by The Beast
(Boardgame Beast HQ)
Number of players:
Teen to adult
Agricola is simply a magnificent board game, yet dense and potentially over-complex for some players. The solo play is a nice touch and components are top class.
The game and gameplay
Players have to farm a small holding, converting land into fields, pastures and housing and raising sheep, wild boar and cattle or vegetables and grain to feed their growing families.Each round begins with the turn of a round card. This generates a fresh option for each player, in addition to regular options such as Day Labourer, Fisherman or Stable Building.
Agricola game players take turns using their tokens to select an option. Only one player may choose each option in a round. Some options include resources which, like the gold tokens in Puerto Rico, build up until somebody simply cannot resist taking them.
Each farm is divided into squares. You can fence in areas to form pastures, or plow land to create fields. Animals will breed if you have pastures available, while each harvest time, productive fields yield grain or veggies.
Players may purchase minor or major improvements to their farm, including fireplaces or ovens to process their raw produce and turn it into food.
Without food, your family will starve and you will be forced to beg. Each begging card loses you victory points, but you earn VPs for upgrades, bio-diversity (growing and rearing lots of different crops and animals), using all your available land and so on.
The winner is the player with the most VPs after the final harvest.Pros and cons
A simple review cannot do full justice to the Agricola game. It’s deep, impressively complex and rewards careful planning and resource management.
Everything is made beautifully. While tokens are included to represent vegetables, grain and animals, Mayday Games has launched add-on wooden “meeples” (similar to those found in Carcassonne, which really lend an extra cute dimension to the game.
There are tons of components and all cards and boards are printed on top quality card stock. You cannot help but feel impressed when you set the game up.
The instructions are a little dense and hard to fathom. Fair enough, it’s a huge game and there is a lot to talk about, but the learning curve should be softened. You should try to play the simpler Family Game variation first, or find a friend who can walk you through the Agricola game for your first try.
The solo game is challenging and a fun addition. This adds value, as you won’t need to find a friend to play when you’re in the mood to let it grow.
Agricola is absolutely not for everybody. It’s beyond people who don’t enjoy resource management, planning and strategy. But if that is your cup of tea, then the Agricola game should be firmly top of your wish list.