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My only play of Ora et Labora was a 3 player game and Agricola was 2 player. Of course i can't go into the depth here and i won't go into rules, because they are written down in other threads before.
I just try to adress some of the critics which were made on each games and describe the general feel which i had.

Theme: Both were critized like lots of euros for the implimentation of their theme.
I really like how Agricola's theme works in the game. One point of critics was that you can't specialize in Agricola on just one thing, like having lots of cows. This isn't a trading game and you can't nourish a family with just cows, so you need some veggies in the lunch aswell. Having more family members enables you to get more work done is perfect, too. And at the end you really have a n1 little farm in front of you.

Ora et Labora' Monk theme isn't that convincing. While i really like the mechanic, that you just get priors back when all are set into buildings, i just can't get the reason for that.
The spatial element and settling is really well integrated and makes a lot of sense.

Mechanics: Ora is front here and brings some really nice and new ideas. The only problem with Ora in this category is the conversion from goods to better goods, which can seem pretty random.

Replayability: Both games seem to have lots of replayability, although for different reasons. Agricola offers you different cards and order of action cards every game. Ora on the other side has to different set of buidlings and more important it lets you play to different goals/strategies.

Feel:

Agricola feels more stressfull, because you always want to do more in the end. But this might be an upside for some. Ora might be overwhelming with all the options it offers you at every point of the game.

How often will the game hit the table:

Agricola will be easier to sell to other people especially non gamers, because of the theme and being more straightforward. And it's shorter.
In a real gamer group Ora might find more love, because of depth and very cool mechanics.

Teachability: I'd say Agricola is way simpler to teach, because mechanics are very close to the theme. Plow field, sow, get goods, feed family. Thats very linear. Also every good has a very specific use ( perhaps overexagerating here)

Ora et Labora is very tough for beginners, because of all that senseless ( in the beginners eyes ) goods conversion. The spatila element adds even more complexity and the goods can be used for prety much everything( overexagerating again).

Interation: I'd say theres way more interaction in Ora than Agricola ( no final statement and open to discuss). You are fighting over goods in both games, but in Ora you can use other players clerkyman which is fun to do and gives you the option to use buildings which aren't any longere available plus you can screw your opponents turn. It feels much less like a solitaire to me.

I hope this post was helpful to you in deciding which game fits you or your group best.

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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
recallme wrote:
My only play of Ora et Labora was a 3 player game and Agricola was 2 player. Of course i can't go into the depth here and i won't go into rules, because they are written down in other threads before.
I just try to adress some of the critics which were made on each games and describe the general feel which i had.


I suspect you played with the right number for Ora but for Agricola. An overall point is that Agricola's componentry is typical of that of a first design, which is lots everywhere. Ora does much more with far less, and better, which represents an advance in design. Series versus parallel.

Quote:
Theme: Both were critized like lots of euros for the implimentation of their theme.


My Irish monks limited themselves in spiritual artefacts by going straight for emergency beer, whilst considering how to crack the whiskey problem.

Quote:
I really like how Agricola's theme works in the game. One point of critics was that you can't specialize in Agricola on just one thing, like having lots of cows. This isn't a trading game and you can't nourish a family with just cows, so you need some veggies in the lunch aswell. Having more family members enables you to get more work done is perfect, too. And at the end you really have a n1 little farm in front of you.


Pink ponies strictly forbidden.

Quote:
Ora et Labora' Monk theme isn't that convincing. While i really like the mechanic, that you just get priors back when all are set into buildings, i just can't get the reason for that.


I may not fully understand this point, but clearly this rule -- which I think entirely reasonable -- is connected to other players paying your men to use your buildings, which is sometimes disadvantageous [all your men deployed at the start of your turn] but more often means you get your own men back sooner, including the useful prior.

Quote:
The spatial element and settling is really well integrated and makes a lot of sense.


One might have hoped for more naval cards, as otherwise the sea spaces are a bit empty, however the game cries out for expansion.

Quote:
Mechanics: Ora is front here and brings some really nice and new ideas. The only problem with Ora in this category is the conversion from goods to better goods, which can seem pretty random.


Whiskey is whiskey: in my sole game, I developed two ways to get it

Quote:
Replayability: Both games seem to have lots of replayability, although for different reasons. Agricola offers you different cards and order of action cards every game. Ora on the other side has to different set of buidlings and more important it lets you play to different goals/strategies.


"More advanced design" is always a powerful argument. After Ora, Agricola seems slightly more onerous than before.

Quote:
Feel:
Agricola feels more stressfull, because you always want to do more in the end. But this might be an upside for some. Ora might be overwhelming with all the options it offers you at every point of the game.


well you are not a drinking man, clearly. Interesting that the church never forbad this.

Quote:
How often will the game hit the table:[/b]
Agricola will be easier to sell to other people especially non gamers, because of the theme and being more straightforward.


I doubt it.

Quote:
And it's shorter.


Not with a full complement of players. Ora is good with three, so adding up time-per-player gives a lower total here.

Quote:
In a real gamer group Ora might find more love, because of depth and very cool mechanics.


no doubt which will get bought first then.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
thumbsup Geek gold for aforandy, just for the emergency beer and trying to crack the whisky comment

I've played both and like both but for different reasons
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
Love your insights, and good thinking after just 1 play each! BUT:


Quote:
Mechanics: Ora is front here and brings some really nice and new ideas. The only problem with Ora in this category is the conversion from goods to better goods, which can seem pretty random.


??? Agricola really has many many many more new and/ or cool mechanics than Ora, which is basically Le Havre with some small things added from Agricola's Farmers of the Moor, and a new (but slightly overrated) production wheel and an abstract worker-placement mechanism.

Agricola has cool things like: 1. Fencing 2. Sowing (even if it was borrowed from Antiqua) 3. Family expanding = extra workers 4. Animals reproducing 5. Building rooms 6. Feeding.

All of which are very thematic too BTW.

This all apart from the question which game is better on the long run.
But in mechanics Agricola was groundbreaking, Ora et Labora just has old ideas put together in a new way IMHO.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
This is a question of perception. Building fences, sowing etc. are no mechanisms. Agricola's mechanisms are worker placement and resource accumulation with the addition of a little spatial element. All these mechanisms have been seen before. Still, this dossn't make Agricola less innovative. And so it doesn't with Ora.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
MM, I understand your point Gregorz, but I think sowing, breeding etc. are mechanisms in Agricola: they have new small (mathematical) rules that were for a great part not seen before.

I agree that these are smaller mechanisms placed on top of the bigger mechanism of worker placement. But I really think they are more innovative than the small mechanisms of Ora et labora. But each to his/ her taste.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
Sowing: yes, this is a small mechanism seen before in Antiquity. Plowing OTOH is no mechanism at all IMO: it's taking a tile and placing on one's board. That's comparable to taking a resource. Nothing special.
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
That is why I did not mention Plowing.. But I'll stop now. all a matter of definitions.

Ora et labora seemed too brainy for me at first, but I like it after all. Agricola is my absolute nr. 1 game, (or has been for 3 years, played it over 200 times.)
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
I never said that Agricola didn't have new mechanics at its time. Just that Ora adds new things, which i like a lot. Agricola just has one way of Interaction, Ora offers 2-3.

Monk mechanic: I like that you can pay monks your opponent owns and this makes perfect sense. Just the fact that they don't come back at every rounds end is not themy.
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
that's an useful thread, I think I'm not the only one asking which one to buy...or which one first ...if OeL e Agricola are different enough to buy both!

I've only played Agricola a few times, and it's not an easy game (with all the rules), do you think OeL is even more difficult than Agricola? that's scary! at least does OeL have a family version to play with occasional-gamers?

what about lenght: is it true that they both last same time (120min?) what with short version of OeL?

last question: an argument that many complain about agricola is a poor interaction, do you fell OeL is less solitary game?

thanks
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
Thanks for this short but interesting review. These games are really clamoring for comparison as they have very similar theme, art and spatial elements, as well as the same designer.

I love OeL but can't stand Agricola. I love OeL's open-endedness and decision space - you can specialise or diversify and they're both legitimate strategic choices. Agricola, for me, is too cramped. I also love the player interaction around work contracts - it seems so irrelevant but is a very subtle mechanism. In Agricola, the blocking is much more intense and anxiety-inducing (in me, at least) and much less fun.

I appreciate the action limit in OeL - which is unusual as I usually grate at artificial restrictions in Euros. I vastly prefer it to Agricola's family members. It always struck me as incredibly unthematic in Agricola that only one couple could be pregnant at a given time - it really breaks theme and can often give one player a not insignificant action advantage that outweighs the difficulty of setting it up. I think OeL is the more thematic game (though that's not necessarily saying much as they'r both pretty unthematic). I thinkt he Joker is a much mroe flexible way of dealing with resource spaces - Agricola's artificial limits also grated on me (why is there only one fishing boat??? SO unthematic!)

I also hate Agricola's cards - they are pretty unbalanced and I don't think the boost in replayability is worth the unpredictability. OeL certainly doesn't seem "solvable" after 12 plays, and that's without cards.

I really want OeL to eclipse Agricola in popularity - it's a superb game: streamlined, well-playtested, wonderfully open-ended and excruciatingly well-paced. It really deserves to be seen as the better of the two games in my opinion. I hope it has a long development life and a number of expansions, not because it will get boring without them (I doubt it will!) but because I'm excited by the possibilities. I agree with the sentiment that OeL is the more refined design, and stands out as a more advanced game as a result - by which I don't mean that it requires more advanced players (far from it!), just that the game itself is sleeker somehow.

I think Agricola will stay more popular, because I think a lot of people come at it as a rather cute game about building your farm. I think it's Agricola's theme rather than its mechanics that make people go 'SQUEE!' at it, but I find its mechanics clunky and dull. It's also proven to be something of a workhorse in that it is almost infinitely expandable with cards, but then I think the cards are an unsatisfying "bolt-on" mechanism at best.

For all I don't like Agricola, I recognise that it's a great game, and I agree with Joost that its mechanisms are quite original and deserve acknowledgement. But I still think OeL is the better game, and if you had to pick one, it would be Ora every time.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
BigBoar wrote:
that's an useful thread, I think I'm not the only one asking which one to buy...or which one first ...if OeL e Agricola are different enough to buy both!

I've only played Agricola a few times, and it's not an easy game (with all the rules), do you think OeL is even more difficult than Agricola? that's scary! at least does OeL have a family version to play with occasional-gamers?

what about lenght: is it true that they both last same time (120min?) what with short version of OeL?

last question: an argument that many complain about agricola is a poor interaction, do you fell OeL is less solitary game?

thanks
I think OeL is easier to teach than Agricola but still more thinky because it's so open ended. I think Argicola at 3p plays a tad faster than OeL. I think the interaction is similar but different. You can block in both, but block less in OeL, but really screw someone by buying their worker. In fact, that's what makes the game quite aggressive, if you take every opportunity to screw with you opponents as possible. Can't really do that in Agricola.
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
I updated my post with some points, which had been asked.
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
I find it interesting that one of the biggest reasons I like Ora over Agricola wasn't mentioned: the feeding phase. In Agricola, the feeding phase is a "you need this or you are punished" with beggar cards. In Ora, it's "if you have this, you get rewarded. If you have more, you might even get rewarded more". I like incentives way better than punishments.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
Quote:
I also hate Agricola's cards - they are pretty unbalanced and I don't think the boost in replayability is worth the unpredictability.


WOW so funny.. exactly the opposite of my opinion: I love the Agricola cards and do not care for a slight balance problem. They add a lot of juice!

After 200 games of Agricola and 7 of Ora et Labora I can say with certainty that Ora et Labora is much harder for my brain. The rules might be simpler but the myricad possiblities still make me dizzy.So if Agricola is complex to you, I would not go into O et L.
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
I personally am all for games that prevent a player who has played it 200 times from beating their opponent who's played it 20 times, almost purely from having a strategy that's set in (maybe not stone) clay and experienced in bringing it through.

Joost, no offense, but you seem like one of the guys in my games group. He has the games he prefers, and its clear he prefers them because hes figured out a strategy that he likes because it gives him a very good chance at winning and there isn't much, apart from a concerted effort of almost everyone else blocking him, to keep him from winning. If he hasn't found a strategy to almost guarantee he will win or have at least a good shot at winning, he doesn't like the game.

Actually I'm sorry, that's a harsh judgement of you from just your one statement, that the possibilities make you dizzy. To me that sounds like your saying, you can't pin down exactly how to win so you would prefer it stay off the table.
 
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Re: Comparing Ora et Labora to Agricola after one play each
Jeff, I do not mind your judgement but it is not correct.

I do only win Agricola some of the time, and try out different strategies all the time.

I am in fact someone who finds winning less important than atmosphere/ theme.

And I think that is what makes gamers different:

1. In Ora at Labora your strategy takes you to the win. No luck. Many die-hard geeks like that. In Agricola some card-luck can help you (though strategy is quite important.) Many strategy-brainy-want-to-win-Geeks do not like that.

2. I am into flavour, and not into chess. That is the whole story. That is why like Agricola better than O&L (up till now), and love the cards of Agricola (which will destroy any fixed strategy by the way.)

O & L is of course technically again the design of a Genius. BTW
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After playing way too many Agricola games... we found out there are some paths to victory that are clearly better than others.
Gaining a house extension and a new family member soon is a huge advantage over those who don't manage it for example.

In Ora et Labora? There are multiple paths to take. An optimal strategy is much less clear. Even if you do have an optimal strategy, there's usually more than one way of achieving it.

This makes Ora et Labora the winner for me. Sad it doesn't seem in print anymore and it's starting to be hard to find.
Glass Road is a bit it's spiritual successor, but we clearly liked it less than Ora. It plays too fast and has some wonky mechanics that's hard to get your head around.
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