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Subject: A 2P game where the cards play themselves rss

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Mike R
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Have you ever had a game of Agricola where things just seemed to take care of themselves, without any apparent effort or worry? Where everything goes to plan, you always have a bounty of food available and time to do everything you need? These games are few and far between, but yesterday was one of those times.

One of the chief attractions of the game to me is that there is never enough time to do everything, and every approaching harvest brings concern about how to feed your family. The stress of making every action count is a big part of the fun.

Yesterday I played a 2P game with my wife Brittany, and after reviewing my cards (deal 10 drop 3 of each) I wasn't particularly optimistic. I wasn't that pessimistic either - I felt I had a couple of pretty good cards, but no game breakers. Normally when I deal out the occs and MIs I can tell when I have a winning hand, or a pile of dreck. Not always of course, but after playing hundreds of games I have a good feel for the stronger occs, and a good sense of when they need to be played. We were playing with a mix of K, G Czech and Austrian decks, and I've come to dread playing with the K deck - my wife seems to draw the Wet Nurse every. single. time. we play. And then translates that card into a win with early, easy growth.

Still, like I said I had a couple of good cards so off we went. I didn't record the game, but I can recreate the first half from memory:

M - me
B - wife

Rd 1 - Fence
B 3W
M Occ - Family Counsellor
B SP + Gardening tools
M PF (M +1F)

My wife starts with 3W - a little surprising as she almost always plays an occ when she is SP in round 1. Perhaps she didn't have anything worthy, I don't know. I jump on the occ space with the Family Counsellor - a card I thought was so-so when we first got the G deck but in the time since I've come to appreciate it more and more. B takes start player and plays a minor that can be pretty strong as well, in the right circumstances. I plow a field and the Counsellor brings me a bonus food.

Rd 2 - Sheep
B 2C
M Occ - Plowman
B 2R
M SP + Duck Pond (M +1F)

B loves to get the cheap fireplace, and with sheep appearing early this game is no exception. So she hoovers up the clay about a second after I turn over the card. That gives me a chance to play another occ, and again it's a nice one - Plowman. I put fields on rounds 6/9/12 ready for action. My wife takes reed as 2R is hard to pass up, which allows me to take SP ready for the stacked wood next round, and play the nifty Duck Pond. The Counsellor looks after me again with another food.

Rd 3 - MIMA (M +1F)
M 6W
B Occ - Early Riser
M Fish 3F (+1F)
B Fireplace (M +1F)

I take the 6W, and B plays Early Riser and gets a sheep. I like Early Riser - finding the wood to build one stable early is much easier than finding it for two, and with the Riser you can eat the offspring. I fish, primarily because it's a decent haul (3F) and it will mean the Counsellor will pay out for the third time. B takes the FP to be ready for the sheep next round.

Rd 4 - S&B (M +1F)
M 3W
B Sheep (3)
M 2R (M +1F)
B Occ - Wet Nurse

Normally I would jump on the 2R and complete my room building resources, but I take 3W instead. This causes my wife a little aggravation, and I can see her contemplate spiking the reed to punish me. It was a risk, but only a small one - I had the Singer in my hand ready for action which would have given me the two reed I needed. But Brittany decides her own plans are more important and takes the sheep, followed by deploying the dreaded Wet Nurse. I pick up the reed the regular way and for the fourth time in as many rounds I get a bonus food. Harvest time and I have 11 food in my store.... crazy.

Rd 5 - FG + MI (M +1F)
M build room
B 3W
M Fam Growth + Bible
B Occ - Wood Deliveryman

Good to see early growth. I build a room and grow, playing a MI I quite like - the Bible. Anytime I'm short on food in a harvest I know I can get grain or veges, plow etc and it will be a cheap harvest. Brittany grabs the wood and plays a third occ to augment her wood supplies.

Rd 6 - Stone (M - PF)
M 4C
B 3W
M 2R
B Build room + grow
M Hearth (M +1G)

My Plowman pays off the first field, and then I grab the four clay. Brittany takes the wood she needs to build a room and I grab the stacked reed. Brittany builds and grows, and I grab the hearth with the clay I just picked up, and collect a grain as my Counsellor payout.

Rd 7 - Renovation + MIMA
M Occ - Singer (+2R)
B 3W
M Plow field
B sheep (3)
M SP + Reed Hut (M +1G)
B ??

I now play the aforementioned Singer, and collect two reed. Brittany jumps on the wood, and I plow a third field. Brittany cooks the sheep and I take SP and play the reed hut, for the first time ever in 200+ games. Reed is always scarce in 2P Agricola, and whenever I've had it previously I've never been able to gather the four necessary. But with the Singer, I get it down to house my fourth dude. I don't remember what Brittany does with her last action. I still have surplus food from the last harvest that covers this one.

Rd 8 - Vegetables
M Occ - Fence Overseer
M DL
M Stable (fence -1F)
M Plow field (M +1V)

I've lost track of what Brittany does, but here's my actions - I play the fence overseer which will alleviate any wood concerns with fencing. I DL to grab a couple of food, and then build a stable and fence it in. Lastly I plow a field and generate a vegetable bonus from the counsellor.

Rd 9 - Boar (M +1 field)
M MIMI Five Year Plan (sow 2G 1V +2 on each)
M SP + Harvest Feast
M S+B (5G = 15F) (2Vf + 1 Gf)
M stable (fence -1F)

This is the round where the game suddenly explodes. I play Five Year Plan, mark a field as untenable and sow my veg and two grain in the remaining fields. Each gets two bonus crops. Next I take SP and play Harvest Feast, which lets me take all my planted crops back into my supply. I now have 10 grain and 5 vegetables - so I hit S&B and plant 2 veg fields and a grain field the usual way, and bake five grain into 15 food. I finish the round by building a third stable and fence it in.

After that, I don't know. I had four people, four fields with crops planted, three fenced stables, spare veges and grain, and a mountain of food. The rest of the game I grabbed animals in pairs that I never needed to eat and watched them multiply, renovated to clay then stone, built some more fences and plowed another field or two. I picked up the Well and a couple of other improvements, and grew to five people.

Final score - 57, with max fields/pastures/grain/veges, 2 or 3 points in all three animal types, three fenced stables, a three room stone house, five people and 10 points in improvements.

The combo of Family Counsellor, Five Year Plan and Harvest Feast was awesome, as was getting to 4 people in round 7 via Singer and the Reed Hut. I'm almost thinking the Counsellor might be too strong, esp in 2 player - it generated 4 food, two grain and a vegetable in the first 8 rounds, all for no actions.

In addition, I think the problem for Brittany was playing a 2W minor in the first round - it allowed her to sow late in the game, but paying the two wood that early was a mistake. It meant she needed two wood draws after that to get resources for a room, and the tempo of the game meant I got the wood from the next three rounds. It really put her on the back foot.

Has anyone else had a game where the cards combo'd in a similar way? I mean where you didn't really plan for it before the game, but as you played you just found you had the right card to play at the right time that built on previous cards for a big payoff?

All in all it was a great game. My wife didn't enjoy that much I guess... if nothing else, finally getting on top of the Wet Nurse (so to speak) after 7 or 8 defeats was the highlight for me.
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RJJ Zwiers
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Enschede
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Errm....two Early Risers?
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James R
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Yes, I had a five player game recently where I thought my hand had some interesting cards, some nice little combos but nothing spectucular and then I ended up getting out all 14 cards (I was helped by an early double renovation with the renovator and then the scholar)! By round 11 or so I had 3 vegetable fields, the gardener and the cooking corner so was +2 food each harvest without doing anything!

It was one of those strange games where none of my opponents seemed to be competing with me but instead with each other and so always leaving me with my pick of what I wanted. When I was building and growing they were scrabbling over small piles of resources and then when they needed food I swept up 6 wood and 6 clay (or something like that). It was the sort of game where I could leave 8 wood on the board and then have it come back to me as my opponents all desperately needed food / occs / build / grow.

Ah (wistful stare) good times

btw you should note that after playing the reed hut you immediately get to use the guy in it so you should have had a fourth action in round 7.
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Mike R
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Roja wrote:
Errm....two Early Risers?


Just noticed that myself. I wrote up the session report the day after the game with no notes - I know she played Early Riser and Wet Nurse sometime in rounds 3/4/5, and another occupation whose name now escapes me.

I'll update the report and fix.
 
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Mike R
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JamesR wrote:
btw you should note that after playing the reed hut you immediately get to use the guy in it so you should have had a fourth action in round 7.


Is that right? The card seems vague so I assumed it was like most other times when you increase your family, and the person would begin to take actions the following round.

Thanks for the clarification.
 
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Geoff Burkman
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First, what a memory! Second, what a game! Third, you guys are hardcore; the Ugoi have long banished the dreaded Wet Nurse* along with that pesky Reed Hut from regular play.

*We had a recent contest in which JimmyO slipped a gear and mistakenly kept her. When he tried to get her into the fray, he was roundly slapped about the ears with a wet trout, and was so taken aback by the vehemence of our collective objurgation that his game went to Hades in a handbasket and he ended up with a sub-30 score, dead last.

Woe to him who dares play the Wet Nurse!
robot
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Dan F
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I love it when cards come together, I have just recently realized the achievment of putting together a good score with a drawn deck over one that is drafted (although the a good score from drafting is more satisfying).


Personally I think if you draw 7 it shows more skill since sometimes you have to make something out of nothing.

Great job on the session report!
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Mike R
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MisterG wrote:
First, what a memory! Second, what a game! Third, you guys are hardcore; the Ugoi have long banished the dreaded Wet Nurse* along with that pesky Reed Hut from regular play.

*We had a recent contest in which JimmyO slipped a gear and mistakenly kept her. When he tried to get her into the fray, he was roundly slapped about the ears with a wet trout, and was so taken aback by the vehemence of our collective objurgation that his game went to Hades in a handbasket and he ended up with a sub-30 score, dead last.

Woe to him who dares play the Wet Nurse!
robot


Thanks Geoff - I have a rotten memory in general, I don't know how I remembered the sequence of play from yesterday. Probably because it was so remarkable. It might also be that after many 2P games the opening 4 or 5 rounds now seem to follow a script with not much deviation - gather reed and wood, build a room, play an occ or two.

The Wet Nurse is strong, it's true - this game might have turned out very differently had Brittany started off with that occupation in round 1, rather than the wood and Gardening Tools gambit. She could then have concentrated on wood and reed and had a room built in round 4.

Actually the only card that has been banned in this house is the Wood Distributor - not that it's too strong, more so that Brittany finds it too aggravating to be start player, there be a pile of six wood waiting, and to have it strewn to the other spaces.
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James Klemm
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That was a heck of a hand. Family Counselor, Fence Overseer and Reed hut. I just finished a 4 player game where I had:

village elder
bricklayer
Fence Dealer
Herdsman
chiefs daughter
Debris Dealer
Bee Keeper
clay roof
quarry
duck pond
clogs
riding plow
Village School
ceramics

There's some really nice combos in there. This is close to the perfect hand. Only the presence of elder led me to pick riding plow 5th instead of mansion, which may have fit even better.
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