Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

Agricola» Forums » General

Subject: ban the swing/riding plows? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Mal Content
United States
Caln Township
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've played probably around 50 games of Agricola games over the years and have banned a handful of cards because they seem overpowered. Now, I'm thinking about banning the swing plow and riding plow.

I realize that the resource requirement (3 wood, 4 wood) and the prerequisite of 3 occupations for these minors seems steep, but these cards are usually played at the midpoint or later of a game where it's far easier to get wood (cause everyone's moved on to renovating, getting major improvements, etc.) and most have already played two or three occupations.

You get one of these plows, and the strategy is simple. Concentrate on ranching, pick up a grain and/or a vegetable when you can, then, when you've got your animal-based food engine going, whip out the superplow.

Badabing badaboom, you've filled 6 spaces and can sow enough grain/veggies to make a few extra points there as well.

Even if you don't get to sow anything, a three-turn play (playing the plow, taking "plow one field" twice), for what would normally take you six turns (plowing six fields), nets you 10 points (6 spaces filled + 4 points for the fields). Devastating.

It's also almost impossible to defendant against in that it's often a surprise move and it's halfway accomplished before the other players know what happened (take SP, play the plow as the minor improvement, plow 3 fields the start of the next round).

Thoughts?


 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Klemm
United States
Concord
CA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The cards are among the top 20 or so, but I feel they are balanced. The plows have a natural progression of cost/requirements to utility. These are on the high end. You are essentially trading wood for fields. Another way to look at it: you're saving a few actions. Also of note, the 6th field is not as useful as the first 5.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Burkman
United States
Kettering
Ohio
flag msg tools
badge
Peekaboo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Each plow represents, essentially, a one-action savings, not counting the Ock requirements and the (at minimum) "half-action" to put them in play. This is far from game-breaking. I also think they're more blockable than you imply, especially the Swing Plow, which only works on "Plow 1 Field." The later you get them out, the easier they are to block, especially in 4- and 5-player games, when all the other players are likely vying for plowing as well.

No, I would never ban either card. I've seen them lose many, many times.
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike T
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
The plows are very nice, but they SEEM much nicer than they actually are. Once you put them in play, you tend to forget about the effort it took to get them there, and only remember the reward. The wood cost is very, very significant.

In a way, the plows are like the opposite of the House Goat. The plows have a big, obvious effect, but you pay through the nose for it. The House Goat has a smaller* effect, but it's free. I'd almost always take House Goat over any plow.


*Probably should say smaller seeming. 6 food and a point is not a small effect. It just happens over time, so I think it feels smaller, psychologically.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bernt Ivar Nødland
Norway
flag msg tools
The plows should definitely not be banned, mostly because the statistics (yes, they exist!) indicate that there are better improvements:

http://play-agricola.com/forums/index.php?topic=2677.msg2455...

These statistics are based on thousands of EIK or EIKG games at play-agricola.com, and show that some cards are better than the plows, for instance

House Goat
Duck Pond
Fruit Tree
Quarry
Beehive
Clay Roof

are all probably(maybe?) better than Riding/Swing plow. This should be corrected a bit, because cards that are drafted late are positioned too high, but House Goat at least, is better (on average) than the plows.

So, yes, the plows are very good, but not good enough to ban. The best occupations are also much more dominating than they are.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mal Content
United States
Caln Township
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the comments thus far. I should have said this, though: we don't draft. Despite the occasional imbalanced game, we find the hidden card factor to be too much fun to sacrifice.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike T
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
Avatar
If anything, I think the big plows are slightly weaker in a no-draft game. The occupation requirement is more significant when you don't get to pick your occs.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derakon Derakon
msg tools
I agree with Mike -- when you don't draft your cards, there's good odds you won't even have 3 occs you want to play in a given game, which means that if you want to play the Swing Plough, you have to "waste" a turn playing a marginal occ -- which makes its return all the weaker.

Swing Plough takes 6.5 actions to play and use: three occs, one wood gathering, half an action to play the minor, and two to use it. All this gets you 6 actions' worth of fields. Thus it's only worthwhile if you derive benefit from the occs you played to meet its prerequisites. If all of those occs are ones that you'd play anyway, then its action cost is more like 3.5; getting 2.5 net actions out of a minor is good but hardly gamebreaking.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul New
msg tools
Derakon wrote:
All this gets you 6 actions' worth of fields. Thus it's only worthwhile if you derive benefit from the occs you played to meet its prerequisites


And the benefits that 6 actions worth of fields can bring. Myriad if you have the grain / veg resources and then sow / bake.

Again, we are into the realm of personal preferences here, but our group never drafts really, we usually take 7 from 10, to allow for some pre-meditated pre-game synergy in the cards. There are usually enough good occupations out there to play 3 of 7 occs during an average game. These may not combine but maybe two for example work nicely together and another one is just a good card in its own right (resource seller, grocer, conservator etc etc).

Timing is the key with a 3 occ prereq. Yes I can play 3 occs, but is it worth having them played so early and ignore other tasty actions just to tick the plow prereq? Often not.

For that reason, I would leave the plows in and not ban it. They are good, for sure, but your game needs to be tailored to them, which in itself as previous posters have mentioned, costs in both resources, actions and strategic direction.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Serge Levert
Canada
Vancouver
British Columbia
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Heh, i really dislike the swing and riding plows, they are 2 of the very few cards i never use if i get them (we rarely draft, just play the 7 cards you're dealt). I just can't get past the suboptimal 6th field. I've played the game over 100 times, but i avoid these strat forums (to avoid outpacing my more casual opponents), so i could very well be doing it wrong.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derakon Derakon
msg tools
Mm, my take on it is that the sixth field is only wasted if you were going to put it to some other use. Realistically, you only really need two fields in any given game unless you're going for a serious crops-oriented strategy. So all the others are "wasted" except for their point value. It's not remotely uncommon for players to have unused spaces left on their farms at the end of the game, in which case that sixth field is actually saving you a point.

I actually played the swing plough recently and then only used it once. I just happened to have the prereqs satisfied for other reasons, and the "plow 1 field" action space was getting hit fairly frequently (5P game), so even though I didn't get the full benefit out of the card it was still worthwhile because fields were much harder to get than usual.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Mc Cabe
United States
Arizona
flag msg tools
There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why . . . I dream of things that never were and ask why not
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The plows are among my favorite cards. Not having played more than a dozen times, I still find it hard to take one field with so much else to do; so any time I can plow three fields in one shot, I feel I'm way ahead of the game, even though I've got to spend an action playing the card. Doing it twice is even better, even if one of the fields doesn't count for scoring.

Brian
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Shields
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
curmudgeon wrote:

Even if you don't get to sow anything, a three-turn play (playing the plow, taking "plow one field" twice), for what would normally take you six turns (plowing six fields), nets you 10 points (6 spaces filled + 4 points for the fields). Devastating.


These plows are, at best, saving you two actions, or giving you 3 points depending how you look at it.

1 action to take the wood (and really, it's often 2 actions. You certainly can't count on 4 wood for one action.)
1 action (or maybe "half an action") to play the plow.
2 plowing actions.

That's about 4 actions for 11 points. (Don't forget the -1 you're eliminating) If you just take plow 4 times, that's 8 points for 4 actions. 3 points for a card is good, but it's nothing unbalanced. And of course many many games you should not be playing that many occupations anyway. In a pure deal 7 random cards game, you rarely have 3 occs that are truly worth playing.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Klemm
United States
Concord
CA
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
boardpaul wrote:
Derakon wrote:
All this gets you 6 actions' worth of fields. Thus it's only worthwhile if you derive benefit from the occs you played to meet its prerequisites


And the benefits that 6 actions worth of fields can bring. Myriad if you have the grain / veg resources and then sow / bake.

Again, we are into the realm of personal preferences here, but our group never drafts really, we usually take 7 from 10, to allow for some pre-meditated pre-game synergy in the cards. There are usually enough good occupations out there to play 3 of 7 occs during an average game. These may not combine but maybe two for example work nicely together and another one is just a good card in its own right (resource seller, grocer, conservator etc etc).

Timing is the key with a 3 occ prereq. Yes I can play 3 occs, but is it worth having them played so early and ignore other tasty actions just to tick the plow prereq? Often not.

For that reason, I would leave the plows in and not ban it. They are good, for sure, but your game needs to be tailored to them, which in itself as previous posters have mentioned, costs in both resources, actions and strategic direction.



If I compare the 3 or so actions to get the 6 fields with 3 actions to plow thrice, I have gained 5 vp so far. The additional sowing and baking capability is perhaps 1-2 additional vp. If you have 1 grain and 1 veg, then you aren't gaining with sowing until you have sown and harvested. I say this because you have sown the same amount in 3 fields vs 6. For the second sow, you will possibly be able to plow and sow, so that sow will allow you to sow everything. I feel one of the main advantages of the big plows is the ability to focus on other things yet still get a huge influx of fields.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian Coppedge
United States
New Haven
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Don't forget the occs that give you 4 wood.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.