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Subject: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.11) rss

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Alex Chen
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I. Questions and Answers

Q. What is this?
A. As per the title, this massive wall of text is a review of every occupation in the base game of Agricola.

Q. How the hell am I supposed to remember what each card does?
A. You’re not. I’d highly recommend going to this link here to download a pdf file of every card, so that you can follow along. Both that list and this one are alphabetized.

Q. Did you consider solo games at all in this review?
A. No, there are more interesting things to do with my time than play solo Agricola, like write 15,000 word strategy articles.

Q. What do your ratings mean?
A. My rating system:

: Extremely weak

Consider removing from the deck to avoid screwing the player who draws it. If you do not remove the card, you should almost never play it.

: Generally weak

This card is unlikely to be worth the action, but may be a role player in certain situations.

: Decent

Will sometimes be worth playing and sometimes not.

: Strong

This card will usually be worth playing, and in some situations can be very powerful.

: Overpowered

Consider removing this card from the deck to avoid screwing the players who don’t draw it. If you do not remove the card, you should almost always play it.

Q. Are you going to do half stars? ( )
A. No. This would take too much work (I'd have to go and rethink my rating on pretty much every card), and I don't believe I have that kind of precision in my evaluation of these occupations.

Q. What do your abbreviations mean?
A. Some abbreviations:
TP – Traveling Players
1F1A – 1 food 1 action
2-p, 3-p, 4-p, 5-p – two, three, four and five player
RSF – Reed-Stone-Food (the spot that appears in 4-p)
SP – Starting Player
VP – Victory Points
FG – Family Growth

Q. How much experience have you had in Agricola?
A. As of this post, I’ve played nearly every day for the last 3 months - about 70 games total. I have the most experience with 2 and 3 player games. My experience is limited in 4 player games, and almost zero for 5 players, so most of my comments on 5-p are just speculation.

Q. Your opinion on one of the cards is totally wrong!
A. With so many cards in the game, it’s almost an inevitability that I’d be wrong on some of them. Let me know which ratings you disagree with – this list is not static, and ratings can/will change if I’m convinced otherwise.

Q. How much time did this take you?
A. You really don’t want to know.

Q. Are you going to review the O, Z, or L decks?
A. No.

Q. Are you going to review the minor improvements?
A. Yes, you can find it here.

Q. Would you like to thank anyone?
A. Why yes, I would - THANKS FOR ASKING. This article would not have been written without WhiteKong's excellent guide, "Complex Strategies for Agricola," which heavily influenced my early understanding of the game. Also, thanks to everyone who has provided or will provide feedback on my ratings. It's much appreciated! Finally, many thanks to you if you decide to tip GG - I'll get an avatar someday, I swear!

II. Version history

8-26-09: Posted. (v1.00)
8-26-09: Fixed minor formatting errors. (v1.01)
8-26-09: Added missing cards (Wood Deliveryman, Shepherd, Shepherd Boy) and changed opinion on Gardener. (v1.02)
8-27-09: Added more material for Businessman, Traveling Salesman, Conservator, Carpenter, Master Brewer, Layabout, Pieceworker and Reeve, and changed opinion on some of them. Revisions and small additions to Wet Nurse, Lover, Wood Deliveryman, Taster, Chamberlain. Also used the fancy star smiley to make the document less tacky. (v1.03)
8-27-09: Added Stablemaster. Added thank you question. Minor edits. (v1.04)
8-29-09: Revised scores/entries on Clay Digger, Master Forester, Chief, Grocer, Guildmaster, Social Climber, Dock Worker. Added more information to Lover, Mushroom Collector, Pieceworker. Some other minor fixes. (v1.05)
8/31/09: Revised scores/entries on Foreman, Net Fisherman, Potter, Puppeteer, Reed Collector, Resource Seller, Seed Seller, Sycophant, Well Builder, Wood Collector, Wood Distributor. (v1.06)
9/01/09: Revised scores/entries on Storehouse Keeper, Head of the Family, Field Warden. Added an intro question and a question about half stars. (v1.07)
9/02/09: Added Merchant. Revised scores/entries on Midwife, Tinsmith, Pastor, Well Builder. (v1.08)
9/03/09: Revised scores/entries on Academic, Wood Distributor, Gardener, Berry Picker, Cabinet Maker, Clay Hut Builder, Storyteller. (v1.09)
9/09/09: Head of the Family, Manservant.
9/16/09: Scholar
11/1/09: Grocer, Market Woman
11/3/09: Perpetual Student, Lover, Wet Nurse, Tutor (v1.10)
12/6/09: Storehouse Clerk, Educator, Resource Seller (v1.11)

III. Card review

Academic[/b]

This card’s sole use is as a stepping stone to the minor improvements that require 3 or 4 occupations, and is fine (but not spectacular) in that narrow role. At best he is saving you 1F1A to just play another Occ. Usually, the benefit will be less than that due to the fact that playing 2 different occs would give you at least some sort of beneficial effect.

Rating: .

Acrobat


The ability to occasionally get a free plow along with your two or three food is usually too strong to pass up. The card would be playable if this was all it did, but the fact that you can also go for a grain if the plow space gets blocked pushes the card even further. This is a very solid play that will act like a Seasonal Worker early and get you 2 or 3 food to go with your plows later. A tad unreliable but extremely powerful; this is the best “claim” card.

Rating: .

[b]Adoptive Parents


User Hammerite argues that the card is playable, saying that it gives you 2 actions for the cost of 4 food. He explains:

Hammerite wrote:
Let us suppose that I manage to have the maximum of 3 offspring, and that I play Adoptive Parents before I have played the first of these. (If this is not the case, then Adoptive Parents decreases in usefulness.)

Immediately after playing the card, I have lost 1 food and 1 action.

Immediately after having my first offspring (and using Adoptive Parents for the first time), I have lost two food and I have not lost any actions. (I lost one action by using it to play the card, but I gained an extra action for this round, so I have neither lost nor gained actions.)

Immediately after having my second offspring (and using Adoptive Parents for the second time), I have lost 3 food and I have gained one action (namely, the extra action I will get this round).

Immediately after having my third offspring (and using Adoptive Parents for the third time), I have lost 4 food and I have gained 2 actions (the one I gained on my second use of the card, and the extra action I will get this round).

Hence, overall I pay 4 food for 2 actions.


However, the reasoning is flawed by the fact that not all actions are created equally. Adoptive parents gives you another action after you have already played your initial actions. By that time, there will be rarely anything left that is worth taking, and you may honestly find yourself taking Day Laborer or something not much better.

Also, 2 food for 1 action is a pretty steep cost to begin with (you only pay that much for actions in the final round). Furthermore, Agricola is an exponential game and your early actions are worth more than your later actions, and playing an early card that will result in only marginally above break-even is a waste of time.

Rating: .

Animal Breeder


Can be simply absurd. This card is useful whether you choose to go the baking or ranching route, assuming you can pay him the requisite food.

If you are a baker, use this late game, then fence twice to get yourself a pair of boar and cattle. If you fence twice and then let your cattle breed twice and your boar breed once, this Occ has traded 6 food (1 + 2 + 3) and an action for 7 VPs. Ridiculous.

If you’re a rancher, careful wood and food grabs can get you two cows before the second harvest. Equally sick, especially in combination with minors like Ox Team or Milking Stool. Don’t be afraid to fence a single pasture with this guy.

Rating: .

Animal Dealer


If you choose to just eat the extra animals immediately, this is going to be a 6 food play if you only take every animal once - almost worth it, but not quite given that the food is given over time.

However, this guy is much stronger than that. He lets you be the first person to get 2 of an animal, which is especially important if an animal card comes up the turn before a harvest. He also allows you to spam the animal spots for food, denying other players from getting the animals they need. Superb.

Rating: .

Animal Handler


The best use for this guy is to play him as a baker that never takes animals for the entire game. The sheep can fit in your house, and the boar and cattle can go into stables/pastures that you build later. If you do that, you’ve spent 1F1A for 6 points - a pretty sweet deal.

However, this best case scenario only applies when you choose to take no animals for the entire game. This is a huge opportunity cost: it gives everyone else free reign of the animals. Moreover, housing the cattle is usually an awkward proposition. He comes at the beginning of round 14, before “renovation also fences” (aka the baker’s best friend). This means that you have to either build a second stable or build pastures. If you’re building pastures, you’re probably going to want to take some animals for breeding, which in turn cuts down on this Occ’s benefit. Finally, you’re required to play him at the beginning of the game, when actions are most important.

If you plan on breeding and eating animals, this guy has very little utility. The animals just come too late. Moreover, if you already have two cow, the next cow is worth about one half of a point. If you have 2 sheep, the next sheep is worth about a third of a point. In a situation where you are going to grab every animal anyway, this guy will only be worth about a point - a terrible deal.

Rating: .

Animal Keeper


The best case scenario is if you craft a single large 2x2 pasture with a stable in it. Then you’ll be able to house all the animals you could ever want. In this outstanding case, what has he saved you? About 2 wood!

Let me explain. It is very rare to have more than 4 of each animal. Even in a game where a person is able to achieve a lot of animals, pressures for food will cause them to eat quite a few. As a result, you could have just used 2 wood to split the megapasture down the middle. This should allow you to keep a fair amount of 2 different animals, with a single one of the third animal taking up the space in your house. Sure, you might lose a few sheep by having to eat them early, but this will usually only cost about a point in scoring: a point that is regained by the extra pasture you’ll have at the end of scoring.

Obviously 1F1A in exchange for 2 wood is a terrible deal. This occupation is never playable – you’re better off just taking 3 more wood.

Rating: .

Animal Tamer


Playing him immediately gives you an extra stable and quickly becomes an extra pasture after that (sans VPs). Usually worth it if you plan to get to 4 rooms or more, since it lets you avoid spending precious wood and actions on early fences/stables. Instead, you get to do what you want to do anyway - build more rooms!

Rating: .

Animal Trainer


Compares hideously to the Animal Breeder. The best scenario I can think of is waiting for the TP spot to get to 4, then taking it and making 2 boar before the second harvest. This is probably the most easily deniable plan in the game – as long as one of your opponents isn’t an idiot, they’ll take the TP spot at 3 food and make you waste the action you used to play your stupid occ. The other possible plan - taking TP at 3 twice for 2 cattle – is also hideously inefficient.

If you’re not using the occ to get animals earlier than you otherwise could, it’s worthless. You don’t need an occupation to just wait for the boar spot to get to 2 boar and take that.

Rating: .

Baker


True to his name, this is one of the best occupations for Baking in the game. Assuming you play him with an oven and two grain fields, you should never go hungry.

The strength of this Occ varies depending on the number of players in the game. In a 2-p game, baking strategies are horrible. For one thing, there is no early way to get stone. For another, there are so many animals in a 2er that you not only want them for yourself, but want to prevent your opponent from having all of them! In a 3-p, baking is still pretty bad due to the lack of early stone, but often the Baker is powerful enough to merit playing him anyway.

In 4-p and 5-p, baking is viable enough to make the Baker a strong incentive to bake.

Rating: .

Basketmaker


Why are you eating your reed? That was supposed to be used for your house! Has some utility in 5 player if the other players let the 2 reed square stack for you (i.e. they are undervaluing reed), but in 4 player, reed is usually far too scarce to bother with the card.

Rating: .

Basin Maker


This card is a joke. Not only do you have to have boar lying around for the card to even work, converting 4 wood into 2 victory points is not even a good deal – you can do the same thing just by building a pasture!

Rating: .

Berry Picker


An extremely annoying card – I’ve taken to calling myself “berry-picked” in games where someone plays this or the Mushroom Collector and spends every round taking wood.

However, this card is not quite as strong as it seems. Ultimately, it’s worth about 5 or 6 food by the end (assuming they take wood 6 or 7 times), which is only passable given that the food is delivered over time. What makes the card seem stronger than it actually is is that it causes newer players to value the wood spots correctly.

In 5-p, the Berry Picker can be used to spam the WSR spot, giving it added utility.

Rating: .

Braggart


9 points? NINE POINTS!

This card can easily win you the game by itself, and is the most common way I’ve seen players score higher than 60 points. Harnessing the Occ’s power is no cakewalk, but when correctly played with the right combination of cards, this is pretty much unstoppable.

I admit my rating scale breaks down a bit here - if you only look at the percentage of time he is playable, he is probably a three star card. However, I give the extra star simply because of his raw power - he's engineered more flat out blowouts and unreal comebacks than any other card I can think of.

The card is also easily a 5 star card in draft, where you can tailor your hand to include many cheap improvements.

Rating: .

Bread Seller


Pretty much worthless if only one person is baking bread, and given the difficulty in acquiring the stone oven, this is almost always the case.

One argument I've heard for him is that it turns your Cooking Hearth into an unlimited Stone Oven. The main problem with this line of thought is that you are going to need to be baking a LOT before the food bonus this guy gives becomes worth the 1F1A. How often do you actually find yourself baking 6+ grain?

Rating: .

Bricklayer


This card’s value fluctuates erratically as you change the number of players. In 2-p, this should give you about 4 or 5 clay if you have the right kind of hand. Since clay is a genuinely scarce resource (see this thread) in 2-p, this is reasonably valuable. In 3-p and 4-p, the Bricklayer is very bad – clay is plentiful enough for pretty much all of the clay related improvements you could want. In 5-p, the value rises again – there is so much clay in the game that clay rooms become a real possibility. In such a situation, the occ could be worth as much as 8-9 clay over time. That’s a good deal.

Rating: .

Brush Maker


If you only get 2 bonus points from this guy, he is a wasted action. You would have been better off plowing a field! So if you play this guy, you are looking to get the max VPs.

Slaughtering 4 wild boar is a lot – you’re never going to max boar if you slaughter 4 of them. What this means is that, by sacrificing the boar to the Brush Maker, you’re not even really gaining points – you’re going to lose points for having fewer boar. Thus, the real purpose of this card is to be able to slaughter boar for food without having to worry about losing points for not having them. But if food is your priority, what are you doing wasting a food and an action?

Furthermore, cards you need to play early that eventually grant VPs are fundamentally weak in Agricola. They need to be played when you need actions the most and then give you nothing until the end of the game – not a good idea when your actions are supposed to have a snowballing effect.

Rating: .

Brushwood Collector


This guy is unreal strong in 3-p, when reed is extremely tight. He gets weaker with more players as reed gets progressively easy to obtain, but will still have a place if you are able to find a way to get some extra wood.

Rating: .

Businessman


The main draw of the SP + 1 minor improvement space is seldom the minor improvement, but the fact that you get starting player. Playing 2 minor improvements effectively decreases the number of times you can take starting player by 1, which is often a bad idea. However, sometimes you will have a very strong hand of minor improvements, and will want to get them out as fast as possible.

The main appeal comes if in the major improvement clause. Getting a major improvement along with your minor will often save you a full action! Particularly if you've got a strong hand of minors to go with him, this can make the Businessman extremely efficient.

Generally, this occ will be most powerful in large games, where Cooking Hearths are limited and often there is a scramble to get them. This guy can help you win that race, first by getting an early sheep-eating fireplace without having to depend on the Major improvement spot coming out, and second by giving you a free Cooking Hearth when you take SP later on.

Rating: .

Butcher


If you want to seriously go for animals, you are going to want more efficient cookery. If you don’t, you probably only plan on eating animals two or three times, making this guy only worth 4-5 food - 4-5 food that you have to spend further actions getting!

You’re better off just taking “Day Laborer” twice, and that is a pretty damning statement.

Rating: .

Cabinet Maker


Not great. While 2 food for 1 wood is an OK deal, spending 1F1A just for the privilege of an “OK” deal is not a good idea. Furthermore, wood is too precious in the early game to be burning on food. This compares unfavorably to Mushroom Collector, which does the same thing multiple times per harvest.

One interesting difference between the two is that with the Cabinet Maker, the wood you convert to food is vaporized, whereas the Mushroom Collector leaves it behind for someone else to take. This is actually a downside, as if you're converting wood to food, you actually want there to be more wood in the game.

Rating: .

Carpenter



If you build 3 rooms before renovating, he’s worth 6 conditional wood – an OK but not fantastic deal given that the wood is delivered over time and that you’re forced to use it on a specific thing. Given how rarely people actually build 3 rooms in the first place (usually reed is too scarce), this won't come up too often.

If you only build two rooms, 4 wood for 1F1A is ok, I guess. However, the 4/3/2/1 wood occupations all give 4 wood the moment you play them, not just when you build your 4th room (which, depending on how the game is going, might take a while). Furthermore, the wood those occs give is no strings attached - you're not required to use it to build rooms. In my experience all of the 4/3/2/1 occs are playable, but they're by no means must-plays. Since the Carpenter is almost strictly worse if you're only building 2 rooms, he's probably not worth it in that case.

It's true that he can be used to reduce the cost of clay rooms and stone rooms as well as Wooden Rooms. However, I think clay and stone rooms are mostly a corner case - most rooms are wood, a few are clay, and almost none are stone (the Well tends to be a much more efficient way to get points). Moreover, in cases where you actually want to build clay rooms, clay is probably common enough that 2 clay and 2 wood isn't much better than 4 wood.

Rating: .

Cattle Breeder


Obviously you are playing the card for the 1 cattle – the possible second cattle in round 12 is a distant bonus. This is worth it if you have some other way to get early cattle (i.e. the Cattle Whisperer) that let’s you breed them before the second harvest. Otherwise, not so much.

In 5-p this can be comboed with the square that gives you one cow if you pay 1 food.

Rating: .

Cattle Whisperer:


We have a house rule that whenever someone plays this card, they have to put their finger on their mouth and say, “Shhhhhhh!”

His value is slightly worse than the Cattle Breeder, since you have to play him earlier.

Rating: .

Chamberlain:


This guy is extremely strong - for 1F1A, he lets you have free reign of the most powerful squares in the game before anyone else can get them. This not only ensures that you can't be blocked from Plow/Sow and FG w/o, the fact that you get them a full turn early will often jump start your farm.

Rating: .

Charcoal Burner:


In 4-p, this is awesome: pretty much everyone will buy some sort of cookery, and some will buy one twice when they upgrade their fireplace to a cooking hearth or take a Stone Oven for another free bake action. It will be worth at least 4 food and 4 wood, a far better deal than perfectly playable cards like the Reeve.

Less playable in 3-p.

Rating: .

Chief:


Extra cost: 2 food

The extra food shouldn’t be too much of a hassle in the final round, and this guy will usually be worth 4 VPs – a great deal for one action. If you have the stone house and plenty of food, he's always worth it.

Rating: .

Chief’s Daughter:


1F1A for 3 VP is a solid deal, but hardly a game-breaking one. Since I mix the decks together, I’ve never seen the Daughter come out for free.

Rating: .

Church Warden


1F1A for 4 wood is a good deal, and if you use the wood to build rooms you should have a solid chance of getting the 3 bonus points by the end. One of the better entries of this cycle, since the bonus is less of a liability.

Rating: .

Clay Deliveryman


This guy has the most utility in 2-p, where clay can be very scarce. With more players the card becomes more of a conditional play, since clay should already be plentiful after round 6. If you play him, it should be with the intention of using massive amounts of clay (clay rooms, pottery, etc.). This should hopefully prevent clay from being too easy to get for your opponents.

Rating: .

Clay Digger


This is an interesting card. While at first glance giving your opponents clay is a bad idea, the three food cost is a huge barrier to entry. If you take it whenever it gets reasonably high, your opponents will probably never bother with it.

The main problem is that in order to avoid flooding the entire game with clay (and thus indirectly feeding clay to your opponents, rather than directly), you're going to have to still take the other clay spots as much as you usually would. This will result in you having way more clay than you usually would want, and it might be difficult to find a reasonable use for it. Most likely it will be in the form of clay rooms, but it doesn't have to be.

I'm not sure if this is worth the action, but it's hard to dismiss the overwhelming amount of clay this gives you.

Rating: .

Clay Firer


Cards that convert one resource to another usually aren’t good because the deals they give are only marginally beneficial. If you’re going to be spending 1F1A, you want to be getting good deals, not OK ones.

This is one of the better conversion Occs, however, because 3 clay for 2 stone can be a pretty good deal in games where people are valuing stone correctly. However, the fact that you need to waste one action playing this card and then another action collecting the clay when you could have just taken 2 or 3 stone directly still makes this a fringe play.

Rating: .

Clay Hut Builder


Awkward since it encourages an early renovation. Because renovations are worth nothing but VPs, you prefer to renovate later in the game. Still, it's hard to deny the card's power. The 10 clay this gives you is enough to build two clay rooms all on its own, making the occ often worth it.

Rating: .

Clay Mixer


A strong card – usually worth about 6 clay, and you’ll get most of that clay early, when you need it most.

Rating: .

Clay Plasterer


In 2-p, this can occasionally be worth it for the reduced renovation cost alone, since it can save you 3 or 4 clay. In other player modes, you’re going to need to build clay rooms to make this work. This is usually an awkward proposition, since it forces you to spend an early action on renovation – see the Clay Hut Builder.

Rating: .

Clay Seller


Another bad conversion Occ. Rather than take the 4 clay and convert it into 2 sheep, why don’t you just take 2 sheep? This doesn’t even have utility for early cattle, as 4 clay is usually a highly contested spot in the early game.

Rating: .

Clay Worker


Roughly as good as the Clay Mixer. You usually take wood more than you take clay, so this occupation will probably worth more clay by the end of the game. However, the Clay Mixer makes it easier to deny your opponents clay in the early game and is more efficient if all you want is clay.

Rating: .

Conjurer


This is obviously worse than the seasonal worker, but not much more so. Playing it turn 1 and then taking TP on rounds 2 and 4 is an ok way to get a grain engine started.

Rating: .

Conservator


Obviously redonkulous. This saves you… what? 1 reed, 3-5 clay, and 1 renovation action? Absurd.

One supposed weakness to the occ is that you don't get to play a free Major/Minor Improvement. However, this isn't a valid concern. Let's compare someone who renovates fairly and someone who uses the Conservator and then spends an action on the Major/Minor Improvement space.

The "fair" player:

Spends 2 actions renovating
Spends about 1 action collecting 3-5 clay
Spends about 1/2 of an action collecting 1 reed

The Conservator:
Spends 1 action playing the Conservator
Spends 1 action renovating
Spends 1 action playing major/minor improvement

Even in this case the Conservator is better (he saves about half an action). However, the Conservator has 2 additional benefits on top of that:

1) You don't have to buy the Major improvement if there is a more efficient way of gaining points. For instance, rather than spending 1A on 3 stone and 1A on Major/Minor to get a well, you can just plow 2 fields.

2) You can wait until much later to renovate. Because of the limited number of renovation spots, the "fair" player needs to renovate to clay fairly early if he wants to get to stone. That means he also has to collect clay and reed fairly early. The Conservator can just wait until the last possible moment.

I have played this card literally every time I've gotten him, and I'm pretty sure I've never made a mistake in doing so. In competitive games where resources are tight, he has singlehandedly won me the game by ensuring me a stone renovation that otherwise would have been impossible. That's a good sign of a five star card.

Rating: .

Constable


If someone besides you gets the 5 VPs for having no negative points, you probably would have lost to them anyway. This makes the VP ability pretty much a neutral EV move, although it can be risky if your opponent has either the Yeoman Farmer or the Hide Farmer.

Rating: .

Cook


Assuming you can grow your family once before the second harvest and again before the third, he can save you about 8 food over time. That’s not a bad deal, even considering the fact that he costs an early action.

Rating: .

Corn Profiteer


This is an interesting card, and I have had several arguments about whether it’s better than Master Brewer. Usually a grain is not worth 2 food in the early game, so in the beginning he is clearly superior. However, as the game progresses and food gets more and more plentiful, this will begin to let ranchers take a grain without using an action.

I lean towards the opinion that this guy is pretty strong and better than the Master Brewer. Paying 2 food for 1 grain is never that great of a deal, even later in the game. Moreover, while the food he delivers is a tad unreliable, he should be able to consistently convert your grain to 3 food in the early and mid game, when you need food the most.

Still, like the Master Brewer, you're going to need a grain source for this guy to be useful.

Rating: .

Countryman


In bigger games the sow and bake bread space tends to be overcrowded, making this guy’s utility extremely unreliable. It’s not like you should really be giving your opponents an excuse to deny you a sow action. If for some reason your opponents all inexplicably avoid growing crops, he can help save you an action or two.

Rating: .

Cowherd


If you play this, it should be with the intention of taking the “1 cow” space every turn. Doing this will generate a huge amount of food and deny your opponents cattle, at least until they realize what you’re up to and begin to aggressively take the spot at 1 cow. This can be very powerful, but relies a lot on your opponents not just taking 1 cattle for the 2 VPs to deny you.

Rating: .

Dancer


Can generate a decent amount of food in the early game, but gets progressively less useful as food becomes more plentiful. Generally, this needs to be played early to be worth it. The card is helped by more TP cards – either for you or your opponent. If you have them then you can sometimes set up a nice combo where you are using TP every turn with some sort of bonus. If your opponent has them you can use the Dancer to block the TP square in the early game, stunting their development.

Rating: .

Dock Worker


This is the most inefficient conversion Occ in the game, but can have limited use solely because of his versatility. You will almost never want to use him simply because you’re getting such a raw deal, but if the game is somehow flooded with a particular resource (for instance, you have the Clay Mixer), he can give you a resource that's comparatively scarce.

Rating: .

Educator


This guy essentially can convert 2f into a free action, since you were going to have to spend 1f on each occupation anyway. This is a decent conversion rate, but you are going to need a ton of food to be able to feed both him and your family. Most of the time Educator is played, it will be in tandem with a card that gives food for playing occupations - Patron, Perpetual Student, or Bookshelf. You can also combo it with some card that gives a ton of early food (Dancer, Mushroom Collector, etc.).

Rating: .

Estate Manager


In 3-p, this is obviously bad. A conditional 2 VPs for 1F1A? Really? Just plow a field instead. In 4-p and 5-p, his conditions become too difficult to actually achieve.

Rating: .

Farmer


I don't think I've ever seen this guy used well. People seldom build fences more than one or two times. The fact that it gives you a boar at the beginning means that you have to build fences three times before you can get a breeding pair of cattle. That's far too much trouble to ever be worth it.

Rating: .

Farm Steward


Excellent. Not only does this guy let you play your “Family Growth without Room” early, but you even get to play a minor improvement! This card is at its best if you play it after you have a three room house.

Rating: .

Fence Builder


People rarely fence more than twice, so this will probably only save you one action. Considering you have to play this reasonably early, this will seldom be worth it. The card has some utility when used to combo with things that give benefits whenever you build fences.

Rating: .

Fence Deliveryman


A steep cost, but 2 food is easily worth 4 wood, let alone the fact that you can build the fences as a “free” action. The food cost and fact that you have to play this early limits the card’s power, but this is a card that can be a nice bonus if combo-ed with other rancher cards. Just make sure you play him in the first round, so you can get fences before the second harvest.

Rating: .

Fence Overseer


This is somewhat better than the Fence Deliveryman – he does a similar thing, but is a little more flexible since you only have to play him right before you build your first stable. Getting the 7 wood, 2 reed and 1 food necessary to pay for a room, a stable, and his ability can be rough, however.

Rating: .

Fencer


People rarely build just 4 fences worth of pastures, so you can expect to get 2 wood and not 1 wood nearly every time. However, even if you’re ranching, you generally only build fences once or twice. If there are 2 ranchers in a 4-p game, this means that you can expect about 4 wood over time, plus some more in the final round of the game (when it probably won’t matter). This hardly seems worth it.

Rating: .

Field Warden


Guaranteeing you “Take 1 Vegetable” is almost irrelevant, since that square is usually unpopular enough that you can take it if you really want to. The real draw of this card is the “Plow and Sow” part. You can get 2 or 3 guaranteed “Plow and Sow” actions, which is an undeniably strong spot. However, he's even stronger than that. In the final round of the game, he ensures that you can plow before you plow and sow. This is always the optimal order to do the two actions, and the Field Warden is one of the only ways to enable this play.

Rating: .

Field Watchman


Even relatively new players immediately understand how strong this card is. My brother likes to joke that Field Watchman is a one-card combo, since plowing and taking a grain are so obviously synergistic.

This guy feels dirty every time I bring him out (the Field Watchman, not my brother).

Rating: .

Field Worker


In 3-p, this has marginal value, at best. There isn’t really much sowing going on in the 3 player game, which often can finish without the clay oven ever being purchased. Moreover, since 3-p can only really support 1 baker, the card only tends to deliver the full amount of grain when you aren’t baking, making the grain a marginal addition to your farm.

In a 4 or 5 player game, buying one of the two Cooking Hearths basically forces someone else to begin sowing. Still, you’re only getting one food each time, which isn’t much of a benefit.

Rating: .

Fieldsman


This is a great card when combined with early vegetables, which tend to run out too quickly. However, generally bakers will use it to get some extra grain in the early game, then later easily max veggies with a single “Plow and Sow.” All in all, a decent card if you plan on sowing early.

Rating: .

Fisherman


Assuming you’re playing with all of the decks, the various fisherman improvements should be fairly rare. Even if one gets played, it’s not too bad because that player is less likely to take the Fishing spot from you to deny you food.

As a whole, this card works best when played with semi-experienced players. Good players tend to avoid the fishing spot unless it gets to 4 or even more, but will adjust to deny you the food if you let the spot get too high. Newer players that struggle with feeding their family will take it when it’s at 3 or even 2. As a result, the presence of even one newbie can hurt this occ a lot. The sweet spot is a group of players who are right in between: they can feed their family reasonably well without resorting to fishing, but aren’t too concerned with what you’re doing.

That said, the ability to get 6 or even 8 food with a single action is amazing, especially if this happens early. Just make sure you don’t get too greedy; players will eventually deny you the food if you let the spot pile too high.

Rating: .

Foreman


A fascinating card. In order to get the most out of this occ, you are going to need play well. The first step is taking starting player more than anyone else (usually a good idea anyway). When you are SP, the Foreman is a no fuss 1 food, which gets pretty powerful when you get one every round.

Things get hairier when someone takes SP from you. At this stage, you’re going to need to see if there’s an action that only you can take (build rooms, sow and family growth are the most common ones). If not, bring on the AP, because there is going to be a lot to consider when choosing where to place your food. The first step is predicting what the players in front of you are going to do. The second step is predicting how adding a food to each relevant square will change what they do. The third step is figuring out how all this benefits you. The complexities quickly become mind-boggling, and could probably be used to make some fiendish puzzles.

Still, if you can consistently get the food every turn or at least use the food to get a square you otherwise couldn’t have had, he is well worth bringing out in the first round in a 4-p game. In 5-p, his utility goes down a bit.

Rating: .

Forester


The card is a trap: it requires considerable setup, and then doesn’t give a suitably large payoff. In order to get the most out of the card, you’re going to need to play him and sow in Stage 1. The reason for this is that you cannot afford to loan him 3 wood in stage 2, since you need to be building rooms for family growth then. By stage 3, the extra wood will probably be coming in too late to be relevant.

So let’s say you set out to play him in stage 1. You’re going to need to take wood (never a problem), play him, and sow. But wait! If you’re only using the sow to plant your 3 wood, you’re using your actions inefficiently. Just compare taking 3 wood three times to playing him, taking three wood and sowing. One gives you the wood now and denies your opponents, the other gives the wood much later and lets your opponents have free reign. So in order to make the card more efficient, you’re going to need to sow something else. This is a minimum of 2 more actions. Devoting so many actions to this plan ahead of time restricts your ability to adapt to your opponents. If the starting player inexplicably passes on 2 reed, for instance, you’re going to have to let it go by as well, instead spending one of your actions to further develop your cute little wood engine.

The card is also limited by the number of harvests (6). You’re never going to be able to sow wood on this more than twice.

One neat trick is that the wood remaining on the card at the end of the game counts towards the Joinery, even if you haven’t harvested yet. As a result, you shouldn’t be too worried about getting more wood on the card after all of the wood comes off the second time – just keep the wood until you plow and sow, and you’ll have 9 wood ready to be converted to 3 VP at the end of the game.

Bottom line: this card requires a lot of work to be clearly better than just taking more wood.

Rating: .

Frame Builder


Clearly you need to be building clay and/or stone rooms to make this Occupation worth it. Building any non-wood rooms is usually a bad idea, and this doesn’t help matters enough to make me change my mind. This is really just another bad conversion Occ in disguise. This time, one wood for 1 clay or 1 stone is an actually good deal, but you have to jump through an extremely impractical hoop to use it.

Rating: .

Gardener


This would be amazing if veggie points didn’t max at 4. As is, if you’re harvesting enough veggies to make the Gardener’s effect significant, you should have no problem maxing veggies without him. As a result, he should be viewed completely as a powerful food source that usually comes a bit too late in the game to be truly broken.

This card can be very strong if you have some other occupation that provides early vegetables. One of the problems with early vegetables is always that you have to spend a lot of actions resowing your vegetables. This can be a nice solution.

Rating: .

Greengrocer


Very good. Plow two fields, take a grain and a veggie, and sow away. He suffers a bit from splitting you two ways – a part of you wants to use the early veggies for food with a cooking hearth, while the grain he forces you to take leans you toward baking. This prevents him from being a 5 star card, but he is still great.

Rating: .

Grocer


Once you get the grain and the veggie, he’s already paid for himself in actions since normally you have to use a full action to take either. The resources you get along the way are gravy.

That said, you're going to need a good food engine to support him. I've seen at least a couple of times where someone plays him and then is forced to leave him unused as they scramble to feed their family.

However, provided you are able to support him, he is extremely powerful.

Rating: .

Groom


Stone houses are extremely difficult to reach, and usually you can only get to it by the last or the second to last turn. So you’re going to have to bend over backwards just to get your renovation early enough for this guy to actually do anything. Once you’re there, a free stable a turn is hardly gamebreaking.

Rating: .

Guildmaster


Ridiculous when combined with the right cards (manufacturer), but otherwise awkward. Without something to help him, you’re going to need 4 stone to get two of the three things on his list - stone that probably would have been better used on either a renovation or a well.

Rating: .

Harvest Helper


Not too useful in 3-p, where only one person tends to bake bread. If someone else is baking bread, you won’t want to compete with them and all the grain you take will just end up sitting in your personal supply. If you’re baking bread, no one else will be and he won’t get any grain.

In 4-p and 5-p he becomes much better, since the game is more likely to support 2 bakers. No matter how many players are in the game, if you can get him out with either the Corn Profiteer or the Master Brewer, you are guaranteed good times.

Rating: .

Head of the Family


In 4-p games, Head of the Family is amazing. With 4 players competing for the Build Room(s) and FG spots, people get edged out a good deal. Oftentimes someone will take SP just to ensure an early FG in the next round. Combined with the ability to take FG w/o room as your last action one or two times in the end game, he is almost a must play regardless of the rest of your hand.

In 5-p games, his utility decreases - with 2 FG spots and 2 build room spots, you are once again unlikely to get blocked. While he does help you get the "good" Build Room and FG spots, the chance to buy a stable or some random minor improvement isn't usually that essential.

A key weakness of this occ is that while you won't ever get blocked from the relevant spots, you also will tend to refrain from blocking anyone else. The result is often higher scores for everyone, not just yourself.

Rating: .

Hedge Keeper


If you build fences twice, this is worth 6 wood. Not a bad deal if you want a lot of fences.

Rating: .

Hide Farmer


Second only to the Braggart in raw potential power, but suffers from several weaknesses. Aside from the steep food cost, this card will always look better on bad player’s farms than yours. Weaker players tend to neglect early family growth, putting them behind on farm development and ahead on food. If you have been playing well, you might only have 2 or 3 unused spaces, and won’t have much food to spare.

Still, if you have at least 3 unused spaces and plenty of food, he’ll always be worth the action. Potentially amazing if you are able to focus on Improvements for points and then use him at the end of the game for 5+ VPs. If I ever break 70 points in a multiplayer game, it’ll be with this guy and the Braggart.

Rating: .

Hobby Farmer


Early veggies are nice, but 1 veggie isn’t quite enough to make a dedicated vegetable feeding engine. You’ll have to combine him with something else like the Potato Dibber before you can start eating vegetables reliably. In that sense, he’s a well named Occ: you should view those vegetables as a hobby, not as your main source of food.

Nonetheless, this guy is usually worth playing simply because the free sow is usually worth 1 food, and you were going to spend an action taking a vegetable anyway.

Rating: .

House Steward


The best of the 1/2/3/4 wood cycle. Wood helps you build rooms!

Rating: .

Hut Builder


Being forced to play him in Stage 1 is rough, but the 2 reed, 5 wood/clay and build room action he eventually saves is well worth it. You never want to renovate to stone before round 11 anyway, so the restriction is almost irrelevant. Just make sure you’re not blocked from family growth on round 11, and consider renovating to clay a bit early to save 1 clay.

Rating: .

Juggler


As a note, playing one of the Traveling Players cards after someone has played the Juggler is usually a terrible play. Because every Traveling Players card needs to take the space to work properly, you are competing with whoever played the Juggler – always a bad idea in games with more than 2 players. Competing means two things: 1) your own Occupation’s ability will be less useful, and 2) the person who played the Juggler will take TP less.

The question when deciding whether to play this card, then, is whether you think the people you play with will recognize this fact. Often they won’t and will gleefully play their TP occ, not realizing that they’re screwing themselves just as much as they’re screwing you. The exceptions to this are the dancer and puppeteer, which can really wreck the Juggler’s day. Early on the Dancer takes TP a lot, preventing the square from building up. Later, when the Dancer’s ability isn’t as impressive, the Dancer will stop taking TP in the hopes that the Juggler will deliver 1 or 2 extra food. The puppeteer wants other people to take TP, and the Juggler guarantees that TP will be taken often. For him, the extra food is just an added bonus to something he probably wanted to do anyway.

As far as comparing him to the fisherman, there are more TP occs than Fisherman improvements, which reduces his value somewhat. However, smart players should be less inclined to play some of the TP cards after you’ve brought the Juggler out, and Occupations are usually harder to play than minor improvements. It’s pretty much a wash.

Rating: .

Land Agent


This is the worst early vegetable card. When you get the early vegetable, you’re going to want to sow it. However, sowing just 1 vegetable is usually a bad deal, so you’ll probably take a grain and plow 2 fields before you sow. Then, when the “Take one Vegetable” space appears, you’ll look at your 4 vegetables and your sown grain and wonder why you would ever want 1 more of either.

Has some use in that sometimes you just need to get your 4th occ, and paying 1F1A for an early vegetable is only somewhat of a raw deal.

Rating: .

Layabout


Clearly this is a card that you will usually want to play in round 13. In that round, this can save you 9 food with no penalty if you don’t have any relevant animal reproductions. I don’t need to tell you that that is a great deal.

Another solid use is to use the card before the 1st or 2nd harvests. If you've been aggressively pursuing FG (and you should be!), you often won't have anything relevant to actually harvest, making the Occ all upside. In that sense, the card can sort of work like a Mendicant that you have to play early - this won't always be great, but sometimes can be very strong, especially if your opponents are working to deny you food.

This will always be a conditional card, but in certain cases can be extremely powerful - even game-breaking. He gains in value if your opponents are strong and paying attention to your farm; oftentimes, you can trick them into wasting actions denying you food.

Rating: .

Lord of the Manor


Keep in mind that Agricola tends to reward people who don’t focus on maxing specific areas, and instead rewards last-minute diversification. As a result you generally won’t have much incentive for maxing areas with the intention of getting points on this guy, because you could probably be getting just as many points by filling in negatives.

That said, you only really need 3 areas maxed for him to be worth the action. This is most easily done with Fields, Grain, and Veggies, for obvious reasons. If you’ve been able to do this, by all means play him.

Rating: .

Lover


Extra cost: 4 food

Ah, the infamous lover. Certainly, in reports like this tournament thread, he seems to be unfair. In the game, a player plays turn 2 lover and is able to seemingly coast to victory. Without a doubt, the Lover is one of the best occupations in the game. But is he broken?

Playing the lover is pretty much impossible on round 1, so by “early lover action,” people generally mean rounds 2, 3 or 4, with the most infamous starts coming in round 2. If you play it round 2, you’re going to need to take day-laborer once just to play it. Afterwards, you’ll have either 1 or 0 food and will need to secure 6 food by the end of the harvest. This should take at least 2 more actions. What does this mean? You’ve spent 4 actions to get 2 actions before the first harvest!

Another weakness with the Early Lover is that his house is still 2 rooms! A player who grows his family the old fashioned way has the option of building a 4th room to his house and growing again. On the other hand, the Early Lover is stuck with his 2 room house – he’s going to need 10 wood and 4 reed before he can grow his family again. If he decides to eschew further “fair” family growth and wait for “Family Growth without Room,” he suffers from the fact that his 2 room house is pretty much unsuitable for renovation – there just won’t be many points in it.

The final weakness is that playing the Lover early puts a giant bulls-eye on your head. If your opponents are strong, they will be looking to screw you out of food at every possible avenue.

That said, what makes the Early Lover strong is that while he is scrambling for food, he is also using his extra actions to take resources off of the board. The result is that while his farm might not look all that impressive, no one else's will either! Pretty much everyone will be gimped by the Lover's inefficient scrambling, and by the end the Lover himself usually comes out ahead.

Playing the Lover on turn 2 is an all-in play - you are either going to win because of the play or lose because of it. An interesting alternative is to forgo playing him until around stage 3. Usually by this time, you have grown your family once and have some sort of a food engine up. Hopefully, you can then grab either 3 sheep or a piled fishing spot and use it to play the card. Used this way, the Lover is safer and still a strong play, but doesn't have the swingy potential that playing him early does.

Rating: .

Magician


This guy compares favorably to even the beloved Seasonal Worker. No one is taking TP at 1 unless they have played the Dancer, and in that case he is very similar to the seasonal worker (minus the veggie clause). What pushes this guy over the top is being able to wait for the spot to pile to 2 or even 3. 4 food and 1 grain for one action? Yes, please.

Probably the best TP card.

Rating: .

Maid


I’ve said this countless times, but early renovations are usually not worth it, particularly in games where clay is tight enough to make clay rooms unfeasible. 1 food a round is nice, but you’re never going to be able to abuse this card too much. Once you get to 3 rooms, you might want to go for a renovation in stage 3. If you play her by the end of round 9, she’ll be worth 4 food (5 food minus the one you took to play him). That’s ok, but not worth the effort of jumping through the necessary hoops.

Rating: .

Manservant


Due to the lack of relevant resources in 2-p and 3-p, it is usually very difficult to renovate early enough to make the Manservant worth it.
In 5-p and to a lesser extent 4-p, however, clay is abundant enough that renovating to clay and then building rooms becomes a genuine option. From there, acquiring the stone for the second renovation is not too much out of the way. In that environment, the Manservant can be good and even game-breaking, depending on just how early you can get him out.

Rating: .

Manufacturer


Like the Guildmaster, you’re going to need to plan on getting two of the resource majors to be worth it. Unlike the Guildmaster, it’s usually pretty easy to get them once you’ve played this Occ. This is sort of a pet card of mine – if I plan on getting a resource major, I usually play him and pick up another one later. The fact that you can grab starting player when you buy the resource majors with him is a nice bonus to the 4-6 stone he basically gives. You don’t always have time to be mucking around with him, but when you do he does his job nicely.

Rating: .

Market Crier


A powerful effect, but you pretty much save each of your opponents one action each time you use him. Don’t try to justify him with “everyone gets an extra grain,” because you will be giving many (if not all) of your opponents their first grain, which is much more valuable than the second grain that he gives you.

Like always, the early veggies are tempting, but this is almost strictly inferior to the Greengrocer.

Rating: .

Market Woman

This is a reasonably nice way to catch up on your crops if you’ve been neglecting them. You can also use it as a mid-game grain engine if you've been baking and are running low. Either way, the card makes the veggie square amazingly efficient, and is usually worth it.

Rating: .

Mason


You’ll usually play this guy at the end of the game for an extra 3 points. That’s a good deal by itself, even if you don’t use the extra room for another Family Growth. Getting to a 4 room stone house can be hard sometimes, however.

Rating: .

Master Baker


It's actually pretty rare for a game to have more than one baker, since there is only one clay oven. Moreover, the extra bakes are usually going to be too random to be very useful. The extra 4 or so food he gives over time isn’t particularly impressive, either.

Rating: .

Master Brewer


Being able to convert 1 grain to 3 food every harvest without taking a bake action is a very good deal. While this can’t be your main source of food, a single sowed grain field can be a nice secondary food source to tide you over while you set yourself up for family growth and a more robust food engine.

His usefulness is limited, however, by the fact that you need to be sowing grain in the early game to use him. This isn't always the best path to go, as the Master Brewer on his own isn't quite a good enough reason to prioritize grain sowing over FG and early fireplace (which, barring cards, are the superior lines of play).

Rating: .

Master Builder


If you can somehow get to 5 stone rooms, he’ll be worth it as a 3 point play. However, this is usually a pretty difficult task to accomplish, and three points isn't enough of an incentive to actively try to get this guy out.

Rating: .

Master Forester


The lower barrier to take the wood means you won't be able to get away with letting it get to 8W - at that stage someone is probably going to grab it, and feeding your opponents that much wood is never a good idea. On the other hand, being able to get repeatedly get 6W basically unmolested can be a huge boon. However, you have to consider that the action you're using taking it could be taking wood off the board from your opponents.

Rating: .

Master Shepherd


Deceptively weak. The problem is that he tempts you into building early fences, when that wood should really be going toward building rooms for future family growth. If you wait until after FG to use him, then the 3 sheep over time is not even that appealing, since the sheep square will have been piling up for some time.

Rating: .

Meat Seller


A 1 food cooking hearth is a decent deal. This lets you get in on eating accumulated animals without having to muck around collecting clay. This guy’s worth is highly conditional, but he’s a fine play when the conditions are met.

Rating: .

Mendicant


One of my favorite essays on this entire website was written by Xaxyx about the Mendicant.

Xaxyx wrote:
pillertime wrote:

I still think that the only time that the mendicant gives any sort of substantial benefit is if the action you take as an alternative allows you to take an accrued resource, get family growth a turn earlier, or provides some benefit not usually available.

The idea behind the Mendicant, it is being proposed, is that it will give not only one, but likely all of these things, simply by merit of the fact that it allows one to advance play by an entire action and, thus, an entire round. The disconnect between this proposed concept and your interpretation thereof seems to be a disjoin between the abstract and the demonstrable.

Usually, when speaking of choices in this game, it's practical, or at least feasible, to reference what's been gained based on a choice. Building early stables, for example, lets you breed sheep for food. Double plow and sow before the first harvest can get an early grain engine going. And so forth. In this situation, however, it's counterintuitive to be specific when speaking about the Mendicant and what benefit, direct or indirect, it may or may not offer if its “food loan” is exercised. The Mendicant's loan does not offer sheep or family growth, per say. Instead, abstractly, it offers pace.

Pace is the most precious resource in Agricola. It is amorphous, undefined. Yet it undeniably exists, and exerts its influence upon every round, upon every action, from start of game to end. Pace largely (though not entirely!) determines who gets their food engine going sooner, who gets their house enlarged sooner, who gets their family grown sooner. It determines who has time to spare to gather particular, specific resources and who does not. It determines who has time to fiddle with Start Player due to a surplus of pace; or, it determines who is compelled to fiddle with Start Player to accommodate for a lack of it. In a passive-interaction, economic competition game, pace is king.

The Mendicant is unique insofar as it offers an opportunity that no other card does. It gives the player a choice, a meta-game choice, to decide to gain early game pace at the expense of (presumably) late-game pace. It offers this power just by merit of sitting in the owner's hand; the option is exercised first, the cost (i.e., putting out the card) is paid later.

In your observation, you critique the player for choosing not to eat his grain and vegetable, by merit of the supposition that he could simply replace them in the next round. The counterpoint is that by exercising the Mendicant option, he didn't have to take the time to replace the grain and vegetable. Instead, he immediately went on to the next step in his plan, which was to use these resources to launch his food engine. He advanced along his intended strategic path, rather than repeating or, worse, regressing upon it. He gained pace.

Perhaps in fact he merely gained a single action. But this single action can be crucial, critical. Surely you have played often enough to have a fireplace snatched from your fingertips, to have animals slaughtered in someone else's kitchen rather than your own, to be ready to enlarge your home or grow your family only to see yourself unable to do so for want of a single, extra action ahead of an opponent's. Now instead think upon the games wherein your position was well enough laid out, your pace ever so slightly ahead of the pack, that it was you, and not them, who got that first family growth, forcing them to wait another round to grow theirs whilst you enjoyed the fruits of your labor. The Mendicant in your hand helps you to ensure the latter to occur more often than the former.

And the effective is cumulative, arguably. The Mendicant saves us an action, inherently -- the action of collecting two food. Instead, that action is spent on something more beneficial to short-term strategy, such as collecting reed or wood for building a home extension. This in turn could lead us to growing our family one round earlier than we would have otherwise been able to. By growing our family one round early, we've now gained *another* action. That action, too, sets our pace forward more rapidly, eventually letting us again expand our home and grow our family earlier, netting us still yet another action. Pace is self-perpetuating; it is exponential in its rewards. And the earlier the seed, the more bountiful the harvest.

And all of this pace acceleration has a strong, I would even argue devastating, effect on the rest of the players. The extra action(s) you gained can be used to gather pace-related resources. More resources for you means less for them; even snatching a simple stack of 3 wood is enough to ruin another player's plans of family growth for who knows how long. Whereas, the players who have to scrounge around on the Day Laborer space are simply leaving those resources around for others to take. That's an enormous swing in the early game.

Indeed: it was just this sort of swing that spawned the discussion from which this thread emerged. Someone expended their “extra” Mendicant action to take the sheep away from another player. That player's game was devastated. That player (a) had to waste his last action; (b) still took a horrid amount of begging negatives; and (c) now *still* has to scrounge around for sheep to get his food engine going for the next harvest. His pace was shredded. The Mendicant holder's pace was hardly affected. That's an amazing boon.


That said, the Mendicant is hardly a powerhouse. You’re not going to want to play this every time – just when a very juicy opportunity presents itself. Moreover, a smart player is going to see you take those 2 begging cards and immediately know that you plan on Mendicant’ing your way out. Especially if you’re in 2-p, she might then try to block the occupation square in the last round to blow you out.

Rating: .

Merchant


Unlike the Businessman and the Traveling Salesman, this doesn't have utility in securing you an early fireplace. Instead, it gives you the same almost irrelevant ability playing two minor improvements, which effectively reduces the number of times you can take SP. This time, however, you have to pay food just to do it!

The only added utility that the Merchant has is being able to buy two Major improvements at once. This is also an almost useless ability. If you have that many resources lying around, you should be renovating!

Rating: .

Midwife


If you are in a position where you are going to get a lot of food from the Midwife, you are not going to win.

Rating: .

Milking Hand


If you can grab 2 cow early enough to eventually get 4, he’s going to be worth 4 food (1 + 2 + 2 - 1) and 2 VPs. That’s a pretty good deal, but not an amazing one. This Occ can really get out of hand if you can somehow get a hold of cattle early.

Rating: .

Mushroom Collector


Amazingly strong. He’s basically a Cabinetmaker that gets to use his ability every time you take wood. If you play him, you're pretty much taking wood every time you can. In that time, he generates an absurd amount of food - usually enough for the first two harvests. He also gives you plenty of wood, of course. Since you have such a large incentive to take wood, you're taking it much more often than usual, which balances out the wood you have to leave behind.

Mushroom Collector can be risky in 2-p. Because he leaves behind a wood, your opponent will usually want to take the 4W (a very strong spot for 2-p) and deny you the food.

Rating: .

Net Fisherman


In 2-p and 3-p (where reed is tight and a crucial resource), this can be used to deny reed from your opponents. Play him, and then take the 1r every round for 1-2 food. The resulting game can be very messy, but you will almost always be the first to grow your family.

Everything changes in 4-p, when the Reed-Stone-Food space becomes available. With that square, it’s possible to get a nice mini-food engine going, assuming people aren’t relying too much on fishing.

Rating: .

Organic Farmer


Is this hideous card subtle commentary on the futility of organic farming? This requires you to spend lots of resources building the infrastructure for animals, but to not actually use that infrastructure. Rather than playing him, it’s usually better to use the action to get more animals to fill your empty pastures.

Still, there are times when all you'll want (and get!) will be 2 points. In crowded games, where animals are scarce, this can be an OK play if you meet the requirements.

Rating: .

Outrider


In my opinion this is one of the coolest occupations in the deck, even if he’s nowhere near the most powerful. If you’re planning on baking, you can use him to give you nice bonuses with the grain that you were otherwise going to spend an action on. Later, when you (hopefully) are taking Family Growth, Family Growth Without Room and Plow and/or Sow as they come out, you’ll get an additional bonus.

At the end of the game, if you’ve gotten 3 grain out of him, he was probably worth the action.

Rating: .

Pastor


Like the Maid, the Pastor is a card that you have no business playing if you consider yourself one of the better players in your group. However, if I found myself at a tough table, I could see myself working on my food engine in the early rounds and then using this guy to catch up. Random note: this is a hilarious combo with the Lover.

Rating: .

Patron


You’re going to need to look at your hand before you decide to play this guy, as he only begins to become worth it if you’re playing 3 occupations after him. If you are, then go ahead and run him out there. Otherwise, he stays behind. Along with Perpetual Student, this is probably the best way to rush the Animal Yard/Quarry.

Rating: .

Perpetual Student


This guy becomes better if you are playing with modified rules. Under the basic rules, there are a lot of completely worthless occupations, making him worse overall. However, the occ’s utility goes up if you remove bad occs or use some sort of drafting.

I initially disliked this guy a lot because of his inherent randomness, but he has grown on me over time. The key here is to think of him as a food-engine, and not just a random occupation generator. Day-Laborer + any effect is pretty strong (see: Seasonal Worker), and a random occupation is no exception.

I still don't like him for the somewhat common case where you have one or two excellent occupations and a bunch of crap. However, if you have a bunch of mediocre occupations and this guy, he can be very strong, particularly with occ-requiring minors like Animal Pen.

Rating: .

Pieceworker


This compares unfavorably to the Grocer. The Grocer can save you an action on veggies and grain, whereas here you still have to use an action to get what you want (you just get more of what you want). Taking away the free actions that the Grocer gives often makes the 1F cost too steep.

This occ can have a lot of utility, however, to use to abuse the RSF spot. 1 reed 2 stone or 2 reed 1 stone are both very strong plays, and possibly an even stronger one is to use his ability twice in the same action, paying 1 food for 2 reed, 2 stone! Combined with the option to occasionally use his ability in other cases, it can make him worth the action.

Rating: .

Pig Breeder


1 boar? What are you going to do with one boar? This is basically the same card as the Cattle Breeder, except early boar are much less impressive than early cattle.

Rating: .

Pig Catcher


This is a cute card that can get you a fairly early breeding pair of boar with a little wood thrown in. That said, 1 boar 1W is not a good enough deal to generally want to play him.

Rating: .

Pig Whisperer


Shhhh!

Even if you play this on turn 1, you’re not going to get a breeding pair until stage 9, when boar will have come out anyway. The fact that you have to leave the first boar lying around in your house waiting for her future partner makes this usually a bad deal.

Rating: .

Plow Driver


This is another card that asks you to get a stone renovation unreasonably early. He compares unfavorably to the Plow Maker, which isn’t even a good card.

Rating: .

Plow Maker


This is another trap card – he looks much stronger than he actually is.

Let’s assume that you play this guy with the intention of maxing fields. To get 5 fields, you’re going to need 4 actions (1 to play the Occ, 3 to plow) and 3 food (1 to play the Occ, 2 to plow). This is not appreciably better than just plowing a field 5 times, since the 3 food he costs will probably take another action anyway.

Rating: .

Plowman


This is by far the best “Plow” occ. He essentially gives 3 actions for the price of 2 (1 to play him, 1 to collect the 3 food), which is an obviously good deal. His utility is limited a bit by the fact that you sometimes can’t afford to wait around for the fields to come out.

Rating: .

Potter


In 4-p and 5-p clay becomes so plentiful that it’s almost worthless. In that situation, the Potter is at its best, but is still generally underwhelming.

GorthraxtheBeast wrote:
1A to play him, 1A to get 6 clay mid-game and that nets you 5 food over three harvests.


You generally have better things to do than 5 food over time.

Rating: .

Puppeteer


This is a potentially powerful but extremely awkward card. For one, playing him commits you to not taking the TP square in hopes that other people will take it. Furthermore, you will never be sure exactly when someone will take TP, making it hard to maximize the efficiency of your actions. Since the last time TP is taken is usually quite late, you’re going to need at least one late-game VP occ that you don’t care about when it comes out (Chief’s Daughter, Mendicant, etc.).

Still, since TP is usually taken 3-4 times in a game, this can straight up save you 2-3 actions. His value increases even more if someone plays a TP occ, since that usually means the spot will be taken more often.

Rating: .

Quarryman


Stone is usually far too valuable to spend on a measly 2 food. The only time I could ever see this occ being played is as part of a goofy combo with the Quarry. 8 food for one action is pretty good, I hear.

Rating: .

Rancher


This guy is a very risky play. If someone is looking to get 2 grain fields sown before the first harvest, you’re pretty much dead in the water. On the other hand, if no one wants to plow in the first round (and, in my opinion, no one should), you can potentially get a huge amount of wood from this guy.

Obviously the ideal play is to play him and plow in the first round, and then collect the wood and reed necessary to build a room and a stable. From there you should be able to use the wood to build a ton of fences, cementing your lead for the rest of the game.

Yeah, I’m a dreamer.

Rating: .

Ratcatcher


On the surface, you’re trading 1 food and 1 action for 2 actions from your opponents. That’s ok. However, the card is actually much subtler than that. For one, the action you spend to play him comes before the actions that your opponents lose. Since actions are more valuable in the early rounds than the later ones, this makes him a worse deal than he seems.

But it’s actually even more complex than that. Because the game is designed to have more appealing spots as the game progresses, removing 3 or 4 actions from a given round will mean that the quality of your final actions in that round will be much higher than usual.

As a whole, this is a card that I get out if I have the time, but don’t sweat too much if I need to use my actions in round 9 to develop my own board.

Rating: .

Reed Buyer


This is a cute combo with the Basketmaker, but usually the 1 food cost is too steep. If you really want to deny your opponents reed, it's often correct to just take the reed spot yourself.

Like all of the buyers, this has the most use in hands where you are able to get a ton of early game food. Cards like the Dancer or Seasonal Worker increases the viability of the buyers by quite a bit.

Rating: .

Reed Collector


This is amazingly strong in 3-p, where reed is extremely tight. However, in 4-p and 5-p reed becomes more plentiful, making him substantially worse. Still, in any case he will tend to save you a full action, since 4 reed usually takes 2 actions to get.

I don’t buy the "this gives your opponents more reed" argument that WhiteKong uses in his "Complex Strategies for Agricola" article. In order to build rooms, people need both reed AND wood. The action that the Reed Collector saves you lets you take wood instead, setting you up for a potential 2 room play and denying your opponents from rooms just as surely as if you had taken the reed.

Rating: .

Reeve


This is another nice 4/3/2/1 play. Since the Reeve is an occupation himself, he gives you a boost towards eventually getting the bonus. However, a key problem with the Reeve is that he's an early game occ. Usually in games where I want to play a lot of Occs, it's because I have a lot of good early game Occs. When I have a lot of early game Occs, I tend to prioritize getting them out before the Reeve, and often the opportunity to get 4 wood has passed by at that point.

Nonetheless, he is definitely one of the stronger 4/3/2/1 occs.

Rating: .

Renovator


Obviously you can’t play this unless you’re sure you’ll be able to renovate twice by the time the game is over. In that case, paying 1F1A for two stone and two clay is an OK deal, but often you’re better off just taking those resources directly to deny your opponents.

Rating: .

Resource Seller


When deciding on whether to play this card, you’re going to need to decide if the order that this forces you to take resources is what you actually want to do. The main problem is the three clay – how often do you actually want to take 3 clay times in a game, especially if you get bonus clay every time you do so?

Because of this, his value varies wildly based on the number of players. In 2-p, this guy is amazing and is probably a must play. 2-p is very much a denial game, and this guy makes it pretty much impossible to deny you from either clay or reed. In other modes, he is still a fine play, but often you will have better early game options.

Rating: .

Scholar


The “When you have a stone house” clause is always a huge barrier to entry. In this case, by the time you get a stone house, you should have already played most of the occupations you actually wanted to get out. However, particularly in larger player games (where early stone renovation is both possible and occasionally desirable), this can save you 2 or 3 actions, provided you have some late game improvements/occupations that you'd like to play. In the rare instances that you will be able to use him properly, he can seem overwhelmingly powerful.

Rating: .

Schnaps Distiller


Holy crap: 5 food!

This is an unholy combo if you get him with an occ that gives early vegetables. Even if you have to get veggies the old fashioned way, he can generate a lot of food in the late game if you have been baking and don’t have a cooking hearth. Just make sure you have 2 veggie fields before you play him, because otherwise you won’t have any veggies at the end of the game.

Rating: .

Seasonal Worker


This guy would be worth playing even without the vegetable clause. As is, he’s simply amazing. He generates a ton of food early as you get your grain engine set up, and then gives you early veggies (plus more food!) in stage 2. This is a pet favorite of many people at BGG, and with good reason.

Rating: .

Seed Seller


If you are going to want 2 grain to sow into 2 fields, he is always worth it. The grain he gives at the start negates his food cost, and from there you only have to spend 1 action to get the 2 grain you need. Either way you have spent 2 actions to get 2 grain.

However, the real way this guy shines is for "lazy" baking, where you don't bother plowing fields until stage 3 or even stage 4. In most games, you won't have the time to plow fields early, and will need to spend most of your actions on family growth. This guy lets you delay sowing fields at all - just take more grain every time you run out.

While I don't play him every time I get him, he is a good incentive to go baking, especially in larger games.

Rating: .

Serf


Early game he generates some extra grain to help you along with baking, and late game he gets back the action you spent to play him by giving you a veggie. He’s a nice incentive towards going for a baking strategy, and a must play if you already wanted to bake anyway (excluding hands when you have the Baker).

Rating: .

Sheep Farmer


This is a personal favorite. Early game he guarantees you a breeding pair of sheep– just take the thing at one sheep. Middle game he generates a ton of food and denies other people sheep, as you can camp the square at 2 sheep. Late game he saves you at least one action by giving you Boar and Cattle. I usually play him with the intention of getting to 7 sheep, at which point I can convert 6 of them into breeding pairs of cattle and boar.

A great trick which not everyone knows about is that if you have a cooking hearth and take the sheep square at 2 sheep, you can immediately convert the 3 sheep into a boar and a cattle. This will net you 7 food for one action, and is incredibly powerful.

Unlike most Occs, this guy is useful for pretty much the entire game. Well worth getting out.

Rating: .

Sheep Whisperer


The best part about this card is the picture, which shows a dude using a megaphone to “whisper” to his sheep. Priceless.

Unfortunately, like the Boar Whisperer, he’s a decidedly underwhelming card. By the time most of the sheep actually come, you don’t even care anymore. He needed to give a breeding pair before the second harvest to be playable. You're better off spending the action building up your farm so that you can be the first person to get a breeding pair of sheep.

Rating: .

Shepherd


I gave the Sheep Whisperer one star, and this is even worse than that. There's simply no way you're going to be able to get 4 sheep and room for two more before the second harvest, so you're only going to get a maximum of 4 extra sheep from him. The Sheep Whisperer gives the same amount of food, and doesn't force you to already have sheep just to get more sheep. Like all things in Agricola, sheep have diminishing returns - if you already have 4 sheep, there isn't much value in getting 4 more.

Rating:

Shepherd Boy


Gives less food than the Manservant (a card that's far from overpowered), and by the time you get a stone house, you should have no trouble getting sheep.

Rating: .

Slaughterman


This guy can generate a lot of food, but most of that food will come fairly late, when the ranchers start slaughtering a single sheep just to make room for the baby. Still, he’s worth playing semi-early if there are 2-3 ranchers and you’re not one of them.

Rating: .

Smallholder


Neither benefit is very impressive by itself, so in order to play this guy, you’re going to have to use both of his abilities. This is a bad idea, because contrary to popular belief, Agricola does not reward diversification – it rewards last minute diversification. In the early game, you want to specialize into a specific food engine, which goes against what the Smallholder wants you to do.

Rating: .

Social Climber


This guy is amazing if you can secure the first clay renovation. Once you get that, the 3 stone should make securing the first stone renovation trivial, at which point you can use the second batch of stone to get yourself a well for a million points.

This is one of the few cards that encourage early renovation that I actually like.

Rating: .

Stablehand


Another card that is unplayable due to the low number of times that you actually want to fence. Since you can build stables whenever you build rooms, this is not even saving an action when it activates – just a couple of wood. Garbage.

Rating: .

Stablemaster


This card is a little embarrassing when compared to the mini-pasture. That said, he's still fine for what he does: give you enough room to breed early sheep while you save wood for rooms.

Rating: .

Stockman


One of my favorite plays as a baker is to play the Stockman super late game with no animals, and then use the “build room(s)” space to build 3 stables. POW! 9 points.

The other use for him is to use him to get an early breeding pair of cattle. All you need are 2 stables and something like the Cattle Whisperer; the fences can come later.

Most of the time, however, the lack of a way to breed the singleton animals makes him too awkward to bother with.

Rating: .

Stone Breaker


This guy is obviously inferior to using either of the Renovation spots, which don’t cost food and give a nice secondary benefit of either fences or a major/minor improvement. Still, in the last round rush to get your house renovated, sometimes you’re going to get blocked from both spots. This is a nice insurance policy in case that happens.

Rating: .

Stone Buyer


This is the most tempting resource buyer to play, simply because stone is the most valuable resource in the game. Still, in order for him to be worth it, you’re going to need a good early source of food to take advantage of the people using the RSF spot. You’re also going to need a way to use that stone in the early game.

Usually, he doesn’t seem worth it.

Rating: .

Stone Carrier


You don’t take stone from the “1 stone spot” enough for him to give more than 1 or 2, so if play him, it’s with the intention of using the RSF spot for 1 reed, 2 stone. That doesn’t seem like an impressive enough play to be worth the 1F1A, unless you have minor improvements that require stone.

Rating: .

Stone Carver


I actually like him in 2-p where stone is very easy to get in the mid and late game. In the other modes, however, stone is usually too rare to be able to consistently want to get food from this guy.

Rating: .

Stone Cutter


Worth it if you plan on buying a clay oven, since this guy can save you a full action in that case. He can also be a good play if you have some random 1 stone minor improvements in your hand.

Rating: .

Storehouse Clerk


This guy looks just awful, but is surprisingly playable. Assuming you can get to 8 wood early, this guy's incremental advantage can be very powerful even if you never get a single other resource from him! Just compare him to the Rancher, which gives the same benefit but is much more easy to disrupt.

At his best, the Storehouse Clerk can give a ton of resources. You won't always be able to utilize him, but in the games where you do, he can be a cornerstone of your strategy.

Rating: .

Storehouse Keeper


He pays himself off if you were planning on getting 2 grain anyway. Moreover, the RSF spot is usually fairly strong to begin with. Giving yourself an excuse to spam it is never a bad thing. Should be worth about 3 grain for 1F1A - that is an excellent deal.

Rating: .

Storyteller


This guy is pretty obviously inferior to the Undergardener, but early vegetables are early vegetables. He can also be used by ranchers to set up a couple of 6 or 7 food plays later on. Obviously this decreases in value if someone else has already played a TP card.

Rating: .

Street Musician


This guy commits you to never taking the TP space, and the benefit he gives is marginal. The first grain is nice, but who really cares about the 2nd or 3rd if it comes after round 7?

Only playable if someone looks like they’re going to be abusing the TP space.

Rating: .

Swineherd


This is much, much worse than either the cowherd or the sheep farmer. The cowherd has a more powerful effect and lets you spam the cow spot at 1 until the end of the game – no one cares enough about boar for that to really be worth doing on the boar spot. Moreover, the sheep spot comes out much earlier (allowing you to take it more often), and the sheep farmer has a nice clause that lets you convert your excess sheep into cattle and boar in the mid to late game.

Rating: .

Sycophant


If you are planning on ranching, this card is more annoying than actually good. You can count on there being at least 2 ranchers in a 4 player game, and they aren’t going to be taking the grain until very late in the game, when the food won’t matter. Basically all this does is hose yourself and the poor sod who thought he was going to be baking this game.

The main value in this card is if you are planning to bake yourself. In that situation, this can act as a huge deterrent to would-be bakers, freeing up competition for the take 1 grain, plow field and sow/bake spots. While this card won't appear like it's doing much, the hidden benefits will often make this card worth the 1F1A.

Rating: .

Tanner


You’re going to have to work extremely hard just to get 3 VPs from this guy. He suffers from the same problems as the Brush Maker, except he’s even less efficient.

Rating: .

Taster


If I was ever going to ban a card for power reasons, it would be the Taster. The ironic thing is that this guy actively decreases interaction despite being in the interactive deck. People are less likely to want to take SP and less likely to be able to perform blocking moves. The “decision” to use the Taster is almost never actually a decision, since the benefit he gives is so great. In fact, the only way the Taster might increase interaction is that you’re more likely to strangle the guy who plays him.

Rating: .

Tenant Farmer


The Tenant Farmer seems to be much better than he actually is. The main problem with the Tenant Farmer is having room to hold 3 animals of a different type. Eating them is usually not a good solution because of the “payback” clause he has.

Obviously it gets easier to hold them as the game progresses, but as the game progresses the benefit he gives becomes minimal.

Rating: .

Thatcher


The Thatcher is usually worse than the Reed Collector, since you still have to spend another action collecting reed to build your first room. Note that the minor improvements he reduces doesn’t include the Landing Net or Reed Hut (which would be great with him) and does include the Holiday House, Corn Storehouse and Water Mill (which are close to unplayable). Still, in games where reed is tight, he can be a nice boost.

Rating: .

Tinsmith


This guy is horrible if the Well hasn't been played. However, in the unusual cases where a well is purchased early, he can be a strong food engine if you are playing a game with tons of clay lying around. 4 clay becomes 6 food, and 6 clay becomes 9 food. That's a ton of food.

Rating: .

Traveling Salesman


This plays as a slightly worse version of the Businessman. Again, you’re supposed to be using your minor improvements for taking SP, so his second clause is usually very bad (even worse than the Businessman's).

Again, however, the primary use will be as a stepping stone to winning the early fireplace/cooking hearth race.

Rating: .

Turner


Another terrible conversion occ. In fact, this is one of the worst ones.

Rating: .

Tutor


This card requires you to play him early when actions matter the most, and then does nothing until the very end of the game. That’s not a recipe for a good card.

That said, he and the Perpetual Student are an amazing combo. Often, you will be able to play out your entire hand of occupations, making him a 6 point play. Nice!

Rating: .

Undergardener


The Undergardener isn’t quite as good as the Seasonal Worker, but he’s still amazing. The power of early vegetables can’t be denied, and the 2 food that comes with each of them gives you enough time to get them into the ground. After that, it’s just a matter of getting a hold of a cooking hearth, and you’re set on food for the rest of the game.

This guy comes out pretty much every time someone draws him.

Rating: .

Veterinarian


This is a worse, “gamblers edition” of the Animal Handler, which wasn’t particularly strong to begin with. According to the first post of this thread, which is too long to quote here, your expected return from this occ (if you play it on turn 1) is 1.8 sheep, 1 boar, and 0.4 cattle. That’s far worse on average than the Animal Handler, which guarantees you a cattle. Moreover, the Animal Handler can be planned around, while the Veterinarian is random. True random is no one’s friend.

Of course, if you can convince your group to put animeeples in a bag, then feel free to cheat away.

Rating: .

Village Elder


The final 1/2/3/4 wood card. This card is probably the worst to play early, because you probably aren’t going to be spending the wood for improvements, making the 3 VP anyone’s game.

Rating: .

Water Carrier


If for some reason someone builds the well early, he can be worth 7 or even 8 food - a good deal for just one action. The card also becomes very strong if you happen to have the Well Builder in your hand.

Otherwise, don't bother.

Rating: .

Weaver


The sickest start I’ve ever seen with the Weaver involved the sheep spot flipping up in the first round. My opponent’s play went:

Round 1: 3 wood, starting player + stable improvement.
Round 2: Play Weaver, take 2 sheep.

POW! 12 food.

This card usually won’t be that awesome, but could be worth 7-8 food over time if you get him out early (with sheep, of course). That’s much better than most food over time Occs can offer.

Rating: .

Well Builder


This is the other half of the fearsome Water Carrier/Well Builder combo. This guy is a bit better than his counterpart, as reducing the cost by 2 stone and getting SP is an ok deal. However, usually he won’t be worth it.

Rating: .

Wet Nurse


This is a great occupation that is also heavily overrated. The Wet Nurse has three weaknesses:

1) It lets other players use the FG spot.
2) The extra food cost is very significant when you are also doing FG.
3) No minor improvement.

If you only use the Wet Nurse’s ability once, you spend 2 actions (1 for the Occ, 1 for the build rooms) and 2 food. This is pretty much strictly worse than the regular path, which spends 2 actions (1 for build rooms, 1 for minor improvement) and no food, and gets you a minor improvement.

So in order to get your money’s worth, you’re going to need to use the ability twice. In that case, you’re spending 3 food and 2 actions when you could be spending no food and 3 actions, getting 2 minor improvements along the way. Again, this is not a great trade.
What makes the Wet Nurse actually playable is when you can use her to get FG earlier than you otherwise could. In that case, you are actually conserving 1 or 2 more actions than the analysis above would indicate.

However, I’ve hopefully indicated that the Wet Nurse does not speed up your first family growth much, if any, because you have to spend a turn playing the Wet Nurse. Saying, “she prevents me from being blocked” is not a very good argument because she also prevents you from blocking someone else! One very valid point is if the FG spot comes out late and you are on the ball on resources, she definitely can help to speed up your first FG.

But if the FG spot comes in the first or second round of stage 2, the only way the Wet Nurse will be actually “broken” is when she speeds up your second FG. For this, several things have to happen.

A) She has to be get the resources necessary to build 2 rooms.
B) She has to have enough food to use the ability AND feed the offspring.
C) She has to meet conditions A and B relatively quickly.

If you are letting one of your opponents get 10 wood, 4 reed, and plenty of food in the early game, chances are you’re not losing because of a broken occupation.

That said, she's still almost always worth playing, and you should be happy whenever you draw her. While she's unlikely to win you the game by herself, she's certainly a good start.

Rating: .

Wood Buyer


1 food for 1 wood is not that great of a deal. Moreover, wood is most important in the early game, at which point you really don’t have much food to spare.

However, like the other buyers, if you combine it with a ton of early game food it can slow your opponents down and hopefully not hurt you too much.

Rating: .

Wood Carver


The fact that you can only use this once per turn really hurts this occ, as you generally use wood the most in stage 2 and very little any other time. As a whole, he might save you 4-5 wood over the course of the entire game, but that’s pretty much strictly inferior to the Wood Deliveryman, which gives it to you in the next 5 turns.

Rating: .

Wood Collector


I don’t need to tell you how important wood is, and this occ gives you 5 of it in a reasonably short amount of time. You’re not going to be able to get more wood early with any other play.

His usefulness goes down, however, if you have a better early game occ to play, since you’re not going to tend to want to play this guy later in the game, after the race to build the first room is over.

Rating: .

Wood Deliveryman


7 wood is a ton of wood, even if you're getting it pretty late. If you haven't been focusing on animals too much, he can help set up an insane Renovation + Fences action.

Rating:

Wood Distributor


This card is the most interesting in 2-p. If you play it early, the idea is to control the wood flow for the rest of the game. If the best spot on the board is wood, take it. If the best spot is clay, fishing, or reed, then split the wood and take one of those. Doing so can essentially deny your opponent the second best spot. He also makes taking SP to get 6 wood a fruitless endeavor, for obvious reasons.

He has much less utility, however, as you increase the number of players. Not only are you starting player less often (reducing the number of times when you can put a wood on reed and then take it), but you’re also less interested in trying to deny any one of your opponents.

One use for him is to combo him with occupations like the Berry Picker, Mushroom Collector, Woodcutter, etc. In those situations, he can be pretty abusive.

A card in 2-p, and a or card otherwise.

Rating: .

Woodcutter


If you’re taking wood as much as you should be, he’ll probably be worth about 5 wood by the end of the game, and most of that wood will come early. That’s a reasonably good deal, but the fact that you have to play him before you take any wood hurts.

Rating: .

Wooden Hut Builder


An interesting alternative to renovating. If you can get to stone then you probably want to go ahead and do that, but if you think you’re going to get stuck at clay, it might be worth it to just play this guy instead. The fact that you don’t have to waste time grabbing clay sometimes means that you can focus on getting to a 5 room wood house, which in turn let’s you get FG without having to resort to the “FG even w/o room” space.

Rating: .

Yeoman Farmer


If you’re playing decently, he shouldn’t be worth more than 2 points. That’s a bad deal.

Rating: .
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Jim Cobb
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.01)

Wow! I have no idea if your opinions are right or wrong, but I've gotta give you props for being so thorough! A thought about every card! That's impressive.

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Greg Richardson
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
What a great article! Thanks for such a thorough look at the occupation cards. I look forward to seeing your Minor Improvement article, should you choose to write it.

I've found that the Gardener is quite powerful, but you need to think of him as a way to get free food, not a way to max out veggies. With a cooking hearth and two veggie fields, he returns six food per turn without using any actions. If you can combine him with an early source of veggies (Hobby Farmer, Land Agent, Storyteller, Undergardner), you're golden for the entire game. Alone, he allows you to take veggies just once to get the full 4 points.

I agree with your assessment that the Layabout is most helpful for Round 13 or 14, when he can save you nine or ten food. He's also very helpful in Stage 1, if you're spending your food on occupations that provided delayed benefits and you don't want to slow down to feed. The savings in food is less, but a faster start in Stage 1 is sometimes a good play. Unlike the Mendicant, though, you have to play him in Stage 1 to get the benefit.
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Ali Ibrahim
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
Great review of occupations! I would have to say I generally like to play a lot of occupations so I would be more generous in some of my ratings, but overall I agree with your assesments. I have played about the same number of games as, mostly a mix of 2p, 3p, and 4p online. My only general comment is that some occupations are useful as tactical cards which make it harder for your opponents to block your plans and easier for you to block their plans (like traveling salesman).


Businessman
I would rate this as a three star card and is a nice tactical card in a variety of situations. The main use is win the race for the 2 clay fireplace without having to use a first action on the MIMI space. If the sheep action spot comes out first I would seriously consider playing this as my first occupation.

Carpenter
Four wood for 1A and 1F is pretty good. I would rate it a three stars.

Taster vs. Chamberlain
Chamberlain lets you take one of Plow and Sow and FG wo room twice and the other once. Taster lets you do the same one turn later, but you block the other players from taking the space! Taster is also useful for the entire game so I would say Taster is more powerful, although both are amazing.

Conservator
I don't think this card is as great as you make it out to be. For one thing, you lose the chance to play a major improvement which can nullify the gain in not having to take the renovation space. Most commonly, you save 1 reed and 3-4 clay, hardly worth five stars. I would say this card is worth three stars at most. I rarely play this card in my hand especially since I like to build major improvements. I would happily let my opponents have this card in every hand and not expect a change in the results.

Layabout
In 2p this card is simply amazing as a take that card when your opponent sacrifices an important action spot to try to starve you. Early on it might give you a chance to grow your family earlier and it combos nicely with any occupations that require a lot of food. I love having this in my hand, although I don't play it often.

Master Brewer
I would put this is a three star card at most. You need to sow grain early to take advantage of this occupation and that needs other supporting cards.

Perpetual Student
Almost all of your two star occupations are worth it at one food, so I would rate this occupation at three stars. This card is best in 5p.

Piceworker
Taking 1 extra stone for 1f is pretty good in my book. At the end of the game it is often worth it to take an extra wood for 1f or extra veg for 2f. Comboes very well with RSF space proving either 2r, 1s or 1r, 2s. I would rate this occ as three stars.

Reeve
I would give this occupation four stars. I almost always play it if I have it in my hand as it directly helps you achieve its bonus condition.

Travelling Salesman
Similar to Businessman, this is a tactical occupation that lets you win the race for the first fireplace and the hearths (in 5p). I would probably rate it at three stars. It can also prevent you from being blocked from building an oven or well at a crucial moment.

Wet Nurse and Lover
I agree with your comments about Wet Nurse and Lover, however, it is important to remember that the value of these occupations is greatly enhanced when the FG space appears late in Round 7. Having three actions when the FG space has not come out yet is not only an extra action, but an extra action that is good because the number of peeps in the game is still small. Such an advantage can often be leveraged into more family growth or dominating a resource such as wood or reed.


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Geoff Burkman
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
Nice work, Alex. I'll be back with further comment when I have the time.
 
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
vivafringe wrote:
Wood Deliveryman

9 wood is a ton of wood, even if you're getting it pretty late. If you haven't been focusing on animals too much, he can help set up an insane Renovation + Fences action.

Rating: ***


Isn't it only seven wood? One each from rounds 8-14?
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Corin A. Friesen
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
What I like about Agricola is that it proves you wrong.... and right. What I mean is that all of your ratings are decent in themselves, but when comboed with other cards, everything you have written is thrown out the window and you have to consider your hand in itself.

That being said, I like your analysis generally. But I have a few comments:

- Dock Worker: Far from being useless. If there is a lot of resources lying around, you don't have to be incredibly particular about which resources you take as long as you can take some. You don't even know how great this guy is coupled with the Clay Mixer.

- Fence Builder: I put my fence on the take grain action space while I had the Field Watchmen, and not much wood was a round. Quite delightful.

(- Field Watchmen: Definitely play it. DEFINITELY PLAY IT!)

And did I miss your analysis of the Day Laborer? I didn't see him.

- Quarryman: I had the Stone Carrier, Stone Tongs, Quarry, and Quarryman. I was feeding my family stone for most of the game.


So what's my point? Great analysis, just not terribly useful when it comes to actually playing.
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
Thanks for the replies, everyone!

gregrich wrote:
What a great article! Thanks for such a thorough look at the occupation cards. I look forward to seeing your Minor Improvement article, should you choose to write it.

I've found that the Gardener is quite powerful, but you need to think of him as a way to get free food, not a way to max out veggies. With a cooking hearth and two veggie fields, he returns six food per turn without using any actions. If you can combine him with an early source of veggies (Hobby Farmer, Land Agent, Storyteller, Undergardner), you're golden for the entire game. Alone, he allows you to take veggies just once to get the full 4 points.

I agree with your assessment that the Layabout is most helpful for Round 13 or 14, when he can save you nine or ten food. He's also very helpful in Stage 1, if you're spending your food on occupations that provided delayed benefits and you don't want to slow down to feed. The savings in food is less, but a faster start in Stage 1 is sometimes a good play. Unlike the Mendicant, though, you have to play him in Stage 1 to get the benefit.


Good points!

I've already edited the Gardener, and will edit the Layabout as well.

aibrahim wrote:
Great review of occupations! I would have to say I generally like to play a lot of occupations so I would be more generous in some of my ratings, but overall I agree with your assesments.


Thanks! I'm glad you liked the review, and thank you for giving detailed feedback! One of the reasons I wrote this guide is in the hopes that I could find cards that I underrated/overrated, so your post was exactly what I was looking for.

Quote:
Businessman
I would rate this as a three star card and is a nice tactical card in a variety of situations. The main use is win the race for the 2 clay fireplace without having to use a first action on the MIMI space. If the sheep action spot comes out first I would seriously consider playing this as my first occupation.


This is an excellent point; I'll start using him for that and will amend my entry for him and the Traveling Salesman.

Quote:
Carpenter
Four wood for 1A and 1F is pretty good. I would rate it a three stars.


4 wood for 1F1A is ok, but the 4/3/2/1 wood occupations all give 4 wood the moment you play them, not just when you build your 4th room (which, depending on how the game is going, might take a while). Furthermore, the wood those occs give is no strings attached - you're not required to use it to build rooms. In my experience all of the 4/3/2/1 occs are playable, but they're by no means must-plays. Since the Carpenter is almost strictly worse if you're only building 2 rooms, I think he should stay at 2 stars.

Quote:
Taster vs. Chamberlain
Chamberlain lets you take one of Plow and Sow and FG wo room twice and the other once. Taster lets you do the same one turn later, but you block the other players from taking the space! Taster is also useful for the entire game so I would say Taster is more powerful, although both are amazing.


Oh, I was misreading the Chamberlain. For all the times we played with him, we had him flip over the cards at the beginning of round 10, for some reason. After a couple games of that, I removed him from the deck, so we never had a chance to correct the error. Played that way, he was truly broken. As is, he is still extremely powerful, but maybe not as good as the Taster.

Still, the Taster does require 3 food for all of the FG/P+S shenanigans, and the Chamberlain gets an additional action or two because he can FG at least a turn earlier. As a result it's still not quite clear which one is better, but of course the fact that you can use the Taster for the entire game leads me to believe that he's stronger.

Quote:
Conservator
I don't think this card is as great as you make it out to be. For one thing, you lose the chance to play a major improvement which can nullify the gain in not having to take the renovation space. Most commonly, you save 1 reed and 3-4 clay, hardly worth five stars. I would say this card is worth three stars at most. I rarely play this card in my hand especially since I like to build major improvements. I would happily let my opponents have this card in every hand and not expect a change in the results.


Well, let's compare a person who renovates w/o a Conservator and a person who renovates with a Conservator and then spends another action buying a Major improvement.

The "fair" player:

Spends 2 actions renovating
Spends about 1 action collecting 3-5 clay
Spends about 1/2 of an action collecting 1 reed

The Conservator:
Spends 1 action playing the Conservator
Spends 1 action renovating
Spends 1 action playing major/minor improvement

Even in this case the Conservator is better (he saves about half an action). However, the Conservator has 2 additional benefits on top of that:

1) You don't have to buy the Major improvement if there is a more efficient way of gaining points. For instance, rather than spending 1A on 3 stone and 1A on Major/Minor to get a well, you can just plow 2 fields.

2) You can wait until much later to renovate. Because of the limited number of renovation spots, the "fair" player needs to renovate to clay fairly early if he wants to get to stone. That means he also has to collect clay and reed fairly early. The Conservator can just wait until the last possible moment.

I have played this card literally every time I've gotten him, and I'm pretty sure I've never made a mistake in doing so. In competitive games where resources are tight, he has singlehandedly won me the game by ensuring me a stone renovation that otherwise would have been impossible. That's a good sign of a five star card.

Quote:
Layabout
In 2p this card is simply amazing as a take that card when your opponent sacrifices an important action spot to try to starve you. Early on it might give you a chance to grow your family earlier and it combos nicely with any occupations that require a lot of food. I love having this in my hand, although I don't play it often.


Fair enough. If you don't play it often then I still consider it a *** card, but I should probably stress its potential power a bit more.

Quote:
Master Brewer
I would put this is a three star card at most. You need to sow grain early to take advantage of this occupation and that needs other supporting cards.


A good point. While he is nice in a grain-based strategy, you're right that he's not all that great of a reason to go grain if you don't have other supporting cards.

Quote:
Perpetual Student
Almost all of your two star occupations are worth it at one food, so I would rate this occupation at three stars. This card is best in 5p.


I don't get it. Why is he best in 5-p?

Quote:
Piceworker
Taking 1 extra stone for 1f is pretty good in my book. At the end of the game it is often worth it to take an extra wood for 1f or extra veg for 2f. Comboes very well with RSF space proving either 2r, 1s or 1r, 2s. I would rate this occ as three stars.


You're right. I've never seen him active in 4-p, so I forgot about the RSF interaction. I'll amend that.

Quote:
Reeve
I would give this occupation four stars. I almost always play it if I have it in my hand as it directly helps you achieve its bonus condition.


The problem with the Reeve is that he's an early game occ. Usually in games where I want to play a lot of Occs, it's because I have a lot of good early game Occs. When I have a lot of early game Occs, I tend to prioritize getting them out before the Reeve, and often the opportunity to get 4 wood has passed by at that point.

Quote:
Wet Nurse and Lover
I agree with your comments about Wet Nurse and Lover, however, it is important to remember that the value of these occupations is greatly enhanced when the FG space appears late in Round 7. Having three actions when the FG space has not come out yet is not only an extra action, but an extra action that is good because the number of peeps in the game is still small. Such an advantage can often be leveraged into more family growth or dominating a resource such as wood or reed.


Good points, I'll add them in.

pilight wrote:
vivafringe wrote:
Wood Deliveryman

9 wood is a ton of wood, even if you're getting it pretty late. If you haven't been focusing on animals too much, he can help set up an insane Renovation + Fences action.

Rating: ***


Isn't it only seven wood? One each from rounds 8-14?


Oops, yes, that's a typo. Thanks for catching it.
 
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.03)
Ambrose wrote:
What I like about Agricola is that it proves you wrong.... and right. What I mean is that all of your ratings are decent in themselves, but when comboed with other cards, everything you have written is thrown out the window and you have to consider your hand in itself.


Indeed. That's why I've been careful to define my ratings for one and five star ratings as "almost never" and "almost always." No matter now weak a card is, I could probably think of a situation where it would be worth playing. However, I'd disagree with you when you say that a list like this isn't useful. The reason I wrote it is that it should be a valuable reference to figure out which cards you're under or over rating. Knowing general rules for playing cards can help you to figure out when you should be deviating from those rules.

Quote:
- Dock Worker: Far from being useless. If there is a lot of resources lying around, you don't have to be incredibly particular about which resources you take as long as you can take some. You don't even know how great this guy is coupled with the Clay Mixer.


I'm not quite convinced. The Clay Mixer is a good example of when he could be useful, but the Clay Mixer is obviously a very powerful card. Usually you won't be able to get resources that efficiently. If a card is only useful as part of a combo in 1 or 2 situations, I've tried to just keep it at 1 star. Does anyone else really like the Dock Worker?

Quote:
And did I miss your analysis of the Day Laborer? I didn't see him.


Hmm... he's not in the compendium. What does he do, again?

It's also possible you mean the Seasonal Worker.
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.03)
vivafringe wrote:
Thanks for the replies, everyone!
Quote:
Carpenter
Four wood for 1A and 1F is pretty good. I would rate it a three stars.


4 wood for 1F1A is ok, but the 4/3/2/1 wood occupations all give 4 wood the moment you play them, not just when you build your 4th room (which, depending on how the game is going, might take a while). Furthermore, the wood those occs give is no strings attached - you're not required to use it to build rooms. In my experience all of the 4/3/2/1 occs are playable, but they're by no means must-plays. Since the Carpenter is almost strictly worse if you're only building 2 rooms, I think he should stay at 2 stars.

Quote:
Conservator
I don't think this card is as great as you make it out to be. For one thing, you lose the chance to play a major improvement which can nullify the gain in not having to take the renovation space. Most commonly, you save 1 reed and 3-4 clay, hardly worth five stars. I would say this card is worth three stars at most. I rarely play this card in my hand especially since I like to build major improvements. I would happily let my opponents have this card in every hand and not expect a change in the results.


Well, let's compare a person who renovates w/o a Conservator and a person who renovates with a Conservator and then spends another action buying a Major improvement.

The "fair" player:

Spends 2 actions renovating
Spends about 1 action collecting 3-5 clay
Spends about 1/2 of an action collecting 1 reed

The Conservator:
Spends 1 action playing the Conservator
Spends 1 action renovating
Spends 1 action playing major/minor improvement

Even in this case the Conservator is better (he saves about half an action). However, the Conservator has 2 additional benefits on top of that:

1) You don't have to buy the Major improvement if there is a more efficient way of gaining points. For instance, rather than spending 1A on 3 stone and 1A on Major/Minor to get a well, you can just plow 2 fields.

2) You can wait until much later to renovate. Because of the limited number of renovation spots, the "fair" player needs to renovate to clay fairly early if he wants to get to stone. That means he also has to collect clay and reed fairly early. The Conservator can just wait until the last possible moment.

I have played this card literally every time I've gotten him, and I'm pretty sure I've never made a mistake in doing so. In competitive games where resources are tight, he has singlehandedly won me the game by ensuring me a stone renovation that otherwise would have been impossible. That's a good sign of a five star card.


Some interesting counterpoints. You are right that in most cases the occupations which give you 4 wood straight up are better than the carpenter. However, the carpenter has some nice combos with other occupations and minor improvement that make it more useful in niche situations. Overall, I would rate the carpenter slightly less powerful than the church warden, but given wood's importance still worthy of three stars.

As for conservator, I still think you are missing some important points:

1. You might not necessarily renovate to stone!
2. The average number of major improvements played is somewhere around
two (including upgrading to hearth). So most times you do have a major improvement to play with the renovation to clay.
3. Renovation to clay is a prerequisite for a bunch of occupations and strategies.
4. Renovating to clay usually happens in round 7-12 (to take advantage of the major improvement), so there is not much competition for the renovation action. Maybe even less competition than that for playing an occupation.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.02)
Wow. Again, Alex, nice work. I may not agree with everything you have to say (and did you expect otherwise?--heck, no!), but definitely appreciate the work you've put into this Occupational survey. You deserve every thumb and GG you may get.

Adoptive Parents
My next 2-player report will illustrate the correctness of your evaluation completely.

Animal Breeder
Six food and an action for 7VP is quite acceptable, but not really anything out of the ordinary, action efficiency notwithstanding. I would only rate this one . Same with the Animal Dealer

Baker
To be honest, I've rarely tried using this guy, since I've never had him concurrent with a viable early grain-sowing strategy; I'm almost always more interested in building a room and growing my workforce. I'll have to give this one more attention sometime, but at this point feel he's no better than .

Berry Picker
I think ascribing a 5 or 6food to this one is generous, except in a 5-player game which has the 1RSW space. I'm thinking a 3 or 4food is all this baby is worth, and no more than .

Braggart
I like this one, even if I've rarely ever gotten it, but the difficulty of making it pay off is, I think, more than you let on, and thus only in my book. Best played after you've already played the bulk of Improvements you're likely to acquire, or your opposition will gang up to make playing more of them very dicey.

Brushwood Collector
Also remarkably strong in 2-player games, assuming you can keep the wood supply open.

Businessman
This guy's value depends on how many Minors you think you can play relatively easily. His ability to take a "free" Major bumps him to in my book, depending on the situation.

Carpenter
You're overlooking the fact that this Ock also reduces costs for Clay and Stone rooms (though I'm not sure why). That makes him for me, especially in conjunction with an Ock like the Reed Collector.

Chamberlain
I've seen this one lose, but not the Taster. How interesting that our experiences have been different. Still, a very powerful card, if not broken in my opinion. If we hadn't already banished the Taster, I'd love to see him go up against the Chamberlain. I'm quite surprised that Uwe designated this one a 1+ Ock.

Charcoal Burner
I love the Charcoal Burner, even when I do stupid things like give myself extra grain to disqualify a thumping fine win.

Chief
Paying 1a3f for 3-4VP is nice, but I'd still only rate this guy because of the sometime precariousness of having the extra food.

Clay Digger
I utterly disagree with you on this one. at least and leaning toward . If you play it early, it's a clay source that none of your opponents will touch until they have excess food, and combined with you stepping on the regular clay source(s), provides tons of oven- and hearth-making materials, not to mention renovation and clay rooms. And I don't mind giving my opponents access to it when I'm getting a 3food whenever they get desperate. See also the Master Forester

Clay Mixer
I'd only give this one , since its utility tends to decline as the game wears on, especially in 2-player games. Ditto for the Clay Worker. Both are good Ocks, just not quite as strong as you rate them, I think.

Conservator
I love this guy, but would only rate it as it's vulnerable to stone-hording by your opponents. Best played after you've acquired the necessary rocks.

Corn Profiteer
This one requires a grain strategy to work properly, and thus I'd only rate it . Beyond that it's only a Hearth with increased versatility.

Countryman
Much more useful in a "Through the Seasons" game. Much.

Dock Worker
Despite Mr. Friesen's endorsement, I hate this guy, though I'll admit I've never had the opportunity to use him in tandem with the Clay Mixer.

Farm Steward
I can't give this one better than , sorry to say. He generally forces you to renovate earlier than you might like, and can suffer from determined efforts to block Family Growth. Usually best played after you've accomplished the necessary renovation.

Field Watchman
Yes, yes, and yes. I love this Ock, and even though I don't feel it's quite broken, it's darn close. It's a gateway to so many interesting and useful synergies with other Ocks and a multitude of Minors.

Fieldsman
Very useful in a "Through the Seasons" game. I wish I'd get it more often when we play "TtS."

Forester
Yes, and yes again. I've grown to loathe this one, since it tempts me every time I get it, and I almost always bollux it up. Essentially, can be regarded as a longterm 6Wood or maybe 9Wood if you're lucky. It's best use is very early, and usually only when you have a lot of wood-dependent Minors to play.

Foreman
I can't rate this one better than . Despite being worth a potential 13food if played in Round One, I consider it unlikely that you'll get to score off him more than 6-8 times. That's not awful, and makes him well worth playing, but I just can't see giving him the extra star.

Gardener
Much more useful in "Through the Seasons," easily worth.

Greengrocer
Bonus veggies notwithstanding, I don't see this one being any more valuable than the Seed Seller. Still, not a bad card in the least.

Grocer
Despite the cornucopia of stuff he provides, I've always found this one difficult to take advantage of, unless you can get a solid food engine running. at best in my book.

Guildmaster
I don't think I've ever seen this one successfully used. as far as I'm concerned.

Hide Farmer
I agree with your commentary, but consider his effective use to be a little too conditional to warrant more than . Best played late, and hopefully as a surprise to your opponents.

Hobby Farmer
I agree with your rating if it's a "Through the Seasons" game, but in normal games, his first half ineffectiveness makes him .

Land Agent
In a "Through the Seasons" game, this boy bumps to , being almost as good as the Market Woman.

Lover
Nice commentary on the Lover, and I'm a bit surprised you still give him . I tend to avoid playing him if I've got anything better, but I'm always careful to hold onto him in any passing draft. I'm not about to let my LHO have a go at him.

Manservant
Consider: 4-player game, take RSf twice. Play Conservator. Play Manservant. As soon as Renovation comes up, pow! Even if Renovation doesn't show until Round Seven, that's going to be 21 food lined up for you in the second half of the game. Nice. I gotta give this guy for a 4- or 5-player game.

Market Woman
I love this lady in a "Through the Seasons" game with an Autumn start.

Master Forester
Much like the Clay Digger, I disagree with you on this one. I like this guy a lot. He pumps beaucoup wood into the game, which means higher scores, and he's usually good for a 4-6food on top of that. Opponents won't touch him, typically, until he's up to a 6Wood or better, which is fine if you've been careful to keep taking wood from normal sources. This is in my book, no problemo.

Milking Hand
I've never had occasion to try it, but I'm thinking this one might well be in a 5-player game.

Mushroom Collector
I don't like this guy nearly as much as you do. Using him successfully inhibits your acquisition of wood, and he can often be neutralized by heavy opposition interest in that same material. at best, in my opinion, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.

Schnaps Distiller
In "Through the Seasons," this guy upgrades to , especially in combo with anything that boosts your vegetable output.

Seasonal Worker
I'd only give this one , especially in 4- and 5-player games when the likelihood of interdicting him is much higher.

Sheep Farmer
Interestingly, I've never paid much attention to this one, but after your commentary, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to try him out.

Social Climber
The "if" in your description is what compels me to rate this one .

Taster
As I'm sure you know, I consider this dude utterly broken. I'll put him up against your Chamberlain any day of the week. The only card my crew has outright banished from the game.

Traveling Salesman
I dunno, I've seen this one used pretty effectively. He gives you increased access to Majors, and the ability to crank out Minors willy-nilly. I give him at least , if not . Certainly situational, though, depending on what Minors you have.

Turner
I tend to agree with you, but will note that in combination with the Master Forester, he can potentially kick out a lot of food.

Tutor
Probably best suited for the solo game, nonetheless the Tutor can be a solid four or five points if you're set on playing lots of Ocks. I'd give him a situational .

Undergardner
I'll have to give this guy another look-see.

Water Carrier
Pretty much agreed, but as I've illustrated in one session report or another, in synch with the Well Builder and the Village Well, this guy is stupendous. Gotta give it at least a situational .

Yeoman Farmer
I disagree that two points for an action is a "bad deal." It's not a great deal, but it's not bad. Definitely a situational late-game play, after you know how extensive your negatives are.

Again, Alex, awesome job. Thanks for taking the time.

Edited to conform to star formatting.
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Corin A. Friesen
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.04)
vivafringe wrote:
Ambrose wrote:
What I like about Agricola is that it proves you wrong.... and right. What I mean is that all of your ratings are decent in themselves, but when comboed with other cards, everything you have written is thrown out the window and you have to consider your hand in itself.


Indeed. That's why I've been careful to define my ratings for one and five star ratings as "almost never" and "almost always." No matter now weak a card is, I could probably think of a situation where it would be worth playing. However, I'd disagree with you when you say that a list like this isn't useful. The reason I wrote it is that it should be a valuable reference to figure out which cards you're under or over rating. Knowing general rules for playing cards can help you to figure out when you should be deviating from those rules.

I never said it wasn't useful (though I admit I did use some strong language); at least I tried to say it's only marginally useful when analyzing your hand because of the possibilities.

vivafringe wrote:
Ambrose wrote:
- Dock Worker: Far from being useless. If there is a lot of resources lying around, you don't have to be incredibly particular about which resources you take as long as you can take some. You don't even know how great this guy is coupled with the Clay Mixer.


I'm not quite convinced. The Clay Mixer is a good example of when he could be useful, but the Clay Mixer is obviously a very powerful card. Usually you won't be able to get resources that efficiently. If a card is only useful as part of a combo in 1 or 2 situations, I've tried to just keep it at 1 star. Does anyone else really like the Dock Worker?

There are a lot of cards that give you extra resources, so more than likely you'll get one that will help this guy. And being non-specific about the resources on the board puts the acquisition of resources with family members on one of the lower-priority slots for the order of taking actions, thus giving you greater flexibility. Sounds pretty cool to me.

vivafringe wrote:
Quote:
And did I miss your analysis of the Day Laborer? I didn't see him.


Hmm... he's not in the compendium. What does he do, again?

It's also possible you mean the Seasonal Worker.

Yes, sorry, I meant Seasonal Worker. blush Found him. Definitely ranks with the Field Watchmen as one of the best cards you can draw.
 
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.04)
My turn.
Most of the big things have been covered so I'll try to look at some smaller ones. Also this mostly pertains to 4 player games and much less to 1/2 player games. Finnally since you originally used * giving half stars wasn't very possible. Now that you're using s I think it would be good to allow s in your ratings since some occs really do fall between the two. In fact giving full stars initially and granting only after people have read the original and posted opinions is a good way to get feedback from everyone.

Dock Worker
While I admit that his conversion isn't great in 4/5 player games its not unusual for there to be 4 or even 6 clay late/mid game as there is less and less to do with it. The dock worker essentially turns this into 2/3 any good. This can be very powerful late game seeing as rock and wood are great for last minute points and its not unusual to be short a reed for the final renovation or extension. There really isn't any other wild card resource like this in the game. Even if you don't need it immediately taking 4 clay/2wood/2rock/2reed any time isn't a bad move. If you have any of occs that give bonus clay or say clay pits or quarry then the dock worker becomes incredibly powerful as you can get wild card resoursses while doing other things. I'd give it

without one and

with one. This averages to about
to
since these cards aren't very common.

Next are
The Perpetual Student
and Fence Builder

Alone these two aren't great but they combo really well with other cards that give benefits to their respective specialties.

Just the other day I had the Fence Builder and Stable Hand (Free stables when you build fence). By putting the "fence" on the 3 wood space (in my opinion the best place for it) I was able to easily get my fences and stables (essentially gaining 8 wood as well) and prepare myself to take animals and start them breeding early.

Another time I had the perpetual student and the educator. Can you say super fast occupation playing

While Alone I'd say your rating is about right I'd say they both deserve a extra for ease of comboing. The Perpetual student should probably be at least

since even alone it is still playable since you never have to worry about food when playing occs and you get at least a bonus food too.

Head of the Family

Simply guaranteeing building room and family growth early is enough to push this guy to
or even in a 4 player game
Your first family member is so important and your 4th is so useful being able to concentrate on collecting resource on your early turns rather than "taking starting player so you can't be blocked from building rooms or growing your family" is well worth 1F1A. In fact the 1A will probably come back to you when someone else takes one of those spaces when you want it. Usually when someone plays it they get their family to 4 by stage 3 while everyone else is still fighting over those squares. Also useful late game for making 4 stabels.

Scholar

While I agree this isn't a great card it probably should be worth an extra because it is really the only card that makes a very early stone renovation work (after a family growth) though one would probably need the manservant or other "stone house occ" to go with it. I've seen this done 1 time but I admit it's hard to do and overall a pretty bad card.

Wood Buyer

I always find this card a good play. Of course whenever I have him I focus a little more into food production. Late game people begin taking wood again to make fences. They really hate having to give up that 1 wood each time and getting a few free wood can help for last minute fences or stables. Not only that you're denying the wood from someone who probably needs it. If you played well usually you have enough spare food to make the payments. From my experience it is at least

I'd probably give it


Pieceworker

A lot has been said about this guy but I would like to add some more. At first I thought he wasn't so great. Then I began abusing 1R1S1F. Something you didn't mention is while 1R2S and 2S1R is good, 2R2S for 1F is also a very good deal. His ability can be used for all resources taken, not just 1 (though he needs to pay extra food). Also since you almost always need reed in 2s and a lot of stone taking these spaces when there's just 1 good isn't a terrible deal anymore (Specially for early reed). Comparing him to the grocer he still is favorable since the grocer can only get you 1 reed and 1 stone early while the piece worker can get you many of each. I generally find these hard to get resources more valuable early on. Around stage 2/3 if you have both the Pieceworker and the Grocer in your hand then I'd say the Grocer is better but as an early occ specially in 4 player the Pieceworker is a beast. Not to mention when you take a grain converting 1 food into an extra grain is really a no brainer for obvious reasons. I'd give it

because of how helpful he is in getting early reed and grain and late stone, maybe even that 1 clay or wood you desperately need for improvements or home building though you must get a good food engine going. Fortunately the Pieceworker is a master at getting a baking strat going, Just think about it and it is very obvious why.

Constable
Quote:
Constable

If someone besides you gets the 3 VPs for having no bonus points, you probably would have lost to them anyway. This makes the VP ability pretty much a neutral EV move. Also, I hear 4 wood for 1F1A is nice.


I really don't understand what you mean by this analysis. Please clarify what you're saying. What 3 vp? and what do bonus points have anything to do with the card?
 
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Mike T
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.04)
In favor of the Perpetual Student: I played him against a group of relatively new players, thinking he looked weak, and fun, and would give everyone else a shot (also because I am the sole remaining student in the group)... As it turns out, at least against weak competition, he can be pretty strong: no need to set up an early food engine at all with him, since occs are your food engine. If all of the occs in your hand are at least playable (mine were), this can work out pretty well. That being said, I'm not sure if I'd give him 3 stars or 2.
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.04)
MisterG wrote:
Wow. Again, Alex, nice work. I may not agree with everything you have to say (and did you expect otherwise?--heck, no!), but definitely appreciate the work you've put into this Occupational survey. You deserve every thumb and GG you may get.


Thanks! Your kind words, extensive feedback and GG tip are all much appreciated.

Quote:
Animal Breeder
Six food and an action for 7VP is quite acceptable, but not really anything out of the ordinary, action efficiency notwithstanding. I would only rate this one ***. Same with the Animal Dealer


I'd disagree with you and say that 6 food for 7 VP is an extraordinary deal. To my knowledge, the only two other occupations that can convert food to VPs as efficiently are the Hide Farmer and the Taster. Just compare him to a perfectly playable card like the grocer - no contest. Also, the fact that he can get early cows all by himself adds versatility to go along with his tremendous power. I actually considered giving him 5 stars as I was writing the review.

The Animal Dealer is less of a clear cut case. Still, I've found the Cowherd playable, and his sole use is to spam the cow spot. The Animal Dealer can do this almost as well, but has a lot more utility in the early game.

Quote:
Baker
To be honest, I've rarely tried using this guy, since I've never had him concurrent with a viable early grain-sowing strategy; I'm almost always more interested in building a room and growing my workforce. I'll have to give this one more attention sometime, but at this point feel he's no better than ***.


I like him a lot. In some cases having him is enough for me to go for a baking strategy.

Quote:
Berry Picker
I think ascribing a 5 or 6food to this one is generous, except in a 5-player game which has the 1RSW space. I'm thinking a 3 or 4food is all this baby is worth, and no more than **.


Well, let's consider 2-p since it's the easiest one to look at. Assuming no one has any wood occs, wood is usually tight enough that the 3 wood spot stacks rarely. I'd estimate the wood only piles to 6 about 4 times a game. This means that players are taking wood about 10 times a game, or 5 times each. Coupled with the fact that the Berry Picker gives an incentive to not let the wood stack, and I think 5-6 is actually a reasonably good estimate.

For 3-p, 4-p and 5-p the math gets harder and more chaotic, but I still think you're generally going to be taking wood about 5-6 times with the Berry Picker out.

Quote:
Braggart
I like this one, even if I've rarely ever gotten it, but the difficulty of making it pay off is, I think, more than you let on, and thus only *** in my book. Best played after you've already played the bulk of Improvements you're likely to acquire, or your opposition will gang up to make playing more of them very dicey.


Aye, he is a difficult card to play. However, in the hands of an experienced player, I think he will usually be very fearsome. I admit my rating scale breaks down a bit here - if you only look at the percentage of time he is playable, he is probably a three star card. However, I give the extra star simply because of his raw power - he's engineered more flat out blowouts and unreal comebacks than any other card I can think of.

Quote:
Businessman
This guy's value depends on how many Minors you think you can play relatively easily. His ability to take a "free" Major bumps him to *** in my book, depending on the situation.


Aye, I think I've been underrating him and his partner, the Traveling Salesman. His rating is *** now.

Quote:
Carpenter
You're overlooking the fact that this Ock also reduces costs for Clay and Stone rooms (though I'm not sure why). That makes him *** for me, especially in conjunction with an Ock like the Reed Collector.


I think clay and stone rooms are a corner case - most rooms are wood, a few are clay, and almost none are stone (the Well tends to be a much more efficient way to get points). Moreover, in cases where you actually want to build clay rooms, clay is probably common enough that 2 clay and 2 wood isn't much better than 4 wood.

Quote:
Chamberlain
I've seen this one lose, but not the Taster. How interesting that our experiences have been different. Still, a very powerful card, if not broken in my opinion. If we hadn't already banished the Taster, I'd love to see him go up against the Chamberlain. I'm quite surprised that Uwe designated this one a 1+ Ock.


As far as I can tell, when Uwe was designing the game he didn't factor in power at all when designating how many players an Occ should take. It seems like most of the 4+ occs either use TP, take advantage of the larger number of players, or pump more animals into the game (which is needed, since there are the same number of base animals in 1-p as in 4-p).

Anyway, about the Chamberlain: I was misreading him as even more powerful than he was, which is why I banned him. Now that I've figured out he's weaker than I thought, I might actually bring him back into the game.

Quote:
Chief
Paying 1a3f for 3-4VP is nice, but I'd still only rate this guy *** because of the sometime precariousness of having the extra food.


Hmm, a fair point. Also you won't always be getting a stone house, obviously.

Quote:
Clay Digger
I utterly disagree with you on this one. ** at least and leaning toward ***. If you play it early, it's a clay source that none of your opponents will touch until they have excess food, and combined with you stepping on the regular clay source(s), provides tons of oven- and hearth-making materials, not to mention renovation and clay rooms. And I don't mind giving my opponents access to it when I'm getting a 3food whenever they get desperate. See also the Master Forester


I admit I've always refused to play him because he looks so terrible from a game theory perspective. The next time I draw him, I'll have to try to get him out and see how he does.

One concern I have is that you mention that you should be careful to take lots of clay from other spots (not just his) to avoid flooding the game with clay. That seems like a lot of actions to be using on clay, which usually isn't a very important resource in 4+.

Quote:
Clay Mixer
I'd only give this one ***, since its utility tends to decline as the game wears on, especially in 2-player games. Ditto for the Clay Worker. Both are good Ocks, just not quite as strong as you rate them, I think.


Really? I think he's especially powerful in 2-p games, since clay is such a tight resource. Not only does he give you plenty of the resource for yourself, but he gives added incentive for denying your opponent the clay she needs.

One thing I'd like to do is compare the effects of the Clay Mixer and the Clay Digger. How many actions do either of them tend to take to get X amount of clay? How much clay will your opponents have by the end if you take X clay? These are complicated questions that I'm not sure of the answer. I'll have to think about it.

Still, you might be right on these two Occs. I remember them rating them lower when I first started playing the game, but raising my opinion of them after reading glowing reviews of them from other people here.

Quote:
Conservator
I love this guy, but would only rate it **** as it's vulnerable to stone-hording by your opponents. Best played after you've acquired the necessary rocks.


I think the fact that you don't have to bother getting the necessary clay gives you more than enough time to get enough stone. If you have a 4 room house, I don't think anyone can stop you from just taking two stone twice.

One thing's for sure: he's broken in 2-p, where stone is easier to get than clay.

Quote:
Corn Profiteer
This one requires a grain strategy to work properly, and thus I'd only rate it ***. Beyond that it's only a Hearth with increased versatility.


You're probably right, especially now that I've bumped the Master Brewer down a notch.

Quote:
Farm Steward
I can't give this one better than ***, sorry to say. He generally forces you to renovate earlier than you might like, and can suffer from determined efforts to block Family Growth. Usually best played after you've accomplished the necessary renovation.


He does require early renovation, but he negates one of the downsides of renovating early, which is mucking about with clay rooms. Since he gives FG w/o room, you can just renovate your 3 room house without having to worry about falling behind in actions.

I'm not sure what you mean by determined efforts to block family growth. In my experience, the FG spot isn't particularly crowded after round 10 or so, when the initial rush to 3 rooms is long over.

Quote:
Foreman
I can't rate this one better than ***. Despite being worth a potential 13food if played in Round One, I consider it unlikely that you'll get to score off him more than 6-8 times. That's not awful, and makes him well worth playing, but I just can't see giving him the extra star.


I will admit that this card depends highly on your ability to get the food often. This card seems very skill dependent, as a whole, but I think excellent players should be able to make very good use of him. I'll have to play him some more to see.

Quote:
Grocer
Despite the cornucopia of stuff he provides, I've always found this one difficult to take advantage of, unless you can get a solid food engine running. *** at best in my book.


A good point. I can remember at least one game where exactly what you said happened - someone played him, didn't have enough food, and as a result left him largely unused for most of the game. I'll probably knock him down a notch in my next wave of edits.

Quote:
Guildmaster
I don't think I've ever seen this one successfully used. ** as far as I'm concerned.


You're probably right. I'll change it.

Quote:
Hobby Farmer
I agree with your rating if it's a "Through the Seasons" game, but in normal games, his first half ineffectiveness makes him ***.


Hmm, can you elaborate a bit? While he's never going to break the game, taking a veggie and immediately sowing it pretty much always seems worth the action and food - even if you wait around until the fairly late game.

Quote:
Lover
Nice commentary on the Lover, and I'm a bit surprised you still give him ****. I tend to avoid playing him if I've got anything better, but I'm always careful to hold onto him in any passing draft. I'm not about to let my LHO have a go at him.


Indeed, the Lover is a card that always seems stronger from the other side of the table. Whenever I play it myself, it never seems that great.

Quote:
Manservant
Consider: 4-player game, take RSf twice. Play Conservator. Play Manservant. As soon as Renovation comes up, pow! Even if Renovation doesn't show until Round Seven, that's going to be 21 food lined up for you in the second half of the game. Nice. I gotta give this guy *** for a 4- or 5-player game.


I'll agree that he has his uses. I actually played a recent game where I had the Lover and used it after growing once. Because of this, I had a 3 room house that I could renovate extremely early since I didn't have to worry about further FG. When the dust had settled, I had the Manservant out in round 9, giving me 15 food over the next 5 rounds. He seemed pretty good in that (narrow) situation, but as a whole I don't think he's worth the effort - a sign of a ** card.

I will say, however, that your early renovation plan doesn't actually seem too good. The problem is that you're going to be stuck on 2 peeps until the FG w/o room spot comes out.

Quote:
Master Forester
Much like the Clay Digger, I disagree with you on this one. I like this guy a lot. He pumps beaucoup wood into the game, which means higher scores, and he's usually good for a 4-6food on top of that. Opponents won't touch him, typically, until he's up to a 6Wood or better, which is fine if you've been careful to keep taking wood from normal sources. This is *** in my book, no problemo.


I'll have to try this guy out as well.

Quote:
Mushroom Collector
I don't like this guy nearly as much as you do. Using him successfully inhibits your acquisition of wood, and he can often be neutralized by heavy opposition interest in that same material. *** at best, in my opinion, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise.


If you play him, you're pretty much taking wood every time you can. In that time, he generates an absurd amount of food - usually enough for the first two harvests. He also gives you plenty of wood, of course. Since you have such a large incentive to take wood, you're taking it much more often than usual, which balances out the wood you have to leave behind.

Quote:
Social Climber
The "if" in your description is what compels me to rate this one ***.


Indeed, good point.

Quote:
Tutor
Probably best suited for the solo game, nonetheless the Tutor can be a solid four or five points if you're set on playing lots of Ocks. I'd give him a situational **.


Even if you end up playing 4 occs (which, for me, is above average if there's no drafting), he's still only 3 VPs, and I'm pretty sure your first few actions are worth more than that long term. On the other hand, playing him and the perpetual student could be hilarious. 6 VP?!?

Quote:
Water Carrier
Pretty much agreed, but as I've illustrated in one session report or another, in synch with the Well Builder and the Village Well, this guy is stupendous. Gotta give it at least a situational **.


I've tried to keep things at one star if they only have one or two combos that they're good in. Drawing two specific occs just isn't very likely if you're playing with all 3 decks.

Quote:
Yeoman Farmer
I disagree that two points for an action is a "bad deal." It's not a great deal, but it's not bad. Definitely a situational late-game play, after you know how extensive your negatives are.


Well, compare playing the Yeoman for 2 VPs to plowing a field. In my experience I've seldom had trouble finding 2 VP plays at the end of the game, and most of them are free or with benefits (for instance, taking 2 sheep and eating one, leaving the other one in your house).

Quote:
Again, Alex, awesome job. Thanks for taking the time.


No problem. Thanks for taking the time for feedback!
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Alex Chen
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.04)
allstar64 wrote:
Now that you're using s I think it would be good to allow s in your ratings since some occs really do fall between the two.


Half stars are tempting, but I think I'm going to forgo it for two reasons:

1. It'd be a lot of work as I'd have to reevaluate every single card.
2. I don't think my knowledge of the game is good enough to give such a high degree of precision.

Quote:
Dock Worker


Alright, you've convinced me. I'll raise it to **.

Quote:
The Perpetual Student
and Fence Builder


If a card generally isn't worth it but combos well, that's a ** card. The rule of thumb I used when making the list was that I'd have to use a card about half the time for it to get 3 stars. I don't think it's wise to be playing either of those that much.

Quote:
Head of the Family


Hmm... it seems like you could be using the action to collect resources, which would effectively increase the turn you can FG by 1 anyway. I can see yourself playing it if it looks like you will be blocked and you already have the necessary resources, but generally it seems like a passive play. I'd rather be blocking someone else than using an action to make sure I can't be blocked.

Quote:
Wood Buyer


Yes, it's denying them wood, but it's also giving them a food. In the early game I value 1W as about the same as 1 food (fishing for 3 food probably isn't quite as good as 3W, but 4 food is probably better), so trading one for the other isn't a productive exchange for you.

Quote:
Pieceworker


Another good point. I'll edit him again.

Quote:
Constable
I really don't understand what you mean by this analysis. Please clarify what you're saying. What 3 vp? and what do bonus points have anything to do with the card?


Oops, it should read 5 VP. Thanks for catching that.
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Johan Sporre
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.05)
vivafringe wrote:


Bread Seller

Pretty much worthless if only one person is baking bread, and given the difficulty in acquiring the stone oven, this is almost always the case.

Rating: .


I have to disagree here. Bread Seller turns a Cooking Hearth into a Stone Oven for you. Pump out the grain and then you're set. If someone else also bakes that's just gravy.
 
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Brian J. Hotovec
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.05)
First off I’d like to say thanks for writing this analysis of the occupations. I enjoyed reading it and although I’ve played many times it was nice to get a fresh look at some of the occupations and it was an enjoyable read.

In general, I agreed with much of what you wrote, but I felt compelled to add my two cents worth and I’ve summarized my main thoughts below. I felt many cards deserved ratings so I included those to show which way I was leaning. (My experience has been about 225+ games which are approximately half 2p and the other half is an even mix of 3p, 4p, 5p.)

Field Warden
Easily . He allows you to spam veggies for huge food in the late game and sets you up well to make strong moves with your last family member(s). In 4-5 players the veggie spot can be hotly contested and plow and sow is always a strong card.

Foreman
This card is too tricky to be worth more than that.

Grocer
You have a good point here and I’ll have to try him out at my next opportunity. Until now I’ve thought him to be fairly bad, but now I think he is worth playing.

Hobby farmer
This guy is worth just in my book.

Marketwoman.
At least For 5 actions (occ, 4x veggie) and 1 food you can go from -2 pts for no veggie/grain to 8 pts by maxing out on both. That’s 10 pts for 5 actions in the mid-late game. Not a bad trade. At the same time you are starving others of veggies. With a couple of fields she sets you up to feed on veggies for the last 2+ harvests.

Net Fisherman
I actually find he can be very powerful in the 3p game. He rewards you for taking Reed which starves the other players of Reed and sets you up to easily grow your rooms, and therefore family, first. All the while grabbing 1 Reed +1-2 food. That is a solid 3p move.

Plowmaker
I’ve always thought he was pretty good, but maybe he needs down graded in my book.

Plowman
I’ve always thought as worse than the Plowmaker, but maybe he is better than I’ve thought, thanks for the new perspective.

Potter
He is pretty mediocre to me. 1A to play him, 1A to get 6 clay mid-game and that nets you 5 food over three harvests.

Puppeteer
It is rare that I have multiple Ocks that I can wait around until others use the Ock space to make this guy very good. to

Reed collector
He is strong in a 3 player, but does inject resources into the game. His strong status in a 3 player doesn’t boost him to 4 stars overall in my book. I think you are neglecting his significantly lower impact in 4-5p. I much prefer cards that reward me for taking Reed in the 3p and therefore starve my opponents of it.

Resource seller
Very limiting because he dictates the order in which you must acquire your resources.

Seed Seller
I don’t agree with your statement that you will only want to take grain once with him. At two grain per move, he is almost a grain engine himself. He is great for Bakers.

Social Climber
I agree with your rating of . He is nice, but at my table you would have only a slim chance of getting the Well that late in the game. If it was still there, that is a good indicator that you are likely going to win anyhow.

Sycophant
He is a major grain suppressor at my table and stifles bakers. If you want to bake and you play this card it gives you much better access to the baking spaces. (There is usually a low groan heard from the other potential bakers when the Sycophant hits the table.)

Tenant Farmer
For 1F1A you get 3 points. A very good trade for late game plays where people don’t have the animals. Having two stables is very easy and allows you to hold all three animals.

Water Carrier
In most of my games, the Well is often picked up early enough that this guy can easily net 4-5 food. Not great, but a decent trade for 1 action.

Well Builder
Just to clarify, he makes the Well cost 1S + 1W. in my book also.

Wood Collector
I think your rating of is way to high for this guy. He is 1F1A for 5 wood. That is decent, but in all the games you can get 6-8 wood for at most two actions.

Wood Distributor
He really does little in 3-5p and may actually help opponents.

Wooden Hut Builder
I think he is very strong and I rate him at . He encourages you to monopolize wood, allows for potentially easier family growth (with 5 room hut), lets you do other stuff with clay, and rewards you with 1 pt per room. Plus you might trick your opponents into thinking you have something like a crummy 5 room wood hut at the end of the game and viola! 5 extra points they weren’t aware of (assumes putting him out in round 13-14).

Thanks for taking the time to write up this analysis. I would really love to see an analogous post on the Minor Improvements.

Gorthrax
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Alex Chen
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.05)
Steinman wrote:

I have to disagree here. Bread Seller turns a Cooking Hearth into a Stone Oven for you. Pump out the grain and then you're set. If someone else also bakes that's just gravy.


I thought one of the incentives for baking was that you didn't have to worry about fighting with the ranchers to get a cooking hearth - you could just buy a clay oven, which is very efficient at what it does and doesn't require an occupation play to achieve that efficiency.

I'm also worried about how many grain you're going to have to bake to make the Bread Seller worth the action. If you bake 6 grain over the course of the game, he'll be a net 5 food over time - that's ok, but not great. So in order to make him really shine, you're going to have to get a ton of grain in the ground - this seems like it might take too many actions away from collecting the necessary resources to grow your family.

I'll have to think about this one a bit further.

GorthraxtheBeast wrote:
First off I’d like to say thanks for writing this analysis of the occupations. I enjoyed reading it and although I’ve played many times it was nice to get a fresh look at some of the occupations and it was and enjoyable read.


Thanks, I'm glad you liked it! Your feedback is much appreciated.

Quote:
Field Warden
Easily . He allows you to spam veggies for huge food in the late game and sets you up well to make strong moves with your last family member(s). In 4-5 players the veggie spot can be hotly contested and plow and sow is always a strong card.


In 5-p I could see the veggie spot perhaps becoming more contested, but in my experience the veggie spot isn't *that* hot in 4-p; people only occasionally get blocked in my experience. This might be a groupthink thing, but generally my group wants 1 veggie

I'm also a bit confused by what you mean when you say "spam veggies." Taking the veggie spot more than once (or possibly twice) doesn't seem like a particularly lucrative action, as it's pretty much just 3 food each time.

Quote:
Foreman
This card is too tricky to be worth more than that.


I'll probably drop him a star. I still think his *potential* power is great, but for practical purposes you won't have enough time to think about where to place the food.

Quote:
Hobby farmer
This guy is worth just in my book.


Hmm... explain. You've said already that the veggie spot is hotly contested in 4-5 p, and clearly he would be good in such a situation, meriting at least ***. I dunno, the reason I rate him highly is he's pretty much always better than the "take 1 veggie" action, which is something you eventually need to take anyway.

Quote:
Marketwoman.
At least For 5 actions (occ, 4x veggie) and 1 food you can go from -2 pts for no veggie/grain to 8 pts by maxing out on both. That’s 10 pts for 5 actions in the mid-late game. Not a bad trade. At the same time you are starving others of veggies. With a couple of fields she sets you up to feed on veggies for the last 2+ harvests.


1 action for 2 points is pretty much par and not too exciting. You can do the same thing by just plowing a field every turn for 5 turns, but usually there are better things to be doing. In my experience an early game action is worth 3-4 points, a midgame action is worth 2-3 points, and an end game action is worth a bit less than 2 points.

Denying other people veggies is interesting, but if the person doesn't have the means to sow it, you're basically only denying them 2 points.

Quote:
Net Fisherman
I actually find he can be very powerful in the 3p game. He rewards you for taking Reed which starves the other players of Reed and sets you up to easily grow your rooms, and therefore family, first. All the while grabbing 1 Reed +1-2 food. That is a solid 3p move.


This is an interesting idea - basically a worse version of Landing Net cheese, but it doesn't take reed to get going. I'll have to try this sometime.

Quote:
Potter
He is pretty mediocre to me. 1A to play him, 1A to get 6 clay mid-game and that nets you 5 food over three harvests.


A good point. I'll lower his score.

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Puppeteer
It is rare that I have multiple Ocks that I can wait around until others use the Ock space to make this guy very good. to


Duly noted. I was going to rate him at **, but for some reason as I was writing up his mini-review I talked myself into ***. I seldom find myself playing him either, so ** sounds right.

Quote:
Reed collector
He is strong in a 3 player, but does inject resources into the game. His strong status in a 3 player doesn’t boost him to 4 stars overall in my book. I think you are neglecting his significantly lower impact in 4-5p. I much prefer cards that reward me for taking Reed in the 3p and therefore starve my opponents of it.


You're right: in 4-p he's not great, and in 5-p I could imagine that he'd be almost worthless due to the 2R square and the 1R square with benefits.

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Resource seller
Very limiting because he dictates the order in which you must acquire your resources.


Aye, I'll reduce it.

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Seed Seller
I don’t agree with your statement that you will only want to take grain once with him. At two grain per move, he is almost a grain engine himself. He is great for Bakers.


You're right that I should mention the fact that you will occasionally spam the grain spot to get a massive food engine going. Still, while this can be powerful, it nonetheless seems like a pretty narrow effect. I'll have to think about it.

Quote:
Sycophant
He is a major grain suppressor at my table and stifles bakers. If you want to bake and you play this card it gives you much better access to the baking spaces. (There is usually a low groan heard from the other potential bakers when the Sycophant hits the table.)


An excellent point - I'll edit him accordingly.

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Tenant Farmer
For 1F1A you get 3 points. A very good trade for late game plays where people don’t have the animals. Having two stables is very easy and allows you to hold all three animals.


I don't find myself having zero animals at the end of the game that often. Even if I'm baking, I'll usually be trying to grab wood near the end for fencing - it's an extremely efficient way to make points. Once I've got fences, you can usually pick up a pair of some random animal before the game ends.

I dunno, it just sounds like the situation you describe - 2 stables, zero pastures, zero animals - is too unusual to find myself regularly wanting to play him.

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Water Carrier
In most of my games, the Well is often picked up early enough that this guy can easily net 4-5 food. Not great, but a decent trade for 1 action.


4-5 food over time in the late game probably isn't worth the action. By that time you can usually find a way to spend an action to get 4 food immediately, denying your opponents in the process (fishing, 2 sheep, etc).

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Well Builder
Just to clarify, he makes the Well cost 1S + 1W. in my book also.


Quite right. I was trying to say that he saved you 2 stone, not that he made the well cost 2 stone. I'll try to make it clearer.

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Wood Collector
I think your rating of is way to high for this guy. He is 1F1A for 5 wood. That is decent, but in all the games you can get 6-8 wood for at most two actions.


Good point - I'll lower his score.

Quote:
Wood Distributor
He really does little in 3-5p and may actually help opponents.


Fair enough. I'll lower his score.
 
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Frederic Bush
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.05)
I'm not sold on your mushroom collector and foreman 4 stars.

I have yet to see the foreman played, to be honest, over 50 or so games. Just based on that, I would rate it as a consensus 1 star.

I've also yet to see the mushroom collector dominate games like the other very strong occs do and produce crushing victories. Food is just not that hard to get compared to points, and it is difficult to lock up enough wood to hose your foes in a multiplayer game. The ability of wood to provide an early-game food engine can also be harmful in the endgame because it is easy to neglect to establish an alternate food source (and, in fact, taking wood might be a better short-term action for any given harvest...) In a 2-player game, which I don't play much of, this one may be significantly stronger.

One that I am pretty sure you're selling short is the storehouse clerk. The RSF action is already quite strong off the bat, and adding an extra resource to it means you can camp there for the first two stages whenever it's free, unless something absurd like 6w pops up; you'll end up with all the reed and food you need for your first room(s) and first harvest(s), and the resources for an oven, + grain to bake, or a well if you prefer, meanwhile denying your opponents half of the reed (and potentially an oven or well that they're seeking). Plus, any other cards that work on the RSF square will make a truly devastating combo, albeit one that is likely to get blocked by your opponents.

The organic farmer is not a 1* card, solely because he can be played as one of your last actions of turn 14 for 2+ points.

The tutor I see getting played a fair amount as well, because of occ combos like patron, bookshelf, perpetual student, and puppeteer, and in order to build to the MIs that have 3- and 4- occ prereqs. Paying 1F1A early for 3 eventual VPs seems like an acceptable trade, and if you're planning on getting out more than 4 occs, seems quite worthwhile.





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Frederic Bush
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.05)
Oh, and I am shocked at your low rating of head of the family. That's a total game-changer in a tough game. Among strong competitors there is brutal competition not just for the family growth spot but also for build room, and this short-circuits that whole mess. A 4-star card, at least in a tough 4-player game.

I think you underrate Field Warden as well. Plow and Plow and Sow are often among the first four or five picks in the endgame, so being able to lock in those squares, particularly being able to lock in the optimal (but generally unattainable) sequence of a plow immediately followed by a plow and sow, is quite valuable.

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jonas dorn
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.05)
That's an impressive piece of work!

I'd like to add a comment to three cards:

Gardener
In my view, this card enables you to use veggies as food engine. As soon as you manage to sow two vegetable fields, you have 4 VP stored away safely, plus you get 6 free food per harvest (with a cooking hearth).
I'd rate this as at least

Grocer
As an early source for stone (with a grain thrown in), this is a very strong card in 2p if you want to bake, and the ability to take e.g. reed one round earlier is very nice.
I'd give it a

Fence Deliveryman
DO NOT play this on an even round, especially not round 2. If you don't manage to get through harvest without the extra food, you just killed yourself. Since it's only really good if your SP in round 1, I'd give it
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Alex Chen
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.06)
fbush555 wrote:
I have yet to see the foreman played, to be honest, over 50 or so games. Just based on that, I would rate it as a consensus 1 star.


If you've never seen it played, how do you know how strong it is? Granted, I've reduced it to ***, but I still consider it an underrated card, particularly if you are able to place the food close to optimally.

Quote:
I've also yet to see the mushroom collector dominate games like the other very strong occs do and produce crushing victories. Food is just not that hard to get compared to points, and it is difficult to lock up enough wood to hose your foes in a multiplayer game. The ability of wood to provide an early-game food engine can also be harmful in the endgame because it is easy to neglect to establish an alternate food source (and, in fact, taking wood might be a better short-term action for any given harvest...) In a 2-player game, which I don't play much of, this one may be significantly stronger.


Being able to neglect your food engine in the early rounds is a benefit, not a weakness! The reason the Mushroom Collector is so strong is that the person who plays it tends to win the race to the first FG, since other players need to use valuable actions finding short-term solutions for food.

The Mushroom Collector lets you work on your food engine after you have won the race to first FG (somewhere in the middle of stage 2).

Quote:
One that I am pretty sure you're selling short is the storehouse clerk. The RSF action is already quite strong off the bat, and adding an extra resource to it means you can camp there for the first two stages whenever it's free, unless something absurd like 6w pops up; you'll end up with all the reed and food you need for your first room(s) and first harvest(s), and the resources for an oven, + grain to bake, or a well if you prefer, meanwhile denying your opponents half of the reed (and potentially an oven or well that they're seeking). Plus, any other cards that work on the RSF square will make a truly devastating combo, albeit one that is likely to get blocked by your opponents.


Aye, I think I continually underrate cards that work off of the RSF spot - chalk it up to inexperience in 4-p. I'll revise his entry in the next update.

Quote:
The organic farmer is not a 1* card, solely because he can be played as one of your last actions of turn 14 for 2+ points.


Only in a very specific situation. You need a pair of some combination of 1x1 stabled pastures and 2x1 unstabled pastures, with exactly 1 animal in each of them. This seems unlikely to come up very often, and even in that case he's clearly worse than plowing a field.

Quote:
The tutor I see getting played a fair amount as well, because of occ combos like patron, bookshelf, perpetual student, and puppeteer, and in order to build to the MIs that have 3- and 4- occ prereqs. Paying 1F1A early for 3 eventual VPs seems like an acceptable trade, and if you're planning on getting out more than 4 occs, seems quite worthwhile.


I think you heavily underrate how many VPs an early game action is worth.

Consider this situation:

It's stage 2. You need 1 more food for the next harvest, but the only way you can get food is through the 1G spot, eating the grain in the process (Day Laborer and Fishing have both been taken). Do you take the grain, or use the action for something else, taking a begging card in the process?

I am pretty sure the correct answer will usually be to use the action for something else. In the finals of an online 3-p tournament match between Schwza, ylathor and letsdance, letsdance was denied food and forced to make this exact same decision. He chose the begging card.

Playing the Tutor is even worse than this, of course. He costs a food and (since he is your first occ) requires an even earlier action than the one in the example.

fbush555 wrote:
Oh, and I am shocked at your low rating of head of the family. That's a total game-changer in a tough game. Among strong competitors there is brutal competition not just for the family growth spot but also for build room, and this short-circuits that whole mess. A 4-star card, at least in a tough 4-player game.

I think you underrate Field Warden as well. Plow and Plow and Sow are often among the first four or five picks in the endgame, so being able to lock in those squares, particularly being able to lock in the optimal (but generally unattainable) sequence of a plow immediately followed by a plow and sow, is quite valuable.


Excellent points. I'll have to reevaluate my opinions on both of these occs.

sedrin wrote:
That's an impressive piece of work!


Thanks!

Quote:
Gardener
In my view, this card enables you to use veggies as food engine. As soon as you manage to sow two vegetable fields, you have 4 VP stored away safely, plus you get 6 free food per harvest (with a cooking hearth).
I'd rate this as at least


You're right that this can be a lot of food, but he still seems very conditional. Usually by stage 3 you'll already have a decent food engine, either animals or baking. If you're in animals you probably won't have the infrastructure needed to get two veggies in the ground quickly enough, and if you're baking you probably won't have the cooking hearth needed to eat the veggies.

Quote:
Grocer
As an early source for stone (with a grain thrown in), this is a very strong card in 2p if you want to bake, and the ability to take e.g. reed one round earlier is very nice.
I'd give it a


I probably won't be mucking around in half stars due to the effort that would be involved and the fact that I don't think I have that kind of precision in my card evaluations. Since the Grocer probably isn't ****, he'll stay at 3 for now.

Quote:
Fence Deliveryman
DO NOT play this on an even round, especially not round 2. If you don't manage to get through harvest without the extra food, you just killed yourself. Since it's only really good if your SP in round 1, I'd give it


I don't see getting through the harvest with an extra food as that much of a challenge. It requires some planning, yes, but probably won't be a deal-breaker too often.
 
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Frederic Bush
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.06)
As to the foreman: I think you're underestimating how often people will just grab whatever square you put the +1 food on with the foreman. I play mostly 4p games; is this a 2+ card? In a 2-player game it might be worthwhile, but in a 4p you have less control. I guess you can use it as a bribe to persuade people away from squares you want, and it's obviously good when you're the starting player. It's probably decent in the early game too if you can lock up build room and/or fg actions. Overall, the cards that give you food in dribbles are less useful, I think, than the ones that give you food in big chunks. Compare cooper or maid (weak) to fisherman or dancer (decent).

I don't understand your complaint about the organic farmer. It gives you 1 vp whenever you have 3 or more animals "excess capacity" in a pasture, and one or more animals in the pasture. That's a fairly common situation in the final turn. I grant you that plowing a field is almost always better, but I'm picturing a point where the plow field squares are not available: this is what you play when you've exhausted all your other 2+ point moves on turn 14, because an occ square is often free for your last couple placements as opposed to things like animals and plows, which go earlier.

As for the tutor, he is only useful for a horde-of-occupations strategy. Along with that strategy you generally have at least one high-value MI, which the tutor helps you reach. I will consider whether he's in fact a honey pot and counterproductive, but I feel that there are enough occ combinations, especially with silly broken cards like compulsory education, to make him worthwhile at times.

How many VPs would you trade for 1f + 1 early action?



 
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Alex Chen
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Re: Card. By. Card. A FULL review of the Occupations of Agricola (v1.06)
The Foreman:

He's a 4-p card, but for fun I included it in my 2-p decks for a while. When I eventually drew him in a 2-p match, he broke the game. I played him as my first action and literally got the food every round, making him worth 12 food by the end.

Whenever I was starting player the food was a gimme. When my opponent was starting player, it was usually very easy to see an action that she would not take (that I wanted). A lot of the time there was a must-take spot that was far and away the best spot on the board (6 wood, FG w/o Room, 2 reed, 3 clay, etc.), and so I'd just put the food on the second best spot. The rest of the time I would want a spot that she had no desire to take whatsoever (sow + bake bread, build room(s), Major/Minor Improvement, etc.), so I'd put the food on that.

By the end of the game I had a score in the high fifties. My opponent was a pretty good sport about it, but made me promise to never include the card in 2-p or 3-p games again.

What does this mean? Well, the main lesson is that if you are one of the first two players to act, you are practically guaranteed the food. In a 4-p game, if you are first or second half the time (the expected average), he should be worth 5.5 food: (13 rounds)/2 - 1F cost. That is already almost worth the early action. Assuming you are able to get the food at least some of the time when you are 3rd or 4th to act, he should be worth it.

He has even more utility if your opening minor improvement hand is unusually strong (i.e. it has lots of cheap, useful cards to take SP with).

The Organic Farmer:

I don't think your scenario is particularly common: a lot of the time you will be able to (and obviously want to) put animals in those nearly empty pastures. Other times you won't have such big pastures, instead opting for the efficient 2x2 square of 4 one-square pastures. That's why I hate the card so much; it's just very unlikely that you will go out of your way to build large, inefficient pastures and then not use them. Even if you DO have that, you only get 2VP anyway, making it largely a moot point.

The Tutor:

I'd say the break-even point for 1F1A early game is about 4VP. The food is worth a little less than 1 VP, and the early action is worth a little more than 3 VP.

So if I had an Occupation that said:

Quote:
Play this only in stage 1, as your first occupation.
+4VP


I would probably play it most of the times I drew it.

The Tutor is far worse than that card, of course. Yes, I would probably play it if I had either the Perpetual Student or Patron AND I had some minors that required 3+ occupations, but I don't consider this a probable enough case to merit bumping the Tutor to **. It's the same reason the Water Carrier is at * despite having a borderline overpowered combo with the Well Builder.
 
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