Gaming Session – Agricola
Ben and Matt
This was Ben’f first time playing Agricola and my first time running it. It had been a few months since I last played and every time we had previously played, Drew had set up!
I got it sorted eventually and I think I did a reasonable job of setting up and explaining the process. Agricola is *definitely* a game that needs explaining from someone who has already played as there is just so much to do and look at that it is overwhelming at first.
The first game was quite close (2pts) with both of us doing a good job of covering our fields and diversifying. I actually made sure to plant crops this time, albeit later in the game than I probably should have. Luckily I had the plow one field and get another 2 (or is it 3) for free. This is brilliant at the end game to cover squares, but you do need to have 3 occupations to get it into play, so you want to make sure those occupations are useful or else you might not be allocating resources in the most effective manner.
I was struggling the whole game for food and focused on animals as soon as they came out so I could cook ’em up. Overall though I was inefficient in how I was feeding my family, using turns to buy food etc.
Speaking of which, the second game really showed this. Ben didn’t diversify enough and was always struggling to expand. This game I was blessed with cards that let me swap wood for food and I made sure from the outset that food was *never* going to be an issue. If you are wasting turns just to get food you are always going to be behind the 8-ball. Not having to worry about food let me focus on sowing grain early on and then expanding into vegetables.
Ben fell into a trap that became clear to Shane, Drew and I on about our second or third game. Shane had an amazing combination of occupations and minor improvements and he was almost beside himself as he worked out his masterplan before we began. As we played though, his masterplan fell apart as the turns or resources didn’t go his way.
This is a MAJOR factor in Agricola. You have to be adaptable and *constantly* reassess your occupations and minor improvements. Some cards are just not going to come into play, but others that might seem like duds at the start might end up being quite powerful by the end of the game. In the first game, I had an extra turn due to having the extra family member without needing a room. I also had minor improvement that let me upgrade from clay to stone for less stone and reed than normal. I never thought I would get a chance to use it and had forgotten about it, but I realised that I had just enough of each to upgrade for a couple of points that pushed me ahead to win.
So, constantly reassess and never be completely set on a strategy. Agricola is all about the most efficient resources you have at the time with what options are available on the board and in your cards.