Geoff Burkman
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Kettering
Ohio
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Having recently been bested in our first best out of three series, my buddy Ron was more than eager to call for another match, and I, being more than happy to play once again in the hopes that he might tire of being thumped and thereby be willing to try a new game (to him) like Le Havre, or Age of Empires III, or something, readily agreed. We dealt out ten Ocks and ten Minors each, discarded three of each apiece, and got down to business...

Round One/Fences
Geoff – Occ/Field Watchman
Ron – 3W(3)
Geoff – 1G +PF
Ron – DL(2f)

As luck would have it, I end up with the seemingly ubiquitous Field Watchman, and given my possession of the Straw-Thatched Roof, I go right ahead and play it. Ron counters with clearing the wood, and I put the Watchman to immediate use. Ron hits up Day Laborer, and I have to assume he has ulterior motives. We shall see.

Round Two/Sheep
Geoff – 1C(2)
Ron – 1R(2)
Geoff – 3W(3)
Ron – Occ/Plowman (3PF-3f>

Woolies wander into the game, so I go ahead and pick up clay for the eventual cookery. This proves to be somewhat useless, since I don’t actually pick up a fireplace until Round 10, but it keeps the stuff out of Ron’s supply for a while, which certainly doesn’t hurt. No doubt wondering why I didn’t take it instead, Ron scrounges the stacked reed. I shrug and take the wood. Ron pops out the Plowman, easing future stresses of cultivation.

Round Three/MIMI
Geoff – 1G +PF
Ron – Occ(1)/Woodcutter
Geoff – Fish(3f)
Ron – DL(2f)

Since I still have the edge in acquiring a fireplace, I put the Watchman to work again. I probably should have fished first, but my fears prove baseless when Ron plays another Occupation. Now I think I see why he DLed last Round: he has definite plans for multiple Ocks. I empty the pond for the halibut (sorry), and Ron DLs again. Yep, methinks I’ve sussed his strategy correctly, since I’m hard pressed to figure out why he passed up taking the button to secure the imminent 6Wood.

Round Four/Sow & Bake
Geoff – 3W(6)
Ron – Occ(1)/Resource Seller
Geoff – 1G +PF
Ron – SP + Bookshelf

My cultivation endeavors have to take a back seat to blatant opportunity; I take the wood. Ron pounds out his third Ock in as many Rounds, though it turns out to be one that he’ll wish he hadn’t. My Watchman does its thing for the third time, and now Ron commandeers the button to activate his Bookshelf, and all becomes clear; his is most definitely an aggressive Occupation strategy. Dudes home, and we both feed with one to spare. Stage 2 beckons.

Round Five/Family Growth +MI
Ron – Occ(+2)/Pieceworker
Geoff – 3W(3)
Ron – 1C(3+1-1f)
Geoff – S&B (3Gf)

No doubt concerned that I might block him, Ron opens with yet another Ock play, this time with the food going in his direction, and the ever-popular Pieceworker joins the fray. I supplement my lumber holdings, and Ron immediately grabs clay for his own cookery. Now’s the time for me to put Plan A back into gear. I plant a trio of grain fields. Ron smiles, thinking I’ve made a major mistake.

Round Six/Stone
Ron – 1R(4)
Geoff – SP + Straw-Thatched Roof
Ron – MIMI/CH4
Geoff – BR(2) +1s

After paying a food for his Plowman’s first offering, without another moment’s hesitation Ron gathers up the quadrupled reed, pleased as punch. I counter with a button recapture and one of the most fearsome reed negations available, the powerful Straw-Thatched Roof. Ron has the look of a French general watching German tanks make their end run around the Maginot Line. Nonplussed, he buys his hearth. I smile and double the size of my hut, complete with stable. Plan A has reached fruition.

Round Seven/Renovation + MIMI
Geoff – Fish(4f)
Ron – Sheep(6)burn6
Geoff – 3W(6)
Ron – SP + Spinney

Soon-to-be-harvested grain would easily feed my family, but I’m not ready for that quite yet. “So long, and thanks for all the fish!” Ron answers this with a gigantic barbecue. I’m thinking he should have kept one wooly alive, but hey, to each his own. I’m also wondering why he let me have the 6Wood, but ours is not to reason why, etc. I clear the forest, and Ron retakes the button, plopping down the Spinney one move too late. That’s okay by me; I’m done with wood for the time being. Again, dudes home and we both feed easily.

Round Eight/Boar
Ron – 3W(3+1+1+1-1f)
Geoff – 1S(3)
Ron – Occ(+2)/Wood Deliveryman (6W>
Geoff – FG + Corn Scoop

Ron’s instincts get the better of him, and he hauls in the wood, making use of all three relevant Ocks. A sweet move, but the stone may well have been a far better acquisition. I’m not going to give him another shot at it, and don’t. He then plays yet another wood-bearing Ock. Granted, it nicely supplies his Pieceworker, but methinks a clay grab would have been a more productive move. I’m tempted by the clay myself, but am acutely aware that adding to my workforce is far more important at this point. I do so, boosting my grain procurement ability at the same time. Actions speak louder than resources.

Round Nine/Vegetables
Ron – 3W(3+1+1-1f)
Geoff – 1C(4)
Ron – BR(2) +1s
Geoff – FG + Fishing Rod
Geoff – Ren>C + Well (5f>

Ron pays for the Plowman’s next field, and then torn between the bargain clay and the need to expand, he opts for the latter and hacks down the forest with a vengeance. Quite naturally, I take the clay. Ron effects his own hut doubling, matching my stable in turn, and now I lower the metaphorical boom. I grow again, wasting a wood on a Minor that turns out to be unnecessary, and then renovate, claiming the Well. Ron now looks like a Parisian general who’s spotted those rampaging Panzers converging on his beloved capitol. Ah, all’s fair in war and Agricola. Once again, dudes home, and this time I burn six grain to supply my hungry family. Somehow, corn roasted over campfires tastes delicious.

Round Ten/Cattle
Ron – Boar(3)burn3
Geoff – 1G +PF +1G
Ron – FG + Reed Pond (3R>
Geoff – SP + Village Well (3f>
Geoff – MIMI/Fp2
Geoff – Sheep(3)burn2

Ron plunges into the midgame with another cookout, this time with boar. Again, I wonder if he shouldn’t have kept one alive, obviating the need to retake them to eliminate a negative. I extract further service from the Watchman, breaking even on the cost of my Corn Scoop as well. Ron grows his family, putting out the Reed Pond; the points are no doubt welcome, even if the reed is ultimately superfluous. Once more, I wrest the button from his grasp, administering what might be considered the coup de grace by upgrading the Well. All that remains is buying up the Well a second time, and there isn’t a thing Ron can do to stop me from accomplishing just that.! Ouch. And just to make sure, I pick up my fireplace, grab the sheep, and fry a pair, carefully saving one to keep from having to grab them again.

Round Eleven/Stone
Geoff – 1S(3)
Ron – 3W(6+1+1-1f)
Geoff – 1G +PF +1G
Ron – Cattle(2)
Geoff – MIMI/Well (3f>
Ron – FG + x
Geoff – S&B (2Gf +4f)

The stone is mine, end of story. Ron hogs more wood, realizing his time is running out. My Watchman and Corn Scoop do their thing one more time, Ron collects the beef, and I reclaim the Well, bringing my card points to eleven. Ron adds a peep, regrettably without a Minor to go with it. I plant two more grain fields, baking the bread I need for my workers. All is right in my world.

Round Twelve/Plow & Sow
Geoff – 1C(3)
Ron – 3W(3+1+1-1f)
Geoff – 1S(2)
Ron – Fences (15)
Geoff – Boar(2)burn1
Ron – Sheep(2)
Geoff – 1V
Ron – 1G

Ron picks up the Plowman’s final gift, and once more, I stymie Ron’s Resource Seller by nabbing the clay; he’s never going to get to renovate his hut, poor lad, not if I can help it. He counters with a punitive raid on wood for which he has no ultimate use. I take the stacked stone. Ron fences at last, though fearfully late to even begin to shift things in his favor. I cancel another negative, burning one for supplies, Ron herds sheep, and we both close out the Round acquiring seedlings. Our rough beasts slouch on, even if Ron’s is distinctly lagging behind.

Round Thirteen/Family Growth w/o
Geoff – FG w/o
Ron – Cattle(2)
Geoff – 1V
Ron – 1G
Geoff – S&B (2Vf/1Gf +4f)
Ron – 1S(2+1-1f)
Geoff – Ren>S + Clay Oven (5f)
Ron – 1R(7)

Six of one, half dozen of the other, I opt for the worker boost. Ron naturally takes the cattle. I grab another veggie, Ron takes a grain, and I do the plant and bake thing. Ron takes stone to secure a Major (wasting a food on a pointless extra), I do my final renovation, grabbing my oven and more food, and Ron ends the Round clearing the reed. Three guesses which Major he’s going to claim.

Round Fourteen/Renovation + Fences
Geoff – 3W(6-1>r)
Ron – 1V
Geoff – 1C(2)
Ron – P&S (2Gf/1Vf)
Geoff – PF
Ron – MIMI/Basketmaker’s Workshop
Geoff – Fences (8)
Ron – Boar(2)
Geoff – Cattle(1)

I grab the last available wood for fencing, tithing one to Ron’s Spinney (boo hoo!). Ron eliminates a negative, and out of spite for his malicious Minor, I swipe the clay and any last chance he’ll have to renovate. Ron plows and plants, a nice five point move, even if he can’t prevent me from maxing my fields. He then picks up the obvious Major and another effective five points. I fence the best I can (one whopping 2x2), Ron erases a last negative, and so do I. Ron’s farm looks a lot fuller than mine, but appearances, as they so often turn out, are deceiving. His failure to renovate, coupled with my overwhelming card points has quite obviously put me comfortably ahead.

Final Score (Occupations Played, Minors/Majors Played)(Wood taken/bonus)(Rounds as Starting Player)(Total Primary/Secondary/Tertiary Actions*)(Points Per Primary Action)(Food Spent)

Geoff – 51 (1 Occ, 4/4**)(23/0)(9)(40/9/7)(1.275)(40) **Well taken twice
Ron – 38 (5 Occ, 3/2)(18/16)(5)(35/4/14)(1.086)(43)

*Primary Actions are those actions first taken when a player claims a space with a family member. Secondary Actions are the “extra” actions allowed by certain spaces, such as a Minor Improvement when taking Starting Player, or Baking after Sowing. Tertiary Actions are all other “extra” actions enabled via card play or the seasonal rules of the “Through the Seasons” variant. Note that the “TtS” variant has two Action Spaces that allow Secondary Actions: Spring and Autumn.

Player Fields Pastures Grain Veg Sheep Boar Cattle Unused Stables House Peeps Pts Bonus
Geoff 5(4) 1(1) 8(4) 4(4) 1(1) 1(1) 1(1) (-1) 0(0) 4S(8) 5(15) (13) (0)
Ron 4(3) 4(4) 6(3) 2(2) 1(1) 3(2) 4(3) (-1) 0(0) 4W(0) 4(12) (6) (3)


Once again, the Pieceworker has shown itself to be somewhat of a left-handed compliment (or would that be complement?) Ron used it six times, and only once to nominal advantage, gaining a hearth in only two actions (which he then uses exactly once to full effect, four Rounds later). Given that he had a full 6Wood in excess at game’s end, the Wood Deliveryman was a wasted action, despite the bonus food courtesy of his Bookshelf. His Woodcutter produced a mere 4Wood overall, nothing hateful but hardly outstanding, and I successfully blocked his poor Resource Seller almost completely. Meanwhile, my combo of the Field Watchman and the Straw-Thatched Roof proved to be decisive, even when slow-played to take effect in Stage 2. In addition, my careful domination of stone and both Wells pretty much put the game on ice before we even got to the endgame. I can’t say that I had a single wasted action; even my punitive clay grab in Round 14 deprived Ron of an action by stopping him from renovating and MIMIing simultaneously. If he had perhaps been more aggressive in taking the button and/or interfering with my Plan A early in the game, he might have stood a chance. As it was, my grain machine and sweet indifference to reed spelled M-O-O-N as in “Bad one rising” by the end of Stage 2. After that, my walkin’ dudes ground him into the dust.

Comments, queries, paeans, etc. gratefully accepted. Next report: a 3-player squeaker in which the most efficient player got edged by a pair of actions. Don’tcha just hate that?
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Lord Chambers
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Good read. I found this one much more enjoyable since it featured only two players. At four players I lose track of what people might be thinking and it becomes a list of acronyms.

I especially like the final analysis of primary and secondary actions, and points earned per action. I find myself making helpful suggestions to my opponents and frequently using ideas like points-per-action or food-per-action to convince them.

Anyway, Ron needs some work, especially in those first six rounds. But then again, you're always writing the reports and noticing your opponents mistakes. Perhaps if Ron wrote a report of the same game he'd appear more savvy.
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Bryann Turner
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Portland
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Interesting read, for sure. I wonder why you didn't grow in Round 6, when you have the ability? Instead, you wait 2 full rounds, denying yourself at least 2 actions. Not that game didn't go well for you, but perhaps you break 60...

-B
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Geoff Burkman
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Kettering
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Lord Chambers wrote:
Good read. I found this one much more enjoyable since it featured only two players. At four players I lose track of what people might be thinking and it becomes a list of acronyms.

I especially like the final analysis of primary and secondary actions, and points earned per action. I find myself making helpful suggestions to my opponents and frequently using ideas like points-per-action or food-per-action to convince them.

Anyway, Ron needs some work, especially in those first six rounds. But then again, you're always writing the reports and noticing your opponents mistakes. Perhaps if Ron wrote a report of the same game he'd appear more savvy.


Heh, heh. I would hope so. Not likely to happen, though, given that he's not online, and not a writer. Plus, isn't it always the winner who's going to look the more savvy? Ya gets whats ya pay for. Seriously, though, you accurately identify an almost unavoidable feature of post-mortems: limited perspective. And you're right about the difficulties of describing 4-player games, since short of replaying the game on paper it's difficult to keep track of who has what capabilities at a given point in the game. Point well taken about "a list of acronyms" (I think you meant a different term, but I hear what you're saying), and I'll try to pay more attention to that in future reports. A litany of actions, no matter how amusingly described, is still just a recitation.

Good play in Agricola is, as I think most of us know, highly tactical and conditional. Executing "perfect plans" is an exercise in futility. Play options depend heavily on opposition behavior, and the more players there are, the more chaos intrudes. The good Agricola player must be highly adaptable, and capable of "seeing the forest through the trees." She must balance various needs against each other, and be ready to advance along one route even when it's another route she'd prefer. The skill is in maintaining the balance that favors the best payoffs.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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btizo wrote:
Interesting read, for sure. I wonder why you didn't grow in Round 6, when you have the ability? Instead, you wait 2 full rounds, denying yourself at least 2 actions. Not that game didn't go well for you, but perhaps you break 60...

-B


I couldn't grow until Round Seven, so I really only waited one Round, not two. I had to assemble wood for the Well gambit first, which was more than worth the action lost. I don't think I could have hit 60 without more powerful cards; I only had so much scoring wiggle room, mostly with animals and card points.
 
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Frederic Bush
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Narberth
Pennsylvania
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Your fish action on rd 3 was questionable; it prevented you from having your 3 fields sown in the 1st harvest, and sow 3gf is worth 3f to you at harvest as well as letting you put the roof out.

You had a dominating advantage in round 5, with ron unable to build a room or buy a fireplace and the sheep piling up. Once he pulls out the pieceworker, which needs a ton of food to function properly, and gets clay, you should deny him the sheep payout by immediately taking the fp and then jumping on the sheep when he buys his cookery.

I know you need to sow those fields to pull out the straw roof, but locking the fireplace and the initial sheep cookout and denying ron the food to max out his pieceworker's abilities is worth more in the long run, I think.

You also seemingly forgot about your field watchman in the last round and took plow 1f instead of the strictly better 1g + plow 1f! I guess it denied ron the plow 1f but he had better plays available.
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Geoff Burkman
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Hello, Mr. Bush, and thank you for the comments.

fbush555 wrote:
Your fish action on rd 3 was questionable; it prevented you from having your 3 fields sown in the 1st harvest, and sow 3gf is worth 3f to you at harvest as well as letting you put the roof out.


This is a good observation. I thought about building a fireplace instead of fishing, but knowing Ron, was worried that he would make a preemptive strike on the sheep. I don't see how I could have gotten three fields sown, though, and pick up the necessary wood for the double build at the same time. I would have had to forego either the clay or the wood in Round Two to accomplish that, true?

Quote:
You had a dominating advantage in round 5, with ron unable to build a room or buy a fireplace and the sheep piling up. Once he pulls out the pieceworker, which needs a ton of food to function properly, and gets clay, you should deny him the sheep payout by immediately taking the fp and then jumping on the sheep when he buys his cookery.


That was certainly a possibility, but would have delayed my building two rooms. I suppose one would have served well enough, but the double build gave me more freedom to grow the family and get out Minors. Admittedly, one of the ones I did get out ended up serving no purpose, though. I think, in the end, it would have been a wash.

Quote:
I know you need to sow those fields to pull out the straw roof, but locking the fireplace and the initial sheep cookout and denying ron the food to max out his pieceworker's abilities is worth more in the long run, I think.


Certainly possible, but I'm not certain I could have improved on the 51 points I managed to score. I suspect I'd have ended up around the same score by a different route.

Quote:
You also seemingly forgot about your field watchman in the last round and took plow 1f instead of the strictly better 1g + plow 1f! I guess it denied ron the plow 1f but he had better plays available.


Denying him the field was exactly why I did it. The extra grain would have been extraneous to me, plus at that point I knew I had him whipped anyway.

At any rate, thanks for reading and the perspicacious comments! Happy gaming to you and your crew!
 
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