Off the Board

A look at games that typically involve cards, tiles, or dice and how my wife and I fit in gaming with an infant.
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Blowing up the farm!

Jim Jamieson
United States
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Microbadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: I was here for BGG's Tenth Anniversary!Microbadge: Parent of Two GirlsMicrobadge: Disney fanMicrobadge: Rahdo Runs Through fan
Let me first say that I have been helping Grant Rodiek playtesting Farmageddon since the fall to help refine the rules so my opinion may be a little biased, but since I have predominately been playing this game with two I thought my opinions of the game could be valuable to some who often play games with two.

Farming games are fairly popular around these parts as Agricola and Puerto Rico have been in the Top 5 for years and even a more gateway game like Finca. I had been looking for a good farming card game for some time and had checked out both Bohnanza and Nile DeLuxor. I ended up stumbling across a blog here: about Farmagedddon and immediately added it to my want to play list. A short time later, the designer got in contact with me and asked if I would be interested in doing some play testing for him to help further refine the game and my wife and I were happy to oblige.

I think the first thing that attracted me to the game was the artwork. This is some fantastic work and the fun, whimsical, and sometimes dark artwork reminded me a lot of my brother-in-law. I know a lot of people love the artwork in Bohnanza but Farmageddon completely blows it out of the water.

Board Game: Farmageddon
Board Game: Farmageddon

Moving on to game play there are 2 decks of cards that the players use, one are the crops that you need to plant & harvest to get money to win the game, and the other deck are farmer cards that enable you to play actions against either your own crops or against your opponent. Instead of just being able to plant crops however you see fit, you must plant a crop on 1 of the 3 fields (there are a few farmer cards that enable a player to plant a crop on that too).

Board Game: Farmageddon

A players turn is broken down into four steps but they are all really easy and go quickly:
1. Draw & Plant Crop Cards
2. Fertilize Crops
3. Play Farmer Card(s)
4. Harvest Crops & Draw Farmer Cards

On a players turn they draw some crop cards, and if possible can plant crops on an available field.

Next based on the number of players, a player must play some of their crops as fertilizer. This reminds me of the mechanic in San Juan where a player has to debate using the back of their cards as one thing or playing them face up for something else. In the case of Farmageddon, you need to play crops face up in order to have enough money at the end of the game to win, but you also need to play them face down in order to harvest your other crops. This leads to some excellent strategic decisions about which cards you want to plant and which cards to use as fertilizer. One of the other hard decisions that comes in when fertilizing is like I said you must play fertilizer on your turn, so if you don't have any crops planted but your opponent does then you are required to help them fertilize their own crops, so planting your own crops is definitely a must!

The next phase of a player's turn is that they can play farmer cards. These cards can either benefit your own crops or they can hurt your opponent's crops. This adds a great take-that feel to the game but all comes across as very light-hearted because you know your opponent will likely do the same thing on their next turn.

Board Game: Farmageddon

Once a player has completed playing farmer cards it is time to harvest crops and draw some more farmer cards before your turn ends. To harvest crops, a farmer must have enough fertilizer as specified on the card and the crop must have been played on a previous turn. This means you cannot harvest a crop on the same turn you planted it so it gives your opponent a chance to take some action against it first! To me this gives the game a similar feel to Jambo where a player must use multiple ware cards in order to gain gold.

This goes on until the crop deck is exhausted and then the players sum up their money of harvested crops and the one with the most is the winner.

So what do I think of the game? In short, I love it. My wife and I use to settle down with Monopoly Deal Card Game every night after dinner and that is been put away for awhile now. We are now playing Farmageddon. For us, this game and Carnival are our two most played games right now because they fall into that category of quick card games that can be played either after dinner or after our daughter goes to sleep and are just simply fun to play.

As for the 2-player experience in Farmageddon, both players have to be comfortable with a game that has a take-that mechanic because you will be blowing up other player's crops frequently but it is all done in a very humorous way that even my non-gamer wife doesn't mind when I hit her with two farmer cards in one turn. Not all the farmer cards attack your opponent as I said and some can help you harvest your crops faster and add money to the end game conditions so it is possible to play the game and only benefit yourself, but that takes a lot of the fun away!

There are some slight tweaks to the two-player rules, but I don't think they drastically change the game in any way and I think the rules help ensure that in a 2-player game you still have some tough decisions to make on what to plant and what actions to take. All of the games we have played have ended up being very close with almost all of them ending within $5 of each other.

This game is still on Kickstarter and is already funded so what's the harm in picking up a great 30-minute card game for $12. If that wasn't already a steal, there are already some fantastic stretch goals that are only going to add to the game play. So go check it out!

Board Game: Farmageddon
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