Brandt Fundak
United States
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After barely squeaking by in game 2, I decided to play game 3 in a late night session before going to bed (against my better judgement.) As you will see, thanks to an incredibly favorable draw, I was able to own the game this time around.

Game Setup
Held Occupations: Woodcutter, Mushroom Collector
Starting Hands
Occupations: Tutor, Meat Seller, Carpenter, Renovator, Stone Carrier
Minor Improvements: Manger, Spindle, Shepherd's Pipe, Animal Pen, Quarry, Millstone, Builder's Trowel

Initial Reaction: This is a SPECTACULAR draw. I already used the Meat Seller effectively in game 1, and the Carpenter and Renovator are going to make building rooms and renovating very easy for me. In addition the Animal Pen will net me 2 food per turn when I can get it in the game and need I say anything about how awesome the Quarry is, especially in a game with two occupations already in play? Honestly, I could care less about the rest of the Minor Improvements, although the Spindle and Millstone will likely be useful as well.

Stage 1
Round 1
Action Revealed: Fences
Resources Available (from game 2): None

Let me just start by saying that 9 times out of 10, playing the Tutor is a fool's errand. Often, the Tutor gets played, but because actions have to be played elsewhere, you don't end up playing as many occupations as you think you will. But given that I needed 4 occupations in play to play the Quarry and the Animal Pen and that my entire strategy involved getting the Carpenter, Renovator and Meat Seller into play, playing the Tutor first was guaranteed to get me at least 3 bonus points at game end if I was able to execute my strategy right. My thought was that the Meat Seller and Renovator would not be needed until at least Stage 3, as I was not planning on renovating or getting an oven early in the game. With this in mind, I took the Day Laborer with my first action and then spent 1 food on my next action to get the Tutor into play.

Round 2
Action Revealed: Sow and/or Bake Bread
Resources Available: 1 food

To get ready to get the Quarry in play as fast as possible, I spend my remaining food on another occupation--this time, it's the Carpenter, who will let me build rooms cheaply. I then take the Day Laborer, as I need 6 food at the coming harvest and I don't want to spend all of Round 4 scrounging for food.

Round 3
Action Revealed: Major/Minor Improvement
Resources Available: 2 food

Now that I have 4 occupations in play, I can play the Quarry. I take the Major/Minor Improvement space and get the Quarry in play. Apart from giving you 3 stone in addition to the 2 food on the Day Laborer space, it's also worth 2 VP at the end, making it probably one of the best cards in the game, much less the deck. Since I can now get 3 stone for the Day Laborer, I take the space, netting 2 food in addition.

Round 4
Action Revealed: 1 Sheep
Resources Available: 3 stone, 4 food

The reason I picked the Mushroom Collector as my held Occupation from game 2 was to effectively turn the Wood space into an additional Day Laborer plus accumulated wood space. I take the Wood (grabbing 7 wood and leaving one behind for 2 food, and then getting a bonus wood from the Woodcutter.) I then take a Major/Minor Improvement for my second action--The Well (for 1 wood and 3 stone.) I questioned whether buying the Well in turn 4 was a good idea, but my assumption was that in the mid to late game I would have an oven (likely the Stone Oven thanks to the Quarry) and the Meat Seller in play, and would not be as helped by a 1 food bonus for 5 rounds. With only 2 family members, however, the 1 food bonus in rounds 5-9 seemed like it would be useful, plus the 4 VP at the end of the game is nothing to sneeze at, so I went for it.

Stage 1 Harvest
Field Phase: N/A
Feeding Phase: 6 food needed (0 food remain)
Breeding Phase: N/A

Stage 2
Round 5
Action Revealed: 1 Stone
Resources Available: 7 wood, 1 food

The whole reason for taking the Wood last round was to buy cheap rooms thanks to the Carpenter, so I take the Reed space for 5 reed. However, I realize that I want to build more than 1 stable when I build the rooms, so taking the Wood space would be necessary before building. I also need 2 Wood for the Animal Pen, which I plan on playing when I do my first family growth. If Family Growth comes up next turn, I'll build the two rooms and worry about stables and the pen later, but I want to make sure it comes up first and that the Wood space has 2 more wood on it when I take it, so I opt to get the Renovator into play, since I have 1 food from my Well bonus.

Round 6
Action Revealed: Renovation with Major/Minor Improvement
Resources Available: 7 wood, 5 reed, 1 food

Since Family Growth won't appear until Round 7, I put my plan to build the stables into play. I take the Wood space, getting 4 food, a bonus wood and 2 food for leaving 1 wood behind. I then build rooms, building 2 rooms (for 6 wood and 4 reed) and two stables (for 4 wood) leaving me 2 wood to get the Animal Pen into play when I play Family Growth next turn.

Round 7
Action Revealed: Family Growth with Minor Improvement
Resources Available: 2 wood, 1 reed, 4 food

For my first action, I take Family Growth and play the Animal Pen for my minor improvement for 2 wood, setting myself up with 2 food per round for the rest of the game (and 3 per round in rounds 8 and 9, thanks to the Well.) As much as I would love to take Day Laborer here, it will only get me 2 food and I need 3 more, so I am forced to take the Fishing space for 7 food to close the round.

Stage 2 Harvest
Field Phase: N/A
Feeding Phase: 7 food needed (4 food remain)
Breeding Phase: N/A

Stage 3
Round 8
Action Revealed: 1 Boar
Resources: 1 reed, 7 food

Since I am sitting on 7 food, know I am getting 3 more in Round 9 and only need to find 2 food with 6 actions in the next 2 rounds, I decide that now is the time to get the Meat Seller into play, which I do for 1 food. I then take the Day Laborer, getting 2 food and 3 stone. I then do another Family Growth and play the Millstone as my improvement, further setting the stage for when I eventually get an oven into play.

Round 9
Action Revealed: Take 1 Vegetable
Resources: 1 reed, 2 stone, 11 food

Since I want to get ready to build another room, I take the Wood space which gets me 6 wood, plus 1 bonus wood and 2 food for leaving 1 wood behind on the space for net 7 wood. I then take the Day Laborer again for 2 food and 3 stone, getting ready to build a Stone Oven when I get around to renovating. I then take the reed space for 4 reed and for my final action I take grain.

Stage 3 Harvest
Field Phase: N/A
Feeding Phase: 12 food needed (3 food remain)
Breeding Phase: N/A

Stage 4
Round 10
Action Revealed: 1 Cattle
Resources Available: 7 wood, 5 reed, 5 stone, 1 grain, 5 food

With my first action, I build the last room I will need on my house for 3 wood and 2 reed, as well as 2 stables for 4 wood. I then play my last occupation, the Stone Carrier for 1 food. I then do Family Growth, but since I plan to use the Renovation with Major/Minor Improvement to build a Stone Oven (for 1 clay and 3 stone), I pass on playing the Builder's Trowel, which is the only improvement I have the resources for. I finish the round by plowing a field, getting ready to sow my grain.

Round 11
Action Revealed: 1 Stone
Resources Available: 3 reed, 2 stone, 1 grain, 6 food

Since I need to get food and since there is a massive amount of Sheep that I don't have room for on the Sheep space, I take the Clay space for 11 clay. I then Renovate for 3 clay and 1 reed (thanks to the Renovator) and play the Stone Oven as my Major Improvement. With my third action, I took the Sheep space, keeping 4 and slaughtering 4 for 8 food. I then sowed my 1 grain. Finally, realizing that I can probably get the Pottery, Joinery AND Basketmaker's Workshop in each of the next 3 rounds, I take the Day Laborer for 2 food and 3 stone.

Stage 4 Harvest
Field Phase: 1 grain
Feeding Phase: 15 food needed (1 food remaining)
Breeding Phase: 1 sheep (placed in house)

Stage 5
Round 12
Action Revealed: Plow 1 Field and/or Sow
Resources Available: 7 clay, 5 stone, 2 reed, 1 grain, 3 food

At this point, I need to get the fields working, and the Plow 1 Field and/or Sow action is just what I need. I take the Plow 1 field action and then take a vegetable for my second action. I then Plow 1 field and Sow both the grain and vegetable on the newly plowed fields. I then renovate my house to stone (for 3 stone and 1 reed thanks to the Renovator and play the Pottery as my Major Improvement for 2 clay and 2 stone. For my last action, I want to set up to take the Joinery next turn (because I need to take wood for Fences anyway) so I take the Day Laborer for 2 food and 3 stone.

Round 13
Action Revealed: Family Growth without Room
Resources Available: 5 clay, 1 reed, 3 stone, 7 food

Since it appears there won't be enough wood in this game to fence all the areas I want to, I decide to take the wood now to fence in one of the stables so I have an enclosure for the 6 boar sitting on the boar space. I take the Wood for 8 wood, plus the bonus wood, leaving the one wood behind that's been on the space since the beginning for 2 food. I then take the Major/Minor improvement space and take the Joinery for 2 stone and 2 wood. I then take the Day Laborer for 2 food and 3 stone, setting up to take the Basketmaker's Workshop in Round 14. I then build 6 fences around one of the stables and the empty space next to it, leaving me with 1 wood. I then slaughter 2 of my sheep for 4 food, opening up the newly enclosed stable and the space available in the house for 1 sheep, and also giving me enough food to feed my family this round. For my final action, I take the 6 boar and put them in the enclosure.

Stage 5 Harvest
Field Phase: 2 grain, 1 vegetable
Feeding Phase: 15 food (0 food remaining)
Breeding Phase: 1 boar, 1 sheep (placed in house)

Stage 6
Round 14
Action Revealed: Renovation with Fences
Resources Available: 1 wood, 5 clay, 4 stone, 2 grain, 1 vegetable, 2 food

I want to buy the Basketmaker's Workshop, so I take the Reed space for 5 reed. I then take a Major Improvement and get the workshop for 2 reed and 2 food. I then Plow 1 field, followed by Plow 1 field and Sow, where I sow 1 grain and 1 vegetable. I then slaughter 3 sheep and 1 boar for 9 food. For my last action, I take the cattle space, but since I only have room for two of the cattle if I want them to breed, I slaughter the 3 cattle for 12 food, giving me more than enough food to end the game.

Stage 6 Harvest
Field Phase: 3 grain, 2 vegetables
Feeding Phase: 15 food needed (6 food remaining)
Breeding Phase: 1 boar, 1 cattle

End Results
5 family members
5 Stone House Rooms
5 fields
1 pasture
1 fenced stable
0 unused spaces
7 grain
3 vegetables
1 sheep
7 boar
3 cattle
16 VP from the Quarry(2), Animal Pen(1), the Well(4), Stone Oven(3), Joinery(2), Pottery(2), and Basketmaker's Workshop(2)
8 Bonus VP from the Tutor(4 occupations for 4 VP), Pottery(5 clay for 2 VP) and Basketmaker's Workshop(4 reed for 2 VP)

Total Score: 68 points

Final Analysis: Basically, the dominance of this game was set up by four cards--the Quarry, the Carpenter, the Renovator and the Meat Seller, with a small assist from the Tutor and the Animal Pen. When these cards were combined with the already in play combo of Woodcutter and Mushroom Collector, there were two spaces available that gave 2 food along with needed resources. This made food plentiful at the beginning and middle of the game, and allowed for full family growth by turn 10, which gave me five actions for rounds 11-14. With all of the extra actions, I was able to get all of the spaces in my farm in use, as well as buying almost all of the improvements that were not Fireplaces or Cooking Hearths. In the solo series, getting the Quarry is truly a huge advantage from the beginning and is a tremendously powerful card, which is why you can't get it in play as easily in a multi-player game.

Looking forward to game 4: I start game 4 with 4 food thanks to my score in this game, which is a huge advantage. I am also carrying over the Carpenter into the next game, as his ability to build cheap houses is too good to pass up, and with only 4 occupations in hand in the next game, carrying over the Tutor seems like a waste and not worth the 4 bonus points you MIGHT get from playing it. In actuality, I'd love carry the Quarry over to the next game, but obviously, that would make the card even more broken than it is. However, since I have to score at least 62 points to win the next game, its power is mitigated somewhat going forward.

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Mike T
United States
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Why oh why did you take DL in rounds 1 and 2, before getting out the Quarry? Why not take wood? Again, this just doesn't make any sense!

You were a bit careless with your wood, in my opinion. You spent 17 wood on rooms and stables, leaving yourself very short when it came time to fence. Fences are worth more than stables.

Playing the Stone Carrier was purely a 1-point move (from Tutor), since you never use him.

Nevertheless, 68 is nothing to sneeze at!
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Brandt Fundak
United States
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smcmike wrote:
Why oh why did you take DL in rounds 1 and 2, before getting out the Quarry? Why not take wood? Again, this just doesn't make any sense!

I see what you are saying, and feel a bit daft that I didn't notice the mistake. That said, this game was played very late in the night when I probably should have been sleeping. Thanks for the input though.
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James R
United Kingdom
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The quarry and the animal pen are definitely superb in solo play where you already have occupations in play, but 68 is still a very respectable score so well done.

Given your strategy of taking bonus wood and food with the nice combo you've set up, I'd suggest the stone carrier over the carpenter. The carpenter is likely to save you 4-6 wood for building, definitely useful but possibly wood you already have. The stone carrier could instead get you a considerable amount of stone, allowing you to buy more of the majors, which I think is likely to net you more points.

However I would have said that woodcutter and mushroom collecter were just horrible solo cards but you seem to have made them work so maybe just ignore me

I'm enjoying your series of games and am tempted to start one off myself again. However I seem to remember that after the first few games my strategy always became fairly fixed and all my farms ended up looking the same.
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