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Subject: Minimal / Optimal Decks rss

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Carter
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Borrowing from a few other posts, I am very interested to seek BGG input on an optimal, minimal set of occupation and minor improvement cards (taken from all sets) for up to 5 players.

By "optimal", I refer to the best cards in terms of winning the game (yes including "broken" cards, since they will be drafted), not according to other criteria (i.e. theme). This excludes cards that reference other cards on the principle that one does not gain the full benefit/hindrance of such cards if the other referenced card(s) are not available.

By "minimal", the Improvements deck will contain 35 cards (enough for 5 players), and because the Occupations cards can be sorted easily, before starting, by the number of players, the Occupations deck will consist of

qty=21 "1+" [2 players plus a dummy hand]
qty=7 "3+"
qty=14 "4+"

For a total of 42 cards. Thus the occupations will all be dealt out in any game, but the minor improvements will vary within a total of 35 possible best cards.

I hope that is clear, and I realize the request is subjective, particularly since as the number of players change so too do your action choices. I have played Agricola less than many others here, and so I look forward to feedback. I will post my list shortly as soon as I have a chance to examine the cards.

Thanks.

---

I recently whittled down my WizWar cards to those I thought were generally great cards, and we now find it much more fun to play because you never feel like you have a crappy hand, it's just a question of what to do when.

---

EDIT: I am changing the name of this listing to "Minimal / Optimal Decks" so that it makes more sense. Note that it was originally called "Agricola Cube Draft", which created confusion.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
I want to think about this one for a bit before responding. I'm not really sure what your purpose for this is.

I do know that other than a few "broken" cards, there really are no "optimal" cards.
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Carl Olson
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
pzkrakz wrote:
Borrowing from a few other posts, and the MTG "cube" draft idea, I am very interested to seek BGG input on an optimal, minimal set of occupation and minor improvement cards (taken from all sets) for up to 5 players.


What's a "Cube Draft"?
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Chien-Tsun Chen
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
It's an interesting idea to choose 35 relatively more powerful cards for Agricola. This may strengthen the tense of the play. I'd like to do some homework on this to see if I can figure out some exciting ways to plow and breed
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Carter
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
MisterG wrote:
I want to think about this one for a bit before responding. I'm not really sure what your purpose for this is.

I do know that other than a few "broken" cards, there really are no "optimal" cards.


Thanks. My purpose is simply to create a deck where everyone feels that every card they have in hand is useful. What I find when playing Agricola is that the majority of cards one draws are generally not worth playing; there are just a few that one would focus on getting out if you were planning to win.

That said, if there really are no "optimal" cards (optimal being subjective), cards generally more useful than others, then the request is moot. I've played probably 20-30 games among various groups of people, and so my experience is limited.
 
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Carter
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
carlj wrote:
pzkrakz wrote:
Borrowing from a few other posts, and the MTG "cube" draft idea, I am very interested to seek BGG input on an optimal, minimal set of occupation and minor improvement cards (taken from all sets) for up to 5 players.


What's a "Cube Draft"?


Sorry for not explaining better. Because MTG has so many cards from so many editions, many of which are substantially superior to others, people developed a draft method where you select from the entire card pool a subset of the very best cards. They call this a "cube" for some reason. Turns out to be a much more fun game when every card you pick up is likely to be useful to you. I whittled down the set of WizWar cards along the same reasoning, and found it to be much more fun as well. You are not focused on using a few cards in hand, but rather want to use everything.

Anyway, most people really don't have cards to play a MTG "cube" draft because they are so expensive, but I figured that Agricola, with so many cards (though orders of magnitude less than MTG), might benefit from a similar whittling down. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I imagine the designer couldn't have fully vetted all the cards before release of the product; there are just too many possible interactions. Of course, if the purpose of having so many cards, and a hand of 7 cards, is to give players a mix of useful/less useful cards each game, that's fine. I would just prefer to play where all the cards anyone draws are potentially quite useful, rather than having experienced players put down everything except a few cards before the game starts.

Hope that makes sense.
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badalchemist
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
Perhaps a good method for creating your own "cube" would be to sit down with your gaming buddies and perform your own draft out of the entire deck of cards until you have enough cards. This way, it isn't just about which are objectively the "best" but also a mixture of the best with the cards that everyone enjoys the most as well.
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Carter
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
badalchemist wrote:
Perhaps a good method for creating your own "cube" would be to sit down with your gaming buddies and perform your own draft out of the entire deck of cards until you have enough cards. This way, it isn't just about which are objectively the "best" but also a mixture of the best with the cards that everyone enjoys the most as well.


Yeah, I agree that this would be a simpler/better approach. Perhaps the reverse, meaning having local players eliminate cards they don't find useful. But, my problem is that thus far I have won most of the games, even playing with an open hand and providing my reasoning to the other players, so I'm worried that they wouldn't select the best of the best. So, I am turning to the experts here at BGG, who no doubt are better players than I.
 
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Carter
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
Here is my first build [note it is not meant as a rank-order]:

---

Occupation (1+)
1-Fence Deliveryman
2-Field Watchman
3-Plowman
4-Wet Nurse
5-Adoptive Parents
6-Village Beauty
7-Seed Trader
8-Seasonal Worker
9-Conservator
10-Meat Seller
11-Frame Builder
12-Carpenter
13-Fieldsman
14-Fence Builder

Occupation (3+)
1-Sheep Farmer
2-Land Agent
3-Greengrocer
4-Brushwood Collector
5-Turner
6-Herald
7-Lover

Occupation (4+)
1-Animal Trainer
2-Tennant Farmer
3-Stockman
4-Hut Builder
5-Farmer
6-Undergardener
7-Cattle Breeder
8-Groom
9-Stone Buyer
10-Taster
11-Corn Profiteer
12-Animal Breeder
13-Serf
14-Hobby Farmer

----

Improvements (35)

-Stone House Extension
-Holiday House
-Tavern
-Wood-fired Oven
-Reed Hut
-Bust
-Baker's Kitchen
-Bakehouse
-Duck Pond
-Clay Roof
-Reed Pond
-Pumpkin Seed Oil
-Brushwood Roof
-Lasso
-Guest
-Wooden Crane
-Drinking Trough
-Wooden Strongbox
-Clogs
-Bread Paddle
-Baking Tray
-Builder's Trowel
-Flail
-Crooked Plow
-House Goat
-Threshing Board
-Ox Team
-Outhouse
-Axe
-Schaps Distillery
-Animal Feed
-Boar Breeding
-Dovecote
-Village Well
-Strawberry Patch

---

Any suggestions are appreciated.

To put this list together, I just sat down for ~30min with the occupations and chose what I thought was best in terms of saving actions or offering some other significant advantage (without compromising that advantage by giving away opportunity to other players).

For the improvements, I first sorted them by point value (both standard and bonus point potential), then by prerequisites, then by resource costs. Looking at it this way, it seemed clearer what would be most useful relative to the odds you could play it. Toward the end I realized that most of the cards I had chosen required wood, which would (I felt) skew the value of resource taking actions. So, I went back and replaced the lesser of the wood-requiring improvements with other improvements.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
The Taster, the Wet Nurse, the Lover, and the Reed Hut should all be removed as overpowering. Where is the Charcoal Burner, a very strong 4+ player Ock? You allow the Crooked Plow, but no other Plows? Why include the Village Beauty, which most Agricola owners don't have anyway? This list seems to be very subjective, to say the least.
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Mike T
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
A bit of input:

First, it's an interesting idea, but I don't think it would be a way to play the game long-term. While it might be nice to play with all good cards every game, it would NOT be nice to play against abusive cards, like Taster or Chamberlain, every game. I never played any "cube drafts" in MTG, but I do remember much preferring booster drafts to watching Academy decks run their stupid 3 turn kill combos.

Anyways, check out Alex Chen's Card by Card occupation ratings here. You might disagree with some, but he offers some thought on each, and I think he's mostly right.

Here's a few strong occupations you should consider: Animal Breeder, Animal Dealer, Baker, Braggart, Chamberlain (considered broken by most), Charcoal Burner, Clay Mixer, Clay Worker, Farm Steward (one of my favorites), Head of Family (incredible in 4 player), Magician, Mushroom Collector, Storehouse Keeper.

Some of the occs you picked that I'd consider dropping:

Fence Deliveryman: he's good, but not great. The food requirement can be tough.

Adoptive Parents: I seldom play this one when I have it in a regular game.

Meat Seller: He's fine, but nothing special.

Frame Builder: This guy just sucks out loud.

Carpenter: Much better than Frame Builder, but still just OK. Could replace him with any of the 4/3/2/1 w occs.

Fence Builder: Only useful with combos.

Turner, Animal Trainer, Groom: These are just hideous.


For improvements, you went about it backwards. Start with cheap but useful improvements. House Goat, NOT Holiday House. Holiday House might be the worst card in the game. If you play it, it's to say you did.
Also:
More Plows.
Wooden Hut Extension>Clay Hut Extension>Stone Hut Extension

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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
smcmike wrote:
A bit of input:

First, it's an interesting idea, but I don't think it would be a way to play the game long-term. While it might be nice to play with all good cards every game, it would NOT be nice to play against abusive cards, like Taster or Chamberlain, every game. I never played any "cube drafts" in MTG, but I do remember much preferring booster drafts to watching Academy decks run their stupid 3 turn kill combos.

Anyways, check out Alex Chen's Card by Card occupation ratings here. You might disagree with some, but he offers some thought on each, and I think he's mostly right.

Here's a few strong occupations you should consider: Animal Breeder, Animal Dealer, Baker, Braggart, Chamberlain (considered broken by most), Charcoal Burner, Clay Mixer, Clay Worker, Farm Steward (one of my favorites), Head of Family (incredible in 4 player), Magician, Mushroom Collector, Storehouse Keeper.

Some of the occs you picked that I'd consider dropping:

Fence Deliveryman: he's good, but not great. The food requirement can be tough.

Adoptive Parents: I seldom play this one when I have it in a regular game.

Meat Seller: He's fine, but nothing special.

Frame Builder: This guy just sucks out loud.

Carpenter: Much better than Frame Builder, but still just OK. Could replace him with any of the 4/3/2/1 w occs.

Fence Builder: Only useful with combos.

Turner, Animal Trainer, Groom: These are just hideous.


For improvements, you went about it backwards. Start with cheap but useful improvements. House Goat, NOT Holiday House. Holiday House might be the worst card in the game. If you play it, it's to say you did.
Also:
More Plows.
Wooden Hut Extension>Clay Hut Extension>Stone Hut Extension



Thanks alot. This is very helpful, and I understand your perspective on perhaps the game not being as fun long-term due to reduced variability. I guess I want something between the regular game and the family game. It's funny that most of the stuff I listed out is considered crap by the expert players; that's exactly what I was looking to learn. I simply picked the things that had been very useful in the games I've played, where clearly our aptitude is lower.
 
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
smcmike wrote:

.
Wooden Hut Extension>Clay Hut Extension>Stone Hut Extension



This is interesting; I thought about that but figured that the Stone Hut Extension was better since it is less likely that your opponent would be able to use it once you passed it to them.

Just shows how little I know!
 
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
MisterG wrote:
The Taster, the Wet Nurse, the Lover, and the Reed Hut should all be removed as overpowering. Where is the Charcoal Burner, a very strong 4+ player Ock? You allow the Crooked Plow, but no other Plows? Why include the Village Beauty, which most Agricola owners don't have anyway? This list seems to be very subjective, to say the least.


Thanks, that's helpful. I will remove those and also follow the comments below in listing out a build #2. I selected the Crooked Plow because it seemed best based on function vs. requirements. Sorry, I didn't realize everyone doesn't have Village Beauty (or the Z deck), since I just bought my copy at FLGS and it came with that. Yes, agreed, the whole concept is subjective, but I appreciate that you weighed in and look forward to other expert opinion.
 
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
OK, I just took a look at Chen's review of all Occs, and that is something I should have found before trying to create this post. The depth of analysis is staggering. I will take the input here so far, and the star listings there, removing some overpowered cards, to try and come up with a better set of 35 occs.

Any chance something similar has been done with Improvements? I didn't see it but I missed Chen's analysis to begin with.
 
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
You could take inspiration from the exhaustive polls about Occupations and Minor Improvements:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/374027
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/374026
and, as others said, maybe take out 'too nasty' Chamberlain.
Advice here sounds right - focus on the robust cards usable in many situations, say Seasonal Worker, not complex finishers usable only by an already won situation, say Mansion.
It's also well to have some contribution about each facet of the game and each 'action space' (fields, animals, building, family, fishing, Traveling Players, Day Laborer) etc.
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
ROMagister wrote:
You could take inspiration from the exhaustive polls about Occupations and Minor Improvements:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/374027
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/374026
and, as others said, maybe take out 'too nasty' Chamberlain.
Advice here sounds right - focus on the robust cards usable in many situations, say Seasonal Worker, not complex finishers usable only by an already won situation, say Mansion.
It's also well to have some contribution about each facet of the game and each 'action space' (fields, animals, building, family, fishing, Traveling Players, Day Laborer) etc.


Thank you for providing those links and advice, I will take a look. Like the other comments above, it is very helpful as I am clearly a newbie with Agricola relative to the other forum posters.

Taking from the Alex Chen forum and the comments above, here is my second pass for the Occupations (note that I added 7 more cards to the 1+ set; that way there is a "dummy" hand present for all games to prevent players from knowing precisely what is in everyone's hand each game):

Occupations (1+) (21 total)
- Pieceworker
- Fieldsman
- Master Brewer
- Schnaps Distiller
- Wood Deliveryman
- Church Warden
- Gardener
- Animal Tamer
- Fence Overseer
- Grocer
- Chief
- Plowman
- Clay Worker
- Clay Mixer
- Baker
- Layabout
- Wet Nurse
- Conservator
- Seasonal Worker
- Mushroom Collector
- Farm Steward

Occupations (3+) (7 total)
- Manufacturer
- Wooden Hut Builder
- Sheep Farmer
- Greengrocer
- Charcoal Burner
- Animal Dealer
- Lover

Occupations (4+) (14 total)
- Social Climber
- Milking Hand
- Corn Profiteer
- Stockman
- Acrobat
- Foreman
- Weaver
- Hobby Farmer
- Magician
- Head of the Family
- Hut Builder
- Undergardener
- Storehouse Keeper
- Animal Breeder

I am sure it requires additional tweaking to evenly represent, as you suggest, the different actions available in a balanced way.

Working on the improvements next, though for that I will stick with 35 cards total since they are not segregated by number of players.
 
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Re: Agricola Cube Draft - seeking input
I went to the survey and looked through some other forums to come up with 35 minor improvements:

- Lasso
- Stone Tongs
- Chicken Coop
- Gypsy's Crock
- Mini Pasture
- Reed Exchange
- Wooden Hut Extension
- Grain Cart
- Baker's Oven
- Riding Plow
- Canoe
- Swing Plow
- Clay Roof
- Clay Deposit
- Clay Pit
- Loom
- Forest Pasture
- Cooking Corner
- Pelts
- Ox Team
- Turnwrest Plow
- Wildlife Reserve
- Baking Tray
- Schnaps Distillery
- Potato Dibber
- Manger
- Landing Net
- Drinking Trough
- Basket
- Simple Fireplace
- House Goat
- Reed Hut
- Quarry
- Corn Scoop
- Axe

In some cases it's difficult for me to see why a particular card is favored in the survey, but I trust more in crowd-sourcing than my own intuition. If anyone has any thoughts on cards I should replace in the occupations or improvements to make it better/more balanced, that is appreciated.
 
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Mike T
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Don't ignore your intuition, but play some games to back it up with experience.

For instance, your reasoning on the Stone House Extension v. Wood Hut Extension makes sense, but it ignores the actual game use of the cards. The Wood Hut extension is good, maybe great, only because of the advantage it gives in the battle for FG, specifically in 4 player games. It lets you take SP and build in the same round (with an action to spare!), something that is basically otherwise impossible in the early FG rounds in a 4 player game. The Stone House Extension, by contrast, is only useful to grab points at the end.
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