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Luke Hector
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For a long time Agricola was hailed as one of the kings of Euro games and to be fair it still is, holding on to its high spot on the BGG rankings, which yeah I know isn't exactly the gospel truth of how good a game is these days, but it was a decent Euro none the less and I enjoyed it despite having some issues with it, which I'll get on to later. Then Uwe Rosenberg released a second heavy farming game almost like an indirect sequel in the form of Caverna: The Cave Farmers (and the award for most pointless tag line title goes to . . . seriously publishers, stop it) and I immediately exchanged Agricola for Caverna and didn't look back.

Why? Well three reasons. Caverna gave me the ability to follow my own path to victory. No longer did I have to balance my farm with a piece of everything to do well. Want to completely ignore grain/vegetables and rear your own Animal Farm? Then do so and be rewarded. And on top of that, even though you had to feed your people, it was never so dominating over the game that you forgot that the game was about building a farm in the first place. Lastly the change from the improvement/occupation cards to room tiles. Many argued that that was a bad change, but there was still plenty of variety in those tiles, hell I've still yet to use every one of them. But I welcomed it because as much as the cards provided more variety, they were horribly imbalanced in the base game and it only got worse as expansions got thrown in. So you were forced to draft and all that did was extend the game time by 20 minutes. At least the room tiles were available to everyone from the get-go and I've had victories with a variety of them.

But Agricola is back with a new and improved version in the Revised Edition. Changes in components, graphic design, a player removed and new cards taken from Agricola's history of expansions. Sounds like this deserves a revisit - can Caverna still hold the crown for me or will Agricola rise up to take it back? The Battle of the Farmers commences. . . . . . yeah it's not as cool as Game of Thrones's version but what can you do?




Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Mayfair Games / Lookout Games
Age: 12+
Players: 1-4
Time: 90-120 min
RRP: £49.99


My Daddy Was A Farmer, And His Daddy Before That

From BoardGameGeek:

Updated and streamlined for a new generation of players, Agricola, the award-winning and highly acclaimed game by Uwe Rosenberg, features a revised rulebook and gameplay, along with wood pieces and components for up to four players.

The 17th Century Was Not an Easy Time to be a Farmer. A game for 1-4 players ages 12 and up; play time is 30 minutes per player. Amazing replay value. The Agricola base game is a revised edition of Uwe Rosenberg’s celebrated classic. The game is designed for 1-4 players, features improved all-wood components and a card selection from the base game as well as its expansions, revised and updated for this edition.



Players begin the game with two family members and can grow their families over the course of the game. This allows them more actions but remember you have to grow more food to feed your family as it grows! Feeding your family is a special kind of challenge and players will plant grain and vegetables while supplementing their food supply with sheep, wild boar and cattle. Guide your family to wealth, health and prosperity and you will win the game.



Modernising The Way We Do Farming


You can tell from the moment you open that box, that the components and graphics have taken a significant upgrade from the original version. You now have actual farmer meeples, a wide selection of decent wooden tokens for every resource and animal (though why they still went for cardboard food counters I'm still baffled by) and decent quality boards all round. It more than justifies its price tag on pieces alone, but this has had a side effect. This revised version only caters for up to 4 players with a 5-6 player expansion being sold separately in the future. Personally this is only an improvement as I'm not paying for pieces I don't need or ever want. I mean seriously, Agricola isn't long enough for you already that you want to play it with 5-6 people? Every time I've been involved that it's dragged on too long and spoilt the game so Mayfair can gladly stick it in a separate box so that I never have to be coaxed into that situation again.

The graphic design has also taken a slight improvement. The rule book is much easier to follow than before with plenty of diagrams, helpful tips and clear structured sections. It's by no means perfect, but I remember the old rulebook and that was a nightmare to sift through all that horrible small fine print. Here I feel that that it's become more accessible to get into and that's always a positive. Even just small things like adding the final scoring details to the centre board itself make a huge difference, now you've got no excuse to not know how well you're doing at any given time.


Is Life This Hard For Real Farmers?



For those un-initiated with Agricola, allow me to explain some key factors. This is a fairly heavy game, but not one that you can't learn fairly quickly and dive in. You will however be thinking you haven't got a clue in your first couple of games and it does take practice to get to grips with managing everything at your disposal and prioritising your needs. But the theme is strong throughout and despite my issues later, you'll feel like you're building up a farm, growing food and rearing animals. This is an enjoyable theme in general that deserves to be done right and any attempt to make it abstract or dry would have been met with unrelenting disapproval.

It is however very unforgiving. If you make a mistake, it's going to bite you hard and make you regret it instantly. Recovery won't be easy and sometimes not even possible, let's face it if you end up with any of those begging markers, kiss your victory goodbye, it's just too damaging. On the plus side, this keeps you on your toes with your choices all being very meaningful and keeps scoring relatively tight. Not watertight as you generally end up with a clear winner and loser by the end, but you won't necessarily know who that winner is going to be until everything is totalled up. Unless you're one of these people who has slowed the game down by constantly keeping track of everyone's current scores in your head, in which case, get out of my game immediately so we can have fun. . . .

Despite the high strategic level, there is still some luck involved. Drawing the cards at the start of the game is inherently luck driven especially if you just deal them out and don't draft. Most veteran players will say you should always draft, however doing so adds another 20-25 minutes minimum to the game as everyone has to read a ton of cards to understand what they all do before choosing. This isn't like 7 Wonders or even Seasons for that matter where drafting can be done relatively quickly, it's going to take a while so I prefer to just dish them out. Also the extra worker spaces that appear each round are randomized so even though you know roughly when that stone you really need will appear, you don't know exactly when and so it can sting you when the timing isn't as you were hoping, yet someone just had the perfect card turn up at the perfect time.


If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It, Otherwise Fix It!



I've mentioned my three main issues with the original Agricola, so have any of them been resolved here? Well, one of them has for the most part, if not entirely. The new revised set of improvements and occupations are definitely more varied and balanced than in the original base Agricola, if anything I think they even toned down the power of them in general as there were a lot of times where I felt I could survive without them. Some of them are still quite niche in how they will affect your strategy, but that's why you've got 14 cards in your hand to begin with, usually you'll find at least a couple in each category to suit your needs or provide a benefit. So that's sorted, well done. A friend of mine used a variant in one game of the original version where you got to start with one occupation already in play, this made it so much better in my opinion and I would go as far to say you should start with one improvement as well on top - at least then you can have a differing start-up to other players from the beginning. I bet I'm hearing a ton of Agricola lovers cry out "heresy" at that one.

However the "Feed Your People" mechanic is still very dominating over the whole affair, the necessity to acquire a large amount of workers is still there. So as you get more workers, your food demands get higher and higher and you're still forcing yourself out of doing something fun and interesting just to grab that last bit of food. I like the mechanic in other games, don't get me wrong, but it should be a side plot and not the main arc. T'zolkin, Caverna, Le Havre, hell even Nations and Through The Ages don't have feeding mechanics that rise above all else. I can still build my civilization in the way I choose, just with a side thought that I must have some spare food handy. Here you might as well change the title of the game to Agricola: Feed Your People!

Also no changes have been made to the scoring system. You still lose a ton of points if you don't have a piece of everything and get capped too quickly on having too much of something. Since when was it a bad thing for a farm to grow too much corn or not have one piglet in their bedroom? It's a strange choice thematically and all the time you see everyone just spending the last couple of rounds grabbing every last missing piece for their farm regardless if they gave it any consideration at all before hand. Oh I didn't grow any vegetables earlier, but I'll just grab that one pumpkin on that space for no reason except to save myself a couple of points, it's just a big thematic downer for me and I'm sad that it hasn't been amended. I think this new Agricola could have been perfect if they took a leaf out of Caverna's book and allowed for more flexibility, but of course many of the gamers out there will be glad that their original reason for loving Agricola is preserved.


Verdict on Agricola: Revised Edition


Genuinely despite the faults I have with Agricola, I do like the game and will play it. It gets a lot of things right in a quality Euro game. A strong theme (albeit with the odd bizarre design choice), good components and plenty of strategy with a good amount of variety. It's easy to see why it's high up on BoardGameGeek and this new revised edition has improved on the original visually and even done a good job of fixing one of my original problems with the improvement/occupation cards.That being said, there are still two issues I have with this Agricola that still frustrate me as well as other players and it solidifies my belief that Caverna is a better farming game all around.

Firstly being unable to specialise or vary your farm from anyone else's without being heavily penalised is just bad design in my opinion. By the end, everyone's farm will look near enough the same. Because not getting a piece of everything will hurt you so much that you'll lose outright. Secondly I'm all up for a tight game, but the "feed your people" mechanic here is incredibly restrictive. It occupies your every waking thought as you don't have room to have fun building your farm as you constantly have to meet food demands and due to the necessity of having extra workers in order to win the game, the food demand never diminishes as time goes on. I know many gamers who play the ultra-restrictive heavy games will love this to bits, but it's a valid criticism for many.

However despite my beefs, I still acknowledge it's a well designed and interesting game with the worst of the balance issues now fixed. If you like the farming theme and welcome mean, tight, restrictive game play, you can't go wrong with Agricola and I strongly insist you opt for this revised edition and not the old one. If you want a bit more flexibility and more paths to victory, you'll do what I do and get Caverna and be just as satisfied.



If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



YOU WILL LIKE AGRICOLA: REVISED EDITION IF:


You want a mean, tight, worker placement game - this is very unforgiving and feeding is paramount.


You felt that the card balance was way too skewed in the original and wanted some improvement.


You like the upgraded components and graphic design.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE AGRICOLA: REVISED EDITION IF:


You don't like not being able to specialise your farm - if that's the case, play Caverna.


You're fed up with feeding your people and feel it gets in the way too much.


You don't like the theme of farming - it's strongly represented here.
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Geoff Burkman
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I disagree with much of what you've said here about the game, but will defend to the death your right to say it!

Plus, it's well written.
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Jimmy Okolica
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Nice review. Probably the one item I disagree with is that at the end of the game, everyone's farm looks mostly the same. Having to have at least one of everything is very different than having to be balanced. So, I've got 6 cows and 7 boar and 1 sheep and one grain and veggie while you've got 8 grain, 4 veggies and only one of each animal? Our scores are the same but our farms look very different. :shrug:

As far as your other points, I mostly agree (though I'd argue that Through the Ages requires a balanced approach as much as 'Gric does). I actually quite like the idea of starting with an Occ on the table. Not sure if I'll try it or not, but I do like it.

As far as comparing 'Gric and Caverna, I think most people miss the point. I understand that they look the same. They're both worker placement; they're both resource conversion; they're both set collection; and they both have special powers that break the rules. However, 'Gric is first and foremost a hand management game. Given this hand of cards, how can I best play them? If you think of the games that preceded 'Gric (e.g., Bohnanza, Mamma Mia, Klunker, Bargain Hunter), they were all card games. 'Gric was just the next iteration for Rosenberg. So, the change from a hand of cards to special power rooms for everyone to choose is a fundamental change and difference between the two games. I get why people call Caverna, 'Gric 2.0, but I disagree. Frankly, while major, the decision to reward specialization rather than generalization is less fundamental than Rosenberg's decision to leave the hand management aspect behind.

Beyond that, it's a matter of taste. I'm a masochist. I like games that kick me in the balls over and over again. "oh, look at those pretty cards; can't you just imagine how beautiful your farm will be", *kick*, "oh, look at all that pretty wood; don't you want to grab it", *kick*, "having babies is so much fun; isn't it? everyone wants to", *kick*

Caverna is just too kind of a game. Give me the 'Gric ballbusting.
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farmergiles wrote:
Designer: Oleksandr Nevskly & Oleg Sidorenko

Well, now I want an Agricola/Mysterium deck. "I dreamt of a potato dibber... and murder."
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Luke Hector
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Jimmy:

Quantity isn't necessarily the only thing I want in a differentiated farm. Each farm in that example has the exact same types in their farm, just one has a bit more of one than the other. Whether he wanted to do any farming of crops or not, that player had to grab a single grain/veggie just for the sake of grabbing it. With Caverna, you can have approaches that are drastically different and finish with some really varied farms where people have clearly followed a particular theme throughout. I had one game where I did nothing but adventure and build inside the cave getting to the max 6 dwarves. It was an albino drow dwarf family or something, it was hilarious at the time, and it looked and felt totally different from other farms. I recall Zee Garcia's rant on an old Dice Tower Top 10 about the lack of specialization, it's very much like that. "You better have a couple horses or negative 5 points!! Noo! I just want sheep, maybe a cow!!"

Through the Ages does, though the newest edition has helped on that front, however yes I do find it slightly annoying in TTA that you must take everything at some point including military or suffer. It's why I prefer Nations, you can play through that game having no military whatsoever and still do well.

I see where you're coming from on Gric 1 and Gric 2.0 comparing, both ways work, funny enough I've not played any of those pre-Uwe ones actually. I don't necessarily see it as a hand management game though. You don't even play most of those cards during the game and you're not even forced to play any at all if you don't want to, it's just another option available to you if you have the resources available. I don't have to adventure at all in Caverna even though the option is there. And given that in the original Agricola the cards were unbalanced as can be, I didn't lose any sleep leaving them behind for Caverna's room tiles.

Yeah it is just taste, some love the game punishing them, some don't. I only like it in co-ops. Robinson Crusoe and Ghost Stories can kick me in the shins all day and I'll fight back against them. But in a competitive game where it's about an individual player winning as opposed to a team, it can be very offputting to new players teaching them a game where it just seeks to spoil their fun at every turn and take them out of the theme/immersion. It's why I won't ever go near In The Year Of The Dragon or Food Chain Magnate again (well actually the latter I have many other reasons, but I digress).

Caverna is "kinder" but I wouldn't say kind in general. You still gotta feed, you still get penalised slightly on animals, but you're rewarded more for following your chosen path and unlike in Agricola, you're actually allowed to follow that path. It's frustrating having to spend every single round focused on getting nothing but food for the next harvest rather than actually having fun building up your house or raising animals.

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Jason Stahr
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farmergiles wrote:


It's frustrating having to spend every single round focused on getting nothing but food for the next harvest rather than actually having fun building up your house or raising animals.



Frankly, I find that highly frustrating myself, but I also see it as the crux of the game. Agricola is a survival game at it's essence. It is dealing with discovering the best way to survive that makes it so ... fun.
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chris thatcher
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Quote:
and the award for most pointless tag line title goes to . . .


Stoneage: Style is the goal

Just awful..
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Zaphod Beeblebrox
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
I like games that kick me in the balls over and over again. "oh, look at those pretty cards; can't you just imagine how beautiful your farm will be", *kick*, "oh, look at all that pretty wood; don't you want to grab it", *kick*, "having babies is so much fun; isn't it? everyone wants to", *kick*

After 3 kicks, it's unlikely you'll be having any babies.
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Geoff Burkman
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One thing I just noticed is that the new version has a tie-breaker rule (most leftover building resources). I don't quite know why, but that irritates me a bit.

Get it? Irritates me a bit?

Oh, never mind...whistle
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The more I read about it the more I dread the new version and that it could become the norm - will you even be able to buy the original game in a few years?

The high number of cards and infinite varieties is what make the game so good. drafting allows you even out any unfairness in the original dealing and is a fun part of the game for me.

Also the idea that all cards are balanced will take a lot of the skill out of the game and mean it is just another game where everything is nicely balanced for all players and there is less variety or skill.

I have also come to the conclusion from playing with hundreds of gamers that the majority are not strategy board gamers in the true sense. What makes the game great is that is a tight game and you do have to work within boundaries. The idea that you all have to aim for the same core things in the game is what makes it so interactive and not a solitary game like to many (caverna being an example). It also means the scoring makes sense as you are all being scored against a specifc and restrictive set of criteria.

There are so many games out there that are quite fun where you are all doing your own little thing for 90 minutes or so, have little interaction, often get to the end and have no real idea of who has won as you are all doing completely different things. You then add up the score, someone wins and you all decided one path has worked better than another. You then play the game another 5 times and generally realise that there are one or two ways of playing where you generally get more points, you then get bored of the games and move on to the next slightly broken game with limited replayability. The industry can then flog people the next 100 titles, of which one is probably a GOOD game, that will still be in production in 5 years time.

If you cant see the great game that Agricola is because you want to be able to build whatever farm you want because it is more fun and you don't like the restrictions the game places on you I really don't think you should be reviewing strategy board games!

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Jimmy Okolica
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Dan, I get what you're saying about balanced cards, but the draft doesn't necessarily solve anything. It's been way to long since I played it a lot so I have to talk in generality. Let's say I initially keep Card A which is a good card, but not great. Then, on the first pass, I'm passed Card B. It's a so-so card, except if I have Card A and can combo then. In that case, those cards are a killer combo and I've got an above average chance of winning. The guy who passed me Card B had no idea I had Card A, so it was reasonable for him to pass it, but I still win because I ended up with the best cards. My personal take is that I'd rather start with cards that are more balanced and less prone to creating killer combos (the single broken cards have already been banned).

As far as the reduced number of cards, I completely get the concern there. I personally would like if there were more cards that were still all balanced even in combination. Hopefully over time, they'll come out with more cards in expansions that remain balanced. Fingers crossed.
 
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Luke Hector
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What Jimmy said about the cards....yeah drafting doesn't solve the issue unless you have perfect knowledge of all the cards which players aren't going to. Also it adds another twenty minutes top the game length while everyone spends ages reading all the cards trying to understand the combos.

Also I find your last comment a little shall we say "elitist" in nature, I've seen FCM players act like that. I don't love Agricola as much as you therefore don't review strategy board games. I'm sorry but that's complete bull.

For starters, Agricola is not interactive. Simply blocking someone's space in worker placement does not constitute player interaction, what are you doing on your farm that directly influences my farm, nothing! Worker placement isn't interaction. Oh I got a card from my neighbor that gives me a wood and I can pass it on? WOW INTERACTION!! Let's face it, 7 Wonders has more player interaction than Agricola.

Also you are actively defending the cards being unbalanced as a good thing. Now obviously not every card is going to be perfect balance but to have deliberate cards way more powerful than others is just bad game design. How are new players going to know that card is super powerful? They won't and thus the regular Gric players will benefit every time it comes up. How's that's fair and/or fun?

Also there currently isn't a "all over" best strategy in Caverna, I've seen wins from all kinds of unique and fun ideas with VARIETY!!

Gric's issue of "everyone must play the same and get the same stuff regardless" takes out the variety because no one can distinguish themselves. And with the points so restrictive you can easily tell who is winning at any time with a count up, and ugh having the die hard "o must win at all costs" players hold the game up because they are constantly counting up everyone's points, it's frustrating!

You want a heavy strategy game with variety, look at Kanban for example. Or Through The Ages/Nations/Sid Meiers Civ. In those you can have a strategic game but where players can do their own path.

Gric isn't a bad game as i said. But for a lot of people, they will prefer Caverna but I'm certainly not going to call them out as unfit for strategy games as a result.
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You can review whatever game you like but I worry that people reviewing the differences between the two games that do not get the original or like it for that matter will lead to them pushing the dumbed down version. You clearly do not like Agricola very much, it is not your sort of game, it is not a sand box game, it has restrictions and a structure you have to work within. This is what makes it better than also most modern board games where the structure and scoring is weak and hence it is often more of an experience rather than a challenge to win. It would be far better if you just reviewed Agricola and said it is not your sort of game rather than I want it changed into a game it is not and that the update makes some changes (to the detriment of the game)so it is better although not a completely different game and hence one I would really like. I value peoples opinions on the two versions if they actually like the game in the first place. If you don't like the game just play something else rather than push people towards a dumbed down version of the game.

There are key points I don't think you get about the game.

1) It is highly interactive if you do not get that you do not understand the game. It involves forward planning and the key to doing well is understanding your opponents strategy and progression and anticipating their move. This allows you to both take actions in the most successful manner and also block people when strategically required. While I like a wide range of euro games very few offer the same interactive game play on this level. Obviously this is not how a beginner views the game. The first few games you are just getting your head round the rules. The next few it is a heads down game where you are just concentrating on your farm and paying little attention to others. The next ten games you are then getting to know all the cards and understand how they manipulate the board and what cards work well together. After than you then start paying attention to what others are doing and you realise that your every move needs to take account of each of your opponents (the state of their farms and what they are planning). The problem is that these days people treat games like drugs, they want a new fix each week and hence they will not get past the first few stages before wanting to move onto the next title. So the result is the main publishers try and dumb down the game so that it works perfectly a pickup and play game and those that are hooked into the marketing cycle prefer this and hence push this version

b) The number and variety of cards is important as it ensures no game is ever the same and you are always learning how a card you once thought a bit useless can work in certain cases. On the above scale of 1 (for never play) to 10 (for always play) as mentioned above I would say around 90% fit between 3-7. Of the other 10%, maybe 2% are massively over powered and people never play with them anyway. About 5% are probably poor, although you can some times find they are useful when you never expected them to be. Also the rating of a card could not be fixed in this way anyway, a card will be weaker or stronger based on the other cards in the game as whole, how they match with your cards, and the situation of your and your opponents game at a set point. I think the vast majority of the cards in the original game have a place.

c) Playing cards. Cards add to the game but they are not all important. Games can be won by playing 12 card while other will be won by a player playing 3 cards. You do not need to make sure that the decks are balanced and all player will have 14 good cards, this is not a solely card driven game and is what allows for the game to work with so many cards. If the game is manipulated so that everyone always has a great hard of cards it significantly changes the dynamic and play of the game to it determent - somewhat like city and knight does to catan - it is not the same game.

d) Drafting. You seem to think the only reason to draft is to balance unbalanced cards this is not the case. Regardless of how balanced you believe the cards are or are not you can still have some starting hands that are better than others, if only because they combo better. Drafting allows this to be evened out, though a bit of skill, knowledge and luck! Drafting also allows you to get knowledge of certain cards that are in the game that other players may have so you can anticipate their strategies better and understand what cards may come up and how this could influence the game. It is not perfect knowledge, but in a 4p game each player will know 30 of the 42 cards that their opponents have (if you can remember them - I'm not saying I can)- this I think is far better than having 42 cards in play that each player has no knowledge of and can significantly effect the game at any point. Drafting for me is also a fun part of the game, it is not the be all but it is always fun to try and build a good hand and try and anticipate what cards will come back round, while hoping others will show up. Finally drafting is also a good way for new players to see and learn about new cards quicker - also when these cards come into play in the game they will have already seem many of them in the draft which will be of help.

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Jimmy Okolica
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I, on the other hand, love the game. It's what got me into the hobby and I've played it hundreds of times (most before I started logging plays).

Dan, if you like a higher randomness factor, where luck of the draw/draft plays a bigger part in who wins, more power to you. But calling the new version dumbed down is just wrong. It's true it's got a smaller card base (at least for now) but that doesn't make it dumbed down. It's got all of the same mechanics as the original and better components. Personally, I see no reason to get the original over the new edition.

If people buy the new edition, fall in love with it, play it fifty or a hundred times and then want more variety AND no expansion decks have come out, then they can go buy the 2017 edition when it comes out.

As far as interactive, I won't bother getting into a debate with you. Different people define interactive differently. Certainly 'Gric has interaction, same as Race for the Galaxy does. However, when I talk about a highly interactive game, I'm referring to games where my action change the shared game state, not where my actions only limit (or expand) your choices. Games I consider more interactive are 18XX, Palaces of Carrara, Bohnanza and Wildlife Safari, just to name a few.
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Luke Hector
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Ugh he said 18XX! gulp #tongueincheek

But yeah interactivity, yeah Jimmy said it well there "where my action changed the shared game state". That's more like it. Take Founding Fathers which I reviewed recently. In that many of your actions are directly influencing the state of the board, whether it's by votes, or by the debate tracks or changing the sides of the articles. All these things directly influence the other player's actions and as such that's a Euro where you get interactivity. Here in Gric and even in Caverna, it's not the same thing. I don't consider Caverna interactive either, neither of them are. Your action gets negated, you have a backup plan, that's all. Is Caylus interactive? Or Splotter games? But dude, quotes like " It is highly interactive if you do not get that you do not understand the game" - are just poor. That's such a childish view to take "oh you don't see it like I see it, therefore your opinion is invalid".

And yes you crip at me just because I have a "slightly negative" opinion (I mean seriously, I said I liked it despite my issues with it, because it's not a "perfect game", if that's too negative for you, then go watch Shut Up And Sit Down, they never do any negative reviews at all), but then you call a game "dumbed down". The new edition is not dumbed down, you still have a ton of cards, you still have strategy, you still have highly restricted actions and scoring. To call it "dumbed down" just because it doesn't have 5 expansions worth of cards in the box is crazy.

Also HOW MANY TIMES did you state in your explanation that you have to play a game to as you say "understand it if you're not beginner". A few times to learn, then a few times to get your head around others actions, then TEN TIMES to really get down to. Let's assume a few = five games. That means by your view, someone has to play this nigh on TWENTY times before they will appreciate it for what it's for. If a game cannot get you to appreciate all it has to offer before you're allowed to give a valid view of it until you've played it 20 times, it has failed, full stop. Thankfully it does not take 20 times to understand Agricola. Maybe 20 times to get to the point where you can memorise every single card in the deck, but not to understand how it plays and what it expects from the players. 10 plays roughly of Agricola over time, we get it.

I'm all up for opposing views, but don't take an "elitist" style attitude.

As for the editions, I'm totally with Jim - there is only one reason to buy the original edition and that's if you really must have a thousand cards to work with, which you don't need, right now. Because you know that more cards are going to be released for this game in the future.
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Dan H
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farmergiles wrote:
Ugh he said 18XX! gulp #tongueincheek

But yeah interactivity, yeah Jimmy said it well there "where my action changed the shared game state". That's more like it. Take Founding Fathers which I reviewed recently. In that many of your actions are directly influencing the state of the board, whether it's by votes, or by the debate tracks or changing the sides of the articles. All these things directly influence the other player's actions and as such that's a Euro where you get interactivity. Here in Gric and even in Caverna, it's not the same thing. I don't consider Caverna interactive either, neither of them are. Your action gets negated, you have a backup plan, that's all. Is Caylus interactive? Or Splotter games? But dude, quotes like " It is highly interactive if you do not get that you do not understand the game" - are just poor. That's such a childish view to take "oh you don't see it like I see it, therefore your opinion is invalid".

And yes you crip at me just because I have a "slightly negative" opinion (I mean seriously, I said I liked it despite my issues with it, because it's not a "perfect game", if that's too negative for you, then go watch Shut Up And Sit Down, they never do any negative reviews at all), but then you call a game "dumbed down". The new edition is not dumbed down, you still have a ton of cards, you still have strategy, you still have highly restricted actions and scoring. To call it "dumbed down" just because it doesn't have 5 expansions worth of cards in the box is crazy.

Also HOW MANY TIMES did you state in your explanation that you have to play a game to as you say "understand it if you're not beginner". A few times to learn, then a few times to get your head around others actions, then TEN TIMES to really get down to. Let's assume a few = five games. That means by your view, someone has to play this nigh on TWENTY times before they will appreciate it for what it's for. If a game cannot get you to appreciate all it has to offer before you're allowed to give a valid view of it until you've played it 20 times, it has failed, full stop. Thankfully it does not take 20 times to understand Agricola. Maybe 20 times to get to the point where you can memorise every single card in the deck, but not to understand how it plays and what it expects from the players. 10 plays roughly of Agricola over time, we get it.

I'm all up for opposing views, but don't take an "elitist" style attitude.

As for the editions, I'm totally with Jim - there is only one reason to buy the original edition and that's if you really must have a thousand cards to work with, which you don't need, right now. Because you know that more cards are going to be released for this game in the future.


What a load of rubbish. The base game has three decks and not ten expansion and thousands of cards as you say.

Also some games like catan are pick up and play while others have more depth and require many plays to get the best out the game, what is wrong with that - why do all games need to be pick up and play to a good level in a few plays. Why reduce a classic game that is already great just to try and remarket at a lower level to a more mass market. I wouldn't mind so much but I am sure that you will no longer be able to buy the original game or decks in a few years - so everyone will be pushed down this route. I know there will probably be the big box. But that will be amended cards as well and price point will mean only diehards will buy it - it is a way of appeasing them

It is an interactive game and you don't see that. Nothing childish about me saying that.

It is also not elitist to say the original game is great and does not need amendment. The new version is dumbed down, the reduced cards and balancing will have that effect. With 4 players you use 56 cards a game. With only 96 cards that is less variety to not even cover two games without repeats. The aim is to make people feel familiar with everything in a few plays. You also fail to point out that the original game is split into 3 decks so if you want an easier game just play with the E deck - but at least you are giving people the option to go either way. I I also anticipate that with limited balanced cards with 10 games people will get very used to standard set combo of cards to put together and the game will become more predictable.

You also say that I state you need to play 20 games to get the game for what it is. I am not saying that I am saying that it will probably take 15 odd games till you get the full myriad of whats on offer. But whats wrong with that the first few plays are still great but what I am saying is that it gets better and better as you understand the depth and the cards. Why should all games make you feel that you understand all that is on offer in a few plays. Terra Mystica is another game that you probably have to paly 15-20 to really get the most out of it. What do you think about that game? How about they cut the races down to four and allow you to terra form more easily? Did you ever play Talisman or Warrior knights back in the day. The new editions are poor in comparison.

Don't you get it since around the mid / late 90s board gaming has become a big industry. As most people only buy a game once they have to keep selling you more new games (even if the are just worse variants on other games) or expansions. This is just another attempt by a big games company to resell an existing great game - while probably reducing the replayability of the game for people buying the new edition. While I like playing new and varied games I think there also needs to be a place for classic games that offer almost unlimited replayabily without trying to resell you the xmass turkey in January as Turkey wrap.

It is like the man who invented non laddering tights in the 1950s. The big tight makers bought up the patent for a lot of money and then shelve it as they would go bust if tights never laddered!
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I, on the other hand, love the game. It's what got me into the hobby and I've played it hundreds of times (most before I started logging plays).

Dan, if you like a higher randomness factor, where luck of the draw/draft plays a bigger part in who wins, more power to you. But calling the new version dumbed down is just wrong. It's true it's got a smaller card base (at least for now) but that doesn't make it dumbed down. It's got all of the same mechanics as the original and better components. Personally, I see no reason to get the original over the new edition.

If people buy the new edition, fall in love with it, play it fifty or a hundred times and then want more variety AND no expansion decks have come out, then they can go buy the 2017 edition when it comes out.

As far as interactive, I won't bother getting into a debate with you. Different people define interactive differently. Certainly 'Gric has interaction, same as Race for the Galaxy does. However, when I talk about a highly interactive game, I'm referring to games where my action change the shared game state, not where my actions only limit (or expand) your choices. Games I consider more interactive are 18XX, Palaces of Carrara, Bohnanza and Wildlife Safari, just to name a few.


Actions and cards do change the game state not just your game. What do the buyers do? If a square is more powerful for one player it influences its availability to other players. If you play the market crier, people are less likely to use the gain space. If you have the Hedgekeeper it will allow other people more woods but it will be harder for them to fence with it. Of course the cards and what you need to do in the near future in a game massively effects other peoples game space!
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Fernando Robert Yu
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I prefer the card draft and tenseness of Agricola. I also have Caverna: The Cave Farmers but have played that only once. Need to bring it out again just to be fair...
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Juan Carlos Goyes
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Good review, thank you.

On designer you don't have listed Uwe Rosenberg!
 
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Luke Hector
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Well spotted! Amended!
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Thanks for the review Luke, this is my perspective from a new Agric player.

Just to point out to Dan that I (relatively) recently started boardgaming 18 months ago, and have slowly been getting games. after ticket to ride and settlers of Catan I then heard of Agricola.

Here is a sum up of why I picked Mayday 2016 Agricola. I was torn up between Caverna, Agricola, and Agricola all creatures great and small (ACBAS) as I did not have either of the three. (I primarily play two player with the Mrs). I also had heard that the original was a heavier game to handle (that is why I considered ACBAS). Having looked at the games I ruled out Caverna (sorry Luke, but I like games that aim towards the same and are confined for the co-ordinated competitive play), so that left Agricola and ACBAS but I was not going to pay £70 in my area, almost double RRP for a two player game, and I watched Rahdo's Run Through and Richard made a valid point of why would I buy the two player when the game is just as good for two and its the full thing.

So that left me with the decision of which version to get. I looked into it and its pretty much the same game, the only difference being the cards. I have heard that its quite possible to use the old expansions with the new game (which I will try - there is no big loss if I get a good deal or borrow an expansion to try).

I think they changed the cards according to the consensus of responses from AGRIC players that they have had, even if you go by comments on this thread I think it shows some favour to the changes. I mean if you don't like it then there are still the original copies to play. But balancing the cards does not mean the game is any more or less. It just means that you can lose by random luck due to cards but you should win or lose by playing well which is what frustrates me about games with luck. (I am still happy to play but I definitely prefer it without)

Once I have learnt the game well I would not be averse to playing the original. But I don't think this was only to raise cash, as there has been demand for the revised game from those who simply did not have a copy. It is borderline a gateway game.

I look forward to some games to discover how this game feels.
 
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Fine with all that - it does come down to how much you want to do actual farming/landscaping and how much you want a game to kick you in the shins with restrictions. People love Stefan Feld for that reason.

I think stating that Agricola is a borderline gateway game though is a bit optimistic. Especially considering we've just had Dan vent about how it needs a ton of plays to grasp the depth and strategy involved. There's a fair amount of rules in this game and it's heavily punishing - it's a heavy game through and through and I wouldn't even put this near my gateway game collection opting instead (if I owned it) for Agric: ACBAS that you mentioned which is much easier. Or Takenoko, but that's a completely style of farming.

 
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True maybe the word gateway is a bit ambitious though I had heard this early on and have only recently ended up purchasing it. I have just considered that just because its heavy doesn't mean it cant be a good gateway but I know what you mean. It requires a lot more concentration on making the most out of your decisions.

I am quite happy thought that it has been revised because we don't always have time to spend 20 mins drafting cards.

If you want punishing then I recommend Imperial Settlers. I could almost hear sadomasochist's shout "another game, please one more". Mind you it does depend on having an aggressive opponent. The Mrs does just fine with that.
 
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Well by punishing I don't mean that it includes a lot of "take-that" within the game from players.

Imperial Settlers as you described isn't inherently punishing. You've got a lot of options, plenty of card variety and the game doesn't knock you down by itself. Having your buildings razed by other players is a "take-that" mechanic and that's down to them to instigate rather than being part of the game's natural progression. King of Tokyo has players knocking you about left and right, but it's not punishing if that makes sense.

Contrast this to Agricola. The game itself punishes you rather than the other players for making a mistake or not having specific resources at the end of the game. Robinson Crusoe will trample you underfoot even when you're actually doing well, but that's the nature of that game. In The Year Of The Dragon is nothing but punishment, that game literally every round destroys half of what you've spent time building up and if you do badly, your prospects are very limited.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that "punishing mechanics" are part of the game design, rather than brought about by player interaction.
 
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I did have a quick question - I posed it in one other thread but thought you might be able to help. Could you not simply add some of the cards from other older expansions??
 
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