Agricola - Board Game Box Shot

Agricola

| Published: 2007

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.

User Reviews (68)

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5
USA
Book Lover
Video Game Fan
8
33 of 33 gamers found this helpful
“Trying Not to Starve Has Never Been So Fun”

Overview
Agricola is a worker placement game in which you, as a family of peasant farmers, attempt to not starve. Wait, come back. It’s not as bad as it sounds, I promise, and this is coming from a typically Ameritrash gamer.

Setup
The game takes a bit of time to set up, but not too much. You set up the supply of tokens (of which there are many different types), give each player a board and their starting house tiles, and shuffle and lay out the decks of cards. How many cards are being used and why types will depend on if you’re playing the “family variant” (as it’s called in the US version) or the full game. In either case, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Gameplay
The framework of Agricola is pretty straightforward worker placement stuff. Each player starts with two family members to work their farms (more can be added later through taking certain actions). Starting with the first player, each player places one worker on an action space, continuing until all players have placed all of their workers. Seems simple, right? Well it is at first. The game is broken up into phases of varying numbers of turns, and each turn, a card from that phase is flipped over. Each of these cards adds an additional action that can be taken, so the farther into the game you get, the more options you have. This seems great, but at the end of each phase, you have to be able to feed your family or you will lose (probably huge) points. Therefore, the additional options only add to the dilemmas you face in taking your actions each turn, as you have more and more things you need to do, and less time between harvests to get them done. The cards within each phase are also shuffled before the game, so even though you know what actions become available in a given phase, you don’t know what order they’ll be revealed in.

The actions you can take vary from collecting resources (wood, clay, etc.) for building improvements to plowing and sowing fields to gathering resources to feed your family (wheat, livestock, etc.) to building improvements to expanding your family. There’s a lot to get done, but little time to do it in, so it is important to know what you want to accomplish before you get too far into the game.

Things are further complicated by the fact that there are also major improvement cards that can be purchased, generally making it easier to feed your family or earning additional points at the end of the game for different types of resources in your resource pool. In the full, non-family version of the game, there are also minor improvements and occupation cards that can significantly alter the strategies you employ.

After the final turn there is a final harvest, and then scoring begins. The scoring in Agricola is often criticised as being “mean,” as you lose points for not having any of most types of resources and points are capped at certain numbers of each resource, but this forces players to diversify their farm, rather than just going all in on one resource and locking everyone else out, so I don’t mind it so much. Knowing that going into it, though, would probably be helpful in determining what your strategy will be.

Learning Curve
Agricola is fairly easy to learn, at least mechanically, especially when you start with the family variant. It was the first worker placement game I ever played, and it literally took one turn to see how the game worked from a mechanical standpoint. My non-gamer wife picked it up equally quickly. The complexity comes from the wealth of options that become available and the dearth of turns you’re provided to accomplish what you need to. Once we had a good feel for the basic game, switching to the full version was a simple affair. Jumping straight past the family variant to the full game may complicate things for people new to games or even new to worker placement, but I can’t say for sure since that’s not how I learned or teach the game.

Components
The components are tricky. Depending on what edition of the game you get, your box will include different things. The version I have included the standard cubes and discs for resources, as well as the “animeeples” to replace the cubes with. As I understand it, early editions did this and the most recent ones are doing it again, but the ones in between only included cubes. As far as the components everyone gets, they were pretty top-notch. The boards and tiles are nice thick cardboard, the cards have a nice coating on them to keep them from wearing out (though they feel a bit thin for what that’s worth), and the wooden pieces are a good size to make handling them easy. On the other hand, the animeeples really add to the flavor of the game and help make it less abstract. Sure, you’re still using discs for people, stone, wood, etc, but the animals look nice and have enticed more than one non-gamer to give the game a shot, whereas cubes were off-putting.

My one complaint with the components is the lack of any sort of insert. Yes, a Plano box and some baggies solve the problem just fine, but it would have been nice for a better storage solution to be included. I know it isn’t unusual for games to lack in this area, but it still irks me somewhat.

Overall Judgment/TL;DR Takeaway
In the end, Agricola is a game I thought I would hate on theme alone, but the gameplay is so tight that I love it. The constant tension and the threat of having to beg for food keep things exciting, and the way the phases get shorter and shorter between harvests as the game goes on was a brilliant design decision as far as the excitement goes. That said, some people find the tension to be too much, and I’ll admit that some games, especially the last few turns, start to feel less like fun and more like a source of unnecessary stress, so if you play with someone who is prone to analysis paralysis, you might want to go for a “lighter” worker placement game, like Lords of Waterdeep. Agricola is a simple game to teach, but it’s meaty. I’m not much of a Euro fan generally, and even I can’t deny that this game is great.

 
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6
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Poland
Petroglyph
8
71 of 74 gamers found this helpful
“Very fexible and just the right weight”

Agricola is one of the first games that come to my mind when I want to say what games I usually play – the simple answer is: medium weight euro games like for example… Agricola. For some time now this one has been the very essence of its type: worker placement mechanic, struggle for resources, but no direct conflict, lots of resource and time (action) management – and a nice theme.

I will not write about the way you play the game, there are other reviews which do this far better – instead I will focus on my impressions.

Complexity: variable – you can play without additional cards (which makes Agricola a light eurogame) or with them, which can make it a medium or even somewhat heavy game. I use the first option when I want to show modern boardgames to my friends after walking them through easier titles.

Replayability: immense (in the full variant) – several hundreds of cards (of which you usually draw 14 per game) make every play unique. The replayability value is acceptable even in the family variant, thanks to the semi-random turn cards order.

Components: very respectable out of the box, bu the best part is the custom made components – Agricola lends itself extremely well to making your own game pieces, and actually seeing some photos of custom vegetables several years ago is the very thing that made me try this game.

Social value: depends… on one hand the theme is light and presented with a lot of humour (note the game boards printed on several house tiles), so friendly chatter is abound during play. On the other hand, especially in the full variant youh can get into some serious AP situations, which usuall cause longish periods of silence while everyone is weighing their options.

Sheer fun: great. I will admit that Agricola is not my favorite euro, but very close to it. Having just the right weight, beautiful components and a lot of replayability, I don’t imagine Agricola ever leaving my collection.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Silver Supporter
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
7
88 of 92 gamers found this helpful
“Can we say lots of depth! Fun for some! Very fiddly!”

Okay, I got this game because I do a little farming and BoardGameGeek had it at #1 for a while. However, this game is very fiddly with lots of components and lots of upkeep between turns. I do appreciate that this game has tons of depth and replayability with all the different types of decks that are included.

PROS
Great Replay value
Tense theme
Deep game

CONS
Fiddly
Hard to read rulebook

Overview
Agricola is a game about farming in medieval times where if you don’t farm well you starve. In the case of this game, if you fail to feed your family at harvest time, you have to take begging cards that detract from your final score. Your goal is to have a very well-rounded farm and keep your family fed. If you focus too much on animals, you loose points for lack of vegetables, and vice versa.

Gameplay
Players take turns placing workers on resources and actions to develop their farm and make it better. As each turn progresses, more actions become available to the players, but you can only put one worker on one action at a time. So players spend their time vying for spots to do what they need for their farm and grow food. This can make the game enjoyably tense while trying to plan for feeding your family at the next harvest.

Lots of replay value built into the game, because you have many different ways to play. The game comes with three thick decks of varying complexity to play with during a game. You choose which deck you want to use. These decks provide “occupations” for your farm that give you an advantage in different areas of the game. This really ups the complexity level of the game. That’s why there is a “family” version of the game for younger people that doesn’t use the cards.

CONCLUSION
It’s a very well-designed game. I enjoy it sometimes when I’m in a mood where I don’t mind putting up with the fiddliness of so many components to push around. Nimbler minds may not mind.

If you like really complex games with some brain burning…this is your game. I can see power gamers and strategy gamers gravitating to this game. Definintely not for social or casual gamers, because it’s very complex. I would only recommend the family rules for family gamers with young middle school kids, since it removes the player decks from the game.

 
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6
Norway
Novice Reviewer
I play red
9
129 of 135 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 2
“The worker placement game”

I can still remember my first introduction to Agricola, I was at a yearly christmas gaming party at a friends house and I was at the Agricola table (four or five games where running at the same time). The person in charge of explaining the rules starts with “You are husband and wife, you are farmers and are building a farm and a family”. That is the basic theme of Agricola and it stunned me as being incredibly mundane. Then he explains the mechanics: “First you most plow a field, then you can get a grain, then you can plant that grain and at harvest you get one grain back”. Even more mundane I thought and the premise of Agricola in both theme and mechanics is in fact incredibly mundane and pretty much borderline booring. But Agricola is anything but mundane and anything but booring, it is a incredible game that will have you clammering for that grain so desperatly you can almost taste it.

Agricola is a worker placement game, you have workers at you’r disposal and you place them out to do work. It may not be the first worker placement game, but for me it will always stand as the absolute definition of the worker placement mechanic. You start with two workers, the husband and wife, and later in the game you can add more workers, you’r children. These two people must do everything, nothing happens by itself in Agricola. To get to harvest grain you must first plow, then get a grain, then sow, then wait for the harvest at wich point you get one grain back. Sowing one grain will get you three grain after three harvests. High stakes stock options these are not, the return of investment is modest at best, non-existant at worst. To make things even harder each action once taken by one worker can not be done by any other that round, meaning that other players may take the actions you so dearly wanted and needed to get that last resource or to bake that important bread. Did I mention it’s important to bake bread? After all workers have been placed the round ends and players collect their workers again. A new action is revealed and resources are added to their actions as some actions are cumuluative like “+3 Wood” that adds 3 wood for each round, meaning suddenly 6 wood is up for grabs if no one took that action last turn.

One added central mechanic to Agricola is that after each harvest each family member requires food to eat, two food pieces pr. grown family member. Failure to provide food results in having to beg for it and recieving begging cards, begging cards that are -3 points each and are not possible to get rid of, so getting food to feed the family is a constant struggle in the game. And now you realize the real premise of Agricola, there is so much to do and so little time and resources to actually get to do it without starving you’r own family. For many this might not sound that much fun, but that is the strange thing about Agricola, it’s really really fun.

The game is fun because of the strange satisfication it is to get actual things done on you’r farm, to fence in that stable and get those sheep and se them get baby sheep come harvest time. To uppgrade that shabby trehouse to a fancy brick house or a even grander stone house simply feels great, but maybe I’m weird. The ever linear path of doing things is a mechanic I love in both board and PC games and Agricola does it really well, there are long paths of achievement here and they are not easy to pull off.

The base game, or family game or easy game, has major improvements but not minor improvements. Major improvements can be purchased for resources and give you points and more options in the game, usually ways to get food like being able to cook animals or bake bread. With the normal game each player starts with 7 random minor improvements and 7 occupations. Minor improvements can be purchased and will provide a combinations of points and usefulness, like getting one food each time you aquire straw for instance. Occupations may add victory point conditions and/or benefits for certain actions like making it cheaper to uppgrade you’r houses or getting extra resources for certain actions. There are a huge amount of minor improvements and occupations included with the base game of Agricola, divided into Easy deck, Interactive Deck and (K)Complex deck. These cards add extra difficulty and spice to the decisions each player makes and also prevents each round from being the exact same (alltough having played a bunch of family games they never really feel repetative).

After 13 turns and 5 harvest the game ends and the scoring happens. After five brutal harvests of feeding that hard working family comes the most brutal part of Agricola, the scoring. You see the point system is based not only on points that you get, but also negative points and negative points you don’t get. You get minus points for not utilizing you’r farmspace, for not having vegetables, for not having sheep, not having grain etc. Getting the most points means building the most all round greatest farm, something that is very dificult when other players keep getting that sheep or taking that plow action. The need to score quite evenly makes singel strategy plays useless, so all players must do at least a little of everything, ideally.

I have come to love Agricola for several reasons. I simply love the theme of being a farmer in post-plague Europe (at that time a lot of land was unused and up for grabs, hence the unused farmland). I love the basic mechanic of placing one worker and getting one thing done at the time, forcing hard decisions and prioritizing everything that get’s done to something that will not get done as a result. I love how Agricola manages to make such a mundane theme and mechanic shine into a brilliant strategic and fun board game. I love how you can play it as a brutal strategy game, something that is hard because the points are all masked behind animals and abstractions, or you can play and think only that you want to achieve certain things, like get eight sheep or three children or stone housing, either way it’s fun and challenging.

Agricola is a true classic in the world of board gaming and every player should at least play it once, after that they are probably hooked anyway.

 
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2
I'm a Real Person
Reviewed My First Game
9
91 of 96 gamers found this helpful
“More fun than a farming game should be.”

Agricola is a worker placement game, wrapped in a 17th century farming theme.

Each player begins the game with two family members, and take turns during each round claiming various actions. Actions range from improving your house and farm, to fishing and expanding your family.

After every few rounds (the number grows smaller as the game progresses) the players enter a “harvest” round in which they are responsible for feeding their family, and gathering resources from their planted fields. Players who do not have enough food to feed their family have to “beg” for any shortage, and the points lost for the begging cards could be the difference between winning and losing.

So far the game sounds fairly routine, but what keeps the game fresh every time is the cards. And there are a lot of cards.

The standard game comes with 3 decks of cards, the E (or Easy) deck, the I (or Interactive) deck, and the K (or Complex) deck. Each deck contains different occupation and minor improvement cards, and each player receives 7 cards of each type to start the game. The various benefits that the different occupations and improvements provides forces you to think on your feet, and play the game differently each time, instead of relying on one strategy every time you play.

This is not a game for beginners, but you don’t have to be an avid gamer to play it either. My only gaming experience prior to purchasing Agricola was a bit of Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and Carcassonne. It’s certainly a step up in complexity from those games, but it’s still not too difficult to grasp. Now that I’m familiar with the game, I find that I can teach it to beginners in just a few minutes.

The game also includes a family version, which eliminates the use of the aforementioned occupation and minor improvement cards. While that certainly takes away a lot of the strategy of the game, it’s still a useful way to learn the basic concepts of the game, to help ease you into playing the full version.

Highly recommended.

 
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2
Gamer - Level 2
Freshman
10
134 of 142 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Highly replayable game”

Learning – I first played Agricola in a Board game Cafe, which wasn’t the easiest learning environment and the spacing was less than to be desired. We did have an experienced person teach us the game, which helped with the learning curve. However, the game was love at first play.

Competition – The main focus in the game is to build up your own farm, and I’ve always seen my personal goal to be self improvement in the game, not necessarily winning. Essentially, trying to find a way to beat out the score that you had in the previous game. However, if you are the highly competitive type then you can try and take spaces (and in expansions destroy other people’s farms) before your opponents to limit other player’s gain.

Replayability – There is so much going on in Agricola that it becomes difficult to take a specific focus (whether to start making fields, prepping for animals, taking major improvements, focusing on extending the family or bringing out more occupations). Because of this, it can be frustrating to first learn the game, however it’s what gives the appeal and very high replayability.

Strategy – You can get a clue for your focus from your 14 cards you get dealt as you can try to figure out which ones may work best together and try to figure out when you may play them. The cards can be great at slightly changing the rules in your favor or gaining more points or food. But, don’t expect to get all the cards out if you expect to win. I could talk more but you can find more under the tips.

The turns – The round cards are great, where each round a new space is available and it brings the next harvest closer. If you have forgotten that you need to feed your people then you may be in for some begging cards during the harvest.

Length – Even though the game is only 14 rounds long, the game usually takes about 2 hours to play with 3-4 people. But the great thing my friends and I always found is that the game never feels quite that long as you are always invested in trying to think about your next move.

Final Thought – I love strategy games like this where there is no dice involved and only the human factor to create chaos in the game. In Agricola I find that the game is so fluid that anytime you play you may consider trying to do something differently (the exception to this might be if you only play the family version) based on your cards you have. Also, if you get the expansions (Legen*dairy forest and X-Deck especially) then you add more randomness to the game and more possibilities that you may not have otherwise thought. For me, this game hit right on the money and it’s one I will continue to keep playing for a while.

 
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2
I play red
9
94 of 100 gamers found this helpful
“This engaging title offers a cornucopia of endless farming strategy!”

First of all, I would like to preface this by saying I am a big fan of sheep. So, pretty much any game with sheep in it is guaranteed a good review. However, this game transcends the sheepyness and gets right down to what makes games fun in the first place: beauty, depth and accessability.

1. The components are very nice. Even with an upgrade pack in the form of ‘The Goodies’, my wife and I still play with the original roudn wooden bits because they are designed perfectly for the style of play. The boards are strong and durable, and the cards are adequate.

2. The rules take what could be a painful experience and gently dole out the advice with aplomb(correc word?). However, I would recommend a gamer try the game out solo first to work out the kinks and explain it to your less patient non-gamer friends.

3. The gameplay is superb. At first glance, the tightly controlled timeline seems to leave no room for creativity and choic of action. But, as you get a few plays under the belt, the cards and other player actions create an expansive avenue of stretegic options for you to purse, not the least of which I use, which is to grab sheep at every opportunity.

4. Lasting value is good. The cards and extra expansions offer ways to vary gameplay, but really, if you are bored by the farming theme you might get tired of it quickly.

This is a classic game, no doubt about it. Buy it and you won’t be sorry, but try it more than two or three times to really get the feel of it. Thanks for reading!

 
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3
Thunderstone Fan
Advocate
10
57 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“Strategy at its finest”

Agricola is a true strategy classic. Each player must run a farm starting with only two family members in a two room hut and empty fields. The winner is determined at the end of 14 rounds by a point matrix that favors diversity, rather than focusing on a single strategy.

Each round players place their family members one at a time on any of the available actions. After everyone has placed, family members return home and a new round begins with a new action added to the list of those available. Actions include things like plowing a field, sowing a field, collecting a resource (wood, clay, stone, etc.), building an improvement, extending or renovating their house, having a baby, etc. Once an action has been used, no one else can use that action that round, and the more family members you have the more actions you can take. Every few rounds, there is a Harvest phase during which fields are harvested and animals breed, however you must also feed you family members. Failure to do so results in major negative points at the end of the game. Thus, there is a balancing act between trying to improve your farm and grow your family, while still being able to feed everyone come harvest time.

The beauty of this game is that on every turn you can look at the board and think, “Geez, I could choose anything here and it would be helpful.” So the question becomes, “What is the best thing to do of my available choices?” The result is some very deep strategy options that change every game with the addition (or removal) of different card sets that are included with the game. In particular, one or two good cards can shape the way you play that game and the strategy you pursue. All of this gives the game excellent replay value. Highly recommended.

 
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4
Gamer - Level 4
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
Knight
10
52 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“Agricoolest game!”

Each player has a farm board of 3×5 squares,representing the land you own. It’s here you expand your house, plow your fields and fence your pastures. The design is up to you, the 15 squares (minus the 2 representing your starting house) are at your disposal.

The main game board is little less than a collection of “action fields” representing turn actions like “plow a field”, “expand your house”, “sow your fields”, “collect wood”, “go fishing”, “collect sheep”and much more. Some of these action fields get “loaded” with stuff each turn, like the “collect wood” field gets loaded with 3 wood each turn (if no one wants to collect wood one turn, it’ll have 6 wood next turn and so on), and some are simply “you get 1 each time you go here”, like the “take 1 grain” action.

You start off with 2 family members (man and wife), so in the beginning you get to do twice each turn. The catch is, each action can only be taken once per turn. So if your opponent decided to sow his fields on his go, your plow gets magically unusable.

The goal is to build a good farm in a set number of turns. You get points for basically everything you’ve done, the size of your house and family, the number of plowed fields, the amount of grain and vegetables, the number of pastures, the amount of animals you have… and you get a minus point for each piece of land you haven’t used up and each thing you have nothing of. For example, if you have no sheep, you get -1 points. And if you have no cattle, you get another -1. All of these things are valued differently, so scoring at the end is a little tongue-in-cheek, but that’s not only bad. You can also get points if you’ve built something nice, like a cooking hearth. The only thing you don’t get points for are surplus raw materials (like wood and clay), although you can during the game build things like “table-carpentry” or “basket maker” which will give you points for surplus wood and straw, respectively.

So, the game is basically a race for the raw materials to expand your farm. You want a bigger family, you first have to expand your house. To expand your house, you need wood and straw. If the other farmers took it, you need another plan. Plow a field to later sow it and gain tons of grain? Or build some fences so you can house all those animals?

 
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7
Paladin
Herald
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Bronze Supporter
8
64 of 71 gamers found this helpful
“We, the peasants”

‘I have a new boardgame, guess its theme!’
‘Well, exploration of the universe?’
‘No, it’s about the past.’
‘Um, maybe you are a king, a knight or a merchant?’
‘It’s called Agricola. In fact you are a peasant there.’
‘???’

Have you ever heard such a dialog? I have, a few times. It turns out that a story of a peasant family may be a basis of a very interesting game.

You start as a head of a small family that has no more than a little hut and some land which may later be used to grow crops or to keep a few animals. As the game progresses your family becomes bigger, corn and vegetables grow on your fields, sheep, pigs and cows feed on your meadows, and your house becomes larger and more comfy. And all of them because of hard work of the members of your family!

The game offers many ways of development – and rewards all of them. The key to victory is balanced growth – players get more for small achievements on many nomen-omen fields than for spectacular successes on only a few of them and none on the others.

Agricola has a fairly high replay value. Due to the fact that available improvements and occupations are selected at random at the beginning of each game from a large pool of cards, there is in fact no chance that two games could ever start with the same setup. And even if they do (because the players may choose to use the same sets of appropriate cards) the play ma go quite a different way from the very beginning.

I must also praise the scalability of the game. The problem is addressed exceptionally well by selecting different possible actions (as well as restricting some job and improvement cards) according to the number of players. The game has also a built-in easy variant. Bravo!

The biggest drawback I can see is that the job and improvement cards are not well balanced. There are a few no-brainer “play me at once” cards as well as a few worthless ones. While it is usually leveled by their distribution, it happens sometimes that one player has a clearly better (or worse!) hand of cards than the others. As the game lasts about two hours such a situation may well spoil the fun. But there’s a simple cure for that – removing the overpowered and underpowered cards from the game before playing it.

All in all: it’s a good, solid game well deserving high ratings and awards it gets.

 
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2
9
55 of 61 gamers found this helpful
“The ultimate euro-game”

An innovative game design that challenges the player to both focus on their own strategy and be aware of what other players are doing, in order to take advantage of any loopholes in their strategy.

The learning curve is a bit steep, and it might be a challenge for a brand new board gamer, but perseverance with this game is key, and the more its played the more the players will appreciate it, and see the nuances and subtleties.

The out of the box components are prefectly functional, however enhancing these pieces – either through the official (The Goodies) expansion or ‘home made’ approach – aids the immersion factor massively.

Repeated replay value is achieved by the inclusion of (and continued production of more) multiple card sets for minor improvements and ocupations. These cards reap benefits to the player, but being able to play them at the right time to make the maximum benefit is a challenge that adds an extra factor to the strategy of the game. If played without drafting cards, it takes a lot of plays to work through a set and understand the subtleties of the cards – and probably even longer to see powerful combinations form. Even with drafting there is plenty of scope for different cards to arrive, and players will be able to get plenty of different plays out of the game.

Its a very coherently designed game, and is ultimately popular with the majority of the boardgame community, and so every gamer should attempt to play it, multiple times to appreciate the depth to it.

 
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5
Novice Reviewer
Amateur Advisor
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
10
64 of 72 gamers found this helpful
“A Subtle Masterpiece”

Agricola has been my group’s go-to civ-game for almost three years. I attribute this popularity to the fact that it is both highly replayable, always providing novel experiences for players, and scales well (particularly in the 2-4 player range). Also worth mentioning for a game that is relatively expensive: its components are top-notch.

The one nit I have to pick with Agricola is its rulebook. It is dense and confusing, and it can make the game difficult to learn.

Thematically speaking, there is no disputing that some gamers will be left cold by Agricola’s obscure whimsical setting of subsistence farming in the late middle ages. Yawn, there are no explosions. There are no zombies. No space-ninjas. Instead of summoning horned rat demons to do your bidding, you will summon carrots. The game offers no grand recapitulation of European colonialism, etc. In Agricola, the goal is quite humbly to improve your lot.

But make no mistake, there are a million interesting decisions to be made in this context, what and when to plant, whether to breed or slaughter. There are seemingly endless paths to victory, but there is also a delicious tension in never knowing how deeply one should commit to any single path. The game forces you to strategize in layers. You will devise plan A, but be prepared to rally behind plan B (or C or D), and all the while work to shunt your fellow players away from their plans, denying them precious resources even as you work to collect your own.

Lastly, it is the sense of accomplishment at the end of a game, looking down at a physical model of your decisions, regardless of the final score, that makes this game uniquely satisfying to me.

 
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5
I play green
7
83 of 95 gamers found this helpful
“Too broad and too tedious for me”

Before I go too far, let me note that I think this is a very well designed game. It came highly recommended, which is why I bought it, and while playing it I can see that it’s very good.

It’s just not for me.

Agricola is about building up your farm. Every round, a new card is revealed to give every player one new potential action. Players take turn in the round assigning their family members to the potential actions. Things like fishing to get food, or you get grain, or build a fence, or you get an animal. This is fun, and the variety is neat. I also like how you know what the 14 cards are that are revealed each turn, but you don’t know what will come about when.

After you take all your actions, you must feed your people. Otherwise, you take a penalty. This game can be really harsh, especially for new players.

Agricola takes too long to setup. There are so many components, cards, and pieces that setting it up (then putting it away) actually gets in the way of playing the game.

The game is incredibly broad, which means you need to learn about several animals, the pastures, building your home, improvements, advanced improvements, keeping your people alive, farming, and more. It’s just a lot to take in and there are other Euros I’d rather play first.

My other frustration is that there are so many ways to earn points that you must use this incredibly detailed score pad to tally up points at the end of the game. There’s just so much going on!

Finally, I love that you get 14 new cards at the beginning of each game, but holy smokes this is overwhelming. There are hundreds of cards and reading them all takes time. There’s just so much going on that I feel I’d have to play the game 10 times before I had a lot of fun, and I just don’t think I like it enough to do that.

It’s a good game, just not for me.

 
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3
Gamer - Level 3
8
54 of 62 gamers found this helpful
“Are you ready for the most INTENSE farming experience of your life?!!?”

Ahh Agricola… Probably my favorite game that I never get to play. There are a lot of detractors for the casual player, so it should probably be said first that you’re going to need the right crowd for this one. I’d say that the estimation on the box at 30 min. per player is about right, but longer, of course, if everyone’s just learning.

The rules are pretty dense. There are a couple things in there (like being able to keep an animal in your house as a pet) that are easy to forget, so make sure that you have a good grasp on the rules before you try to teach this to anyone. There’s an appendix in the rulebook if that tells you anything.

It’s suggested that the first time you play you should use the family rules. I don’t know if this is true or not, because I did not go that route. The family rules strip Agricola down to it’s basics and remove the cards from the game, so each player is going to have the same goal: and is simply trying to do the best they can with their farm. But the cards in Agricola add so much. Instead of everyone playing the same game, the cards steer you towards focusing on one or more strategies to get the most points out of your farm. I’d have to say that the cards really make the game. And there are multiple different decks to try out, so plenty of replay here.

The components are all great, though I’d advise getting some sort of little storage container for all the pieces (there are SO MANY PIECES) – something that you could use to hold the pieces during the game would be the best, because the little wooden disks that represent the crops are kinda annoying to try and pick off the table. Also: this game takes up the most table space of any game I own.

Bottom line: if you can count a few friends that really like strategy and are willing to learn, I think you’ll get a lot out of this one.

 
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3
My First Heart
8
20 of 23 gamers found this helpful
“All about the resources...”

Fun game all in all.

There’s a bunch to it, but you can pick it up in stages easy enough. One would generally excel in one area, and round out the others in time so the learning is naturally staggered.

That being said, it’s not all that difficult.

You can take largely the farming, baking, or livestock route to get food to feed your family. It’s interesting that they don’t die if you can’t feed them, but are given beggar cards instead. These are worth -3 points at the end so it’s best not to get them!

It’s ultimately a race for actions. Only one person can use one an action per round. The game itself scales elegantly as more actions are introduced each round, and are increasingly relevant as time would pass.

Scoring occurs at the end. Diversifying is a must to score effectively, but you don’t need to be ‘all in’, in all categories to do well. A good presence in one, with simply presence in another will net you some good points.

It scores similar to history of the world, where all teams could be very close in points in the end.

I must say, with over 100 occupations there’s tons of replay value here. You only get like ten in the beginning and that’s it.

I was disappointed at first, to the number of major improvements, but after playing a bit, they are really stepping stones for some heavy hitting minor improvements. (Go figure?)

In the end, it’s a fun, feel good, family friendly game while at the same time, not alienating gamers whom might not generally enjoy those types.

 

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