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Subject: How I went from HATE to LOVE (a SOLO comparison of Fields of Arle & Agricola) rss

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Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
New Hampshire
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Chaos is a ladder
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So I just finished my 2015 10x10 with my final play of Agricola. I went from a HATE relationship with the game to an affection for it because of the repeated plays. For a long time I didn't understand what all the fuss was about, and now that I've played this and played Fields of Arle, I have come to a much different conclusion about my solo gaming preferences and about both of these games...

Fields of Arle (FoA) is quite an amazing game - in fact, my first impressions of the game were quite high, and I thought for sure it would fire Agricola from my collection. There's tension in FoA because you're limited actions, but the number of actions doesn't change from game to game - just the strategy on where you play in the sandbox matters. I praised the game for how innovative it is - the sandbox feeling, do what you want, how you want to do it, and see how you do. It's a puzzle of sorts - a puzzle to maximize your sequence of actions for the greatest yield. I find that very interesting and exciting, but know that if I was to play a significant number of games of FoA, I will likely be recycling the same strategy to "tweak" it to yield more points, and that's a less exciting prospect.

FoA is about planning your route, following directions and not getting lost on the way. Sure I can get to the same place using 10 different roads and in the end some will be shorter, some longer, some faster, and some slower.

Agricola provides you with a compass and says "get there" - the path is both clear and obtuse. Sometimes you drive towards your destination, sometimes you walk, sometimes you need to climb mountains – all depending on the cards available to you. It’s a tactical struggle. Figuring out what to do in your given situation and having to adjust strategies from game to game makes this a richer experience - not because the tension is higher, but because you need to "think on your feet". Sure it can be argued that there’s an illusion of choice here – you NEED to feed the family, you NEED to diversify to maximize points, but that’s the destination, not the journey.

Agricola is about adapting to situations as you go, and that experience is much richer in retrospect. Sure you'll get your bumps and bruises, along the way but there's a story to tell. FoA lacks meaning, and while it's smooth sailing towards the destination, you arrive and say “I’m here” with little to show for it. I realize now that I prefer a story to tell from my gaming journeys, perhaps that makes me a little wiser - and Agricola has made all the difference.
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Jarek Szczepanik
Norway
Oslo
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I have not played FoA yet. Your review reminds me of Rahdo's conclusions on FoA. The sandbox thing sounds great,but IMO, board games are more fun if you have a goal to pursue and a set of signposts you can follow. Does that mean that FoA seems dull after a few plays?
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Kevin Eastwood
United States
Windham
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Fields of Arle still feels fun to me because I haven't fully explored it, but ask me the same question in a few months after more plays and I'll be able to give you a better answer.
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Steph Hodge
United States
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Well, it's no Ginkgopolis...
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Svartisen wrote:
I have not played FoA yet. Your review reminds me of Rahdo's conclusions on FoA. The sandbox thing sounds great,but IMO, board games are more fun if you have a goal to pursue and a set of signposts you can follow. Does that mean that FoA seems dull after a few plays?

Well, I am not sure from a solo point of view... 2 players is much more interesting and "harsh". The other okayer will take your spot. There are ways around it potentially and other avenues to pursue but it may not be optimal.

I have played about 15 times and I just want to play it over and over. I am hooked for the time being.

Again, I can not speak from a solo point (I only played it once and it was still good, but not AS GOOD as 2 player)



Good write up Kevin! :)
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Megan

Grand Rapids
Michigan
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I really love Agricola and am happy to see you pushed through the plays to find the greatness in it. What I love best about Agricola solo is playing a solo series where you collect occupations along the way. Each set of occupations changes your route to victory.

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Andrew Glassop
Australia
Dubbo
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I commend Uwe on his courage in bringing FoA to print. True, it is a game, and we tend to think that games must have winners an losers, goals and objectives. But there are games that relate to play, pure play, where the only point of the game is the game itself - to experience the game is the game. What do you do in a sandbox? Build castles: fantastical castles with spires and drawbridges and windows, steps, towers, moats and tunnels. Every now and then your tunneling will lead to a tower collapsing but does that mean you have 'lost' the game? Of course not, you were exploring the world and discovered a limit. That is the real point of play and that is what makes FoA such a gem. So sit down with a loved one (or tolerated one), a beverage of choice and explore Uwe's world of Arle. Forget about the score, just see what the limits are and how far you can push against them.
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