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Agricola – Analog Farmville

By: Everett S

Agricola - Analog FarmvilleMissy got me this game for Christmas. I had seen it before and remember telling her it sounded like fun. What I DIDN’T know is that Agricola (sort of like an analog version of Farmville) is really – no, REALLY – complicated at first!

The Agricola instruction book is in size 8 font and spans a dozen or so pages front-to-back. The pieces are all colored wooden shapes, which are supposed to signify dozens of different “things”. There is a stack of playing boards to choose from, as well as cards – LOTS of them.

All of this is precisely why I had to go online and search for “How to Play Agricola”. I’ve never had to do that with a game before. I may not be a genius, but feel like I should be able to understand simple directions. Not so. Apparently I’m not the only one, as the results were filled with videos and articles attempting to explain how to play it.

After checking out some of these videos I think I have a pretty good grasp on how to play the game, but I’ll have to talk Missy into giving it another try with me. The first attempt took about an hour and resulted in our eventually just giving up. To be fair, it was after working and we weren’t ready to have to think so hard. We just wanted to play a game and relax.

I know I’m giving it a bad rep, but – from what I hear – this game is extremely fun and addicting once you get to know how to play it. As I understand it, Agricola is to gardeners as dungeons and dragons was to ostracized teens in the 1990s.

I’m not going to be able to explain how you play Agricola right now, but I will point you to some places that can just in case you came across this post while trying to find that information.

If anyone has already played this game, we’d love to hear what you think of it! We’ll be breaking it out ourselves again soon.

Agricola Resources:

How to Play Agricola Video
Agricola on Amazon (read the reviews)
Playing Agricola (wikiHow)
Agricola on WikiPedia

Category: Funny, Reviews, The Transplants

Comments (7)

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  1. Anna says:

    I adore Agricola. :-) On the other hand, I like other strategy games lite, like Settlers and Carcassone. Folks like Mark who never got hooked by strategy games at all tend to get stuck right where you two did — in the extended rules. I tend to think of learning the rules as one of the fun parts of the game… :-) If you want, I can teach you the rules sometime.

  2. Anna says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention — I can’t believe you called it analog Farmville! That almost makes me have to ditch Agricola.

  3. Ebert says:

    Sure, we’d LOVE a tutorial! I think I have the basics all figured out after watching that half-hour long video.

    Turn-based strategy games are my favorite, but I’m used to playing them on the computer (Sid Myers Civilization is the best!) so this was a little different. I’m sure we’ll love it once we get started.

    Sorry about the Farmville reference!

  4. Motku says:

    I recently picked up Agricola myself. I read the rules, then watched a youtube video (how to play agricola, board games with scott: ). Once I felt ready, I got a friend to play.

    We played that game six times in one glorious do nothing weekend day. I love it, and we’ve only scratched the surface. Mind if I try my hand at a run down?

    You start the game with two rooms in your house, a field with potential, and two workers. You also get seven improvement cards, and seven occupation cards (these are potential rule changers once you start playing the game).

    The game comes with permanent action squares (build a room, sow a field, learn an occupation), as well as actions that arrive at random but are confined to a stage. e.g. The first stage is four rounds in length, and will open up four more actions as each stage is played but in a random order. This adds variety, and means you can’t completely meta plan.

    Each player takes turns placing a family member token on an action. Once a token is placed, that action can’t be used again that round. Once all tokens are placed, the actions get reset, a new card is added, and the next round begins.
    Some actions will want to be additively replenished each round. The take wood action wants three wood. But you add three more wood each round. Some rounds (if no one picks it up) will have six wood, or nine wood, or more. Ultimately you will want to harvest goods when they are plentiful, but so too will your neighbors!

    You need to build pastures to hold animals, and till the soil to sow grain and vegetables. Each stage ends with a harvest, where you need to feed your family. This may mean you need to fish for food, or build an oven to convert grain to food, or become a master brewer to convert grain to food. If you can’t feed your family you take a beggar card for each food you failed to give. Newborns (family members just recently played) only need one food, until the next stage where they will need two.

    Your goal is to fill up your board with rooms, fields and pastures. And stock those with family members, grains and veggies, and animals. The game rewards you for doing a little bit of everything at the final score.

    I hope that helps make a bit more sense of it, I want to play this game again! Maybe trying one of the more advanced decks…

  5. Thanks for your rundown on how to play Agricola Motku! I watched that same video and have to say it’s probably the best way to figure it all out. Writing it down is one thing, but to have someone show you with actual pieces is what one really needs in order to fully comprehend all of the facets of the game.

    Thanks again! I can’t wait to play it myself. We’re going to try and get some friends who have already played it to teach us how, which should make things go much smoother.

  6. Motku says:

    I played it with someone who’s never played just last night. It officially takes me longer to set up all those little pieces than it takes me to teach them how to play.
    I think I’ll pick up some small bowls for games like this. So you can just pick what you need from a dish.

    I’ll admit, I came across your blog because I enjoy sustainability. But I also really love to unwind playing a board game with friends, eating snacks, kicking back some homebrews… It’s a great way to spend an evening.
    And I have in some ways “too many” and in others “not nearly enough.” So getting some small bowls would be great for many games.

    Are you doing any winter garderning? I wanted to start that this year, but the garden doesn’t get enough light in a day. Neighbors fences are too high. My goal is to do that next year instead. But I’m already getting excited for the spring.

  7. Ebert says:

    No winter gardening this year. We didn’t get settled into our new property in time. I’ll be doing some next year though. I think I’ll just make a PVC pipe and plastic tunnel over the garden area. Feel free to come do a guest post on here about winter gardening any time!

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