Thursday, May 26, 2011

Random Thoughs on Agricola

I was pretty late jumping on the Agricola bandwagon. I had seen it for years on boardgamegeek on or near the top of the highest rated game list. It had always kind of intrigued me but, I mean, how fun could a game be that was about farming? About a year ago I was able to get a copy of the game. After reading through the rules a couple of times I was ready to play. The problem was that nobody else was ready to play. This happens to me quite a bit. I get a new game. I read through the rules a few times. I don't get a chance to play the game for a while and I forget the rules. This doesn't bother me too much though. I'm one of those weird ones that actually enjoys reading rules. About six months ago I suggested the game at one of our game nights. Luckily, a few of the people had played and they were willing to teach the game. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't a big fan of the game the first time I played. There's A LOT of stuff going on and it made my brain hurt. I did see though that there was some definite potential to the game and I wanted to play again to explore. I now have played a dozen or so times and I can now say that Agricola is one of my favorite games. Once you get through the initial learning curve you find a fantastic medium to heavy weight strategy game. I'm not going to explain the rules in this post. I'm not really in the mood to wright for the next two hours, and I don't think many of you would want to read them. I will go into some of the reasons why I love the game though, and why I think you should check it out.

Choices, Choices, and more Choices! Did I mention choices? There's a lot of decisions to be made in this game. This allows multiple paths to victory. Many games have one dominant strategy that everyone uses because if you don't you probably won't win. This is definitely not the case with Agricola. This adds to the replayability and total enjoyment of the game.

Goodies! There's a recent expansion to the game that came out called The Goodies. This adds little wooden pieces that actually look like the things they are supposed to look like. The grain looks like a bundle of grain, the sheep are little wooden sheep, and the cows actually look like cows! The expansion doesn't add a whole lot to the actual game play, but it does add a lot to the theme. It's pretty fun to see your farm after the game is over with little pigs and sheep running around. My wife likes the goodies so much that she refused to play until I was able to order one.

The Cards. You can play Agricola with or without most of the cards. I definitely prefer playing with the cards. They add a little complexity to the game, but also allow for deeper strategy. You are dealt 7 occupation cards as well as 7 minor improvement cards when you begin the game. It's a lot of fun studying your cards and figuring out which ones to play and how they are going to interact with each other. The game comes with a ton of cards. You'll have to play a lot of Agricola before you see all of them.

Balanced: As with most good strategy games the person with the best strategy is usually the winner. With that said, most games are really pretty close and come right down to the end. The person who can squeeze out the most victory points in the last round could very well be the winner. I've had quite a few games that are decided by one point. This can make for a very exciting finish.

Passes "the wife test": My wife really enjoys Agricola. She like a lot of games, but usually shies away from the more complex and heavier strategy games. This one is an exception to the rule. Any game that can take over two hours to play and still passes "the wife test" is a winner in my book. It's also a great two player game. A lot of my game playing is with my wife, so I'm always looking for game that play well with two.

These are a few of the reasons why I love Agricola. The more I play the game the more I find reasons that I enjoy it. I'm looking forward to getting The Farmers of the Moor expansion in the future. There's still a lot that I need to explore in the base game before then though. If you haven't checked out Agricola yet I would highly recommend that you do. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

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