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Subject: Agricola? More like Think-i-cola, amirite? rss

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Thomas Wells
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Agricola is a meditative game.

Now I don’t mean that this game is like meditation, but that it encourages and rewards considered thought. There must be an ethos guiding your farming, otherwise you’re just putting stuff down on a board.

I think it’s in the nature of any game that gives you a blank slate and encourages you to fill it with things to this sort of meditative exercise. Just like gardening, you have to be really thoughtful about the timing of the thing you’re planting, where you’re planting it, and what you hope to achieve. The meditation comes when you lean back and gently shape the thing that you’re growing.

This was my first experience with a Uwe Rosenberg game, and I’m now on track to purchase and play his entire catalog. Agricola is not a perfectly balanced set of systems that rewards mechanical pattern memorization. It’s a toolbox to have fun. As you go along through the game, you start to discover what type of farmer you’re going to be that game, and becoming fluent in the language of the game and they way in which it is played makes the choices you make extremely satisfying.

Some games I have been a livestock magnate, trying to fence and collect all the livestock in just the right way so I can explode my family and build everything that I want. Other games I have invested early in farmland and farm production, so I can reap the benefits of a later harvest.

I’ve played much more Agricola solo than I have with other people, and each time, it’s a delight. I used to be averse to solo gaming, thinking that the whole point of games was to enjoy them with other people. The cyclic nature of the round progression, the way the resources refresh each time, and how each placement of your family members feels like a major choice—all of this comes together to give the feeling of an epic farming odyssey. When it’s played with other people, the journey becomes even more fraught and difficult.

I know I’m waxing poetic here, but I can’t think of a better way to talk about how good this game is, and how well it sits within the context of many of the other games I really get a kick out of. Nobody has quite captured the pastoral for me in a board game, and the feeling of that pervades this game. That’s what makes it worth buying, and I hope to enjoy it for many years to come.
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Alexandre Santos
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I think the solo experience is very different from multiplayer. I agree that solo is a contemplative exercise punctuated by rhythmic refreshes, but the multiplayer is anything but that. There's a lot of tension on occupying the right places and getting the right cards before everyone else, and the much more real possibility of getting your butt kicked if your plans go awry. At least for me who played it only a couple of times.
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Ed T
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If you like the solitaire, meditative aspect of building up your farm, I would highly recommend Fields of Arle to you. It offers a much wider "toolbox" to explore.
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Thomas Wells
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supermaxv wrote:
If you like the solitaire, meditative aspect of building up your farm, I would highly recommend Fields of Arle to you. It offers a much wider "toolbox" to explore.


Good recommendation. I think I was going to go A Feast for Odin next.
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Tim Barnes
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I've played many games of Fields of Arle solo and love it. However, I'm thinking about finally getting my copy of Agricola on the table for solo play. The one thing I don't like about Fields of Arle for solo is that the game can play the same each time, unless you decide to try something different, just to be different. I do have the Tea and Trade expansion, but haven't tried that yet, so maybe it will add a lot to the experience. I'm thinking that the Occupation cards might give Agricola more variety (and I have a couple of additional Occupation decks and Farmers of the Moor expansion).
 
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