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Subject: Is Agricola really much harder than Catan? rss

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Bermondsey Battler
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My 11 yo stepson has become a Eurogamer. He is a beast for Catan because it is a lot like Minecraft and he digs the resources, etc. Hes also pretty good at it.

Agricola seemed like it might be of interest but i see Catan is rated like 2.36/5 and Agricola is 3.63/5.

Is it really that different in terms of difficulty? I think he would like the theme.
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Kyle
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Agricola punishes you a bit, but really the will to learn and roll with it are 99% of what is required to learn any game. Agricola is rock solid, and great fun. There is also the 'family game' which is easier included, but I don't necessarily recommend it.
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David B
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Agricola may not be that much harder to play than Catan, but I think it is definitely harder to play well. It can also be more intimidating as Agricola takes up quite a bit of room and there is a lot to keep track of. I have a hard time keeping up with what all the improvements do, especially when I am one of the players not sitting right next to the board. There is a lot of text on cards that you need to know. Catan is easier to keep track of when playing.
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Dr. Saari
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It has the most ridiculous and intimidating rulebook of any game I have ever owned. I don't mind having to do some work, but this thing is absurd. If I still had it, I'd take a picture of the rulebook. I played it one time, with someone who already knew the rules. I remember thinking it was a decent game, but not worth the hassle for me. I have plenty of games that rank over 3.0 on BGG complexity ratings. Agricola is low in its rating. The instruction booklet is a close to a 5.0 as I have ever seen. Game play may not be as bad if you can find an alternate way to learn the rules, like a video tutorial.
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David Janik-Jones
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I would suggest that there are a large number of mid-weight Euro games that are really as good as Agricola that an 11 year old should try before getting into that game.

Not that a smart 11 year old couldn't handle it, and not that it isn't a pretty good game (which I concede), but it's not really the friendly, fun, non-stressful medieval agriculture game that it appears. Under that veneer is a very cut-throat, punishing game, in which early mistakes (or deliberate blocking by your opponents) will result in the next two hours of playing a game you can't possibly win. Both it's fans and detractors criticisms and comments should be taken into account before buying.

Trying to be a neutral as possible here, btw. And I do recommend trying it, before buying (Bastet knows I've tried enough times). Make sure to remind the other players before setting out that you're new to the game and want it to be a gentle learning game where people help you to play, to see how it actually plays, so as to not to have your first game defeat not be a crushingly bad affair.

I think there are other Rosenberg designs that might be better to get into this designer.
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Robert Wolkey
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Yes it is. Two different sets of cards and lots going on at the board with another set of card there. They are all inter connected. You have to understand and take advantage of the cards you've got, feed your people, and try to grow your family at the same time. It's not easy.

I use Settlers as an intro game as it's pretty intuitive after a few turns. I wouldn't intro someone to Agricola until they've played and understand 12-15 other euros first.

I don't think the rulebook is that bad, but I've played ASL for 23 years, so my judgement may be skewed a little.
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Jeff Johnson
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I think there are some other Euro-ish games you should try first, like

Ticket to Ride
Carcassonne
Pandemic
Takenoko
Alhambra
Dominion
Stone Age
Lords of Waterdeep
Small World
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Kingdom Builder
7 Wonders
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Chris Mcpherson
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Istanbul is my suggestion.
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Derry Salewski
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introduce it with the cardless version.
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Josh Bodah
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I think a motivated 11 year old could learn Agricola. The game has a lot of little rules, so you'd want to have a good grasp on the core rules, but most of it makes thematic sense and there is a lot of visual aid on the components. Keep in mind you can play the game without ANY of the cards (major/minor improvements or occupations) and still enjoy the game. Moreover it will have room to grow when you play it.

Also, it's worth reiterating; the rulebook for Agricola is abysmal. Very difficult to learn from in my opinion although the game isn't all that complicated

Lords of Waterdeep is worth checking out too. It has very similar play to Agricola and is a bit simpler (although I think Agricola's theme is much better)
 
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Jerry Martin
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I am surprised that no one has mentioned that it comes with a FAMILY VERSION included in the game that removes a lot of the random cards that make the game harder to understand and focuses just on the basic actions. Now as other have said, I don't think it will be tough for a 11 year old to get it, but it might be hard for them to play well.
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Andrew Meadow
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Syvanis wrote:
I am surprised that no one has mentioned that it comes with a FAMILY VERSION included in the game that removes a lot of the random cards that make the game harder to understand and focuses just on the basic actions. Now as other have said, I don't think it will be tough for a 11 year old to get it, but it might be hard for them to play well.


Literally the first response mentions that.
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Rico Badico
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Echoing all the comments above about Agricola being unforgiving, I don't think it will provide as much incentive for your stepson to get into heavier games (or play a second time).

I 100% absolutely recommend Caverna for you, though. It contains all the attractive parts of Agricola (the little animals, the building up of your own little home) and removes a great deal of the stress - you're always given good opportunities, and good strategy revolves about taking best advantage of those opportunities. Agricola is a game of scarcity, and scraping by with little. You are also much freer in Caverna, able to specialize in what you like, whereas Agricola forces you down pretty similar roads.

Even if he doesn't do well at first (and the game certainly takes time to learn to rules, just as Agricola does), the game provides a very enjoyable feeling of having created something specific to himself. A bad Agricola game leaves you with a generic and sparse board and a bunch of little begging chits from when your workers starved.

Lastly, Caverna is much more like Minecraft than Agricola is! Mining and adventuring are integral to the game, and even the square tiles (vs cards and wooden fences) give the game much more of the same feel.

Cannot recommend it enough, one of my spouse and I's favourite games and awaiting the day we have 11 years olds to try it!
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Robert Wolkey
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Caverna is a good suggestion if he insists on playing something harder. Much more forgiving than Agricola.
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Scott Nelson
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Agricola all creaures big and small.
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Matt Brown
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oaklandsberg wrote:
It has the most ridiculous and intimidating rulebook of any game I have ever owned. I don't mind having to do some work, but this thing is absurd. If I still had it, I'd take a picture of the rulebook. I played it one time, with someone who already knew the rules. I remember thinking it was a decent game, but not worth the hassle for me. I have plenty of games that rank over 3.0 on BGG complexity ratings. Agricola is low in its rating. The instruction booklet is a close to a 5.0 as I have ever seen. Game play may not be as bad if you can find an alternate way to learn the rules, like a video tutorial.


Open up a box from the COIN series and come talk to us about how close to a 5.0 Agricola is. Freaking lightweight.
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Leonard Moses II
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Re: Is Agricola really much harder than Catan
I've played some euro games but I am fairly sure I have never understood even the hook of Agricola and I have tried to play it twice. I am still mystified by At the Gates of Loyang. I don't completely get yet the game feel that Uwe is going for. And I think I can sort of tell I am not getting it enough to even know what is there. It is pretty much towards the "core games with less luck" style and all from what I can tell.

I'd play Bruges, or Orleans, or Grand Austria Hotel. They are fluffy and not so serious.

Perhaps even The Castles of Burgundy but that is a step up maybe in a way, and then maybe it isn't so much. It really depends on how you take it and how you play it. You can play it kind of easy and not think too hard but it isn't as satisfying. You can definitely fake it until you make it though and learn a little every time.

 
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Robert Wolkey
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How about RuneWars?

It's got resources galore, beautiful miniatures, and cool battles. My 3 boys all played Minecraft and they like RuneWars.

 
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Jason Clague
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I think what makes it a lot "harder" is that it is a lot more clear in Catan what you need to do to get points: build settlements and cities (and yes I know, there are other options for points too, but those are the main ones). To build, I need resources.

Whereas Agricola is so much more open, you can win in all sorts of different ways. It is much harder knowing from the start what you are supposed to do. Especially if you go the full version and deal out 14 unique cards to each player to try and get their head around.
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Jerry Martin
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Funky Disco wrote:
Syvanis wrote:
I am surprised that no one has mentioned that it comes with a FAMILY VERSION included in the game that removes a lot of the random cards that make the game harder to understand and focuses just on the basic actions. Now as other have said, I don't think it will be tough for a 11 year old to get it, but it might be hard for them to play well.


Literally the first response mentions that.


Yep, It does, but it was not recommending it, I am not sure why.

Here's a quarter. Hold on to it while you gently bounce around the room.
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Keith B
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Caverna > Agricola
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CARL SKUTSCH
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texascpa wrote:
Caverna > Agricola

Ok, this, no. Negative, no. NO!

Now on to the OP's question...

Agricola is a lovely, lovely game (currently my top game, but I change my mind every few months, but it's always A top game). As others have said, a smart 11 year old could definitely learn it (I think my son was around 11 when we first played it). The basic concepts aren't that tough. Place a worker somewhere, try to get resources so you can build other stuff or feed your people. No brain surgery there! We taught it to our non gamer friends (they'd played Splendor before, that's it) and they learned it just fine.

Now playing it WELL, as others have pointed out, is another thing. My wife and I destroyed our non gamer friends when we played. They just didn't know what the right strategies were. Given time they may improve (well, the wife will anyway, the husband, hmmm, not so sure). However I see no reason why a smart kid wouldn't enjoy the challenge of trying to master a complicated game. It's never been my kid's favorite game so it remains one of the few we beat him at but learning it was not an issue.

Also, as others have pointed out, the rules suck. Well, they suck in the version I own. I know the game has gone through some more versions and maybe they fixed the rules but I suspect not. The rules manage to make the game harder than it actually is. Therefore, make sure you learn the game before you play it with the kid. This is true for most games but some games you can stumble through ok without too much harm. Not Agricola.

Finally, if you want my suggestions for other easier Euros (since others have been making theirs!) Concordia is a light smart Euro that's very easy to learn. My wife was in a "oh god not another game" mood when I taught it to her and she still immediately fell in love with the smooth easy play. It has resources and building stuff, there is much more strategy than Catan, but it's barely more complicated. A few steps up is Village which has a farmish theme like Agricola but with less weight. There's also some morbid fun as you gain points from your dead villagers (family members die off). I see a lot of 11-year olds getting a kick out of that.

Good luck whichever way you go!
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Greg
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texascpa wrote:
Caverna > Agricola

Only if you hate tension in your games.
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David B
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Syvanis wrote:
Funky Disco wrote:
Syvanis wrote:
I am surprised that no one has mentioned that it comes with a FAMILY VERSION included in the game that removes a lot of the random cards that make the game harder to understand and focuses just on the basic actions. Now as other have said, I don't think it will be tough for a 11 year old to get it, but it might be hard for them to play well.


Literally the first response mentions that.


Yep, It does, but it was not recommending it, I am not sure why.

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Dan
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Catan was our gateway game, and it took a long time for us to find anything we liked to the same degree. I personally thought Agricola was a bit too fiddly for my tastes.

Our favourite games besides Catan are:
Catan: Cities & Knights fantastic expansion
Stone Age Dice rolling and resource management like Catan, but a different feel. Good introduction to worker placement. If he likes this one, then escalate to Agricola.
Castles of Mad King Ludwig build your own castle!
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