Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small - Board Game Box Shot

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

| Published: 2012

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a new take on Uwe Rosenberg's Agricola designed for exactly two players and focused only on the animal husbandry aspect of that game. So long plows and veggies!

In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, you become an animal breeder of horses, cows, sheep and pigs and try to make the most of your pastures. Players start with a 3x2 game board that can be expanded during play to give more room for players to grow and animals to run free. Sixteen possible actions are available for players to take, with each player taking three actions total in each of the eight rounds.

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User Reviews (8)

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3
I play blue
9
51 of 52 gamers found this helpful
“Much less stressful than its big brother”

It’d be ridiculous to break out Agricola every game night. It’d be like expecting turkey every Thanksgiving. Right? Probably a bad analogy. But my point is that it’s a heavy duty game, with all kinds of stressors. Regardless of how stressfully entertaining it is, I seem to gravitate towards those complicated matters that drive my main gaming partner (my wife) crazy. That why I picked up Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (AACBAS).

Editor’s Note: I’m typing this review on my iPad…so you’ll have to excuse the use of the abbreviation, AACBAS.

This new two-players-only gem from Z-Man Games and Lookout Games is a remarkable re-engineered idea on a board game that just does not hit my table as often as I’d like. This being the 4th Uwe Rosenberg tasty treat I own (Agricola, Ora & Labora, and iOS Le Havre), it captures a small piece of a bigger pie, and still leaves you full and satisfied as if you actually ate the entire pie.

In AACBAS, each player is running a farm with hired workers, to help get building materials, purchase and breed animals, and expand the farm. No need to feed your workers, and no worries about growing crops. It’s all critters here. 65 critters actually. There’s a number of sheep, horses, cows, and pigs that you need to grow your farm, gran points, and become intergalactic farming champion.

Each round is pretty simple, split into 4 phases:

Refill the action spaces on the game board
Send your workers out to do…work
Bring your workers back home
Breed the dang critters.

It has similar round phases to its bigger brother, but the options are limited (16 different actions you can take). And the limitation makes it less stressful, and a much quicker game. I was able to teach my wife how to play, then play a game in around 40 minutes. What?! Yep. This means that I can get my Agricola fix over lunch time, while dinner is cooking, or when we have 30 minutes to kill before we do anything that requires us to have 30 minutes to kill! Brilliant!

Each player has 3 workers and a plot of land to start with and nothing else but a cottage that can hold one animal and a few fences to start with. You send your workers out to gather the resources, whether reed, wood, or stone, and you can also send them out to get more fencing, build fences, build walls, build stables, or starte herding animals. And like its big brother, the resources in AACBAS that aren’t used are generally added on top of existing resources at the beginning of each round.

The central game board starts out with 8 fences on the side, adding once fence at the beginning of each round. This in turn acts as the game timer, and also apparently, a hardship and constraint on fences at the local … Fencery? It keeps it nice and short, and that’s where the game has a lot of the charm for me. My only drawback is that I wish it was longer than 8 turns. Maybe even 10 turns? That can easily be done, and I might give it a go sometime.

But don’t count it out. It’s a solid game with some remarkably deep strategy for such a small and quick worker placement game. And that’s where I leave you, my friends. If you have been wanting to dive head first into a Uwe Rosenberg masterpiece but are afraid of the financial and eternal investment, AACBAS is definitely for you. It’s about half the cost of its big brother, half the size, and less than half the time to play it. I have a feeling that this game will be much easier and quicker to get to the table with my wife…and just as engaging and easy to learn with my coworkers over lunch. I love the strategy, the quick play, and the dang cute little critters.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter
8
25 of 25 gamers found this helpful
“Good things do come in small packages!”

Creating a game that is short and simple, yet complex and rewarding is no easy fit. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small carries a title that is a bit unwieldy and long but behind this deceptively awkward name hides a gem of a game that is tight, quick, challenging and makes you want to set up again as soon as you are done.

Where it comes from:
All Creatures is a spinoff of the base Agricola – a beastly worker placement game from German designer Uwe Rosenberg that represents a major milestone in designer gaming. Released in 2007 and still occupying lofty #4 on http://www.boardgamegeek.com, that simulation of running a farm became known for very little dependency on chance, a plethora of choices and giving you grey hair from worrying that you are not going to be able to feed your family.

All Creatures is a 2-player only spinoff that focuses solely on the animal breeding aspect of the original. It comes in a small box good for travelling, has a very manageable footprint and is over in 30-40 minutes.

How it works:
The game consists of a game board with several action spaces for collecting resources, building structures and obtaining animals. Each player has three pawns to assign to these spaces to take advantage of their effects. The resources are represented by smaller wooden pawns, while the animals are realized as charming meeple-like figures of sheep, pigs, cows and horses.

Each player has their own plot of land that they use to construct buildings or build fences around their land. Fenced-off pastures and buildings can house a certain amount of animals. Improving buildings increases the number of animals these can accommodate. Having at least two animals of the same type produces more “babies”. At the end of the game the animals score you points based on how many of each kind you have. Whoever scores the most points after eight rounds of play is the winner.

How it plays:
Two-player only. Non-expandable board with just 16 action spaces. Sure makes it seem like a restrictive game. It comes as a wonderful surprise that with such a small array of options, Agricola: All Creatures offers players many viable strategies, each with pros and cons, requiring adjustments to the actions of the other player, requiring planning and foresight. The game strikes an excellent balance of presenting you with a choice of a few actions that make sense – rarely do you find yourself with nothing beneficial to do or with an overabundance of choice.

The turns go quick and it is rewarding to see your empty plot of land populated with livestock and buildings. While the beginner players will be mostly focusing on their own farm, sabotage is also possible. If it is fairly clear that your opponent is stockpiling wood in order to build a ton of fences – blocking the action space allowing them to do so is a sure way to ruin their plans.

The game delivers on its’ advertised short running time even for inexperienced players. The games feel brisk, engaging and fun and the scoring is quite simple, taking up only a couple of minutes.

How it feels:
The game flows beautifully, allowing you to meaningfully plan and strategize without being a math exercise. It will take a couple of plays to be comfortable with the game – to get a good understanding of how scores are calculated so that you can play to maximize your result. Because of the total absence of luck – there is some opportunity for very uneven victories, making it a little hard on the newcomers.
The conflict in the game is never overt or confrontational, lending the game a nice peaceful pace, especially combined with the serene farming theme.

The scoring, while simple, allows several paths to victory, leading to interesting experimentation and honing of strategy, making your playing style grow and evolve with every game. However, because it is not a large game – after repeated plays it will get somewhat repetitive as patterns of play become clear and obvious. The game has plenty to offer before this threshold is reached though and expansions offer welcome variety once you grow overly familiar with the base game.

The uncomplicated rules and scoring makes Agricola: All Creatures a good fit for newer players, while variety of strategies will engage veterans. The animal meeples shall be loved by all.

In conclusion:
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is an excellent product – it is a reasonably large game in a tiny box. Its’ parts come together for a smart, engaging and variable gaming experience that will especially be enjoyed by gaming couples. The compact format makes this a great travel game for your next trip with a significant other.

If you enjoyed this review please visit Altema Games website for more reviews and board game materials: http://altemagames.com/?page_id=11

 
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4
Scorpion Clan-Legend of the Five Rings
Arrowhead
8
44 of 45 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“All Creatures Big & Small vs. Agricola 2p”

I need to start this review by making a basic conflict of interest declaration – I am a Uwe Rosenberg fanboy (fanman?). Agricola is my favorite game – I have played over forty times – and would be many more if my gaming group were as obsessed as I am.

Two of us in our group greatly enjoy 2 person Agricola – the problem though is that 2 person Agricola with the same opponent starts to become a bit predictable, even with multiple card set expansions. There just aren’t enough different moments. I block clay all game as much as possible, Jay denies me wood.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small gives us the basic feel of full blown 2p Agricola without making the 2 hour time commitment.

Goal of the Game:
Score the most points – usually by having the most animals at the end of the game (each of which is worth one point). Additional points can be gotten by building certain buildings or achieving certain threshold numbers of each animal type (such as 3 points for 10 cows)

Basic Gameplay:
Straight up worker placement mechanic – I place a worker, you place a worker and so on. Each player has 3 workers without any ability to increase his family size. This means that each player has 3 actions per turn. Also, all possible actions are available from the beginning of the game. You get the benefit of an action as soon as it is taken.
The game lasts a total of 8 rounds.

Actions include:
1) taking resources (wood, stone, reed or fences)
2) placing fences on your farm
3) taking animals
4) building stalls or other farm buildings

Overview:
This game has a lot of the same basic feel of Agricola. Some spots accumulate resources so you want to take them when they are just about to be irresistible to your opponent. Your farm grows but not fast enough – like Agricola you don’t have enough actions. The tension of feeding is not present in this game.

The Good:
Feel of Agricola
Short play time
Plenty of meaningful decisions

The Bad:
Same feel as Agricola – if the big game doesn’t work for you this won’t either
Not much variability – though this is fixed by adding different buildings

Final Score:
This is a great game – but suffers some of the ‘sameness’ feeling of 2p Agricola
I don’t find this as problematic as the much shorter play time makes up for it. Also the expansion ‘More Buildings Big and Small’ fixes some of these problems.

 
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4
Noble
Amateur Reviewer
10
22 of 22 gamers found this helpful
“Raising sheep and building fences !”

Agricola is an easy-to-learn, two player game designed by Uwe Rosenberg.
You play as a simple farmer (or farmerette) and your goal is to have the most points after 7 rounds.
You can get those points by collecting and raising a variety of animals (sheep, horses,…), building structures or by expanding your farm and make full use of those expansions.

The game is played on 3 boards:
1 main board consisting of resources, fences, cribs, actions, etc.
and 2 small boards, 1 for each player, where they build their farm on.

Like I said before, this game is easy to learn and play but that doesn’t mean you can turn off your “wonder of nature” called a brain. There are different strategies you can and should use, because every “opponent” will play differently and you need to adept to that to be able to get a big farm.
Well, opponent is a harsh word in this case because you don’t really get the feeling you need to beat the person you play against, you just want to build an amazing farm…and sometimes that will mean you are the winner 🙂

The developer of this game really kept it simple and clean. The animals, cribs, fences,… are represented by small wooden figures and the buildings by tiles. The illustrations and design really gives you a peaceful feeling and his is the main reason why I like this game so much. A lot of 2 player games these days are heavily competitive. Agricola on the other hand is what I call “a friendly competitive game”: If you win, that’s great, if you lose…well there is always a next time and you will look forward to that because it was so much fun ! That’s what everyone wants if they play games, they just want to have a nice time! If you want to have a high strategic face-off, that’s possible to of course, but I have the feeling that you might want to search for another game then because it would be a shame to ruin this lovely and relaxing ambience the game offers you.

Pros
– Easy to learn
– Small box so good for when you are on a trip
– Wooden miniature livestock !
– Lots of fun !

Cons
I really can’t find a negative thing for this game.

Conclusion
This game is very amusing and while it’s good for people who aren’t that into board-games, more experienced players will have a lot of fun to. You can learn it very quickly and you will enjoy it for many hours !

 
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2
8
33 of 34 gamers found this helpful
“What better than a game about Animal Husbandry? ”

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a delightful little Worker-Placement game with the theme of animal husbandry. You read that right, the theme is to raise and breed animals, on a farm. It’s farming, with animals. That’s very addictive. I can tell you’re hooked already.

This game is more than just a pretty theme, though. It’s also a fantastic introduction to Worker-Placement board games.

In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, the goal is to develop your small, 6 acre property into a profitable farm by the end of eight rounds. Each round you and your opponent take turns placing your three workers on available actions on the center board. Each spot on the board can only be taken by one worker, and grants a unique action to the worker’s player for that turn. These actions may do things like give the player basic resources, grant them new livestock, allow them to build a new building, expand their property, or build fences to contain their animals.

The goal of the game is to be the most successful farmer in regards to what livestock you have at the end of the 8th round. Some buildings help count towards your score, and/or give you special abilities. (Pro Tip: The Open Stables upgrade is the most useful Special Building for most strategies.) Each building costs a different amount of resources, so what you can build depends on what you’ve been able to accumulate earlier in the game. There are five actions that can be selected to take just basic resources, each one giving a different amount. Four of these restock every round, regardless of whether they’ve been claimed or not. The livestock pastures also restock every round, but what is added depends on the state of the pasture.

For example, one pasture action starts with a cow, but for every round the cow isn’t taken, a pig is added to her field. When a player places a worker in this pasture, they’ll get all the animals there. At the end of the round where the field has been emptied, a new cow is placed in the pasture. (Pro Tip: Try and hold off on selecting a pasture until there’s at least one other animal in it. If you can get a pair of a single type, that’s best.)

When you take animals, you need some place to put them. You can’t just throw them into your huge tracts of land. They’ll wander off. You have to build fences or have room in buildings to house them. There are two actions that allow you to build fences around your fields, which allows you to keep two animals of the same type per field. If you build a feeding trough in a field or building, that doubles the amount of animals you can keep there. Animals of different types can’t share space in buildings or fields, so you need to build multiple areas to house them. (Pro Tip: The sides of buildings count as fence edges. Try to plan your fields around using this feature to save your limited amount of fences.)

If you have two or more animals of the same type housed together, at the end of the round they’ll breed and produce another one of the same type. You can only get one baby animal of each type per round, so don’t think that this will escalate quickly. Also, if you don’t have a place to house the new spawn, back to the supply pile it goes.

“Okay,” you say. “This is… easy. I’ll just always make sure I go first and then I’ll always be able to get the best actions, breed the most animals, and just generally be awesome.” Nope! Here’s a monkey wrench to that little plan: One of the available resource actions allows a player to take the Starting Player Token. This is a common action available in Worker-Placement games, and it generally comes with an additional benefit. For this game, the player also gets any wood that has accrued there, which is one piece every round. This allows the player who started second to steal the glory that is being Player One. This has some pretty big implications, especially if there’s ever a time where you desperately need to make sure you get something before your opponent. Also, this action, like all the others, is available every round. (Pro Tip: Going first isn’t always the boost-up you might think it would be. Fighting over the Starting Player token is never a good strategy.)

Alright, so now that I’ve blown your minds with the basics of the rules, are you ready for the meat of this game? At the end of the game, your score is determined by the worth of your buildings, and by how many of each animal type you have. You also get a bonus according to the scoring chart, based on the total of each animal type you have. Notice that if you have less than three of any type, you lose three points. (Pro Tip: Diversity is key, but not the end all. If you can get a high volume of one type and the minimum of the others, that’ll work just as well.

I know that this is a lot. You were just looking for a good time and here I am, laying down all these action types and breeding rules. It can be overwhelming to take in all at once. But it’s worth it. For serious, it’s worth it. Worker-Placement games are often richly-themed games with mechanics that just make sense after the first turn. Once you learn how to play one, learning new games of the same type is trivial. Learning to master them, not so much. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a fabulous introduction to this world of tiny wooden figures. It has a theme that is universally addictive, you can knock out a game in 30 minutes, and the replayability value is huge. No two games are ever the same.

If you’re looking to dip your toe into a popular Euro-game mechanic, or just looking for a more easily digested strategy game, look no further than Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small.

 
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4
I'm a Real Person
9
30 of 36 gamers found this helpful
“Excellent 2 Player Game”

This is a great 2 player game that’s easy to learn and quick to play. Even though the mechanics are easy the strategy of the game on what action to do when is what keeps me coming back to this little box of animals.

I’ve played this game with light board gamers and more hardcore board gamers and everyone that has played it has wanted to play again.

While the strategy is sophisticated there is a point over a few plays of the game where you start to realize when you need to utilize a particular action over another in the game.

The components of this game are excellent quality, the pieces are all quality wood pieces just as you would expect from a game with the name Agricola on it.

The game is easy to learn but takes several plays to master which I think is a good balance in a small two player games. After the strategies are mastered then the game does get more of a chess type of feel.

Overall I think Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is a excellent game for 2 players. It makes a great filler for the epic game nights as well as a fun addition to the hum-drum relaxing at home nights.

 
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8
United Kingdom
Advanced Reviewer
Knight-errant
Tinkerer
9
41 of 53 gamers found this helpful
“Quick, fun, and a surprisingly meaty game”

I think I am a little unusual in that I am reviewing All Creatures Big and Small having never played the original Agricola. So I won’t be giving you any comparisons with the original, bigger game.

So, All Creatures Big and Small is a nice little game about farming, resource management and worker placement. It has lovely little animeeples (which can get a bit crowded towards the end of the game when you may end up needing to stack sheep in a slightly comical way) and the tiles and boards look great. The game moves swiftly with only three things to do per player each turn, and after eight turns (and about thirty minutes once you know what you are doing) all that remains is for a couple of minutes of scoring up.

Something worth noting is that there is no randomness in the game at all, which potentially makes this quite chess-like, though the way we play it is pretty fast and loose.

I can play this happily with my wife or my nearly-six-year-old daughter (who does need some advice sometimes), which makes this a great value game for our household. I’d really recommend this as a game that really allows you to get a good Euro-game experience with just two players in a very short time. Great stuff.

 
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4
Game Salute fan
10
12 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“Lovely game”

This was the first worker placement game I’ve been able to get my wife to play, it’s just simple enough and is acting as a good teaching/gateway game for her to understand the worker placement mechanic. I’d highly recommend this game for married couples. My wife tends to enjoy abstract games with simple rules(lost cities being one of them.)

I really enjoy playing this with my wife, who has not played many board games. I’ve used this game to teach her quite a few new things, and she’s really enjoyed this one. I’ve also taught this to other friends who’ve greatly enjoyed it.

I do think getting a least one expansion would help it’s replay value by adding additional buildings.

This is a quick game, which almost always finishes in under 40 minutes. This has been my favorite 2 player game to play lately.

 

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