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Subject: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horribly! rss

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Melissa
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When we give our 9 year old daughter a really special treat, sometimes she is so excited that she doesn't sleep the night before - so she's too tired to really appreciate the treat. Other times, she is so excited that she won't eat her lunch (or breakfast, or dinner), and then she's too hungry/cranky to really appreciate the treat.

Sometimes, grown ups do the same kind of things.

Yesterday afternoon, we arranged to play Agricola tonight. I organised my parents to babysit, co-ordinated complicated logistics to do with the car, the children, work, school transition program, school and pre-school pick-ups and the possibility of a transit of Saturn. Then I bounced up and down a few times, squealed and was generally giddy.

All day, I was excited: I'm playing it today! Whee! The ladies will understand when I say I even got out my good underoos.

Sadly, Australia Post did not agree with me - they have now deleted my tracking number from their system. I can still view the parcel on the DHL site but Australia Post's site says it does not exist. My lovely lovely game does too exist, Mr Post, and I want it NOW please. phthhhhht.

I picked Biggie up at 3.30 and we came straight home. Then we baked cookies (white chocolate and macadamia - yum!) while I
made bolognese sauce and cooked pasta for the kids' favourite pasta bake. At 4.25, my parents arrived and I raced out the door to collect Otto. Once we got home, I made white sauce and assembled the pasta and boggy sauce, with instructions to mum to put it in the oven later on.

I was at Dockers by 5.35, but where was Doug? Never mind that he was supposed to meet us there by 6 ... he should have been there already. I fretted. I also started to develop a headache because I'd skipped dinner and mostly skipped lunch.

Like I say, sometimes grownups act like 9 year olds.






It was amazing to see the box in person - and to feel the weight of the game. I also loved seeing the artwork decorating the inside of the box (or the outside of the bottom of the box) - that was something I hadn't seen in any photos before, so it was a wonderful surprise.

Now, one of the things I did during the day was prepare a form for recording the game. It seemed to work well, and didn't slow us down appreciably, although I think the other players probably got sick of me asking, "How many wood did you just get?"

Going against Hanno's recommendation that we play the Family game a few times before delving into the cards, we decided to use the E deck. In retrospect, this was a mistake.

Twenty minutes or so for rules and we were ready to start. Fraser and Chris experimented with "optional rules" (OK, they built things with their bits) while we went through the overview. It was very weird to try to explain the game and all the bits and I think I went into a bit too much detail. We also walked through each Action space and its effects.



Stage 1

Stage 1 was mostly resource gathering and starting to get some Occupations and Minor Improvements out onto the table. I had a nice Minor Improvement that I couldn't play until I'd played 4 occupations, so I tried to get an early start on that - but my Occupations didn't really do the things I felt I should do at that stage of the game. In retrospect, I should have ignored them anyway. By round 2, we were saying "wow, we really should have played without the cards" because they did seem to contribute some analysis paralysis.

Doug was first to plough and I was quick behind him. I invented carrots and sheep, which is quite the claim to fame.

Fraser fished, which seemed very useful early in the game but less so later, as we all needed more and more food. Fortunately for him, no-one had any of the fishing improvements (or no-one played any of them, at least) so he didn't have to share his booty.

Round 1
Fraser: 3 Wood (3 wood)
Doug: Plough (Plough 1 field)
Melissa: 2 Clay (2 clay)
Chris: 2 wood (2 wood).
Fraser: 1 occupation - Head of the Family. (Can use building and family growth spaces at any time).
Doug: 1 grain
Melissa: Start player. Pay 1 clay to build Simple Fireplace Minor Improvement
Chris: Reeds / Stone / Food.

Round 2
Melissa: 1 Reeds (got 2 reeds)
Chris: 2 Clay
Fraser: 1 Grain
Doug: 3 Wood
Melissa: Plough (Fraser: "That's just changed my plan")
Chris: Start Player & Minor Improvement - Plumpsklo, which I officially translated as Outhouse. The correct Australian term would be "Long-drop dunny"
Fraser: 1 occupation (paid 1 food) - Fisherman
Doug: Sow (sowed 1 grain)

Round 3
Chris: 2 Wood (got 4)
Fraser: Catch Fish - Fraser took the 3 food and doubled it with his Fisherman. Nice going, Rex Hunt!
Doug: 3 Wood (3)
Melissa: Occupation - Land Agent - take 1 vegetable
Chris: 1 Clay (3)
Fraser: 1 Wood (3)
Doug: Paid 1 food to play an occupation - the Patron
Melissa: Sow 1 veg

Round 4
Chris: Fences (built 1 single space pasture)
Fraser: 2 Clay (took 4)
Doug: Hobby Farmer (take 1 veg)
Melissa: 1 Sheep (kept in bedroom)
Chris: 3 Wood
Fraser: 1 major improvement - Cooking Hearth
Doug: 1 Reeds (took 2)
Melissa: Start player. Played Shepherd's Pipe

Harvest
I didn't record how we harvested - there's something to add to my record tables for the next game. We all fed our families relatively easily, at this stage - 4 food each wasn't really a challenge. Which is as it should be ...





Stage 2
Stage 2 saw me desperately trying to take my farm to the next level. I had one sheep and needed to make room for its mate (and for a third sheep which I pragmatically named "dinner"). We were also starting to talk about extending our family, so I had to make the house bigger. Lots to do, lots to do.

Round 5
Melissa: 2 Wood (4)
Chris: Fences (paid 3 to build another single space pasture)
Fraser: 1 Occupation - Plough Maker
Doug: Building - built 1 extra room for his wooden hut. We all knew where Doug's thoughts were moving, now the harvest was over.
Melissa: 3 Wood
Chris: Travelling Players (5 food!!!) (No-one played a Travelling Players occupation during the game)
Fraser: Take 1 Grain
Doug: After Family Growth, also 1 minor Improvement - Help from the Neighbourhood, a travelling improvement.


Round 6
Melissa: Building &/or Stables - built 1 extra room, 1 (unfenced) stable
Chris: Occupation: Clay Deliveryman
Fraser: Plough 2 spaces
Doug: 2 Clay (took 4)
Melissa: 1 Sheep (took 2, which could be held in my unfenced stable thanks to my musical talents)
Chris: 1 Occupation: Master Shepherd
Fraser: Sow &/or bake - planted 1 grain, baked the other. Fraser was starting to worry about feeding his family in the coming harvest.
Doug: 1 Major/Minor Improvement: a Fireplace
Doug: 3 Clay

Round 7
Melissa: 3 Wood (took 6)
Chris: 1 major/minor Improvement: Cooking hearth. (I was bummed, I had planned to upgrade my simple fireplace to a cooking hearth but had mucked around doing other stuff first)
Fraser: Reeds, Stone & Food
Doug: Plough 1 Field
Melissa: Catch Fish (4 - couldn't let them go to Fraser!)
Chris: Occupation: Tenant Farmer (borrow 3 animals) - (Chris was a little anxious about what the wild boar might get up to inside, so chose to leave it in the pastures and take Bessie the cow inside - at least that was what he claimed was his reason)
Fraser: Start Player & Minor Improvement (Axe)
Doug: Sow carrot & bake
Doug: Travelling Players (2 food)

Harvest
Once again, all our family members were fed. It was a little harder this time.



Stage 3

Doug set the lead in exploiting child labour, showing us what a great idea it is. During Stage 3, Chris started to dominate the start player space too - one interesting side effect of having tried to play my improvements early was that the start player space had only very limited use for me.

Round 8
Fraser: 1 Reeds (4)
Doug: 2 Wood (6)
Melissa: 2 Clay (4)
Chris: 1 Wood (5)
Fraser: Build 1 room & 1 stable
Doug: Fences
Melissa: Reeds, Stone & Food
Chris: Starting player & Drinking Trough (pastures hold 2 more animals)
Doug: 1 Sheep (2)

Round 9
Chris: 3 Wood
Fraser: Reeds, Stone and FOod
Doug: Catch Fish (2)
Melissa: Renovate to clay hut; pay 1 food for the Field minor improvement (a travelling card)
Chris: 1 Reeds
Fraser: 1 Vegetable
Doug: Occupation: Animal keeper (Doug did you use this one?)
Melissa: Sow 1 Vegetable
Doug: 1 Wild Boar

Harvest
All fed



Stage 4

By now it was definitely time for the rest of us to get some children. In retrospect, I should have done it during round 8, leaving my renovation for later. It wasn't as though I was able to use both my fields anyway. By now, I was looking at my pathetically empty farmyard and wondering whether maybe my ancestors weren't farmers at all.

Round 10
Chris: Building (1 room)
Fraser: Family Growth & Minor Improvement - Stone Tongs (1 additional stone when taking stone)
Doug: 1 Stone (4)
Melissa: Occupation: Turner (convert wood to 1 food)
Chris: Start Player & Minor Imp - Vehicular Plough
Fraser: 1 Sheep (2)
Doug: Sow (2 grain)
Melissa: Fences (fenced in existing unfenced stable) (Should have fenced a separate space)
Doug: Renovate to clay hut, play fruit tree minor imp.: (1 food for each remaining round)

Round 11
Chris: Family Growth - Minor Improvement (Builder's Trowel) (Renovate to clay hut at any time)
Fraser: 3 Wood (6)
Doug: Travelling Players (4)
Melissa: 1 Stone (2)
Chris: Reeds, Stone & Clay
Fraser: Build 1 room & 1 stables
Doug: 2 Wood (6)
Melissa: Wild boar (2 - killed one straight away)
Fraser: Catch Fish (4)
Doug: Fences (6)

Harvest
All fed, although some of us were starting to look a little shaky.



Stage 5

In Stage 5, I was delighted to welcome my first-born into the world. I named him Uwe and I set him to work immediately.

Fraser was starting to find it hard to provide for his family. I was so thrilled to finally have a child, but of course Chris and Doug had to have more ... as is often the case though, once Uwe was born his little sister Irmtraud was not far behind.

Round 12
Chris: Family Growth even without space
Fraser: 2 Clay (8)
Doug: 1 Cow (2)
Melissa: Family Growth
Chris: Plough 1 (3 using the vehicular plough)
Fraser: Sow 1 grain & 1 veg
Doug: Reeds (3)
Melissa: 1 major/minor improvement (Well) (should have built earlier)
Chris: 1 veg
Fraser: Family Growth & Minor Imp - Potato Dibber - grow 1 extra veg on sown fields
Doug: 1 Clay (6)

Round 13 - aka, "What do you mean, we only have one round to go?"
Chris: Plough &/or sow (sowed 1 veg)
Fraser: 1 Wild Boar (2)
Doug: 3 Wood (6)
Melissa: Take 1 veg (and 1 grain)
Chris: 1 wood (5)
Fraser: 1 Stone (3)
Doug: Sow &/or Bake
Melissa: 2 Wood (4)
Chris: Occupation: Farmer
Fraser: 1 Cattle (1)
Doug: 1 Clay room & 2 stables
Melissa: Family Growth even without space
Chris: Fences (took a boar with Farmer)
Fraser: Major or Minor Improvement - Pottery

Harvest
Ouch! We made it - but only just. The children did have to make do with boiled potatoes.


Stage 6
Round 14
Chris: 1 Cattle
Fraser: Catch Fish (6)
Doug: After renovation (to stone), Minor Improvement - Clogs
Melissa: Take 1 veg (& 1 grain)
Chris: Take 1 grain
Fraser: 3 wood
Doug: travelling Players (3)
Melissa: Sow 1 veg, 1 grain; bake 1 grain to 2 food
Chris: Plough & sow
Fraser: After renovation (to clay hut), also fences (fenced 1 pasture)
Doug: Family Growth even without room
Melissa: Stables (2) (stops fields being empty)
Chris: Fences & Renovate to clay hut
Fraser: Major imp.: Stone oven
Melissa: 1 Wild Boar

Harvest
all fed (just)


Final Scores
Chris: 33
Fraser: 22
Doug: 33
Melissa: 20 blush

We considered a cow off for first place but decided a tie was OK.



In retrospect, I think we forgot the 3 animals that Chris had on loan - an issue where the base of the card is covered by the paste-up and so the visual cue is missing. I suspect that would have turned it into a narrow victory for Doug.

Chris's farm was particularly impressive in that he only had one empty space, compared to 5 (Doug), 6 (Fraser) and 7 (Me).





Some Thoughts

First, Hanno was completely right to suggest starting with the family version. There is a lot of system to learn in this game and I did find the cards a distraction - and screwed up somewhat because of it. I kept dividing my strategy instead of trusting myself to go all out for something early. I really need to play a couple of rounds of the family variant - especially while I am still a bit overwhelmed by the "Oh my, I'm actually playing it" thrills.

There's an interesting balance between taking advantage of what is out there (Valerie called this "Shoe Shopping") and following a plan (which of course is going to be derailed by the other players anyway). I got stuck fairly early by being too inflexible about trying to get some specific resources and therefore making inefficient choices.

I would have happily played another game or two twenty, but we had to be home around 10 to let my parents get home. (Sigh - both kids were still awake). Hopefully my copy will arrive soon, although Australia Post now disclaim any knowledge of it at all, even making it unavailable in their online tracking system.

In the meantime, the countdown is back on. Mr Skeletor and I have an Agricola date for December 1st, with Doug as our enabler - and judging by the people who came through the room last night, there will be lots of others keen to try it as well. Certainly, everyone was talking about it and was keen to give it a try.



And as for feeding the family?

My mum burnt the pasta bake, so the cow was wasted.
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Doug Adams
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Is that me coming up the stairs?
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melissa wrote:
Whee! The ladies will understand when I say I even got out my good underoos.


I don't understand..... but I want to.
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Chris Pimlott
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
I was one the players in this game. You can see a bit of my red shirt in one of those shots next to Melissa

Quote:
In retrospect, I think we forgot the 3 animals that Chris had on loan - an issue where the base of the card is covered by the paste-up and so the visual cue is missing. I suspect that would have turned it into a narrow victory for Doug.


Omigosh, you're right, I completely forgot about that blush. I think I might have dropped down a point, but I can't find an image of the scoring card. I had 3 of each animal at the end, so it would have been 2 of each after pitching them back.

Oh well. But I was pretty happy with how it turned out anyway. I felt like I was behind most of them game - I didn't have any crops (let alone fields) until half way through, I didn't harvest anything the first 2 times and I was the last to expand my family size. It's definitely one of those games where you realize you should have been planning things better earlier on, and now it's going to take you another 2 turns to get what you want done.

I got lucky with the turn order; I was first or second (after Melissa) for most of the game, including the last 6 turns or so, with only choosing the role 2 or 3 times. It was especially nice to stay first when the "Family Growth even without space", a big help in catching up on turns. Things really came together well for in the end; I had just enough actions to do exactly what I had to do to end up harvesting and breeding each of the plants and animals.

There's a lot to take in at the start, so it's not clear what's really worthwhile; on the other hand, I imagine there's a number of possible avenues to victory. I definitely would focus on expanding my family earlier. The end scoring is a bit fiddly and it ends up being a lot to keep track of (especially if the score chart is still in German ). I applaud the idea of encouraging an even development but it seems a bit of a blunt prod; many other games have more elegant means to encourage it.

Overall, though, it was quite a good game, and quite ambitious, with the sheer number of actions, roles, resources, etc. I was left with the feeling there was a good deal more to explore in future games. I am eager to play again.
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
Wow...Melissa's excitement I understand...but to fly in from Cleveland for the game?!?

Dude...
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
When will Zman be doing a pre-order for the Australian version? I'd quite like a "Long-drop dunny" card

Glad you finally got to play it Melissa, was fun to read.

AB

PS Any thoughts on if your 9 year old would be able to manage a game of the family version or too young?
 
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dougadamsau wrote:
Is that me coming up the stairs?


I'm more focused on trying to figure out who's silhouette is that on the left border of the picture.
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TaleSpinner wrote:
dougadamsau wrote:
Is that me coming up the stairs?


I'm more focused on trying to figure out who's silhouette is that on the left border of the picture.


Christian?
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dougadamsau wrote:
Christian?


I thought Christian was playing some other wargame in the other room?
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TaleSpinner wrote:
dougadamsau wrote:
Christian?


I thought Christian was playing some other wargame in the other room?


Dunno - if that's me on the stairs, it's 6pm exactly...
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
Wonderful session report. Thank you.

 
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Melissa
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
dougadamsau wrote:
TaleSpinner wrote:
dougadamsau wrote:
Christian?


I thought Christian was playing some other wargame in the other room?


Dunno - if that's me on the stairs, it's 6pm exactly...


It's you on the stairs. There's another of you coming along the balcony thingy, too.
 
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
Doc_Adam wrote:
When will Zman be doing a pre-order for the Australian version? I'd quite like a "Long-drop dunny" card


I almost feel like I should do the subversive deck of cards with the letter u left in

Quote:
PS Any thoughts on if your 9 year old would be able to manage a game of the family version or too young?


I'd like to play it a couple more times to decide. I think she could manage the family version - she's played Puerto Rico (demanded to play Puerto Rico!) although I think that playing PR well is still considerably beyond her. It would be easier, though, if I had played it a couple more times before trying it with her.

Lucky I intend to, huh!
 
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Great report, Melissa! I can't wait to hear how your game with Mr Skeletor goes.

Personally, having seen the amount of text on those German cards (and not being one to contemplate paste-ups), I will just have to wait (im)patiently for the English edition to come out...
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
melissa wrote:
Doc_Adam wrote:
When will Zman be doing a pre-order for the Australian version? I'd quite like a "Long-drop dunny" card


I almost feel like I should do the subversive deck of cards with the letter u left in


We want ploughs! (stump-jump or not)
 
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
melissa wrote:


It was amazing to see the box in person


Now that is a strange sentence.

Glad you finally played. Hope you receive your copy soon.
 
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
jens_hoppe wrote:
Great report, Melissa! I can't wait to hear how your game with Mr Skeletor goes.



We want to hear a full, detailed Session Report of the Mr Skeletor's game, and if possible, it would be nice to have a full Mr Skeletor face expression photo album for every stage of the game....

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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
starpino wrote:
jens_hoppe wrote:
Great report, Melissa! I can't wait to hear how your game with Mr Skeletor goes.



We want to hear a full, detailed Session Report of the Mr Skeletor's game, and if possible, it would be nice to have a full Mr Skeletor face expression photo album for every stage of the game....



This might be arranged ninja
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
Congrats on finally playing it for real!
 
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
Nice report Melissa! I agree on the family version being a good first play. That wasn't discussed when I played my first (and only) game of Agricola. I struggled to get the right cards (and many cards at that) onto the table. I had a tough time prioritizing and struggled to keep food on the table for the kids. Thank goodness it was a game and no children were left with scraps!

Glad you enjoyed the game!
 
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Re: In Which Melissa Finally Plays Agricola- and loses horri
Hey, I do think that's me in the picture... Just before our wargaming room was taken over by you Agricola people!
 
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