Lowell Kempf(Gnomekin)United States
Agricola is now covered the dust of history. It is now just the first in a series of resource efficiency games designed by Uwe Rosenberg, who now has quite the reputation for that kind of game. Many folks still love it while other folks are bored with it. You can even find it in Barnes and Noble these days and I’m sure that among the young and hip gaming crowds, Agricola is now considered boring and mainstream, just like Settlers of Catan.
However, when Agricola came out, I remember how it was like a supernova. From out of nowhere, this amazing game shook up our tiny, niche world. Since as long as I could remember, Puerto Rico was the number on game on the geek and this interloper threatened that precious position. There were crazed lovers and crazed haters and it was like a demented High School popularity contest.
Now, I happen to like Agricola and I still think that it’s a really good take on worker placement. While I can see why some folks might find it boring, I think that the concept of sending folks out to do chores around the farm makes the game very accessible to games and non-gamers alike. However, I am not here to praise Agricola. I am here to muse about how it’s supernova entrance seems to be like Tigris and Euphrates’s.
I wasn’t into board games when Tigris and Euphrates came out. However, I understand that, at the time, Reiner Knizia was noted for making light auction games but wasn’t considered a top tier designer. Tigris and Euphrates apparently made him into a star, showing folks that he could make heavy games and that he could make good games. Since then, Knizia seems to be suffering from seasonal rot but no one can deny the man’s had an impact on the hobby.
Uwe Rosenberg, before Agricola, was that bean guy. Personally, Bohnanza played a big role in me getting into board games and I think Space Beans is an under-rated evil little gem (and someday I will get Klunker on the table, I swear) However, the difference between light and quirky Bohnanza and the five-hundred pound gorilla that is Agricola is night and day.
Sure, folks generally knew who Rosenberg was. At the very least, they knew about Bohnanza. However, when the farm landed on the hobby, Rosenberg went from that bean guy to a designer to remember.
I might be drawing a false comparison between these two events. After all, I wasn’t around for Tigris and Euphrates. And I may be over-estimating the real impact of the games on the overall hobby. After all, we do live in a sheltered and insular world in the Geek, living in denial of the fact that millions of people love Monopoly.
However, it does seem like the early Knizia and Rosenberg were designers who made some very fun and light designs that would still be remembered and played even if they did nothing else. However, their first heavy designs seem to have come out of nowhere and showed them to be designers of the first degree.