Saturday, June 18, 2011


So I got to play Agricola the other night! YAY! Cause despite being terrible at it I always enjoy putting my farm together and trying to make it as big as possible. Now this game was exceptional because for the first time 5 of us were playing and 4 of us knew how to play. First and foremost I realized that the game gets noticably harder with five people, especially when our families start growing. Sure there are lots of spaces, but there is only ever ONE plow the fields, get grain, and get vegetables spaces. There is only one build rooms space until the very end of the game and turn order becomes something you violently fight over.

Getting to go first means you have your pick of all those awesome spots that everyone around the table are scilently hoping you don't pick. It is amazing how many times someone will put down a family member only to have 2 or three other people express their rage at you. It gets relentless. People who complain that the game doesn't have enough interaction obviously play it differently than we do or something. The other game fights over reed became particularly violent. Stupid reed.

It was a good game though. One person came out ahead with 37 points, three of us tied at 32, and the last player was new and did what new people do at that game which is suck.

The game is hard. I've spend a large amount of time teaching people how to play games. I've taught people how to play Twilight Imperium, Tribune, Arkham Horror, numerous roleplaying games, Malifaux, and many others. I enjoy teaching people how to play, I like getting new people into the hobby, and I am very good at getting people up and running with a game in a fairly compressed amount of time. Yet I am unable to teach people how to play Agricola effectivly. I mean hell Twilight Imperium and Malifaux a several orders of magnitude more complex than Agricola, at least in terms of rules, and yet I just can't seem to get across to people how to play the game.

Part of me thinks it is because I am pretty bad at the game. I am tempted to look up strategies online to see the different ways people win and what I can do differently to crush my friends. However, every time I sit down to do it I end up putting it off. It feels like cheating some how and I'd rather just play the game again. The other part of me realizes though is that the game changes tempo throughout. See most games you can give people a generalized idea of how to play and then after a few rounds they get it and they can use that information to keep going. It isn't like that with Agricola though. As harvest times get closer and closer together there is a greater crunch to feed your family. The whole way the game works changes. Those first two harvests it feels like you have all the time in the world when in fact you don't. Those first two harvest are a frenzy of activity as the other players struggle to get things set up so they are able to feed their family in the next few harvests. During each phase of the game everyone needs the same thing at the same time and so while the competition remains fierce all throughout. It is a pretty brilliantly designed game. Especially since it doesn't really rely on any sort of randomizer. There is no roll 2d6 and take that much wood, or draw x cards and gain those resources. The only random thing you have are your minor imporvments and occupations and even then they provide a boost or a direction to work in but they are by no means the source of victory.

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