations where you need food come harvest time which will require you bake bread, but you've only got one turn left and you still have to add grain (1 turn) and sow/bake bread (another turn). Damn, if you only had another kid!
You need bargain moves, and you need to anticipate what your opponent needs, so you can pass up actions now and take them later at a better bargain.
You get negative points for having unoccupied farmland, a lack of a certain type of animal, a lack of a veggie or grain, etc. The more kids you have, the more animals, the better the house, the more fenced stables, the more plowed fields, the more improvements on said houses, the more points you get.
WHY I LOVE THIS GAME:
When you finish the game and you have filled your field (sometimes you wont) and you've converted your little shack into a 4 room stone house and you have fields filled with grains and vegetables and you have cattle, pigs, and sheep roaming in fenced areas, you feel pretty damn good about yourself and all that time thinking and banging your head against the table and taking 5 minutes to think of the best move possible and saying "I know I know. I'm almost ready. I'm thinking!" ends up being worth it. It's a frustrating game when you've taken some bad risks and find yourself behind the 8 ball so to speak, but it's so much fun when you see your last 4 or 5 moves on the horizon and feel like you've got a great chance to make an impressive farm. And then when it's over, you just want to sit there and look at all you've done. :) Don't clear the board yet. I want to look a little longer and talk about why I just kicked ass at this game. :-p
I love this game because even after I've played what I consider to be a decent game, I feel like there's SO much more intricacies to learn about this game and better strategies to play. Every game requires a lot of thought and nervous tension while you wonder what your opponent is going to do, what you're going to do, and how you're going to feed your family.
The rulebook is useful as a reference AFTER you know how to play. Visit youtube and look up the Agricola Review from Board Games with Scott in order to learn how to play.
Agricola is one of the most fun and entertaining games that I've ever played, but requires a lot of patience in learning and understanding the game. I actually purchased the iOS version of the game, and the provided tutorial on the mobile version of the game allowed me the proper insight into how the game works and how to enjoy it.
To understand the gameplay:
Very basic overview -- Each player starts the game with a board representing a farm on which are fifteen spaces, two of which are marked as rooms of a wooden farmhouse, and two person tokens, one occupying each of the rooms. The person tokens represent the player's family. A player uses each person token once every round, which is referred to as an 'action.' Actions include acquiring resources, plowing or sowing fields, fencing pastures, building stables, acquiring animals, extending or upgrading the farmhouse, growing the family, and acquiring food. The available actions vary according to the number of players and the rule set used.
Additional information -- The main board of the game is reversible, one side of which is used for the standard rule set and one for the family rule set (identified by an icon of two adults and a child). The board has a set of fixed actions, space for additional action cards based on the number of players, and space for fourteen round cards, each of which has an associated action. The round cards are revealed one at a time, at the beginning of each round, so the actions associated with those cards are available starting from the round in which they are revealed. All other actions are available every round. There is also a board on which ten major improvement cards are revealed.
In a game using the standard rule set, each player is dealt seven occupation cards and seven minor improvement cards at the start of the game. The base game has 169 occupation cards, such as 'woodcutter' or 'bread seller', and 139 minor improvement cards, such as 'fishing pole' or 'bean field'. A player may play a card using one of the actions available on the main board. For the family rule set variant, occupation and minor improvement cards are not used. A player's strategy for the game is influenced by the set of cards dealt to that player.
Resources are used to pay the cost of extending the farmhouse, renovating it to clay or stone, fencing pastures, and playing major and minor improvements. Fields may be plowed and sown, which produce food each harvest. A harvest occurs at the end of rounds four, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, and fourteen. During each harvest, crops are harvested, each person in the family must be fed, and animals breed. Falling short of the feeding requirement results in having to take one or more 'begging cards'.
A player's final score is calculated after the end of harvest in round fourteen. It is based on the size and type (wood, clay, stone) of the farmhouse, the number of plowed fields, the number of pastures, the number of fenced stables, the number of each type of animal (sheep, boar, cattle), the number of grain and vegetables, and the size of the family. A player is penalized for having unused spaces on the board, and for each of the point-scoring criteria for which the player did not acquire or build at least one of that type of item; for example, a player scores '-1' for having no sheep at the end of the game. A player may also score bonus points based on the cards played during the game, and loses three points for each begging card acquired.
My wife and I have played this game every night since purchasing it and I know that we are going to continue to play this game for years to come!