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Subject: Second game, first solo play, 61 points! rss

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Eric Walkingshaw
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
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Finished with:
- 5 family members
- 6 room house (stone)
- 5 fields
- 2x2 (4 total) pastures, with one fenced stable
- 8 sheep
- 4 boars
- 1 cattle (as pet)
- 8 grain
- 4 vegetables

Occupations: Plow Maker, Master Brewer, Master Builder
Major Improvements: Cooking Hearth, Basketmaker's Workshop, Well
Minor Improvements: Clogs, Spices, Shepherd's Pipe
Unused resources: 2 food

Total score: 61 points

Woohoo!

My first game of Agricola left me a bit unsatisfied. The game was fun, but I felt like I got incredibly little accomplished. Also, since I was playing with others, I wasn't able to think through each move as thoroughly as I would have liked. I decided to try out the solo game tonight so I could get a better feel for the game, but expected it to be about as engrossing as other solo variants (i.e. fun, but paling in comparison to the group experience).

Instead, I got almost two hours of deep, brain burning strategy. I was often planning my moves two to three rounds into the future, frequently consulting the rule book to see what actions could come up and the scoring sheet to maximize my score. The end result was an extremely satisfying experience. I was able to max out all of the core categories except cattle, wasted almost no resources, and picked up quite a few bonus points with improvements and occupations in the last couple of rounds.

And I'm proud of my little farm, sitting next to me while I type this. It took a lot of planning and optimizing to fill those pastures with little cubey boars and sheep, and the fields with grain and vegetables, and my huge stone house for my family and pet cow.

I certainly didn't intend on writing a session report so late tonight, but the game was so fun and the result so satisfying, that I just wanted to share.

My only worry is that it seems like this will be a tough outcome to beat, barring dealing myself an amazing hand or something. I spent a ridiculous amount of time optimizing each move--how much better could I actually do? Will doing it all over again be as satisfying? (Right now, the prospect is exhausting!)

If you took the time to read this, thanks! I know there's a lot of Agricola content out there, so there's a good chance this will just be lost in the noise. But, like I said, it was such a great experience that I wanted to record and share it.
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Dave B
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Just got my copy of Agricola yesterday, and yet to try solitaire, so thanks for giving me a ballpark figure to aim for.
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Skip Maloney
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Wilmington
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I wouldn't aim for any 61 points when you break open the box and set it up for solitaire. I've had a rough time cracking the 50 points that's suggested for the first in a series of eight recommended solo games. I'm actually trying to figure out how original poster managed to get all that stuff out onto his farm. Not easy.
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Geoff Burkman
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Kettering
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SkipM624 wrote:
I wouldn't aim for any 61 points when you break open the box and set it up for solitaire. I've had a rough time cracking the 50 points that's suggested for the first in a series of eight recommended solo games. I'm actually trying to figure out how original poster managed to get all that stuff out onto his farm. Not easy.


True. Mostly it's a matter of timing, maximizing return of resources for actions expended. For instance, not taking reed until you're absolutely ready to expand your house, or not taking clay until you can use it to buy a Cooking Hearth directly instead of wasting an action upgrading from a Fireplace.

Thanks for the session report, Eric, and good job on the 61. I'll mention here (as I think I have elsewhere), that one way to maintain the appeal of solo play is to play a 2-player game solitaire. It'll give you better insight into the dynamics of multi-player play.
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Joshua Gottesman
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Las Vegas
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61 is pretty impressive. I agree that getting much past 50 can be a challenge.
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Eric Walkingshaw
United States
Corvallis
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

MisterG wrote:
SkipM624 wrote:
I wouldn't aim for any 61 points when you break open the box and set it up for solitaire. I've had a rough time cracking the 50 points that's suggested for the first in a series of eight recommended solo games. I'm actually trying to figure out how original poster managed to get all that stuff out onto his farm. Not easy.


True. Mostly it's a matter of timing, maximizing return of resources for actions expended. For instance, not taking reed until you're absolutely ready to expand your house, or not taking clay until you can use it to buy a Cooking Hearth directly instead of wasting an action upgrading from a Fireplace.


I agree that this is the key. The tensions are completely different in the solo game than in a regular game. In a regular game, if the wood action has 6 wood on it and you need wood, you will probably want to take it before somebody else does. In the solitaire game, you have to put off every resource action as long as possible to maximize the amount of time it grows.

Most of my food throughout the game came from farming. I let animals build up on their action spaces, because that grows their population faster than breeding would (i.e. two per harvest rather than one, for the later rounds). The master brewer was essential for this since I could convert a wheat into three food without baking bread each harvest. I think I only took each resource (wood, clay, reed, stone) twice each, letting them build up to huge quantities each time.

The guarantee that nobody else will take that huge pile of resources makes getting stuff out on your farm a lot easier, and really justifies the few rule changes (i.e. wood growing slower, having to feed your family more, not starting with any food). This also means that the solo strategies probably won't translate very directly into the regular game, but it still helps you understand the game, and I think it stands very well on its own.
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Mark Waenink
New Zealand
Whangarei
Northland
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My first solo play was a bit too easy. Maxing out to 4 points in all areas, four room stone house, and tonnes of left over food for a final total of 70 points. The three food per family member and no food to start are definate challenges - I did need a begging card for the first harvest.
 
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Mark Waenink
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kanoe wrote:
My first solo play was a bit too easy. Maxing out to 4 points in all areas, four room stone house, and tonnes of left over food for a final total of 70 points. The three food per family member and no food to start are definate challenges - I did need a begging card for the first harvest.


I realised I made a mistake. I allowed myself a sixth family member on my last turn, so my corrected score should be 67.
 
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