Monday, June 4, 2012

Game Report #1 - Agricola Part 1

This game was by far one of the most interesting games of Agricola that I've played to date. Time and again strategies failed, players were fooled and players fought to survive. It was played at boiteajeux where you can play for free:

You can buy the Japanese version of the game from

But it is highly language dependent.

The three players were Diz (BLUE), myself (RED) and Tim (PURPLE) (now living in Australia). As we sat at our respective computers Diz won the roll and got to take the first turn. A lot can be revealed by the first turn - if they take an occupation it can immediately tell you what their strategy will be, if they take grain they probably have some sort of baking minor improvement and so on. The penalty for going first is that you start with one less food than the other players, this is something to keep in mind, but seldom a problem.

Diz moved to play his first occupation, 'Fieldsman'. The Fieldsman lets you sow an extra two resources when you sow one field - a powerful card if you're only going to play a few fields. Ah ha! I thought - obviously he's going to be taking grain and plowing soon. Knowing what your opponent is probably going to do lets you prioritize your actions. I took 3 wood then Tim took 2. I was aiming to get my first room built before stage 2 started so that I could get a third worker as quickly as possible. It's a risky strategy since you can't tell exactly when the family growth card comes out, but it can pay off nicely.

Diz ploughed a field, I played Field Watchman (which lets me plough a field everytime I take grain). This meant that I could stop Diz in his plan while getting both grain and fields. An evil move for sure. Then Tim took the 'First Player' action. Now he was going to go first each round.

Having played the Field Watchman card I assumed Diz would take the grain - it was a good move for both of us, but he might also have taken the valuable reed - now in a stack of 2, ready for building a room, or the clay which would have given him enough for a fireplace. Tim went first though, and took the reed. Ok, so Diz will take the grain, or perhaps the food I guessed. I was wrong. Instead he took the 3 wood. It didn't seem to fit with his plan, so I smiled to myself as I clicked on the 1 grain space and ploughed a field. I stopped smiling and almost fell out of my chair when Tim made his next move.

In a 3 player game there are two spaces where you can play an occupation card. One lets you take you first occupation for free and the rest at 1 food each. The other space each occupation costs you two food. Instead of playing an occupation for free, Tim played one for 2 food. A crippling mistake in the second round. Diz took the 2 clay and I took first player and played an improvement for 2 wood that would let me plough an extra field. I had given up on getting the first room when Tim took the 2 reed. He obviously had the same idea as me, so instead I decided to take on Diz - my cards worked together well and would let me cover my farm quickly.

It was time to start thinking about food.  Diz had only 2 food and needed 2 more Tim needed 3 while I only needed 1 more to be safe at the end of round 4.  It was only round 3, but when it comes to food you should always look ahead.  I eyed the 3 food on the fishing space warily.  Surely if I didn't take it now, somebody else wood.  But if I left it there I could use that to my advantage.  I needed only one more food.  If I let Diz and Tim fight over that space I might just be able to build the first room after all!  Adrenaline pumping I took the 4 wood and watched as neither Tim nor Diz took the food.  Instead Tim took 3 wood and Diz took 3 clay.  There wasn't enough reed on the board yet, I needed 2 reed to build a room so instead I decided to take the 3 food and let them fight over the food spaces in the next round.  Surely then I'd have time to build the room.  Then Tim built his first room, and Diz took 1 grain.  Damn.  I failed to stop Diz in his plan and Tim got the first room!

Diz's board at the start of round 4
Ok, I thought, I can still keep 1st player this round and build a room.  Tim and Diz will both need to get food so they won't be taking the first player space.  It was a big gamble because if Family Growth didn't come up in the next round somebody else could take first player and I might be left with an empty room and nobody to live in it.

The fourth round started like this: Rob- 2 reed; Tim- 2 food; Diz - 1 sheep. 

Wait a minute - Diz took the sheep?  Ok, then he must be going to play an improvement next - probably a hearth since he had grain and sheep.  That's the only way he could get enough food.

Rob - Built a room!  Tim - took 1 food; Diz - 

We waited as Diz thought about his next move.  I refreshed the game in the morning to see that he had decided to ... sow his field?!

This left him short of food and gave him a 'begging card', a -3 point penalty.


I waited to see what the next card we turned over would be.  My strategy was riding on it being Family Growth.  I clicked 'refresh' and waited.  It was... Renovation.  Dammit.  That meant I had to choose another action.  I still didn't have clay - I'd need that very soon, but there was also 6 wood on the table.  The round went as follows:
Rob: 6 wood; Tim: 3 clay; Diz - 4 wood;
Rob: Ploughed 2 fields; Tim took 1st player; Diz built a cooking hearth.

When Tim took 1st player I took a breath.  Dammit.  It might still be ok - there was only a 50% chance of the next card being Family Growth, so maybe I could get 1st player back in time to beat him.

Round 6 we turned over... Family growth.

Tim took Family Growth.  Diz took 2 reed.  I shook my head.  I'd been played.  Tim had come back from his blunder early in the game and now I had a farm full of empty fields and not enough people to work them. I took 3 clay.
Tim: 2 food; Diz 2 sheep (ushered directly to the waiting cooking hearth); Rob 1 grain + 1 field.

Round 6 - I missed out on Family Growth.

I knew that Tim would need to get food now, so at least I could count on him doing that and Diz looked like he was about to build a room, so hopefully I could get some decent resources this round.

Tim: 6 wood; Diz 1 room 1 stable; Rob 2 food.
Tim: 4 wood; Diz Family growth + Cooking Corner; Rob Fireplace
Tim; 1 food

I watched, confused and beginning to question my understanding of the game as Tim took all the wood on the board.  Did he think his workers were beaver people?  Was he starting a termite colony?  Suddenly his score dropped 9 points as he took 3 begging cards as a result of thinking that wood might be in some way edible.  I was back in the running again.


  1. An excellent and entertaining overview! I can't wait to read the rest of it. We should start up a new game. I'll be sure to correct my mistakes next time.

  2. I had a lot of fun. Actually when it comes to mistakes some of my best games have come from having to win back an early mistake! I'll get the next one up as soon as I can.

  3. I'll join in too. I got embarrassed last game!

  4. Some weird choices of play for sure, but experimenting is part of the fun.

  5. I think I'm approach the game with a tactical mindset, which isn't really helping me out. Focus...on...long term...strategy. Oh, 4 stone! I'll take it!