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Agricola: Family Edition» Forums » General

Subject: Initial Impressions rss

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Jimmy Okolica
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I don't like to write reviews after only 2 plays, so this isn't one. It's just some initial thoughts. The big takeaway is that I think this has a place, not only for family gamers, but for heavier gamers that are looking for a 45 minute 'Gric fix. It'll never have the depth of 'Gric, but I think it's got enough depth for a lot of replayability.

Changes:
1. No veggies -- not needed in this new version. They've fixed feeding off fields and veggies are no longer needed. PRO
2. No stones -- streamlines the game at the cost of complexity. NEUTRAL
3. No cards -- simplifies the game but loses depth and replayability. I get it, but wish they were still there. CON
4. Fixed order of actions -- removes a little uncertainty but reduces fiddliness PRO
5. No baking action -- can bake anytime with cooking implements and wood. Along with scoring changes, makes grain strategy viable. BIG PRO
6. Resources -- feel looser. Looser than original 'Gric but tighter than revised 'Gric with the extra action space. NEUTRAL
7. Ovens are simpler -- one type of oven and each grain produces 5 food. PRO

Scoring:
This is the biggest change. They've simplified it tremendously.
1. Every tile (except wood rooms) is 1 point (field tiles are like Caverna but there are 3 bigger ones).
2. Every piece of wood on a tile (except workers) is 1 point
3. Every worker is 3 points.
4. The only negatives are begging cards.
5. Nothing in supply scores unless you have craft buildings (there are two extra ones -- one for grain and one for a hodgepodge).

Is the scoring a pro or a con? I can't answer that. Along with removing the cards, the scoring change fundamentally changes 'Gric. It still feels like 'Gric and it still gives a 'Gric fix, but it's not 'Gric. I'm good with that. With the other changes, it means this is a game I want to play for me, not just to help my kids transition to big 'Gric.


General Notes:
1. I've always been partial to a field strategy, but without card help, it wasn't viable in base 'Gric. That's changed. Each grain field is potentially 2 points (plus the point for the tile) plus 5 food. In my two plays, grain was often taken with players' first or second action. In fact, I took the button more than once for a grain grab -- with an oven, each grain is 5 food and you can cook harvested grain during harvest.
2. The game is significantly quicker. A 3-player with my kids took 60 minutes. A 2-player with my partner took 40 minutes. I expect future plays will shave more minutes off that time. So, the box's 45 minutes is probably viable for a 3-player game with 2-player and 4-player taking a bit shorter/longer.
3. It's still got good depth and replayability, but nothing like 'Gric (even revised 'Gric). I expect the 2-player game will become samey after 20 - 30 plays (longer if they're spaced out). However, I think the 3- and 4-player games may stay interesting longer (indefinitely?) because of the worker placement interaction.
4. My only gripe about the game is that the box says 1 - 4 players (and includes a 1-player extra action board). However, the game is deterministic. Nothing varies. So any solo play is going to only last till someone determines the optimal moves... maybe 5 - 10 plays?
5. I know the point of the game is to simplify. So, putting minor improvements defeats the purpose. However, I'd like to see it. Right now, starting player is SP + 1 food. It'd be easy to make it SP + Minor. It'd also be easy to make the Cooking Implement space also allow for minors. If they did that and added in some minor buildings a la ACBaS, I think it'd add depth and replayability for people who are looking for it. It's not necessary and I think it plays very well without it, but maybe if it sells well, they'll think about adding it down the road.

Initial Rating: 8 with upward mobility
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Resist the Kakistocracy
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Totally not interested, but thank you for the clear-eyed first impressions. A valuable read.

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Evan Duly
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Great report. Thank you. Unlike the previous poster, I am very interested in this version and am looking forward to the opportunity to try it.
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Trey Chambers
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Almost everything sounds like a con to me, though I do love some of the new art.

I'll just wait for collector's edition.
 
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ozzy perez
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Question, if I already own Agricola all creatures, will this give me a whole new experience? I never bought Papa Agricola because even though I think it's an excellent game ( with the moors expansion), it's just too fiddly for my taste.
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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SapoLJackson wrote:
Question, if I already own Agricola all creatures, will this give me a whole new experience? I never bought Papa Agricola because even though I think it's an excellent game ( with the moors expansion), it's just too fiddly for my taste.


It'll definitely give you a new experience. I think playing All Creatures "feels" very different from 'Gric while playing Family 'Gric "feels" similar. For me, All Creatures was too confining, too little to do. It also has variable cards/tiles/buildings/powers (pick your favorite word). 'Gric Family doesn't have those variable special powers and feels very much like traditional 'Gric (minus the scoring). So, I'd say it's a different experience; whether it's too fiddly or not for you, I can't answer.
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Mike Bialecki
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
With the other changes, it means this is a game I want to play for me, not just to help my kids transition to big 'Gric.

A 3-player with my kids took 60 minutes.


How old are your kids and how did they take to it?
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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mbialeck wrote:
Butterfly0038 wrote:
With the other changes, it means this is a game I want to play for me, not just to help my kids transition to big 'Gric.

A 3-player with my kids took 60 minutes.


How old are your kids and how did they take to it?


14 and 10 and they did well-ish (high 20s). To put it in perspective, they do very well and other games (e.g., Nippon, Ticket to Ride, Fresh Fish, Grand Austria Hotel), but strategic games are tough for them. I think 'Gric Family takes away some of the need to plan a long term strategy that's more than a few simple ideas.
 
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Daniel
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Butterfly0038 wrote:
With the other changes, it means this is a game I want to play for me, not just to help my kids transition to big 'Gric


This is the sentence that stuck out to me! We love All Creatures Big and Small. We play full 'Gric rarely, not that it's too complex but there are a lot of pieces to set up and tear down and it does take longer to play. Also All Creatures is more casual with still meaty decisions. This makes me think the game is right in the middle and that may be exactly what we might like!
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Randy Espinoza
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I have never played Agricola but this version has piqued my interest. This review however seems only valuable for those who already know how to play Agricola.

If you could, another stand alone review would be greatly appreciated.
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Thanks for the impressions.. how would you rate replaybility and value for money?
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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fasolia wrote:
Thanks for the impressions.. how would you rate replaybility and value for money?


Replayability is a hard one. I've only played it 5 times, so it's early for me to say. However, the replayability is in the "play-the-player" realm. There are no cards, no variability in set up and the decision space is (relatively) small. So, people aren't going to be replaying it for the same reasons as 'Gric or OeL or Caylus.

However, unlike its parent, 'Gric Family seems to have room for more varied strategies. I got 64 points ignoring growth and going heavy for fields and 75 points ignoring growth and getting early animals and a decent number of fields (both of these were 2 player games). It's still early but at this point, I'd say the +1 Grain, +1 Field, and Fencing spaces are now as competitive as the animal spaces (and possibly a bit more valuable than the resource spaces). Wood is still the lube of the game but there's less need for resources since there are no minor improvements and clay rooms are cheaper. In regular 'Gric, there are a few key battles in the game (adjusted by each player's Occs and Minors). In 'Gric Family, I think each round will have equally important battles. For me, that's a good thing.

As far as value, it's going to be personal. For me, 'Gric Family sits with Finca, Isle of Skye, and Race for the Galaxy in the medium-light highly interactive medium-short (30 - 45 minute) games. I expect I'll get my money's worth out of it. I don't see it getting the same concentrated "got to play it again and again" plays that 'Gric, Race, and Patchwork got when they came out. But I can see it sitting on the shelf for years, getting 5 - 10 plays per year. YMMV
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Brian Geringer
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Anyone who complains that the game is too simple or not for you then clearly that is correct. This game is not for you. This game is so that I can enjoy my favorite game with my eight year old son. If you want complication and replayability to Infinity then get the full version.
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Randy Espinoza
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How does it compare to, say, Lords of Waterdeep in complexity and even enjoyment?
 
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Jimmy Okolica
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Espinoza wrote:
How does it compare to, say, Lords of Waterdeep in complexity and even enjoyment?


For me, there's no comparison. To be fair, I played LoW many years ago, but at the time, I remember it just being placing workers to get cubes and contracts and then turning in sets to satisfy the contracts. Is that a fair description?

If so, then I'd say 'Gric Family still has a lot more things to consider. Although significantly simpler than regular 'Gric, there's still a need to develop a food engine. So, while you're going about to trying to get stuff for points, you also need to be figuring out how to efficiently feed your workers.

Secondly, most of your points come from the wood on tiles rather than the tiles. In the case of grain, each tile can hold 2 pieces of wood at game end. In the case of animals, depending on their size, tiles can hold significantly more pieces of wood (even the smallest tile can potentially hold 5 pieces of wood). So, getting points involves both getting tiles and getting wood on the tiles, which iirc is more complex than LoW.
 
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Mike Hill
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This is a great game with a great theme. I would suggest approaching this as a different game from the full Agricola experience. Same theme, same style, very different game.

45 minutes makes for an excellent filler game.
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