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Subject: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary - Completed rss

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Julien Beasley
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This is a real time play through of a learning game of Agricola on boiteajeux.net. Two players, Kezume(Joe) and Himajin(Steve), have never played before. syzygy(Pat) has played several games. As for myself, zass30, I've played a lot, although mostly in person board games.

We are playing a learning game, with open hands. I've been posting my reasoning for each move so the new players can see what's going on through my mind. I will keep updating this post in real time as the game progresses.

This post will probably not be interesting for experienced players. Rather, this is targeted to the new player who would like to follow how the game works.

The game was started with random card assignments, limited to the E deck. We started the game and all showed each other our hands:

syzygy
Minor Improvements: Windmill, Corn Scoop, Market Stall, Fruit Tree, Writing Desk, Butter Churn, Stone Tongs
Occupations: Academic, Turner, Meat Seller, Lord of the Manor, Mason, Braggart, Renovator

Kezume
Minor Improvements: Field, Fishing Rod, Baker's Oven, Potato Dibber, Spindle, Stone House Extension, Drinking Trough
Occupations: Woodcutter, Cattle Whisperer, Master Shepherd, Swineherd, Stonecutter, Carpenter, Conjurer

zass30
Minor Improvements: Axe, Simple Fireplace, Spices, Canoe, Helpful Neighbors, Private Forest, Riding Plough
Occupations: Mendicant, Bread Seller, Brush Maker, Hedge Keeper, Charcoal Burner, Seasonal Worker, Stone Carrier

Himajin
Minor Improvements: Manger, Carp Pond, Ceramics, Clay Roof, Millstone, Reed Pond, Dovecote
Occupations: Master Builder, Master Brewer, Field Warden, Dock Worker, Cook, Clay Deliveryman, Stockman

Those are our hands. To recap: We all know what our hands are, and I'm playing "thoughts out loud" to help the new players understand what I'm thinking. This is a learning game, not a competitive one. Let the game begin! Feel free to follow along at:

http://boiteajeux.net/jeux/agr/partie.php?id=153940

Round 1: Sheep
syzygy: 3 wood
Kezume: occupation "Conjurer" for free
zass30: occupation "Seasonal Worker" for 1 food
Quote:
Turn 1-1:
I'd like to take 3 wood, but that's gone. Joe has played a nice occupation that gets him food and grain. What's left for me?

I consider playing:
occupation-seasonal worker: Similar to Joe's occupation, makes an otherwise unattractive pick nice.
occupation-charcoal burner: Can give me food and wood later. I like it but I don't see an urgency to play.
reed/stone/food: The stone would help me with axe, which helps with rooms.
2 wood: Helps toward rooms.
2 clay: With this I can buy fireplace or simple fireplace

Since I'm second to last, chances are low there will be anything good left for me for the last move. Seasonal worker makes it so that I can always at least take the day laborer space for something decent. If there's a good thing to take on my second move, I'll take it, and if there isn't, I can always take day laborer. It's annoying that I have to pay a food for this occupation while Joe got his for free, because now I'm down to 2 food (same penalty as Pat for beginning the game), but I'm still second to last. Joe got a much better deal here .. the bastard has more food than me, a similar occupation, and is still ahead of me in turns. Grrr >:[ Dem's the breaks.

Himajin: starting player
syzygy: 1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food
Kezume: 2 wood
zass30: 2 clay
Quote:
Turn 1-2:
Well I was second to last, and now next turn I'm last *grumble*. Not much left to choose from. 2 clay is the only building resource choice left that has more than 1 thing on it, so I'll take that.

Himajin: 1 reed

Round 2: Fences
Himajin: 3 wood
syzygy: 1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food
Kezume: traveling players (2 food, plus a grain)
zass30: occupation "Charcoal Burner" for 1 food
Quote:
Turn 2-1:
There's four spaces on the board that have two things on them left, so I don't need to hurry and take one now, there will be one left for me guaranteed. I play the charcoal burner, which will give me wood and food over time. This also unlocks the Canoe's requirement of two occupations.
Note that both occupation spaces would cost me one food to play, but taking the "first free" square makes it so that another person that wants to play an occupation this turn will have to play a food (unless it's Joe, it would be one food either way with him)


So would you say I took my Traveling Players too early, Julien? I definitely wanted to do that on this turn, I think, but was there something else I should have done first?

Yeah, I would probably agree. It's unlikely that another player would have taken that spot, so you could have had it on the second move. I would have probably played Woodcutter here, to make all future wood grabs +1 wood.

If Steve and Patrick don't take an occupation, I can still make a comeback. :)



Himajin: occupation "Dock Worker" for 1 food
Quote:
I, erm, took an occupation...:p

A pox on your dock worker! ;)


syzygy: 2 clay
Kezume: starting player, minor improvement "Field" for 1 food
zass30: 2 wood
Quote:
Turn 2-2:
Considering 2 clay or 2 wood. 2 clay would let me get the cooking hearth for a good food engine. 2 wood, combined with a guaranteed 3 wood next turn, would be enough wood for the first room. This conundrum is made easier by the simple fireplace I have in my hand. I can always play that if need be with the clay I have. Those rooms aren't going to build themselves, so I grab the wood. Back to Joe.


Round 3: Sow/Bake Bread
Kezume: 3 clay
zass30: 3 wood
Quote:
Turn 3-1:
It's a rich board. Lots of goodies, and there will be something nice left for me for my second action as well. I grab 3 wood, netting me enough of that resource for my first room.

Himajin: 3 wood
syzygy: starting player, minor improvement "Corn Scoop" for 1 wood
Kezume: 1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food
zass30: 2 reed
Quote:
Turn 3-2:
Harvest is coming up soon, and I'm low on food. I will need to play four food at harvest, or else I get a begging card (-3 points) for every food I fail to pay. I can't play my simple fireplace, as Pat grabbed starting player. I have the mendicant card, which allows me to absorb up to two begging cards. So that means at the bare minimum, I need to get one food before the end of the next turn. I think though, that Pat will buy a fireplace next turn. If he does that, I will get one food from my Charcoal burner. That leaves me free to take two reed, and be the first player to build a room next turn. If Pat (or Joe) doesn't build a fireplace, then I'll need to build my own or take another food source such as seasonal worker.
One thing I like to do in situations like this is to see if there is ANY way I can possibly get screwed and not be able to feed. In this case, I don't see how. If Pat builds a fireplace, I will be okay, and if he doesn't, I will still be okay.
Two reed it is.

Himajin: fishing, for 3 food
syzygy: 2 clay
Quote:
A couple of things for Steve and Joe, also so you can see my thought process.

1) After this harvest,from round 5 forward, the value of starting player potentially increases due to the competition for "grow family" slot. No one has built a third room just yet so we know no one can take that spot, but in some games, especially in round 4 when more than one person expects to have completed a room, there can be some maneuvering over first player the following turn. But of course there is no guarantee that it will be available to choose in round 5. The extra turns from a family member are very powerful, and on top of that family members give VP. So in short it's hugely important to grow your family. In the last two rounds there is also a "grow family without room in your house" that people also fight over, but generally all the options that become available at end game are more powerful.

2) I could take a fireplace, and taking 4 sheep to cook would be excellent if I were able to make that move. However, I expect that were I to take fireplace that Julien would take the sheep to foil my plans, as that would mean 8 food, a huge deal. So that makes fireplace less attractive right now. Not sure if Julien forgot I placed corn scoop or not because I was actually headed for one of the two baking ovens. From the early game I was concerned as it seems both Joe and Julien were potentially headed for a baking strategy as well. That's one reason I was taking 1 stone, 1 reed, and a food, so that I was in position to take the stone oven as a backup.

3) *Ideally* when you buy a baking oven you want to have one grain available because the oven card says you immediately get to cook one grain, which can save you a turn. I haven't had the chance to do that thus far.

Julien do you think the play here is to rely on my windmill improvement for baking and take the fireplace?



2) Ah that makes sense. I wasn't sure why you grabbed starting player so early when there were other goodies on the board. I thought it must to to ensure that you'd get a particular slot next turn, and the only slot coming up is improvement. So I assumed you would be buying the fireplace. But I see now that you can buy a grain now, and then buy the clay oven. Was that your plan?
Actually, with corn scoop it's even better. You can take a grain, getting two grain thanks to the scoop. Then you can buy the oven and still have one left over for sowing. Was *that* your plan?

3) Yep, that's ideal. It's a very powerful play to buy an oven and then bake with the purchase. Baking happens to be my favorite pet strategy -- it's harder to get going than animals, but once it's online, the rewards are massive. See my current tournament game here (on round 9 at the time of this writing):
http://boiteajeux.net/jeux/agr/partie.php?id=102754

I've got a nine food while the poor guy next to me has no food at all. Even the sheep farmer Surok9608, with a healthy breeding flock is going to have to slaughter all his animals to feed hungry mouths. While on my end, thanks to the baker occupation, I'll come out with seven food left over *after* feeding my family. A key part of getting there was doing what Pat referred to. I got a grain, and then bought an oven, getting a "free" five food in the process.

As for the windmill, I personally don't like the windmill -- I'd much rather spend that wood on a room, and two food per grain is a poor conversion rate. I would either abandon baking and go for the fireplace (which does put you at risk of a sheep "liberation" move), or go with clay oven (which is in my opinion the best tool for baking). Another option, since you're good on food for now, is to focus on building resources for a room. As you pointed out, that extra action is valuable. That's why I'm willing to eat two begging cards at harvest in order to build a room -- because getting that extra kid can be worth several extra actions down the road, which I can then use one of them to play my mendicant occupation.
One of the key decisions in this game is when to go for food, and when to go for growth. It's not clear to me if I should go for the sheep myself, or if I should just build my room while I can and there's no competition. There's no universal rule, it's part of what makes this game so fun!

Yes, Julien, it was my *plan* to use corn scoop, however, I only have 2 clay and need 3 clay 1 stone to build clay oven. I only have 2 stone and need 3 stone 1 clay to build stone oven. So I'm taking the building materials, *then* taking the major improvement next turn.



Round 4: Major/Minor Improvement
syzygy: Major Improvement "Clay Oven"
Kezume: 1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food
zass30: 4 wood
Quote:
Turn 4-1:
Pat's corn scoop + clay oven puts the first food engine down on the board. It also smartly blocks the rest of us from using our clay to build any improvement. Fortunately for me, his doing so also gave me the crucial one food I needed to get to 2 food, thanks to my charcoal burner trigger. This means that I can afford to take two begging cards if I must. Not ideal, but something to keep in mind.

Time for a strategic look at where I am. Where are my advantages? My seasonal worker and charcoal burner will eventually give me some nice food over time, so I'm not as pressured to get a food engine up and running. I can afford to not even have an engine and eventually just use my Canoe improvement along with random food grabs to have a passable way to feed. My other advantage is that I'm the only person currently able to build a room. If I build a room this turn, then if family growth shows up next turn I'll be the first to have a kid. If family growth shows up later, that will be less good for me as I have no guarantee of being the only person with rooms.

I might as well play to my advantages, and hope the upcoming rounds work out for me. I'll go ahead and build that room. I don't need to do it now, as no one else can take it from me. There's four wood on the board, which would make enough for my second room, or else a set of stables if I prefer.

My plan will be to take the wood, and then build a room. I'll take two begging cards but I'm gambling that family growth will come early enough that it's worth the one turn investment I'll have to make later on to play the mendicant occupation to cancel those cards out. We'll see if it works out!


This is really interesting Julien as I've never seen people take begging cards on purpose. Even most of the BGG strat articles I read circa 2009 said to avoid it. But I guess you've found it works for you sometimes?

The only reason I'm taking them is because I have the mendicant occupation. Otherwise -6 points would be an unrecoverable disadvantage.

Oh I see. I thought it was some high level strategy developed post 2009 so was excited. How boring! ;)


Himajin: 3 wood
syzygy: plows a field
Kezume: occupation "Stonecutter" for 1 food
zass30: 1 room + 2 stables
Quote:
Turn 4-2:
I build a room. I have spare wood, so I'll build two stables. Two is an important number, because that's enough room for a breeding pair of sheep + a baby. A common beginners mistake is to have room for two animals only. The animals won't breed if there's isn't a vacant room for the baby animal (You can't "eat" the baby animal if there isn't room to put it somewhere first).

The other reason I'm building stables instead of saving the wood for a second room is to send a signal to Joe. Joe is before me in turn order, and so he can build a fireplace before me. I can't stop him. But with a pair of stables, if he does that, I threaten to simply take the sheep away and put them in my stables. Yes, some of them will go to waste, but I'd at least get a breeding pair of sheep out of it. Joe will know this, and this may discourage him from rushing to build a fireplace. It's generally better to cooperate with any given player than to compete with them, since if any two players fight, they "lose" while the others benefit. Building the stables shows Joe that if he competes with me (by building an early fireplace), then I can "fight" him by taking the sheep, and still benefit. Whereas if I didn't have stables, and I took the sheep just to prevent him from having them, I'd only be able to keep one sheep in my house and the rest would have to go away. Nash equilibrium, yadda yadda yadda.
The signal isn't just to Joe, it's to all players. But for now it applies mostly to Joe since only Joe has the clay to build a fireplace.

I want to be clear here that I'm not telling Joe he should or shouldn't do anything. This is just what my throught process is (thinking aloud). I'm against communication in games, and don't like it when poeple say "you should do xxx because of yyy".

Himajin: 2 clay

Harvest
syzygy

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

Quote:
Harvest:
Winter is harsh, we simply don't have enough food. I have to send my wife out to town to beg while I work on building stables. It seems to work quite well, as she returns with ample food. Not sure why the other men snicker when I go to market though. They keep making a gesture of their finger through a hole. What does this mean? Did she have to thread needles to help seamstresses?

Round 5: Stone
syzygy: 1 grain (+ 1 grain from corn scoop)
Quote:
I decided not to be mean and take the sheep. Instead I took a grain.

Kezume: Major Improvement "Stone Oven", baking 1 grain for 4 food
Quote:
I made a stone oven and baked my grain for 4 food. Hopefully none of that angers Julien's sheep gods.

zass30: starting player, Minor Improvement "Simple Fireplace"
Quote:
Turn 5-1:
Double bad luck.
It's impossible to buy a damn fireplace in this game. I've been sitting on 2 clay since the first turn, but still can't make use of it. Joe's blocked the major improvement square with his oven.
My gamble of early room didn't pay off either. It's quite likely that one or more other players will build a room this turn and then we'll all be fighting for family growth. I need to ensure that if family growth shows up next turn, that I'm the one that gets it. So starting player seems like a must pick here.
My improvement choices are simple fireplace and canoe. The simple fireplace only cooks sheep for a meager one food, not the generous two each I was hoping for from a normal fireplace. The canoe helps me get extra food and reed from fishing. Getting the simple fireplace will trigger my charcoal burner, bringing me up to two food, so I'll pick that. Don't want the wife to go "begging" again, that's for sure! There's lots of great stuff on the board so something nice will be left for me next pick.

Himajin: builds a room
syzygy: sows and bakes bread for 5 food
Kezume: traveling players (3 food, plus a grain)
zass30: 5 sheep
Quote:
turn 5-2:
The sheep seem like the best option here. I'll get to store three, and cook two for two food total. Assuming family growth shows up next turn (crosses fingers), then it should be fairly straightforward to get two more food for harvest.

Himajin: occupation "Clay Deliveryman" for 1 food


Round 6: Renovation then Major Improvement
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:

zass30: starting player, helpful neighbors (pay 1 clay, get 1 reed)
Quote:
turn 6-1:
Family growth is last after all. This hurts my early room gamble, as well as my starting player jump last turn. I consider:
6 wood: 6 wood is always good. I don't see any other "take stuff" square that beats that.
starting player: This would ensure that I get family growth first next turn.

My greedy side wants the wood. But let's think about what could happen. If I take the wood, then Steve could take starting player to guarantee family growth next turn. If he does that, then Pat could in turn take starting player to ensure that he gets it next turn. And similarly, Joe could take it right after Pat's turn. So in the worst case, I'm looking at a four turn wait before family growth. I'd much rather have four actions than six wood, so I'll take starting player.

My minor improvement choices are:
Canoe: Gives me food and reed, but costs wood
Helpful neighbors: Gives me reed, but costs clay
Field: Gives me a field, and costs food. Normally, I like this guy. But I have a riding plow. I'm going to have to play a third occupation (mendicant) anyways, and the plow will let me plow six fields anyways. Given that, the Field seems like diminishing returns.

I like the canoe's effect a lot, but I'm concerned about paying any more wood than I have to. I'd like to be in a position to build another room as soon as possible, so I can fight for an upcoming family growth space. The canoe will cost me a turn to get back the wood I paid for it, and then a turn for reed (granted, with a lot of food as well). So I can expect to spend four turns getting resources for a room. The helpful neighbors gets me a reed right now, and I can expect two more turns getting resources for a room. So although the canoe will be better over time, it takes longer to get to the next room.
There's going to be a shortage of actions in this game because of the late family growth, so I'd rather start fighting for that next room now. I take starting player with Helpful Neighbors.

I also note that even though I'm passing on the 6 wood, something nice will be left for me. I will be left with one of: 6 wood, 4 wood, 3 reed, and 1 reed/1 stone/1 food. Any of those squares will help me progress towards that next room.

Himajin: 6 wood
syzygy: 3 reed
Quote:
3 reed just seemed too good to pass up, even though it doesn't help me in the next turn or two.

Kezume: renovate, minor improvement "Drinking Trough"
zass30: 4 wood
Quote:
turn 6-2:
I consider:
4 wood: Helps towards a room, and also happens to be just enough wood for canoe while still keeping 5 wood for a room.
1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food: Gets me enough reed for that second room, and a bit of food as a bonus.
Major improvement: I could upgrade my simple fireplace to a cooking hearth, letting me cook my sheep at a more favorable rate. Also gives me 1 wood and 1 food thanks to my hard working charcoal burner.

I like the wood here. I have lots of wood hungry minor improvements, and 1 reed isn't that hard to get later.

Himajin: 4 clay
Quote:
I took 4 clay. I actually need food more at this point, but it doesn't
look like anyone else needs to take it for next harvest, so I'm
gambling the 4 food I need will be available next turn.

syzygy: plows a field
Himajin: sows one grain

Round 7: Family Growth then Minor Improvement
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:


zass30: 1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food
Quote:
turn 7-1:
Finally, family growth! I immediately take it, and pass the turn...
Wait, wait, wait. Patience, young padwan. Let's take a more careful look at the board.

Himajin is the only other player that can possibly take family growth. He has no food. If he takes family growth, then he would have to pay five food in the next turn. That's not possible, even if the 4 food on fishing comes back to him, he'd have take a begging card. And if the fishing doesn't come back, the best he can do is day laborer for two food (even *that* isn't guaranteed), which would net him a bone-crunching -9 points from three begging cards.

Is there an occupation or improvement he can play to come up with the food? No improvements that I know of, and the only occupation in the E deck that delays the tax man is the mendicant, which I have in my hand.* And even if there was some occupation that I'm overlooking, he doesn't have the food available to play it.

So leaving family growth open for Himajin is a poisoned square. It looks tempting, but it's suicide. If he takes the family growth, I'll take the fishing, and he would end up with at least -9 points. I know this, and I must assume that he knows, and I must assume that he knows that I know...

"Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me."


So, with Sicilian reasoning backing us up, I can assume that the family growth square will be free for my next pick. What's the best thing I can do now then? I consider:
4 wood
Improvement
4 clay
4 food
1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food

Upgrading my fireplace to a cooking hearth would be nice, as it would not only give me a better sheep conversion rate, but leave me with spare food in case I want to play an improvement post harvest. RSF puts me good to go for my next room. The 4 food seems subpar here. 4 wood would pay for my riding plow. 4 clay is always nice but I don't see immediate use for it.

It's a tough choice between the cooking hearth and the RSF space. I think about this a lot. I take the RSF, because it will let me threaten to build a room next turn. I'll have one less food than I would have if I'd build the cooking hearth, but I think it's important to be able to build a room should the chance arrive. I may not have the luxury of waiting to nab that reed another time.

I take RSF.

* There's also the layabout, but he's in the "I" deck.


Himajin: starting player, minor improvement "Clay Roof"
Quote:
I took starting player, hoping that nobody wants to sacrifice their
turn to screw me over...:p

syzygy: 4 wood
Kezume: 3 stone
Quote:
I realize I overlooked the 3 stone in my prior calculation above. I think I still would have taken RSF but should have at least considered the option.

zass30: family growth, minor improvement "canoe"
Quote:
I build a canoe and take my wife out on the lake where I get to know her biblically.

Can't wait for the little bundle of joy.


Hope you brought some sheep along for the ride, too.

Himajin: 4 food
Quote:
I hurriedly take my wife out on the lake where I force her to fish until our hands are useless clumps of chilled flesh.

syzygy: 1 grain (+ 1 grain from corn scoop)
Kezume: 1 reed

Harvest

Round 8: Wild Boar
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:


Himajin: family growth, minor improvement "helpful neighbors" (pay 1 clay, get 1 reed)
Quote:
Grew us a baby!

syzygy: 1 room
Quote:
Built a room, Joe's turn. Julien could also build a room so I had to take the space now. Unless Julien has a play which allows him to build a room outside the normal selection (not checking his list of minor improvements and occupations just to keep it closer to a real game, plus I'm too lazy) this should mean that I can take family growth next turn without needing to take first player, as I'd be the only person with an extra room. And if I'm lucky and Steve and Joe aren't threatening to build rooms next round, maybe Julien will hold off on taking his room building for his second or third action, which would mean I could even choose family growth with my second action.

Last turn I made an error hurrying to make a move before going to work. I forgot that I had one grain from last round's harvest. I took a grain (with corn scoop gaining an extra grain), this gave me a total of three grain. What I should have done is sow my fallow field with my one grain, so that I would end the harvest with two grain in my inventory and two planted fields.

Kezume: renovate, improvement "Stone House Extension"
Quote:
This was my big move. I renovated to stone house, then used a Stone House Extension improvement to add a room. The stone cutter I put down a few turns ago made this possible with all the stone savings, and I just realized in the last turn that the one action would let me do both of these at once if I waited until I had all the materials. Better take that first turn action, Patrick! On to Julien

Wow, that's impressive. I was wondering what was going on with that early renovation.

Hm, that makes things more complicated.

zass30: 6 wood
Himajin: fences, for 6 wood
Quote:
Nice move, Joe!

I put up a few fences. Pat next.

syzygy: starting player, minor improvement "Stone Tongs"
Kezume: 4 wood
Quote:
Grabbed 4 wood. Enjoy your back-to-back turns, Julien!

zass30: major improvement "Cooking Hearth"
zass30: 3 sheep, cooked to 6 food
Quote:
turns 8-2, 8-3:
Looks like I'm not going to get that next kid for a while, so I should consolidate my food supply. Those kids grow so fast! I consider:

Improvement: I need to cook at a better rate now that I have a growing boy.
Mendicant: Unlocks plow.
Sheep: 6 food isn't bad, but I could also wait till next turn.
Day laborer: I haven't used my seasonal worker yet, and I need to start on grains and fields at some point. Also gives me food.
5 clay: Not bad.
1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food: decent.

It's high time for a cooking hearth, so I'll definitely get that. I like the idea of mendicant to unlock the plow, but my gut tells me to make sure I'm good on food so I can be opportunistic and take what's best next turn without being railroaded into food grabs. I take the sheep.


Round 9: Vegetable
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:


syzygy: family growth, minor improvement "Market Stall"
Kezume: 3 wood
Quote:
Grabbed some wood, Julien's turn.

zass30: 2 boar
Quote:
turn 9-1:
6 clay: Looks temping, but do I really need that much? I could see going for the pottery, but Steve has 9 clay already and I don't want to start competing with him for something I may not get.
2 boar: Would be nice to upgrade my animals to a tastier kind.
Day laborer: Start on grain and veggies, but a weak first pick.

The boar would put me on a head start for next harvest, where I would need more food since presumably I'll have a kid by then. I take the boar.

Himajin: traveling players, for 4 food
Quote:
Having built a couple of fenced pastures, all the animals now appear to have been snapped up. My lack of a decent food engine is now really biting me in the ass. I grab the traveling players for 4 food...

syzygy: sow 1 vegetable and bake bread, for 5 food
Quote:
I sowed my vegetable (gained through my minor improvement card, which I passed to the left -- now in Joe's hand?) and baked bread.

With the harvest coming up that's clearly my best choice, unless I want to feed my family and new infant raw grain. It sure is painful leaving so many resources on the board, though.

Kezume: fences, for 7 wood
Quote:
Laid me some pastures. Back to Julien.

zass30: starting player, minor improvement "Private Forest"
Quote:
turn 9-2:
I take starting player, putting down a bit of wood over time. I've never actually played the private forest so late before.. In the past I've always played it on turn 1 or not at all.

Himajin: renovation (clay), major improvement "Fireplace", for 2 clay
Quote:
I improve my rooms to clay and finally build a fireplace. Julien up, to presumably extend his house.

zass30: builds a room
Quote:
turn 9-3:
Yep, house extended. Back to you Steve.

Himajin: day laborer
Quote:
I'm forced to scramble for food. I chose day laborer.


Harvest

Round 10: Cattle
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:

zass30: family growth, minor improvement "Spices"
Quote:
turn 10-1:
I take family growth right away, because if I don't, then Joe will. I play the only minor that makes sense here, although I doubt it will see any use.

Himajin: 8 clay
syzygy: 7 clay
Kezume: starting player, minor improvement "Baker's Oven", returning Stone Over, bakes 10 food
Quote:
Took starting player, played bakers oven, baked 10 food. Julien is up.

10 food! God that's why I love baking. What a kick in the nuts! My favorite baking story is when I bought bakers oven, then rebought the stone oven, baking 4 grain for 18 food. BAM!

zass30: 4 wood
Himajin: builds a room, for 7 clay
syzygy: 4 stone
Quote:
Took 3 stone (+1 with stone tongs). Joe's turn.

Kezume: 2 sheep
zass30: day laborer, +1 vegetable
Quote:
turn 10-3:
I take day laborer, putting that indolent seasonal worker to use for the first time. To work, ya lazy bum!

Himajin: 1 cattle
syzygy: 3 reed

Round 11: Stone
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:


Kezume: family growth
Quote:
Took my very belated family growth. Julien again!

zass30: 6 wood
Himajin: starting player, minor improvement "Carp Pond"
Quote:
Took starting player and made an improvement (a little confused as to why I couldn't select the one I wanted, Reed Pond). Pat's turn.

Reed pond has a requirement of 3 occupations. You only have 2.

Doh! For some reason I read it as "occupants" :p
Thanks for setting me straight.

syzygy: plows a field
Kezume: 2 boar
zass30: fishing, for 5 food 1 reed
Quote:
turn 11-2:
I go fishing, netting a reed from my canoe.

Himajin: 1 cattle
Quote:
Picked up another cow. Pat's turn.

syzygy: sow and bake bread (sows 1 grain, bakes 1 grain)
Quote:
Sowed a grain in the fields and baked another grain for 5 food. Joe's turn.

Actually Julien's turn. Forgot Joe's people were all busy.


You trying to make my baby work!?

zass30: day laborer, +1 grain
Himajin: 4 wood
syzygy: renovate
zass30: occupation "Mendicant" for 1 food

Harvest
Quote:
I have fed, and my pigs and sheep have been fornicating. Julien next!

Fed the wife, and fornicated with the pigs... er.. I mean.. Steve next

Roasted the cows just as they were starting to get randy. Sob...


Round 12: Family Growth Without Room
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:


Himajin: family growth, minor improvement "Manger"
Quote:
Added another sprog to my starving family, for better or worse. Pat next.

And just realized I probably didn't need to scramble for that this turn. Oh well...


If Steve had taken "Family Growth Without a Room" would it have consumed his open room? I'm guessing that regardless, that would have been a better move (to keep us from getting it), but I'm curious.

yes and yes :)

Doh, I didn't even check the new tile...

syzygy: family growth without room
Quote:
Since Steve didn't want it, I took it.

Kezume: plows a field
zass30: starting player, minor improvement "riding plow"
Himajin: 4 wood
syzygy: sow and bake bread (sows 2 vegetable, bakes 1 grain)
Kezume: traveling players, for 3 food and 1 grain
zass30: fences, for 15 wood
Quote:
turn 12-2:
I build fences, making use of that stockpile of wood in the backyard that was turning into a fire hazard. Steve up.

Himajin: 2 sheep
Quote:
I wrassle with a pair of sheep. Oh, the memories...Pat up.

syzygy: builds a room, for 5 clay and 2 reed
Kezume: 1 cattle
Quote:
Moooo! Julien's turns.

Damn you Joe, that was my cow! :)

zass30: 4 clay
zass30: day laborer, +1 vegetable
Quote:
turns 12-3, 12-4:
With fences out of the way, and a guaranteed plow and sow next turn, the middle game is now over and we move to the endgame. The endgame, in my view, is where the strategic decisions are over and it's now a pure point maximizing exercise. Generally I'll be trying to get things I'm missing (which is why I was hoping for that cow that Joe took), as those take me from -1 to 1 at least.

I'll be taking a vegetable, through seasonal worker, to maximize my upcoming plow and sow (2 veg + 1 grain sowed nets more points than 1 veg + 2 grain), and I'll be taking plow and sow first turn next. I was hoping for a cow but since that's gone I might as well take the 4 clay for a renovation.

Seasonal worker is starting to pay off. In 3 actions I'll have gotten 2 veggies, a grain, and 6 food. In hindsight he would have been a better late play than early, but how was I to know that two of my opponents would go baking?


Round 13: Plow and Sow
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:


zass30: plow and sow
Quote:
turn 13-1:
The two obvious moves are plow and sow, and family growth without room. The riding plow, which lets me plow 3 fields, along with my 3 sowable resources make this an easy choice.

Himajin: 6 wood
Quote:
I'm probably dumb to not take growth, but I grab wood. Patrick up.

syzygy: family growth without room
Kezume: 1 vegetable
zass30: plow
Quote:
turn 13-2:
Using my riding plow a second time nets me 4 points, so I'll do that. One might ask the question of why I didn't build fences to cover 5 squares instead of 6, in which case I would have saved a wood, and been able to plow 3 fields instead of 2 with this upcoming plow.

It seems like it would have been a superior move, because then if I get a sow action, I could sow an additional item (perhaps a vegetable) that would count as food. So at first glance this seems like a fairly big mistake -- did I screw myself out of a potential four food?

The reason I only left myself two squares to plow was because I didn't know that I'd ever get a plow action again after my first plow and sow. If I don't get any further plow actions, then I'd have three empty squares on the board. By fencing this way, then if I never get a plow action again I would have two empty squares on the board. So in the worst case scenario, it was better to fence the full six squares.

It was a decision of do I plan for the best case or do I plan for the worst case? I planned for the worst case.

Himajin: fences, for 9 wood
syzygy: renovate
Kezume: sow and bake bread (sows 1 grain, 1 vegetable, bakes 1 grain)
zass30: 3 stone
Himajin: 2 boar
syzygy: fishing, for 2 food
Kezume: 3 stone
zass30: 1 cattle
Himajin: occupation "Cook", for 1 food
syzygy: day laborer

Harvest

Round 14: Renovation Then Fences
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:

board state:

zass30: plow and sow
Quote:
turn 14-1:
If I'm fortunately enough to be first pick on turn 14, my choices are almost always one of: Plow and sow, FG without room, or renovation + fences. I'm good on fences, and filled up with plowing, so the clear pick is Family growth for an easy 3 points, right?

Not so fast buckaroo. Those 3 points come with a small but significant rider -- an extra food. I've got 5 food now, and while I can easily feed by cooking a veggie, eating raw grain, or killing a boar, there's no way to feed with my current stock that wouldn't cost me a point. The best I can do is eat two raw grain to get to 7 food, which would still be 2 food short. If I cook a veggie or kill a boar, that would cost me a point. So that FG isn't quite as tempting as it looks on paper -- 2 points? I could just take the sheep, and not only would that be worth two points but I could slaughter one for food.

Another option would be to sow. If I sow, I can get 1 point for the extra grain, as well as solve my food problems. Sowing seems worse than taking the sheep at first glance. But let's look ahead at the impact. Is there any way I can get that family growth as my second pick?

I want ideally to have sheep/sow/family growth, and get 2 of those 3. If I start with FG, there's no way I will get either of the other two. If I start with sow, I will probably lose sheep to Steve (although he may take cattle instead), and I might lose plow and sow to pat or Joe. If I start with Sheep, I'm pretty sure I will lose both.

Hmm, this is a tough decision. My gut tells me to take the sow and bake, since that puts more pressure on the board than taking the sheep does. This might be a suboptimal move, as I get 1 less point this way, but it may pay off for a future action as other desirable spaces may be free.

Himajin: 2 sheep
syzygy: 1 stone (+1 with tongs)
Kezume: plow and sow, sowing 1 vegetable
zass30: family growth without room
Quote:
turn 14-2:
Joe takes the valuable plow and sow, and I grab the FG. Just as it's worth not competing, it can be worth cooperating with opponents too. I take the kid, and will be opportunistic with my last moves.

Himajin: builds a room and two stables
syzygy: 4 clay
Kezume: plows a field
zass30: 1 cattle
Quote:
turn 14-3:
I'm going to renovate on my last action, so what's the best I can do with my penultimate? Seasonal worker + a grain would net me a point, and so would cattle. Taking the cattle puts more pressure on the board, so I'll do that.

Himajin: occupation "Master Builder" for 1 food
Quote:
I play the Master Builder occupation. I'm already resigned to losing this game, though. Now I have a better understanding of the victory conditions, and realize that having to roast all my animals is going to cost me a lot of points. Pat next.

syzygy: major improvement "Stone Oven", baking bread for 9 food
Quote:
My plan was to bake both last turn and this turn to meet my steep food requirements. But I was caught off guard by Joe's baking at the end of last turn (the first time in a while) and Julien taking the baking spot first move this game. So I spend my accumulated clay and stone to purchase a stone oven, purely so that I can trigger a baking opportunity. I then bake two grain into a total of 9 food

Kezume: 1 boar
Quote:
Took 1 boar and immediately set it free. Since I can't catch julien, this seemed the best I could do to maintain second place. Julien is up.

zass30: renovation, major improvement "Well"
Quote:
turn 14-4:
I renovate and major improvement for my last turn. Steve is next.

Himajin: 1 reed, 1 stone, 1 food. Builds a room
Quote:
I use the Master Builder to add a room, and I'm forced to grab food for my last action. I take supply for 1 food, 1 reed, 1 stone.

syzygy: day laborer
syzygy: occupation "Mason"
Quote:
I grab two food, then play an occupation (Mason) which allows me to add another stone room. Now in the final harvest phase and it is Julien's turn.


Harvest
syzygy:

Kezume:

zass30:

Himajin:


Final Score
zass30: 45
Kezume: 27
syzygy: 26
Himajin: 23
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Paul Evans
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
Thanks for sharing. Interested in seeing the rest of it.
* Wait - now round 5 had appeared. What's going on? Waiting for more....
 
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Julien Beasley
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
PaulEvans wrote:
Thanks for sharing. Interested in seeing the rest of it.
* Wait - now round 5 had appeared. What's going on? Waiting for more....


I am keeping the original post updated as the game progresses in real time. I expect it will take several days or more to complete.
 
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Paul Evans
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
In which case I guess we should refrain from commenting on the game in case your friends browse bgg.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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Kettering
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
PaulEvans wrote:
In which case I guess we should refrain from commenting on the game in case your friends browse bgg.


I dunno. Given that it's a learning game, it may be to their benefit! I'll be back to kibitz when I've got more time. Great report so far!
 
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Patrick Riley
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Foster City
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
I'm Syzygy in the above game and don't mind comments, as it is a learning game (re-learning from a strategy perspective for me). Julien is checking in with the other two players.
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Julien Beasley
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
Sounds like the players have agreed on kibitzing, so please fire away! Comments on past turns, as well as current turns are all welcome!
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Geoff Burkman
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
Okay, I'll lead this off with an unequivocal statement that nothing I say is meant to disparage, annoy, or otherwise humiliate any of the players. If it was a record of me and the Ugoi playing, I'd say the same things. The object is discussion and possible illumination, correct?

That said, let's take a look at Round One:

Syz doesn't have anything for a strong opening Ock, but some nice cards nonetheless, so the wood draw isn't terrible. It might have been worth putting down Patron, though, if only to make later Ocks easier to play, in particular, Braggart and Renovator. I'll admit, I might well have been tempted to open with it. His follow-up thrifting was lucky, lucky, lucky and likely shouldn't have been available to him.

Kez's opening of Conjurer is somewhat suspect, although he does end up putting it to use in a timely fashion. We'll see if that pays off or not. I'd have had Woodcutter out there in a heartbeat, with two wood spaces left to extract an immediate return, and Fishing Rod ready for a button grab next Round. His follow-up wood haul would have been nicer.

Zass's selection of Seasonal Worker seems apt. The 1food cost is tetchy, but not unreasonably debilitating. With Axe in hand, though, I would likely have taken RSf off the bat, and see what happens next. The secondary clay grab is decent, especially if MIMI should happen to pop next.

Him reveals noobness with a bare button heist, unsupported by any Improvement, a weak early play. Early actions are quite valuable and shouldn't be squandered for mere positional advantage. The follow-up spiking of reed is nearly as weak. At this point, if Him finishes better than third, I will be surprised.



That's all I'll say for now, and I trust that no one is offended by my forthrightness (especially Himajin). One of the things I love about Agricola is how each game proceeds in its own unique yet familiar way, and how much fun it is to see how the interlocking concatenation of actions plays out. And then there's the post-mort, a pleasure in its own right.

Looking forward to seeing how this one goes, and studiously ignoring the temptation to look it up on boit.
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Julien Beasley
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
MisterG wrote:

Looking forward to seeing how this one goes, and studiously ignoring the temptation to look it up on boit.


Thanks for the comments! If you are so inclined, we would love it if you continued to comment this way up to the current turn

But to be clear, you should be looking at the game on boiteajeux. The original post is kept up to date with the game. So right now, the original post is on turn 6, and so is the game. You're not getting any spoilers by looking at the real game, in fact you're getting a better view of the current turn without having to look at the screenshots I posted.

There should be no difference between the live game and what is posted here (except for any delay it takes me to do the transcribing). You may need to clear your browser's cache and refresh the thread to see the updates to the original post.
 
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Patrick Riley
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
MisterG wrote:
Syz doesn't have anything for a strong opening Ock, but some nice cards nonetheless, so the wood draw isn't terrible. It might have been worth putting down Patron, though, if only to make later Ocks easier to play, in particular, Braggart and Renovator. I'll admit, I might well have been tempted to open with it. His follow-up thrifting was lucky, lucky, lucky and likely shouldn't have been available to him.


Is Patron a nickname for another Occupation? Because I don't have a Patron card in hand.
 
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Joe R
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
Definitely appreciating the commentary. I think in hind sight I would have played Wood Cutter instead of Conjurer, although I think I've made Conjurer pay for itself fairly well. My first game of Agricola, and I'm loving it. So much depth.
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Geoff Burkman
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
Cordo wrote:
MisterG wrote:
Syz doesn't have anything for a strong opening Ock, but some nice cards nonetheless, so the wood draw isn't terrible. It might have been worth putting down Patron, though, if only to make later Ocks easier to play, in particular, Braggart and Renovator. I'll admit, I might well have been tempted to open with it. His follow-up thrifting was lucky, lucky, lucky and likely shouldn't have been available to him.


Is Patron a nickname for another Occupation? Because I don't have a Patron card in hand.


Really? I would swear when I first saw the list it included Patron. Possibly it was a mistake that got corrected? I don't recall Academic, so maybe that was it. I dunno. blush
 
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Gareth Reynolds
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Christchurch
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
MisterG wrote:
Really? I would swear when I first saw the list it included Patron. Possibly it was a mistake that got corrected? I don't recall Academic, so maybe that was it. I dunno. blush
You aren't the only one MisterG, I think I saw it mentioned as well.
 
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Steven Anderson
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Yokohama-shi
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Re: 4 player learning game, with real time commentary
No offense taken! I have to admit I hadn't even read the rules properly when we started this up, and a few key mechanics I'm only just getting familiar with now. It seems like a great game, though, and I'm eager to learn more. I don't expect to do very well this game, but I think I'll have a better grip on things by the end of it at least.
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