Agricola – The Perfect Board Game

By | February 25, 2015

Agricola with AnimeeplesI am a board game fan, particularly as the nights draw in. Whilst we have three bookcases full of board games at home (did I mention I was a geek?) Agricola is our go-to game for all sorts of occasions.

Agricola is a European style board game, which means that everyone gets to play along to the end, there’s none of the frustration of being eliminated early when you land on Grandpa’s hotel on Park Avenue, and having to sit out the rest of the game. Euro games minimize the luck factor too, there’s no dice in Agricola, success is all about the decisions you make rather than being a game of chance.

Even if you’re convinced you’ve lost, you can still use your turns to “scupper” an opponent, evening up the odds, so you never have one of those games where everyone knows who is going to win.

Agricola is for 1-5 players and we estimate timings as being half an hour per player. The age range is listed as 12+ but we’ve played it with younger kids, giving them a little advice as we go along, and they enjoy it.

You take the role of a farmer in middle Europe during the middle ages. Your job is to develop your farm, extend your house and grow your family, whilst making sure everyone has enough to eat through the winter.

You send each of your people out to work – there’s plenty of jobs they can be doing, such as gathering wood, clay, stone or reed, collecting grain, ploughing fields, sowing crops, rounding up livestock or baking bread. If someone else has chosen an action, you can’t do the same thing, so you need to be flexible.

Whilst the concept is simple and the rules are easy, what gets difficult is prioritizing all the things you need to do to ensure everyone will be fed and you’re making the most of your resources as points are awarded at the end of the game for having developed your farm, and deducted if you’ve had to beg for food.

It’s a cool way to get the family thinking and talking about resources, balancing budgets and prioritization, as well as developing thinking and planning skills. Oh and it’s great fun.

Once you’ve got the hang of the game you can liven it up by introducing new occupations and improvements which give you the chance to build a stronger story for your family, allowing you to specialise in arable or livestock farming, or in brewing, baking or growing prize pumpkins.

Introducing the extra occupation and improvement cards steadily gives the game a few extra leases of life. We’ve played it well over 100 times, and have only used the cards that come with the base game, there’s still expansion packs available that we haven’t unwrapped. That makes the game great value, we estimate about 30 cents per play so far, way less than 1 cent per minute of fun. We picked ours up at a game shop, but Amazon currently has it on sale.

Agricola is for 1-5 players and we estimate timings as being half an hour per player. The age range is listed as 12+ but we’ve played it with younger kids, giving them a little advice as we go along, and they enjoy it.

You take the role of a farmer in middle Europe during the middle ages. Your job is to develop your farm, extend your house and grow your family, whilst making sure everyone has enough to eat through the winter.

You send each of your people out to work – there’s plenty of jobs they can be doing, such as gathering wood, clay, stone or reed, collecting grain, ploughing fields, sowing crops, rounding up livestock or baking bread. If someone else has chosen an action, you can’t do the same thing, so you need to be flexible.

Whilst the concept is simple and the rules are easy, what gets difficult is prioritizing all the things you need to do to ensure everyone will be fed and you’re making the most of your resources as points are awarded at the end of the game for having developed your farm, and deducted if you’ve had to beg for food.

It’s a cool way to get the family thinking and talking about resources, balancing budgets and prioritization, as well as developing thinking and planning skills. Oh and it’s great fun.

Once you’ve got the hang of the game you can liven it up by introducing new occupations and improvements which give you the chance to build a stronger story for your family, allowing you to specialise in arable or livestock farming, or in brewing, baking or growing prize pumpkins.

Introducing the extra occupation and improvement cards steadily gives the game a few extra leases of life. We’ve played it well over 100 times, and have only used the cards that come with the base game, there’s still expansion packs available that we haven’t unwrapped. That makes the game great value, we estimate about 30 cents per play so far, way less than 1 cent per minute of fun. We picked ours up at a game shop, but Amazon currently has it on sale at 30% off, click the orange button for latest pricing.

Agricola is the perfect two player game for couples. We bag it specially to be easily set up for two, but you can easily mix in the extra cards for more players when you have board game playing guests or you convince extra family members to join in. As a board game for couples it’s complex enough to feel like a real game rather than a quick card or travel game, but with enough variability to give it maximum replay value as every game is different.

This overview shows you what’s in the box and gives you a quick rules summary.

If you like Agricola, then Le Havre is the next natural step. Here you’re working the docks in France, building up your own empire of warehouses, and factories as well as a fleet of boats shipping goods.

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