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Subject: A Report in Pictures - Agricola Solo Series Game 1 (E deck) rss

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John-Paul Pizzica
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Hoffman Estates
Illinois
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Disclaimer: I am by NO means a photographer, so please pardon the quality of my pictures...I only include them for greater clarity and general amusement...

GAME 1

Farmyard (start):

Not much to look at, is it?

Occupations:

I like the possibility of preserving wood for something other than room building, but I worry that Rounds 6-14 are a bit late for clay rooms...


Don't think I've ever played this ock in a solo game, as resources aren't hard to come by, and 3 for 1 (or even 2 for 1) is a bit pricey...


Nice synergy with the Clay Deliveryman above, as both will help to conserve wood, but will I build fences enough to make it worthwhile...


Nice when you don't want to be bothered with an upcoming harvest, but usually condones inefficient play, so unless I'm in a pinch...


Nice synergy with the Hedge Keeper above, as both (along with the Clay Deliveryman) will conserve wood, but will I be able to play all these ocks...


Got to love extra stone, but is 1 food and an action worth the 3 or 4 stone I will receive as a result of playing this ock...


An ock that I'm usually a sucker for, since I need quick and easy bonus points in the early games. But it will need to be played first...

Minor Improvements:

Perfect for my usual solo feeding strategy: baking. More efficient than a Stone Oven and can be bought for the cost of a Clay. An almost certain play...


Couldn't be less interested, as I can't imagine wasting a precious improvement play on 1 wood or clay. Can't see this getting played...


Works well with the Clay Deliveryman, though I would like to have clay rooms built sooner than Rounds 6-14. Good for wood conservation...


Love the 2 bonus points, but 2 stone might be hard to come by (unless I play the Stone Carrier). One food for Rounds 10-14 doesn't exactly thrill me...


Like the bonus point, and with all the wood conservation cards, the cost should not be a problem. Might also help me max out my animals...


A multi-player card, as I can't think of any situation in a solo play where I would sacrifice a veggie for any one animal...


Like the bonus point, don't think the cost will be an issue and I'm intrigued about the reed it would give me. Might be played if I'm doing well...



Round 1 (Action Card: "1 Sheep")

1st & 2nd Actions:


My usual strategy...it prepares me for planting before the 1st harvest and I just can't see any better choices at the moment.

I'm elated that sheep came out so early...more mutton suppers for the family!



Round 2 (Action Card: "Fences")

1st & 2nd Actions:


I'm taking the 2 clay to eventually purchase a Fireplace (or "Mutton Machine")...the grain is to further my sowing strategy.

Sheep have already come out, so I'm content (but it would have been nice to have seen the Major/Minor Improvement card)...



Round 3 (Action Card: "Major or Minor Improvement")

1st & 2nd Actions:


I can taste those lamb chops already...and I'll need bread for those leftover mutton sandwiches!

Can't really ask for better timing on the action cards this stage, and I can only hope my luck will continue...



Round 4 (Action Card: "Sow and/or Bake Bread")

1st & 2nd Actions:


I had to follow through on all my farming-related actions, but I also needed to slaughter some sheep for the harvest...nuts to starting with no food!

Two grain fields isn't bad, but I've already consumed sheep, I'll start Round 5 with no food and I have NO resources for home expansion...



wheatwheatwheatHARVESTwheatwheatwheat

Consume: 6 food (0 in stock)
Reap: 2 grain



Round 5 (Action Card: "Renovation, also Major or Minor Improvement")

1st & 2nd Actions:


I know that at least two other ocks are going to be played, so I want to take advantage of the bonus points the Tutor provides...

I should be worrying about resource collection (need a bigger family), but I just don't think 2 fields will provide enough grain for my bread strategy...

Usually early stone in this stage is best for my baking strategy, but I'll need to renovate soon...



Round 6 (Action Card: "1 Stone")

1st & 2nd Actions:


RESOURCES! There was a method to my madness, as I was waiting for both to build up enough for a room and some stables, but was it too late...

Love to do family growth before the harvest but between more sowing, building another room and gathering food, it's impossible...

Like that stone came out now rather than later, as I need it to build up for that oven.



Round 7 (Action Card: "Family Growth, also Minor Improvement")

1st & 2nd Actions:


I always grimace a bit when I have to resort to fishing, but it does get me an extra food in the next round for an ock...

I'm playing it a round too late for max usage, but the 8 extra clay (and the bonus point via the Tutor) will be welcome.

Halfway through this opening game of the series, and I don't even have an extra room for family growth...this is going to be a struggle!



wheatwheatwheatHARVESTwheatwheatwheat

Consume: 6 food (1 in stock)
Reap: 2 grain



Round 8 (Action Card: "1 Wild Boar")

1st & 2nd Actions:


I wanted to build all my rooms with clay, but I just don't have the time to waste...even using the 5 wood I have enough for a couple of stables.

Family growth! Clay Supports ensures remaining 2 rooms will utilize clay, less reed and a bit of wood (-6 clay, -2 reed, but +2 wood)

Seems that the Clay Deliveryman would make Clay Supports unnecessary. But the clay from that ock is slow in coming and I need rooms NOW!

Which would have been best to have come out, boar or veggie? It's a toss-up, but I have a feeling I'll need the extra bacon for the family!



Round 9 (Action Card: "1 Vegetable")

1st, 2nd & 3rd Actions:


Stone + Clay = Renovation + Major Improvement. Now I can finally put those Clay Supports to use!

Without more plowed fields (which is rather unfortunate) I had to put some of those idle grains to use, so that's 8 food right there...

...but what about that 9th food?! Luckily, I still have that lonely ol' house sheep that never got a mate...talk about some tough mutton!

It's a shame that I couldn't grab veggies, sow or plow this entire stage! I'm falling behind on too many of my (usually) successful strategies...



wheatwheatwheatHARVESTwheatwheatwheat

Consume: 9 food (1 in stock)
Reap: 2 grain



Round 10 (Action Card: "1 Cattle")

1st, 2nd & 3rd Actions:


Finally, a productive round (too bad it took this long)! The wood allows me to finish my stables...now I just need some animals...

The Clay Supports did help out in the end, and I finally have the room for all those family members I've been neglecting.

I prefer turning in a Clay Oven for the Baker's rather than a Stone (2 stone less) but the 3 extra food from the Stone's first bake was necessary...

My use of the Baker's Oven initial bake to grab 10 food ensures that I won't be scurrying in the last round to cover the impending harvest...finally!

Renovating to a stone house is going to be tough, so I would have preferred seeing stone come out first, but extra meat will be appreciated!



Round 11 (Action Card: "1 Stone")

1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Actions:


After my early focus on plowing, I've been neglecting farming...with the end approaching (and my fields fallow) now's the time to refocus...

Taking 1 grain this late is a bit of an embarrassment, but you've got to do what you've got to do.

Need the sheep for food/points, but don't have room for them to mate. I cook an extra sheep knowing I may not max out on them at game's end...

I should have played this ock sooner, especially so I could have taken better advantage of his 4 for 1 special on fences, but couldn't find time...

A major setback! I plow and take a grain, but don't sow...guess I'll sow veggies and grain the next round. What I'll eat next harvest, who knows...

I'll have a little extra food to carry over to the next round, but with 2 harvests to go, my food engine is being powered by a hamster!



wheatwheatwheatHARVESTwheatwheatwheat

Consume: 12 food (4 in stock)
Born: 1 sheep



Round 12 (Action Card: "Family Growth without Room")

1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Actions:


Since this stage will see my last sowing, I may as well do it right! The taking of 1 grain, 1 veggie and plowing a field are all in preparation for this.

Fences ensure: 1) I'll utilize the Hedge Keeper at least once more and 2) I won't get caught with no room for lambs during the next harvest!

Action cards are the least of my worries, but I would have preferred a card I could have used ("Plow and Sow") rather than one I don't need...



Round 13 (Action Card: "Plow 1 Field and/or Sow")

1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Actions:


Maybe not the best use of an action, but I can't resist going for max veggies, so I grab a 2nd veggie to sow. Less room for vital grain, though...

Stone is for renovation and the Dovecote...couldn't resist the 2 bonus points, even if it offers little in-game benefit at this point (1 measly food).

Needed that family growth...I'll need that extra action during the last round, and I just can't see beating 50 points without maxing family members!

The massive sowing allows me to max veggies and grain (with 1 grain left over for baking next round) and permits me to bake for 5 food...

...but, at 9 food, I'm still hopelessly short of the 13 necessary for this harvest...bye-bye to 2 more sheep (and my hopes of maxing sheep)!



wheatwheatwheatHARVESTwheatwheatwheat

Consume: 13 food (1 in stock)
Reap: 3 grain & 2 veggies
Born: 1 sheep



Round 14 (Action Card: "Renovation, also Fences")

1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th Actions:


Stone and wood are just for renovations and fences at this point...no hope for a lovely Major Improvement...

I prefer the other renovation action space here since I can throw extra resources at a point-heavy Major Improvement, but I REALLY need fences...

With 1 food in reserve, a couple of these actions (taking cattle and boar) were no-brainers...combined they netted me 14 food and critical points.



wheatwheatwheatHARVESTwheatwheatwheat

Consume: 15 food
Reap: 3 grain & 2 veggies
Born: 1 sheep, 1 boar, 1 cattle



Farmyard (finish):

Not my best work, but will it be enough to beat the game's goal of 50 points?

Final Tally:

Fields:------------>4 (out of 4)
Pastures:---------->4 (out of 4)
Grain:------------->4 (out of 4)
Vegetables:-------->4 (out of 4)
Sheep:------------->2 (out of 4)
Wild Boar:--------->3 (out of 4)
Cattle:------------>3 (out of 4)
Unused spaces:----->0
Fenced stables:---->4 (out of 4)
Clay rooms:-------->0
Stone rooms:------>10
Family members:--->15 (out of 15)
Points for cards:-->6
Bonus points:------>2

Game goal:-------->50 points
My score:--------->61 points
Result:----------->Win and start Game #2 with 5 food
Permanent Ock:---->Tutor


Played Occupations/Improvements:


The Tutor netted me 2 bonus points, which probably wasn't enough justification for spending my free ock play on him, but I like him in the long run for the rest of the series, so I'll keep him on as my permanent ock for the game.

The jury's still out on my play of the Clay Deliveryman...judging by the amount of clay I had left over at the end of the game (7) and my inability to purchase a Clay Oven instead of a Stone with which to substitute for the Baker's Oven, I don't think he ended up being much of a benefit...his clay just comes out too late and too slowly.

It was between the Hedge Keeper and the Tutor for my permanent ock this game, but the slight edge went to the easy bonus points. I do like this card, however, and when played to its full potential (which I didn't do), I could see this card saving its user in upwards of 9 wood.

The Fireplace was helpful for what it was (a meat cooking machine), but I probably should have found a way to upgrade it to a Cooking Hearth for the extra food from boar and cattle. The Baker's Oven was a good buy though, as I've already stated, a bit pricier than it should have been.

The Dovecote was a pure point grab, particularly at the point at which I played it, but the Clay Supports, conversely, might have been my best improvement of the game. It allowed me to build the last two rooms of my house relatively quickly and cheaper than normal...if only I had utilized it a few rounds earlier!

Unplayed Occupations/Improvements:


No surprise regarding the Dock Worker as I just don't think he's necessary in a solo series. I was able to stay away from the Mendicant, though I wonder if I should have used him to ease the burden of that first harvest...!

The Stablehand probably would have been a good play in this game, since he would have reduced my need for wood and have provided me with 2 free stables...and since I wasn't utilizing the stables I had built early, the lateness of getting stables through this ock wouldn't have been a hardship...

The Stone Carrier was an interesting card which, based on my actions this game, would have netted me an additional 3 stone...don't know that I would have had the actions to do anything with this extra stone.

No surprise that the Building Material and Feed Pellets were left in my hand...they provide no bonus points and little benefit in a solo series.

I'm a bit bummed that both the Raft and the Drinking Trough never saw the light of day, primarily because combined they represented 2 bonus points that I left on the table. As for their in-game benefits, neither of them would have provided much, perhaps 2 extra food from the Raft and more unneeded space for animals I never had from the Drinking Trough! They both required 2 wood, so I may not have been able to purchase both, but I was 1 food away from starting Game #2 with 6 food (which is the amount needed for the Stage 1 harvest).

Whew! This was quite the project. I welcome any questions, comments or variations on the "What?! You did 'x' instead of 'y'?!" theme that you would like to throw my way. And be on the lookout for my report on Game #2!
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Mike T
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Nicely done.

Instead of your standard grain/sow opening, have you ever considered an Occ/Day Labor opening? I find that if I spend my first 3 rounds on those two spaces, it sets me up nicely for later: no need to interrupt the accumulating sheep or fish, which can feed you at the second harvest, and all your pretty occs out early.
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Markus
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Pure session report excellence here. Thanks!
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Rob Arcangeli
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Excellent report. Very easy to follow and love the end game analysis. Keep it up!
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Marcel Van Assen
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John-Paul, great report!
Really, you get all my respect; good comments too.
What I like most is that the game play is very easy to follow, because of the pics of your board after each round.

Some comments on your play (that are in line with Mike's).

In the solo game, I usually use Day Labourer 3 times to feed my family if I play one early Occ, and 4 times if I play up to 3 Occs. The other action I take reed.

Before second harvest I feed my family using sheep, meaning that I renovate and buy the fireplace.

In the third harvest I fish, giving me 9 food.

At later harvests I also bake.

If we want, we can count actions; which strategy takes most actions?

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John-Paul Pizzica
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Thank you all for your kind comments!

To assen and smcmike: I've never thought of another opening strategy, but I think this day laborer/occ strategy that you both explained could prove to be useful, particularly if I have a set of occs that I'd like to get out early. I'll have to try it...maybe in Game #2!
 
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Dave Mollet
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Hello!
What a great report this was. I recently bought the game so I'm a total newbie, and this helps me understand the game (and some strategies) a lot better.

One rule question tho: in round 4 you take 4 sheep, of which 3 are immediately 'butchered' as you call it to feed your family. But since you have fenced pastures you only have room for 1 sheep in the first place right? Does this mean that you converted the sheep DURING the action of taking the sheep? I would interpret the rules as

START ACTION
- take 4 sheep
- put 1 in home, discard other three because there is no room
END ACTION

and you seem to play
START ACTION
- take 4 sheep
- convert 3 sheep to 6 food
- put 1 sheep in home
END ACTION

Is this allowed because it says 'at any time' on the major improvement card?
I hope I explained it clearly ... what I basically want to know is do you ever actually own the sheep that you have no room for, so that you can use them to convert to food.

thanks in advance,
Dave
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Mike T
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Dave, I made the same mistake as you when I first started. You can convert animals into food directly from the game board, even if you do not have room on your farm for them. Check out the listing under "1 Sheep" on page 9 of the rule book.

What you may not do is breed animals without room for them.
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