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Agricola: Farmers of the Moor» Forums » General

Subject: Not convinced by this expansion rss

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Tony Cotterill
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I can see where Uwe is going with this but there are two things about it that just don't sit right with me. Both concerning the extra action cards...

Firstly, there is now too much advantage from a good food engine. If you have a game where your food engine is a slow burner it's already hard to get it together. Those with a good one are much better off. Now, those lucky enough to get a good engine going are able to buy extra actions for 2 food and thus get an even easy ride. Those that have more, get more. Realisic, admittedly, but bad game balance.

The second point is mainly an aesthetic one and you'll probably just think I'm being OCD.
The placing of workers as a single basic mechanic is so elegant and is what make this game so simple, yet so hard.
Now this extra take-a-card-instead mechanic comes along and mucks it up. It feels a bit bolted-on to me and out of kilter with the rest of the game.
I feel it would have been better to just offer these options as additional setup cards (as we already have) and either start with and additional worker or simply say: 'You now have more to do. You will almost certainly not complete your farm and will be left with some minuses. Deal with it! It's the same for everyone."

Anyone else have any ideas on this?
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Jason Rupp
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So you're trying to say that you're upset that producing 6 food a harvest is now worse than producing 10? I don't get why you think it's bad balance. Honestly, the 2 food price is there because it wants to force you into a difficult decision. Often times, the action won't be worth 2 food but sometimes the benefit is just too much or you happen to be doing great and don't value food as much.

The cards wouldn't work out well if you needed to use workers on them. They add a difficult decision of doing more vs doing better things. It's not always best to go for the cards as your first action, but sometimes it will be.

It sounds like you wanted a boring "more of the same" expansion but FotM is not that.
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Jon W
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Nanki-Poo wrote:
Firstly, there is now too much advantage from a good food engine.

You must mean an early food engine, as you've apparently dismissed any "slow burner" engines. But early "engines" are pretty weak long-term (otherwise, why would anyone ever go with the slower ones?). IME, extra food early tends to mean you're not investing in much of an engine at all, and so while you can take advantage of some tactical food grabs and get extra free actions, your infrastructure suffers.

Quote:
Now this extra take-a-card-instead mechanic comes along and mucks it up. It feels a bit bolted-on to me and out of kilter with the rest of the game.

I see where you're coming from on this. It doesn't bother me, but I agree that it's a little clunky. The issue is granularity, though: these actions are not worth a full worker (generally), nor are they accretive. How else to do it? Adding a worker would be awful. I'm more sympathetic to your harsher suggestion (and hey, it's your game; why not try it as a variant?), but I think it would play out along too similar lines game to game.
 
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Tony Cotterill
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rrrrupp wrote:
So you're trying to say that you're upset that producing 6 food a harvest is now worse than producing 10?


What I'm saying is that it's galling to the poor sod (and we've all been there) whose setup is barely getting them the food they need to get from harvest to harvest, to see another player who lucked into a combo allowing them to huge piles of unwanted food, buying extra actions and getting even further ahead. The extra food is probably already allowing them to sustain an extra bod and get extra actions as it is.

I think it's an unbalancing factor, that's all I'm saying.
Another alternative would be to say you can't buy these used cards. Each one only happens once per round, but that might screw last player even more - I don't know.
 
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Chris F.
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It's my experience that the player with lots of food lying around is often not the leader. If that food isn't converted into actions, it won't mean much at the end of the game.

The special action cards provide another way to do that (more family members being the main method, of course).
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Kasper Baack
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Besides that, there's limited things you can do with the actions at the end of the game, if you're running out of peat and forest. You'd still need the resources to keep buying improvements with the cards.
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Mi Myma
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I kind of agree with the OP. The special action cards make the game a bit less elegant. However, I've only played FotM a few times, so I'm not ready to completely dismiss it yet.

A thought that occurs to me just now, as a possible compromise variant, is to use the special action cards as regular action spaces, and keep with the two family members to start - but have more rounds per stage. I figure, just 1 each. So you'll have 5 rounds before the first harvest, 4 more before the second, etc.
 
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Jon W
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It gets back to the fact that these are "free" actions for a reason: they're not equivalent to normal actions. Also, there is more food available, as it's intended to be used as a currency of sorts so that these sub-actions can be used multiple times.

Inelegant though they may be, the free actions do (at least) these few positive things for the game:

1. They cloud the action/decision space (making "best" play harder to evaluate).
2. They open up more strategic possibilities (esp. for a food engine).
3. They add more "hooks" for the Major/Minor devs.

Treating them as ordinary-but-weaker actions wouldn't allow for #1 or #2, and would only leave #3. I think FotM works really well as designed, and that you'd have to do a lot more work than simply adding workers or actions to get the same effects. And why bother, when there's a working, tested solution (though yes, a bit inelegant) staring you in the face?
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Brian Mc Cabe
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I look at it as a trade off. The player that takes the special action now leaves board spaces open, which allows the player with the slower-developing food engine to gain the resources to become more efficient.

Agricola is very much a game that favors the more experienced player, but these action cards can actually help the less-experienced player.

Brian
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Geoff Burkman
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I agree that buying special actions for a 2food is not nearly the advantage the OP thinks it may be, whether you can afford it or not. Ugoi experience is that the player who does this sort of thing a lot (more than twice in a game) is rarely the winner. Why? Because that food expenditure is often not being turned into points, or it's being done at usorious rates. Cutting peat, for instance, doesn't produce points; in fact, it loses you a point by opening up a space that you'll then have to fill. Buying a horse for a 2food is expensive (which is why I refer to them as palominos or Arabians in my reports), as is felling trees for a lousy 2Wood.

The next report I post may well serve as illustration of the ephemeral value of special actions. I managed to take 16 special actions, only one of which cost me the premium, and I still only barely squeaked out the win! Yes, admittedly, I was playing a bizarre strategy (you'll see when you read it), but, man! I had almost as many specials as my two opponents combined, with a surfeit of 11 and 14 total actions over them respectively, and still just inched past them. Of course, I never did buy a cookery, either. It was definitely one of the stranger games I've played.
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Benjamin Kerenza
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Having not played FotM but read a lot about how it plays feel free to ignore my comments as ill-informed.

I think I agree that there is an inelegance to the card mechanic of special actions but I disagree that it is unbalanced. I'd even go as far as saying it is unbalanced to the player who takes the premium.

With an extra worker by round 8 you are expending 2 food on two reasonable actions where as with specials you are spending 2 food per turn on an action that is not as good.

Like others have also says the cards do have the beautiful elegance of opening up the regular board for the next player.
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Mike T
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"Elegant" isn't the word that I would use for any version of Agricola. It's a big, messy game, and while each of the pieces is well-designed, I never feel like they are particularly elegant.

That being said, Special Actions interfere with the basic worker-placement mechanism, and that does change the core of the game from something that is simple and accessible to something a bit more conceptually difficult. It adds a layer of complexity. I like this, but I understand those who disagree.

As far as food engines, yes, food is more important in FotM. That does not mean, however, that the game is unbalanced, only that the center of gravity has shifted. Honestly, I think this is a great thing.

In basic Agricola, one very strong strategy is to just throw up rooms and grow as quickly as you possibly can, picking up food along the way and assuming that you'll be able to get by on food with your action advantage. Note what this strategy isn't about: farming. If FotM forces you to slow down a bit and tend to your farm, or at least makes this a viable alternative to throwing up extensions willy-nilly and spending the first half of the game between the sheets, I say good for it.
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Mi Myma
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I agree with Benjamin and Mike, above. To clarify my earlier post, FotM changes the game in a way that I'm not sure if I like yet. I would *never* say that FotM makes the game *unbalanced*. It shifts the focus of the game, as Mike mentions. The things that are most important and most useful in the base game, aren't the same things that are most important and most useful with FotM added. As I said, I haven't played enough to form an opinion as to whether it's "better" or "worse". My first impressions were that it's worse, but only because I was used to the focus and priorities of the base game.

It's a much more fundamental change to the game than simply adding some of the other decks like G, Cz, O, etc.

Some expansions to games add new options and new fun stuff without changing the basic strategy of the game. FotM is not that kind of expansion.
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