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Subject: Potatoes - makes sowing almost as fun as breeding...? rss

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Adam K
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Something that is bugging me with Agricola is that a sowing strategy isn't as fun as breeding animals. I believe the reason is that more happens with animals, and there are more animals to vary with.

We have suggestions of fruit trees, we have chickens... So, what if we included potatoes? Maybe this will spice up the fields a bit making it more fun to have your field farm.

Of course potatoes will work slightly different from the other "fieldeeples" since we want to add some excitement. However, the intention is not to change the game too much adding a lot of additional action spaces or changing the point system. Therefore the potatoes will be recieved as an alternative of grain! Whenever you get grain, you can choose to take potato instead. Moreover, potatoes count as grain during the scoring.

I could mention that I use clay disks even as potato disks. No, they won't get mixed up because potatoes will always be on the fields.

Further question:

How do you sow potatoes?
Whenever you receive a potato, it must either get converted to food or placed on an empty field. You can't store it in your supply.
No sow action is required to put potatoes on your fields, just like sheep doesn't need any action to be put in fences.

What happens when you sow one potato?
When sowing, just put one potato on the field and nothing happens. During the field phase of the harvest, each potato field will get one extra. Like animal breeding.

How do you use the potatoes?
A potato can be taken from the field at any time if you immediately convert it to 1 food or 1½ food with the fireplace or cooking hearth (rounded down as usual).
Or you can put it on another empty field.

So basically, potatoes are treated as field living animals?
Yes! And as they, unlike animals, grow faster (1 per field each harvest), they are a little better which is the reason of why they only give 1½ food in a fireplace. The question is if even that is too good. In that case, potatoes are equal to food in all matters.

Summary:
• You choose if you want to recieve potatoes instead of grain when taking the +1 grain action or playing occupations or minors.
• If you don't have empty fields for the received potato, it is converted to food. Otherwise it is immediately put on a field.
• During the field phase of the harvest, each potato field get one extra potato.
• 1 pot. = 1 food (like grain) OR 1 pot. = 1½ food in a fireplace or cooking hearth.
• Potatoes can be taken from the fields at any time, then it must be converted to food or put on another field.
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Tibs
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Sounds like the beginning of a neat variant. Personally, I find sowing to be very interesting, as that's how I usually feed myself and fill out my farm. Grain will multiply in ways you couldn't imagine by the end of the game.

If you're concerned with potatoes being cooked for too much food, then make it convert at 1½ for the Cooking Hearth only.
 
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Carl Olson
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LupusX wrote:

Summary:
• You choose if you want to recieve potatoes instead of grain when taking the +1 grain action or playing occupations or minors.
• If you don't have empty fields for the received potato, it is converted to food. Otherwise it is immediately put on a field.
• During the field phase of the harvest, each potato field get one extra potato.
• 1 pot. = 1 food (like grain) OR 1 pot. = 1½ food in a fireplace or cooking hearth.
• Potatoes can be taken from the fields at any time, then it must be converted to food or put on another field.


I like it. A couple of suggestions:

You can also choose to take Potatoes instead of a Vegetable. If you get an extra Grain or Vegetable, you may choose to get potatoes for either, neither, or both.

You should have to "Sow" the potatoes you take off of a field, so it takes an action - whether you "Take" or "Sow". You remove the potatoes from a field and place them directly on the other field when you choose "Sow". Potatoes are harder to plant than grain. Hilling them up is hard. And unlike Grain, you only get one potato harvest per year in a temperate climate, whereas you can harvest wheat, re-sow the field, and get a Fall harvest.

Potatoes = 1 Food, with or without a fireplace or oven. You can just toss them into a campfire. And they don't change much in a hearth or oven. They are basically "extenders" for meat and vegetables, but that would get too complicated. This way, you don't have to add rules or change the cards for ovens and hearths.


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Tibs
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The reason OP is not requiring potatoes to be sown is that he's using the clay tokens to represent potatoes. If potatoes go into your supply, then it will be impossible to distinguish them from clay.

What is the scoring on potatoes at game end? Is there anyway a "Take 1 potato" card can be drafted up to be placed at the side of the board, in the same manner as the 3p-5p cards?

If OP sticks with the no-sow option, perhaps the new action card can be "Cultivate 1 potato," in which you receive and immediately eat, or receive and immediately sow 1 potato. Not being allowed to store it in your supply is kind of an interesting thought.

If this effect proves to be too potent, maybe a rule can be added that if you have at least 1 potato in a field, you "breed" 1 during the field phase, instead of 1 per potato field. Maybe there's a limit on how many potatoes you can have in one field, so that after a while you need to auto-sow the new ones you receive in the field harvest into an open field.

In either case, I'd make the potatoes reproduce in the "Breed" phase, so that new ones can be added to any fields emptied during the Field phase. This means of course that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the new potatoes to feed your family in the same harvest you make them, but them's the breaks
 
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Carl Olson
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kungfro wrote:
The reason OP is not requiring potatoes to be sown is that he's using the clay tokens to represent potatoes. If potatoes go into your supply, then it will be impossible to distinguish them from clay.

What is the scoring on potatoes at game end?
In either case, I'd make the potatoes reproduce in the "Breed" phase, so that new ones can be added to any fields emptied during the Field phase. This means of course that you wouldn't be able to take advantage of the new potatoes to feed your family in the same harvest you make them, but them's the breaks


I didn't say the potatoes go into your supply. When you "Sow" you move the token directly from one field to another. Automatic sowing plus growth is too easy, in actions, compared to other food avenues.

For the same reason, new potatoes shouldn't grow immediately. They are not a quick crop.

I'd limit potatoes to one per field. A small family can subsist, but not flourish, on 4 potato fields. That's pretty good.
 
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Tibs
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You can take potatoes out at any time to eat them, but to take them out and sow them again requires the sow action? I'm just making sure I have everything straight. Something that behaves differently to harvest and sow is beginning to complicate things, and requiring more than a couple fields dedicated to potatoes that won't even give you great benefit doesn't seem worth it.
 
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Carl Olson
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kungfro wrote:
You can take potatoes out at any time to eat them, but to take them out and sow them again requires the sow action? I'm just making sure I have everything straight. Something that behaves differently to harvest and sow is beginning to complicate things, and requiring more than a couple fields dedicated to potatoes that won't even give you great benefit doesn't seem worth it.


It was only a suggestion. If it doesn't work for you and your players, don't use it.

I was trying to stay within the really elegant confines of the OP. I like the fact that the potatoes don't come off the field. If it's a big problem though, a) buy the animeeples and use the sheep cubes as potatoes, or b) buy the resourcemeeples to use the bricks for "the real clay", or c) pull some pieces from Risk or some other game, or d) cut some cardboard potatoes. Then you can remove them to personal storage. But it seems like a lot of unnecessary hassle to me.
 
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Adam K
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I'm glad you started to discuss it! I'll try to answer what I believe is relevant.

First, think of it as animals:

- Animals doesn't need any actions to get rearrenged between the fences.
- Potatoes doesn't need actions to be rearenged on the fields.

- Animals are not put in the supply. If you don't have fences, animals must be converted directly into food if you receive e.g. 4 sheeps from the board. (besides the house pet)
- Potatoes are not put in the supply. If you don't have fields, potatoes must be converted directly into food when received.

kungfro wrote:
If you're concerned with potatoes being cooked for too much food, then make it convert at 1½ for the Cooking Hearth only.

Yes, another reason of why I don't know if it's a good idea that cooking hearth makes potatoes better is that there might be too many strategies that require the 4 cooking majors. In a 5 player game, someone will be left alone.

carlj wrote:
For the same reason, new potatoes shouldn't grow immediately. They are not a quick crop.

They don't. Grain grows immediately, however, for a potato to grow you must wait until the harvest.

carlj wrote:
You can also choose to take Potatoes instead of a Vegetable.

Works too.

kungfro wrote:
What is the scoring on potatoes at game end?

"Potatoes count as grain during the scoring"
So if you have 2 grain and 3 potatoes, you receive 2 point for "4-5" grain.
Since potatoes steal fields from the grain, I believe its fair to count them together.

kungfro wrote:
Is there anyway a "Take 1 potato" card can be drafted up to be placed at the side of the board, in the same manner as the 3p-5p cards?

I would prefer to avoid such changes.

kungfro wrote:
If this effect proves to be too potent, maybe a rule can be added that if you have at least 1 potato in a field, you "breed" 1 during the field phase, instead of 1 per potato field. Maybe there's a limit on how many potatoes you can have in one field, so that after a while you need to auto-sow the new ones you receive in the field harvest into an open field.

Let's compare the potatoes to animal breeding during breeding phase...

Sheep => 2 food each harvest
Wild boar => 2 or 3 food each harvest
Cattle => 3 or 4 food each harvest

Potatoes => 1-4 food each harvest depending on how much you grow. (Possibly more, but you would miss out everything else.)

You must also take in account that creating 4 potatoes each harvest requires 4 fields, which you also want to use for grain and vegetable.
I would guess that you don't have more than 2 potato-fields (max. 3) wich makes it as good as a sheep/wild boar farm.

If you only get one extra potato each harves, which is worse than sheep.
 
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Carl Olson
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LupusX wrote:

First, think of it as animals:

- Animals doesn't need any actions to get rearrenged between the fences.
- Potatoes doesn't need actions to be rearenged on the fields.

- Animals are not put in the supply. If you don't have fences, animals must be converted directly into food if you receive e.g. 4 sheeps from the board. (besides the house pet)
- Potatoes are not put in the supply. If you don't have fields, potatoes must be converted directly into food when received.


But multiple pastures are MUCH harder to build than plowing a field. You have to collect Wood AND use a "Fences" action. I don't think that Potatoes are so weak that they deserve a constant "Plow and Sow" action.

Fine, you plowed a field, which is worth 1 VP by itself. But to add to that value, by up to 6 food, you should have to take another action - in other words, "Sow". And once you Sow, the food comes automatically. It's just like playing an occ (for 1 action) that gives you food every other round. And the Sow action can also sow grain, veggies, and wood at the same time, if you plan it correctly. That's pretty strong.
 
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LupusX wrote:
Something that is bugging me with Agricola is that a sowing strategy isn't as fun as breeding animals. I believe the reason is that more happens with animals, and there are more animals to vary with.


I fail to see how breeding animals is that much more "fun" than sowing grain or vegetables. You sow one grain and get three, or sow one veggie and get two. If you breed animals (of any kind), you get one more if you have at least two. How is one more "fun" than the other?

Don't get me wrong...if you want to add a variant to the game, go for it. My group has created variants for some other games, but usually to make them flow smoother, not to complicate them. I always go by the idea that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Just my two cents...probably not even worth half that, though.

 
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Rethemed as Onions (Agricola is nominally in the 17th century [at least, I think that's what it says in the rules], but it's clearly set much earlier, when potatoes would still have been a New World crop only), my wife and I have tried this a few times. How we played it:

* Made a new "Take 1 Onion and Sow it immediately" card

* Each Onion field grows 1 new Onion during each Harvest

* To take the Onions off, you must use a Sowing action

* When you Sow, you can remove as many Onions as you want

* When you remove Onions, you get food or re-plant them

* Onions are 1 food each, or 3 food per 2 [no rounding]

* Haven't figured out scoring yet, but they ARE separate

I think we'll end up scoring them in between Grain/Veggies

I like the idea enough, especially combined with a few other variants we co-playtested at the same time [yes, the fruit trees and chickens]. We agreed it would be too easy / too strong if it were completely free after your initial action to take the Onions themselves was done.

I know your initial intention was to supplement, rather than change, the action spaces / scoring system, but I think it works well enough as an addition. I'd rather mess with the whole game balance than just the balance of grain-growing / baking, when it comes right down to it.

Some thoughts:

* It might be good to limit how many Onions can grow in 1 field

* If we do that, we might need to decide a way to store the Onions

* Rather than change existing components, food/points are on the new card

* When we're done tweaking, anyone want to test our full variant? [Onions - Fruit - Chickens]

 
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