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Subject: Teaching my mother to play Agricola rss

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Thorfinn Tait
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My mother (who we all call "Gaga" since my kids were born) has just bought the game. We often play games with her over FaceTime, with a board at either end. (We live in Japan, while she's in the UK.) Since Agricola is a bit fiddly at first, this put a lot of responsibility on her to get things set up right, but she managed fine. Naturally, we played the family game. The players were myself, my wife Kika, and Gaga.

This game actually took place over four different sessions, each lasting a bit less than an hour. What a frustrating experience! cry I had to take down and set up the board three times (!), which as you can imagine was a bit of a chore. We'll need to make sure to play at a time when there won't be any interruptions in the future, but this time Gaga had repeated interruptions. Time zone is the main culprit here, because finding a time to play when there's a 9 hour time difference can be challenging.

On to the game itself...

I went for my usual fast growth strategy, concentrating all effort on my house, with just a little grain and then vegetable farming to support my family. I also got the Cooking Hearth out first. In the end I was the only one to get to a stone house, but my pastures suffered for it, and I ended up with three empty spaces — although I did manage to get all the animals. My last action was Renovate (to stone) and Major Improvement (Well), which pushed me just past Gaga's 34 points to 36.


Gaga's 34 point first ever family game farm.


My winning 36 point family game farm.


Kika was the first to get animals, but then she stalled a bit trying to keep up with me on family growth. She did manage to keep up pretty well, usually growing right after me, but her farm suffered a bit, and she ended up on 30 points.


Kika's 30 point family game farm.


Gaga did very well for her first game, with a very respectable score of 34. She went for animals, but missed out on the second Cooking Hearth. Luckily she also had a nice set of fields, and was able to successfully switch to a baking strategy that served her very well for the rest of the game. But her family growth fell behind, which limited her actions in the late game.

This was a fun game, and we all enjoyed playing with each other, despite things being split into four sessions. Next game we'll be introducing Gaga to the E Deck.

Play log for this game (for my own reference)
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Charlotte Malone
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Wow....you should buy Gaga a super-nice Mother's Day present this year, or send her flowers next week or something. I'm sure I couldn't talk my mom into playing Agricola if we were in the same place and had ten hours to kill, much less if she had to really work for it and play long distance. Gaga rocks.
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Thorfinn Tait
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creevedog wrote:
Wow....you should buy Gaga a super-nice Mother's Day present this year, or send her flowers next week or something. I'm sure I couldn't talk my mom into playing Agricola if we were in the same place and had ten hours to kill, much less if she had to really work for it and play long distance. Gaga rocks.


She does indeed. I guess I am super lucky in this regard, since both my mother and my wife love playing games — even together!

In fact, my grandparents also always loved games, and my brother and I played a lot of card games with them when we were growing up. So you could say that gaming is a family tradition. My mother used to have a games night for us when we were younger.

The only person in my family who doesn't play games is my father. At one point in my teens I suddenly realised that he had never played with us, and thought how horrible it was that we always left him out. My mother laughed and said it was because he was a really bad loser. I thought, my father?!? The man who seems to know everything and has a PhD in biochemistry?! No way!

So I invited him to play, and we sat down to play Monopoly together. And sure enough, when it became clear that he was losing, he started to get all sulky, and finally he actually pushed the board off the table and stormed off!! Absolutely hilarious.

Ahem... Sorry I'm going waaaay off topic. laugh
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ArrBeeDee Dial
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Do you play with one camera or setup a couple of different views?

I could see setting up a static camera for the board and one for "your face(s)" if she had a couple of computers and the bandwidth to run 2-3 video streams.

If you had the "big screen TV" set for the room environment and maybe a laptop for your board, it would probably feel very interractive.
 
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Thorfinn Tait
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Good question.

We started off with my laptop set up at the table, giving a general view of the board. But lately we mostly ignore the video part of it and just talk, using the camera only when it becomes necessary.

So my current conclusion is that having a board at either end makes the video link pretty optional.

That's with Agricola, of course. It's pretty easy to make sure you keep in sync with this game, as long as you do fulfilment together each turn, and make sure to place action tokens for all players. I made my mother's farm here too, but she didn't bother making up mine, and instead just asked to see it when she wanted to.

We've also done Catan this way — much more extensively, in fact. With Catan, it's often a big help to be able to show part of the board.

All in all it's surprisingly easy to play games this way. The most fun games are when my brother joins my mother in the UK, and my wife joins in with me here. Even over the phone, the social link is totally there. We're having a blast.
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