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Subject: A Third Level? (After 'Family' and 'Full Game') rss

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Dave
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Before I approach this, know I'm not talking about another level beyond the full game version. Instead, I'm wondering if there is a middle ground between the "family" and "full version" game.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, my three kids -- ages 8, 10, and 14 -- enjoyed Agricola for the first few weeks after we got it, but now I'm having trouble getting them back to the table. While we played most of our early games on the "family" board side, my oldest quickly tired of it and wanted occupations and minors each time we played. My youngest, pretty adept at board games -- I estimate he plays at least at a 10-year-old level -- was willing to play the full version, but he struggled and I think he got frustrated with it (it's rated, after all, for ages 12+). My 10-year-old is somewhere in-between, but she still struggles with all the cards of the full version. I'd really like to get them all back.

The second reason is, once we got the Farmers of the Moor expansion, I saw in the rules three levels of complexity: the first similar to the family version of the base game, the third similar to the full game, and the middle one where only the expansion's minor improvements are used. That led me to wondering if some similar middle ground is possible in the base game.

(Note: Farmers isn't of interest to the kids. I'm not sure why, but I suspect all the additional actions and the forest/moor tiles are too much to track.)

Now, this second level on Farmers still uses the family version side of the board, so the opportunity to play a minor on the starting-player space is lost. But the stage-1 major/minor improvement card is required to be played in round one and, therefore, is in throughout the game, and the special action cards allow minors to be played for the cost of one food. So there are ample opportunities to play minors without using the full-game side of the board.

But if we go with just the base game (sans Farmers) on the family side, playing minors is limited to the major/minor improvement round card and the two stage-2 "then" cards ("renovate, then" and "family growth, then"), which only allow playing a minor if the preceding action is taken. This is limiting.

The idea of adding a hand of minors to the game without the occupations seems like an "easing in" way for kids to get to the full version after they've tired of the family version.

So,

A) Does anyone think introducing a middle-level variant using only minors and not occupations is a good idea?

B) If so, how would you handle it to allow more opportunities for minors to enter the game?

I have to say, I'm not one that likes to tinker with the rules; I want to play games the way the designer intended. If I play variants that aren't from -- or at least blessed by -- the designer, it's only if they feel like they fit naturally into the game. But the body of gamers here seem, as a whole, to have a good handle on what the look, feel, and nature of each game is. That's why I ask.

I appreciate any perspectives. Thank you.
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Mike Smeding
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St. Albert
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If you're looking for a 'mid' third level varient, I would suggest the following (note...I have not play tested these ideas cause I'm thinking off of the fly:

Deal out some occupations at the beginning of the game. Each player may play an occupation card for each family member you have in your household, ie your family members have jobs in addition to working the farm. You play on the 'family game' setting, and whenever your family grows, you add an occupation for the growth too.

This idea doesn't include minor improvements yet....perhaps someone else knows how to mix it better?

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Chris Ferejohn
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Since you are house-ruling anyway, why not just change start player back to start player+minor?
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Kasper Baack
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Play with only occupation, but leave out the minors? The other way around is impossible unless you remove all the minors that require a certain number of occupations.
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Jeff Bridgham
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Actually, you could just change the requirement to that many minors on the table rather than occupations. It would be easier to get them down, but that would be ok since this is meant to be easier anyway.

I also like the idea to just let the start player space play a minor instead of gathering food. Alternatively, if you think the food source would be important without occupations, you can have it gather food and allow the player a choice of taking the food or playing a minor.
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Dave
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These are good suggestions. Thanks.

GFireflyE wrote:
Deal out some occupations at the beginning of the game. Each player may play an occupation card for each family member you have in your household, ie your family members have jobs in addition to working the farm. You play on the 'family game' setting, and whenever your family grows, you add an occupation for the growth too.

I hadn't thought about going with only occupations instead of minors. And activating them automatically simplifies it -- they'll still have to choose which occ to play, so there's strategy and variety without being too overwhelming. We'll try this.

cferejohn wrote:
Since you are house-ruling anyway, why not just change start player back to start player+minor?

jebry wrote:
Alternatively, if you think the food source would be important without occupations, you can have it gather food and allow the player a choice of taking the food or playing a minor.

This is appealing. I do worry that food-shortages cause them to focus too much there as opposed to building a food engine and then a balanced farm. We'll give this a shot.

Another possibility, and tell me what you think: Add a "special action" space that matches FotM's Black Market. It allows for playing a minor for one food cost once per round, or a second time in a round by another player for 3 food. It's a non-person action, but it takes a turn. The family side of the board is used. Does this seem reasonable and in the spirit of the rest of the base game?
 
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Geoff Burkman
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I look forward to hearing how your experiments turn out, but would like to point out that the Black Market activates with the expenditure of fuel, not food.
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Dave
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MisterG wrote:
I look forward to hearing how your experiments turn out, but would like to point out that the Black Market activates with the expenditure of fuel, not food.

Whoops. Thanks Geoff, I was going by memory. I'll still try it, but using food instead of fuel.
 
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Tibs
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To me, the mid-level difficulty would be the full game, but only using the "E" cards in both decks. This is how I teach new players.
 
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dlewis2 wrote:
MisterG wrote:
I look forward to hearing how your experiments turn out, but would like to point out that the Black Market activates with the expenditure of fuel, not food.

Whoops. Thanks Geoff, I was going by memory. I'll still try it, but using food instead of fuel.


Well, wood can be converted to fuel in FotM, so you can use wood instead.
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