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Subject: Alternative strategy to Family growth rss

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Scott Kosloski
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Hi all,

New to the boards. I've played probably 50-75 games and have become fairly adept at changing up strategies, different play styles, etc. We almost exclusively play in 4er games.

There has been extreme attention to family growth in our games. Getting resources for building the room is pretty crazy. 3w and 2w never convert to 6w or 4w respectively. Reed rarely converts to 2 and RSF is taken every round. I feel like there is a fault to expose in this strategy, but haven't been able to convert to a win yet. Essentially setting up my food engine and getting my cards out seems to work short term, but I'm not able to get the 5th family member in a timely fashion in the endgame.

Several questions:
1) Is playing the defense and getting starting player, thereby getting resources for family growth, thereby doing family growth the pervasive strategy?
2) Is there a way to ensure family growth in the first couple rounds of stage 2 with such high competition for the resources?
3) Is there a way to expose the grab for resources with another strategy?

Thanks!
Scott
 
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Andy Kerrison
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Draft seven of nine.

With a greater number of powerful cards in the draft, combos will become more prevalent, and occupations will be played more often. This will result in much larger resource grabs than a standard draft game.

If your opponents don't adjust by doing the same thing, they will be underutilising their cards compared to you and you'll win.

In a normal draft game, it is indeed often a race for growth and whoever gets there first will likely win around 40% of the time. A majority, yes, but even so it is not the be all and end all.... if your opponents are already largely ignoring early occupations (the first two moves in a 4p game should almost always both be to play an occ, for example) then they may already be undervaluing the cards compared to the early resource grabs.
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Matt Shields
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klowski wrote:


There has been extreme attention to family growth in our games. Getting resources for building the room is pretty crazy. 3w and 2w never convert to 6w or 4w respectively. Reed rarely converts to 2 and RSF is taken every round. I feel like there is a fault to expose in this strategy, but haven't been able to convert to a win yet. Essentially setting up my food engine and getting my cards out seems to work short term, but I'm not able to get the 5th family member in a timely fashion in the endgame.

Several questions:
1) Is playing the defense and getting starting player, thereby getting resources for family growth, thereby doing family growth the pervasive strategy?
2) Is there a way to ensure family growth in the first couple rounds of stage 2 with such high competition for the resources?
3) Is there a way to expose the grab for resources with another strategy?

Thanks!
Scott



This is a great question! Some of what you're describing sounds very normal and expected for 4 player games, though I think there may be a bit of group-think going in your playgroup as well.

I will say that growing your family early and often is always the dominant strategy in Agricola. So much so, that it's almost not appropriate to call it a "strategy" - it's more of a prerequisite to executing whatever your strategy is. And 4-player games are the most competitive for family growth, because of the relatively small number of room building and FG spaces for the player count. (2 and 3 have the same spaces, but fewer players fighting for them - 5 player has extra spaces.)

What seems a bit odd to me from your description, is that the bottleneck for family growth in 4 players games shouldn't usually be the resources - it should be access to the spaces themselves. It sounds to me like players are taking inefficient resource grabs, which almost has to mean they are leaving something else available.

Reed is actually quite abundant in 4 player, as compared to 3 player and 5er games. (Because RSF is a strong action and is likely taken every round - whereas "take 1 resource" in 3er is a weak space and usually not taken.) Therefore taking 1 reed in 4er is usually a pretty weak move. I personally would avoid that as much as possible, though sometimes you have no choice. And indeed if every other player is constantly spamming the 1 Reed space, you may have to. If you watch 4-player games online - even among very good players - 2 reed and 4 wood are frequently available. And often RSF would be taken over either of those anyway.

I don't necessarily make any effort to build more than 2 rooms in 4er games, and sometimes only one if FG seems to be coming out late. And if I do build more I'm probably not building them all out of wood, as it's too valuable for fences late game. There's nothing wrong with only having 3 or 4 people for most of the game, and getting your 5th via family growth without room in round 12 or 13. Lots of people win 4 player games only having build 1 room.

Obviously this all depends radically on the cards available. (I assume you're using the occs and minor improvements, and not just playing the family version, yes?) If you're drafting by far the most useful cards to take are ones that help with room building or family growth. Generally cards that give you food aren't that great in 4er because food is relatively plentiful (unlike 5 player games, where often food is more the bottleneck than family growth availability.) That said, you love having a couple of cheap (preferably free) cards you can use to take Start Player around stage 2 so you can optimally time when you build rooms or family grow.

What I'm used to seeing in 4 player games, are situations where multiple players have the resources to build rooms, and we're scrambling to get access to the room building (or FG) space first. So player 1 builds a room, and then player 2 immediately takes SP so they can build a room next round. If Family Growth comes out late, you often see multiple players get rooms built before it's available, but the same queue forms at the FG space instead. Player 1 grows, player 2 takes SP, and this repeats several rounds in a row. If you find yourself at the back of this line, hopefully you can take advantage of the situation by getting a few big resource grabs that players 1 and 2 are obliged to ignore.

Anyway, it doesn't sound to me like you're doing anything radically wrong. If other players are taking weak resource grabs early, let them do it and take other actions. Gather stone and build majors for example. Or if wood is disappearing but clay is stacking up, start taking that clay. Maybe renovate and build in clay instead. Mostly just try to play as efficiently as you can and not let yourself get dragged into making inefficient moves because everyone else is doing it. Especially with reed. You don't need that much reed, so if all you do is manage to take SP and RSF a couple times then so be it. As long as you get one FG early you're usually ok. Then you can sometimes beat the player with an extra peep if you're taking more efficient actions.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Growing your family is very important. You don't have to be the first person to grow your family to win... but even if you weren't the first person, you were probably trying to be. The only time you really want to play a different strategy is if you just get screwed in a way that you can't compete to be the first player to grow your family. Then you might focus on picking up the stuff other people aren't taking in their mad rush to procreate.

TwitchBot wrote:
What I'm used to seeing in 4 player games, are situations where multiple players have the resources to build rooms, and we're scrambling to get access to the room building (or FG) space first. So player 1 builds a room, and then player 2 immediately takes SP so they can build a room next round. If Family Growth comes out late, you often see multiple players get rooms built before it's available, but the same queue forms at the FG space instead. Player 1 grows, player 2 takes SP, and this repeats several rounds in a row. If you find yourself at the back of this line, hopefully you can take advantage of the situation by getting a few big resource grabs that players 1 and 2 are obliged to ignore.
Yeah, this is fairly typical. I'll sometimes see someone who can't be first to grow their family end up doing a double build. Then they'll grow their family in the next turn and threaten to do it again while someone else hasn't even had their first growth. Regardless, since everyone is rushing to get to the build spot, and then the growth spot, there should be goods accumulating on other spots, or good action spots that aren't being blocked.
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Sam Carroll
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Thunkd wrote:
mad rush to procreate


Who says this game doesn't reflect real life?
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Geoff Burkman
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spartax wrote:
Thunkd wrote:
mad rush to procreate


Who says this game doesn't reflect real life?


I'd overlooked posting this before: yes, there is an alternative strategy to Family growth. It's called losing.

On a more serious note, as the gentlemen above have noted, you don't necessarily have to grow first, but you rarely, if ever, want to grow last. Efficiency of actions can take you a long way, but the numbers don't lie; if the opposition gets too far ahead in the action count, you are likely doomed to be an also-ran.

And then there are things of beauty like this game.
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MisterG wrote:
And then there are things of beauty like this game.


I knew what that was going to be before I ever clicked. One of the best games I've seen
 
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RyuSora
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TwitchBot wrote:
klowski wrote:


There has been extreme attention to family growth in our games. Getting resources for building the room is pretty crazy. 3w and 2w never convert to 6w or 4w respectively. Reed rarely converts to 2 and RSF is taken every round. I feel like there is a fault to expose in this strategy, but haven't been able to convert to a win yet. Essentially setting up my food engine and getting my cards out seems to work short term, but I'm not able to get the 5th family member in a timely fashion in the endgame.

Several questions:
1) Is playing the defense and getting starting player, thereby getting resources for family growth, thereby doing family growth the pervasive strategy?
2) Is there a way to ensure family growth in the first couple rounds of stage 2 with such high competition for the resources?
3) Is there a way to expose the grab for resources with another strategy?

Thanks!
Scott



This is a great question! Some of what you're describing sounds very normal and expected for 4 player games, though I think there may be a bit of group-think going in your playgroup as well.

I will say that growing your family early and often is always the dominant strategy in Agricola. So much so, that it's almost not appropriate to call it a "strategy" - it's more of a prerequisite to executing whatever your strategy is. And 4-player games are the most competitive for family growth, because of the relatively small number of room building and FG spaces for the player count. (2 and 3 have the same spaces, but fewer players fighting for them - 5 player has extra spaces.)

What seems a bit odd to me from your description, is that the bottleneck for family growth in 4 players games shouldn't usually be the resources - it should be access to the spaces themselves. It sounds to me like players are taking inefficient resource grabs, which almost has to mean they are leaving something else available.

Reed is actually quite abundant in 4 player, as compared to 3 player and 5er games. (Because RSF is a strong action and is likely taken every round - whereas "take 1 resource" in 3er is a weak space and usually not taken.) Therefore taking 1 reed in 4er is usually a pretty weak move. I personally would avoid that as much as possible, though sometimes you have no choice. And indeed if every other player is constantly spamming the 1 Reed space, you may have to. If you watch 4-player games online - even among very good players - 2 reed and 4 wood are frequently available. And often RSF would be taken over either of those anyway.

I don't necessarily make any effort to build more than 2 rooms in 4er games, and sometimes only one if FG seems to be coming out late. And if I do build more I'm probably not building them all out of wood, as it's too valuable for fences late game. There's nothing wrong with only having 3 or 4 people for most of the game, and getting your 5th via family growth without room in round 12 or 13. Lots of people win 4 player games only having build 1 room.

Obviously this all depends radically on the cards available. (I assume you're using the occs and minor improvements, and not just playing the family version, yes?) If you're drafting by far the most useful cards to take are ones that help with room building or family growth. Generally cards that give you food aren't that great in 4er because food is relatively plentiful (unlike 5 player games, where often food is more the bottleneck than family growth availability.) That said, you love having a couple of cheap (preferably free) cards you can use to take Start Player around stage 2 so you can optimally time when you build rooms or family grow.

What I'm used to seeing in 4 player games, are situations where multiple players have the resources to build rooms, and we're scrambling to get access to the room building (or FG) space first. So player 1 builds a room, and then player 2 immediately takes SP so they can build a room next round. If Family Growth comes out late, you often see multiple players get rooms built before it's available, but the same queue forms at the FG space instead. Player 1 grows, player 2 takes SP, and this repeats several rounds in a row. If you find yourself at the back of this line, hopefully you can take advantage of the situation by getting a few big resource grabs that players 1 and 2 are obliged to ignore.

Anyway, it doesn't sound to me like you're doing anything radically wrong. If other players are taking weak resource grabs early, let them do it and take other actions. Gather stone and build majors for example. Or if wood is disappearing but clay is stacking up, start taking that clay. Maybe renovate and build in clay instead. Mostly just try to play as efficiently as you can and not let yourself get dragged into making inefficient moves because everyone else is doing it. Especially with reed. You don't need that much reed, so if all you do is manage to take SP and RSF a couple times then so be it. As long as you get one FG early you're usually ok. Then you can sometimes beat the player with an extra peep if you're taking more efficient actions.


Totally agree! And besides Agricola is a worker placement game, where every action MATTERS, so having more actions is extremely important, almost essential.
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