4/11/2013

Games I Love: Agricola

When I think of Agricola the thing that immediately comes to mind is the phrase "farming is hard!" It's a common refrain from my gaming group when we play, but it hasn't stopped us from trying to master the art of boardgame farming.

In Agricola players take on the role of farmers in the middle ages, attempting to plant their fields, raise their livestock, feed their families, upgrade their homes, and become successful by taking on any number of occupations. Sound like a lot? It is. Which is why "farming is hard." And the more players added to the game, the harder it gets as people vie for the same resources and upgrades.

That might make Agricola sound unfun, but it's really a huge part of what makes it excellent. The game is deep. So deep, in fact, that in the two years we've been playing it, no one member of my gaming group has ever seen all the occupations or improvements which are dealt out to each player at the start of the game. This means there's almost always something new to look at and half the way to succeed at Agricola is to get a little lucky and find a good way to make your various occupations and improvements synergise so that you're reaping huge benefits.

The game itself is good looking and the wood tokens, whether they're the old versions (circles and blocks) or the new (person or animal shaped), feel right to the spirit of the game.  Similarly, the boards and cards are beautiful but simple, fitting in well with the time period of the game.  There's no dice rolling in Agricola, making the game far more about timing and playing the odds and against the other players than about round to round luck.  Agricola is definitely an excellently made game and I think it should be a welcome addition to any gaming table.