SR: 4th July 2008 – Agricola

Well the long wait was over and tonight we finally managed to play the brand spanking new English edition of Agricola. Designed by Uwe Rosenberg and published by Z-Man Games, Agricola is a development game based around farming where you are trying to build up your farm and family while making sure everyone gets fed. The scoring at the end takes account of so many different areas of play that you can never succeed in every aspect so you need to pick which ones to concentrate on. With so many different cards in the game, it is likely to play differently every time and as it accommodates between 1 and 5 players, it should see a fair amount of play.

Having read on BGG strong recommendations to play the family version on the first attempt, I set things up for this version only to find Nige very determined to go straight into the full game. So the full game we went for and, although it did take quite a bit longer to play, about 3 hours 15 minutes, the addition of the Occupation cards and Minor Improvements didn’t make things that much more complex. My cards did not look terribly good on first examination, especially when compared to a couple of really nice cards played early on by Guy and Nige. I did eventually work my farm round to making good use of my Occupations but it took a while. Guy did lots of ploughing and got a nice crop production going whereas Mark K and I concentrated on grazing although this meant we were eating our livestock on a fairly regular basis. I was the only one to upgrade my buildings to stone (I had a card giving me a discount on renovating and one giving a bonus 2 points for a stone farmhouse), although everyone else but Guy managed to renovate once. Nige ended up with the most family members (5), closely followed by Mark K, whereas both Guy and Mark G stuck with their original two farmers throughout.

None of us was sure who had won due to the complexity of the scoring but, when I had totted everything up, it appeared Nige had triumphed by a single point. I say appeared because it wasn’t until I was clearing the game away that I realised I had short-changed my own total by 2 points, meaning I had pipped Nige by a single point.

We all thought the game was very good although it’s not quite up to the hype it has been getting. The thing it really has going for it though is the replayability. Mark K knocked it down a notch due to the time taken to play but Guy gave it a top mark of 10, as he liked the way you developed in your own way and people couldn’t mess with your plans (other than nabbing the action you wanted before you). I’m looking forward to trying this more and hopefully will get the family to give the introductory version a go.