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Subject: First Family Game - With a Young Farmer rss

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Mark M
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I received Agricola earlier this week and had spent the last several evenings poring over the rules and reading posts on BGG. Honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed and concerned this would be more complex than my family would enjoy playing. This morning, I was up before the rest of the house (not unusual on a Saturday morning) and thought I would break things in with the solo game. With coffee brewed and the game set-up I was into my second turn when I heard a door open upstairs - test time over I assumed! My eight year old son was coming downstairs. I figured this game would be too tough, but in hopes of salvaging the session I asked him if he wanted to play the "farmer" game. He said sure - what do you do? After some quick explanations of raising animals, feeding your family, cooking animals (he found this funny - and later liked passing the animals through the ovens before converting to food - scary!), we were off.

The game played a lot more intuitively than I imagined with the first several rounds going very quickly. Both of us were focused on getting enough food to get to the first harvest. But he quickly went down the animal raising path after grabbing 6 wood to build fences. I went down the vegetarian path. (We played the Family Game w/o the cards). Although I provided suggestions along the way to my son - he often disagreed with me and did what he wanted - mainly horde tons of food and grabbing animals whenever he could fit them in - actually turned out to be an excellent strategy as you will see. I could tell things weren't going my way early on and forgot that I was going to get penalized for empty farmyards while I was focusing on getting ovens to bake bread from my meager grain supplies.

Aside from my son getting distracted from time to time (a normal state for an eight year old boy!), we played through rather quickly and without any real rule stumbles. He must have said five times that he really liked this game. Ticket to Ride and Bang! are some of his other favorites. By the time we were almost done Mom and Big Sister were up and seemed interested in what was going on. Maybe finally a game all five of us would enjoy?

Well you can probably tell where this is headed, but my son soundly beat me. I would like to say in part because I helped him, but when he started amassing the animals he was pretty much on the path to victory on his own - and when I explained he could upgrade his house he focused enough on that to get to a 3 room stone house with four family members (using Family Growth w/o room near the end of the game). Final score was me: 17 (nailed for six empty spaces and only having one animal), son: 31 (4 family members, 3 room stone house and lots of sheep and boars with only 3 fields empty). From what I have read on other posts, his score seems really high for a first game, but I am pretty certain we did everything right - neither of us ever had to beg. If anyone thinks we may have missed something let us know. I will be scanning back through the rules to see if we missed anything obvious.

Getting set-up and then packed back up was a bit of a chore, but aside from that we had a great time and things moved very smoothly. I'm sure things get a bit more complex with adding in cards (and he might find that more challenging), but really glad they have the "learner game" rules baked into the game. If you are considering the game to play with your kids, I would highly recommend it - as I said much more intuitive than I first feared.
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Marc Richter
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I think the game has a bad rep in regards to ease of learning. I've played with 3 of my 4 kids so far - my 9 year old daughter, 5 year old son and 11 year old daughter.

What's really cool is that the 11 year old doesn't really like many of my other games (she'll play Settlers or Zombies with us to make the Old Man happy) but she really really enjoyed our two player game today.

I think it's time for at least 3 of us to play using the cards.
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Glen Graham
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I'm impressed. As far as I can tell, you were playing it right, and yes, that is a very good score for a first game. You've got a smart kid there.

Maybe teaching it to my semi-gamer brother and sister in law won't be so bad...
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Larry Welborn
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richtermarc wrote:
I think the game has a bad rep in regards to ease of learning. I've played with 3 of my 4 kids so far - my 9 year old daughter, 5 year old son and 11 year old daughter.

What's really cool is that the 11 year old doesn't really like many of my other games (she'll play Settlers or Zombies with us to make the Old Man happy) but she really really enjoyed our two player game today.

I think it's time for at least 3 of us to play using the cards.


Did you 5 year old enjoy the game? Could he play it fairly well?
 
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Marc Richter
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My 5 year old can handle the mechanics fine. He's a "dumb" AI...and I say that in the most loving way I can, because he's a smart kid. But there's so much going on, that at times he's filling a seat/being a challenge because he took stuff you wanted to instead.

My 11 year old, on the other hand, plays pretty dang well.

We did a game with the 3 of us with the "E" deck and it went well...I scored 31, Maggie scored 26 and Josh...well, he ended up with a begging card and not a very diverse farm. (although he ended up with 4 family members)

I'd rather have him playing than not, because it's good family time and does expand the game options. (more cards and more actions)
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Larry Welborn
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Marc,

Thanks for the reply. My 6 year old son has been begging to play it but I was concerned that it might be too much for him. Looks like it is worth giving it a try with him.
 
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John W
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Larry Welborn wrote:
Marc,

Thanks for the reply. My 6 year old son has been begging to play it but I was concerned that it might be too much for him. Looks like it is worth giving it a try with him.
That's not what I got out of his post.

My impression was that 5 is too young to do anything but randomly make decisions in the game, without strategy.

If you want your son to just act as a AI, filling up a seat in the game, I guess that could be construed as a positive.
But there are so many better age-appropriate games that kids can understand more and get more gaming experience from, why would you want to shoehorn a youngster thru Agricola?
 
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Larry Welborn
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reapersaurus wrote:
That's not what I got out of his post.

My impression was that 5 is too young to do anything but randomly make decisions in the game, without strategy.

If you want your son to just act as a AI, filling up a seat in the game, I guess that could be construed as a positive.
But there are so many better age-appropriate games that kids can understand more and get more gaming experience from, why would you want to shoehorn a youngster thru Agricola?


The reason that I replied as I did is because it appears that the 5 year old can understand the mechanics of the game. My 6 year old son will be 7 next month, which is a pretty big jump as far as reasoning. I am considering allowing him to play is because he keeps asking me to play, not because I am trying to "shoehorn" him through the game.
 
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Marc Richter
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Actually, my 5 year old gets the whole "must collect enough food before the harvest" thing. What he doesn't do without some prodding is think longer term. I'm not surprised over this, but how it impacts the game is that he won't strive to fill all his farm spaces or he doesn't really care about upgrading his house to clay. He does like collecting the animals and he likes to expand the house to have more family members.

Larry, by all means, let the 7 year old play. Do a game without the cards and talk about why you're picking your actions. It's really not a hard game as far as the basics are concerned.

As far as whether or not that's worthwhile, I figure it's more challenging/random than playing solo and if my daughter wants to play, having a third gives us more options.
 
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Brad Miller
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why? Because sometimes you can only stand playing age-appropriate games with kids so many times, and then you need something else. If they want to play, why not let them try?

FWIW, my 11 year-old won one non-family game we've played so far, and came in second in the other by one point. My eight-year-old, who tends to be overwhelmed with complex games and prefers other, easier games, has asked for it ever since. She lost the first game by a lot, but had a good time doing it!
 
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