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Game Overviews: My Bad Farm Shop Company, or Building Spaces on Your Base

W. Eric Martin
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Apex
North Carolina
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Board Game: My Farm Shop
Board Game: Bad Company
Despite their looks, Rüdiger Dorn's My Farm Shop from Pegasus Spiele and Bad Company from Kenneth Minde, Eilif Svensson, Kristian Amundsen Østby, and Aporta Games feel like close cousins, with John D. Clair's Space Base being somewhere not too distant on the ancestral chain.

In all three games, players have their own tableau with spaces numbered 2-12 — although in My Farm Shop the spaces loop, so 2 & 12 are the same space — and over the course of the game, you modify what's in those spaces so that ideally you get more and better effects when those numbers are rolled on dice, whether during your turn as active player or the turns of other players.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Activating an 8 in My Farm Shop

The dice selection works differently in each game, giving players differing degrees of control over what happens:

• In Space Base, the active player rolls two dice, and each player can use the dice individually (e.g., 2 and 6) or summed (8).
• In Bad Company, the active player rolls four dice, paying to re-roll as often as they like, then they split these dice into pairs, with the active player using both sums and each other player using one of these sums.
• In My Farm Shop, the active player rolls three dice, uses one die to "buy" a card from the market, then all players activate the space matching the sum of the other two dice (with players being able to individually modify numbers by spending tokens).

From gallery of W Eric Martin
I am the master of wool

I haven't played Space Base since it came out in 2018, so let me focus on the two more recent games from this point on. Both Bad Company and My Farm Shop have four goods that you collect, with you fulfilling requirements for heists in the former and storing those goods on a farm stall in the latter. As soon as you've covered everything needed for a heist, you score it — possible gaining a permanent action from it — then draft a new heist. Goods on your farm stall will keep piling up to the maximum of 16 unless you use dice to activate selling actions on your farm...which you'll want to do since earned coins are what win you the game, not goods.

Your starting gang in Bad Company provides you some of everything, including money to upgrade gangsters to boost what you get from a space and steering wheels to move your car on the road. If you would gain goods you don't need, whether because you've covered those heist spaces or you just don't need those items, you have permanent ways to spend these goods: two masks allow you to cover any space on a heist, for example, while two flashlights gets a loot card, which provides something random.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
End of a two-player game of Bad Company

In seven games of Bad Company on a copy borrowed from the BGG library, I've yet to see someone really go hard on one or two types of icons because (1) when you upgrade a gangster, you draw three cards at random, so you can't be sure of what's coming and (2) you need at least three types of goods for most heists, so it feels like specializing might harm your ability to complete heists, especially since the game doesn't last long enough for you to get a huge benefit from many upgrades. (Upgrades are worth 1 or 2 points if they're on unique numbers, so essentially you're converting 3-6 coins into points and the possibility of gaining extra stuff.) As soon as someone scores six heists or moves their car far enough, the game wraps after one final round.

My Farm Shop — which I've played six times on a review copy from Pegasus Spiele — gives you a wider variety of things to do with your spaces, so it's more like Space Base in this sense. (In Bad Company, each gangster upgrade means you get one extra thing when that gangster is activated, so the game feels similar from beginning to end but with the pace picking up over time.) You can increase your production, add sunflowers to boost output, get powerful one-shot effects, and find new ways to sell goods, with those ways often requiring you to specialize in one or two goods, which makes your card acquisition each turn more meaningful.

From gallery of W Eric Martin
Table hog (Hogs are not a good on this farm)

Each turn, you must pick a card from the market and add it to your farm, and you can add that card anywhere, including on the space you'll activate that turn. This ensures that you can always use what you pick up — at least once — and you also have more of an ability to stuff other players by activating dice that don't help them do whatever big effect they want. (Burlap bags are a crucial fifth "good" that allow you to modify the die result for yourself, and if an opponent is out of bags, then they get what you give them.)

You customize the My Farm Shop deck based on the player count, but you never know exactly which cards will be in play, so you need to adapt to opportunities that come your way. When the deck runs out, each player activates one final space of their choice, then whoever has the most coins wins.

To learn more about these games and see multiple turns played out, check out this video:

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