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Subject: A tale of Two Farms: 2 Solo games rss

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Ernesto Cabrera
Mexico
Mexico
D.F.
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I have played Agricola before only twice, solo both. The strategy involved was mostly non-existent and most of the playing was to teach myself to play the game "right" (and to add more experience when my friends/family wanted to play something involving, yet easy or not so complicated).

The first one was a game with the family version. I have to say I was not really impressed. It was more like a glorified Puerto Rico or a simple worker placement game, with a construction twist. Something like a very simple Euro Civ game. The tons of cards still kept calling me from the box. I had to play the "advanced version"... right now!

So I played with the advanced version, basic E deck.

Now we're talking! The only real problem I had is that there's only 14 (or something like that) occupations for the solo game, and thus the strategy was dictated mostly by the Minor Occupations. Still, the game was OK, it had a 7 in my game-o-o-o-meter. Still it was another Euro with limited variety and a few borrowed mechanics.

Now, the sessions start. (sorry for the long introduction, if you've managed to come this far, congratulations!)

First some ground rules and/or mistakes:

1. I didn't played the "Solo version" exactly by the rules, I missed some of them and skipped the part where you get a free Occupation after your first game.
2. I made a lot of mistakes (not rules-wise) and they will be pointed out. Also, a lot of the names are not quite right because I have the Spanish version of the game
3. This is not a walk through all the rounds and Harvests.
4. I DO got the Animeeples, as Z-man pointed out, they were a staple in the "other languages". Just to get it out of the way, also I use meeples (from meeplepeople.com) in each color.

So. My first "real" game went quite well. I used the draw 10, keep 7 approach, to have more room for better strategies. My first rounds went well, my first Ocuppation was the Master Brewer (exchange 1 grain for 3 foods at harvest), and in the early game it went quite well with a Corn Scoop (you get 2 grains when you use the "get 1 grain action"), they gave me quite a lot of room in the first few rounds to keep my guys working in some other things. My main strategy was to plow some fields and to plant some grains quickly and with the help of a Drinking Trough (2 more animals in each pasture) I had some help with the pastures. So it went really well, I even threw in a "Lord of the Manor" (1 extra point in every 4 point area) in the game to give me some extra points. Also an early Stone Oven (bake bread 2 grain=5 food, 2 times)(about round 6-8) helpede me a lot to get lots of food.

So, this is how it ended up:




Other cards:
Clay Delivery Man: 1 Clay each round after 6th
Half Timbered House: 1 extra point for each stone room.
Dovecote: 1 food in each round after 10th

48 points (I had 4 in the family) EDIT: I misread the "Drinking Trough" card and I have 2 more animals in each of my pastures, thus having 2 points less, -1 for 6 boards and -1 because I don't have 4 points in this area, thus missing the extra point from the Lord.

So, my obvious mistakes, and other less obvious:

1. I had a Mendicant in my hand and I didn't used it... procrastination and other priorities. It was even a part of my plan (even with the Master Brewer) in the early game to get the most needed Improvements.
2. I could've managed better my grain-vegetable strategy. 1 more field could've been good. Also 1 more room.
3. I didn't got any Cattle, even when I could've placed it as my pet. Not that big, but anyway...

So, I did OK, (actually I dunno what is "standard" in a solo game... the rulebook says I need 50). Now, to the next game:

Again I drew 10 cards of each and kept 7. In here I think this decision was one of the more nail-biting of this game, the strategies were a lot different with different cards, so diverse that I will show you what cards I left behind in the end.

The strategy I took was to use the Plow Maker (1 food=1 additional plowed field) to its maximum again with a Master Brewer in play and a Corn Scoop in the early play. Also a sub-strategy was to build rooms cheap with the Conservator (no need of clay rooms for stone rooms) and Axe (you can build wood rooms with only 2 wood and 2 reed)combo. The "combos" went quite well, but somehow I only managed to get 44 points:



Other cards:
Animal Pen: 2 food each round.
Basket: Every time you take wood, leave 2 wood behind and take 3 food.
Fireplace: convert: 1 VG=2 food, 1 SH=2 food, 1 BR=2 Food, 1 Cow=3 food, bake bread= 2 food.

Mistakes:

1. I should've bought an Oven instead of a Fireplace, with the grains I had, the food could've been a lot easier to get, in some of the medium rounds I struggled a lot to get food, even to the point of giving up and go fishing (5-6 food I don't remember), something I shouldn't do in the medium-late game.
2. Some of the cards I picked were not the apropiate for the strategies I had. This are the cards that ended up staying in my hand (the 3 on the right of each line) and the cards that I had the opportunity to pick (the 3 on the right in each line):



for example, I should've picked the Animal Yard (you can place 2 animals of any kind in it) or the Sheperd's Pipe (you can have 2 additional sheep in each pasture) instead of the Basket and use the Lord of the Manor to it's biggest extent.

Still...

Overall Solo Impressions:

It is a great game, the inherent variety in it is almost endless, the strategies vary even with the same cards in your hand, it scratchs almost every itch in my Euro side, even in my CCG side. The cards are brilliant and balanced. But still, my AT side stays itchy because of the not-very-exciting theme... I mean... a farm?? c'mon!. After a few plays my AT side just shuts up before a greatly designed game but still, the best Solo game for me (a player that rarely gets players for a "deep" or involving game) is Arkham Horror.

I can't wait to play with more people, even when I know that it will be somewhat of a "Multiplayer Solo" (let the flaming begin!), I will enjoy to see how my stragegy sense works with limitations.

In MTG and other card games, sometimes you have to play accordingly to your opponent, to counter (not in "counterspell" way) his moves somehow, and sometimes even foreseeing some of his movements, like in Chess, a very complicated and intrincated Chess. I say Agricola will be exactly that kind of game, your moves are not only part of how you develop your game (or combo), they will also have to counter the moves of your opponents in someway, to keep them from overcoming you. I still have to play it with more people to prove this, but I can't wait to get my ass kicked by a better farm manager than me...

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Mey-ying Kao
Netherlands
Groningen
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Nice sessionreport..To me your scores seem normal for your first games with cards.

The 50 point "rule" is only for the solo challenge, where you play multiple solo games after eachother. Then you need to score at least 50 on your first game, keep one of the played occupations and play another game with that occupation open and played, in which you need to score at least 55 and so on. So each game you start with 1 more open and played occupation.

Btw I think you have made a mistake in your first game. Looks to me like you have too many animals in your pastures. The drinking through allows you to have 2 more in each pasture. So I think you can have a max of 10 sheeps, and 6 pigs in those pastures. You have 2 too many, but I don't think it will affect your score this time. Also I believe the stone oven gives you 2x 1grain= 4 food not 5

Yes and you might be right about your comparison to MTG. You mainly focus on your own farm, but you sure have to keep an eye out to what your opponents are doing, and adopt your tactics along the way so your farm will grow, while you deny them other stuff (animeeples, resources etc.) devil






 
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Ernesto Cabrera
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Mexico
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Yeah the "pasture" definiton was clear to me when scoring, well... pastures, but when I read the card I missed the words "for each pasture".

Another mistake here:

I went through the Decks K and I last night and found more cards of the E deck shuffled in them. There was like 20+ cards (occupations and minor improvements) of the E deck mixed in both decks, and 10+ of the Ocuppations for the single player game, so, that's why I thought there were only a few. I said 15, in fact there are 28 cards for the solo game plus the 40+ improvements... That's a lot of cards!.
 
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