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Subject: A Kickstarter in the Pants rss

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Tim Stevenson
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Alexandria
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What is it about farming that is so attractive to game designers as source of inspiration? And by game designers of course, I mean Uwe Rosenberg. Well, perhaps we can ask Grant Rodiek who apparently has some sort of psychic connection with Mr. Agricola causing him to design the latest farming game to be added to my collection: Farmageddon. This frantic farming game was recently released through Kickstarter, but is Farmageddon a real “kick” or just a swift kick in the sack? Read on to find out!

In Farmageddon, each player is running a farming business. Unfortunately, in this wacky world in which you all live, there are only three fields available in which to plant your crops. The fields can be used by any player, but each field can only be used by one player at a time. So this means that if I plant one of my inbred-looking Sluggo Corns in one of the fields, you won’t be able to use that field until I harvest it… or you play some horrible card to mangle/blow away/steal/etc the corn out from under me! The goal here is to actually harvest some of your veggies which are worth cash (victory points) at the end of the game. The player with the most valuable pile of harvested food stuffs is the winner.


Beth’s Thresher is coming awfully
close to my Wary Squash…


There are two types of cards in Farmageddon: crops, and actions. Crop cards represent the various types of adorable seemingly sentient vegetables you’ll be growing, harvesting, and mercilessly threshing to death throughout the game. There are several types of standard vegetables, each with multiple copies in the deck. Standard crops have two numbers on them which represent their point value at the end of the game and the amount of fertilizer you need to cover them with in order to harvest them. In addition to the standard crops, there are also ten unique FrankenCrops each with a special ability of some kind. Although these are considered a mini-expansion, I feel that for all but the greenest (pun intended) of gamers, they are necessary to shake up the game a bit and add some more interest to the crop deck.


FrankenCrops: Jazzy Coffee Bean
and Bodacious Broccoli.


At the start of the game, each player receives a hand of two crop cards and three action cards. When your turn starts, the first thing you do is draw some more crops (two in the 3-4 player game, three in the 2 player game.) Now you can start planting crops from your hand, playing action cards, and playing fertilizer. In a cool mechanical twist, the way you get fertilizer is by playing any crop card face down on an already planted crop as one fertilizer. In the three and four player game, you’ll be getting fewer crop cards than in the two player version, so managing these is obviously very important for maximizing your score.

In order to score points, of course, you have to harvest your planted crops. But things can never be easy, can they? No, for you see, you’ll have to wait one complete round before you can harvest any of your newly-planted veggies. Meanwhile, your precious vulnerable lovelies will have to survive a veritable gauntlet of enemy action cards flying toward their delicate stalks.


A fistful of action cards.


And speaking of action cards, this is where the other part of the tactics of Farmageddon comes in. You’ll have a handful of these babies ready to go, but you can only play up to two of them each turn. The power level on these is pretty even from card to card, although the Dust Bowl card in particular is very powerful and swingy (it destroys all crops in play.) I feel also that there aren’t quite enough ways in the action deck to wrest control of planting areas from your opponents. If a single player can monopolize all of the planting areas (this is actually quite easy to do) and the other players don’t draw something like a Thresher, Dust Bowl, Foreclosure, or Crop Rotation very quickly, they will score copious amounts of points. If you’re unlucky enough to draw only a few of these crop-killing cards through the course of the game (I’ve seen this happen a couple of times already) you can look forward to quite a low score and quite a bit a of sitting there with very little to do.

At the end of your turn, you draw action cards (one in the 2 player game, two in the 3-4 player game.) Interestingly, I feel that this makes the two player game all about action card management in the same way that the multiplayer one is about crop cards. The player to your left now takes their turn. As the basic strategy seems to be “grab as many of the planting areas as possible a never let them go,” the first player will pretty much always plant in all three leaving the rest of the table with nothing much to do unless they can kill some of player one’s crops.

All that said, I’m not gonna lie. I backed Farmageddon on Kickstarter because of the art. Sue me. The art on these cards is awesome. Absolutely no complaints here.


Counting up my harvest pile at end-game.


So where do I come down on Farmageddon? Well, right now I’d say, firmly undecided. It is fun right now, but that may be due to the fact that it is so new. Hopefully, it will continue to see play, but for now I’m reserving any real judgement on it. And, of course, my Kickstarter pledge included a free copy of the upcoming expansion titled Livestocked and Loaded – who knows how that will effect the game play. I have a big gaming weekend coming up in a couple of weeks. You can be sure I’ll be bringing Farmageddon along to get some new perspectives on this one.

Thanks for reading! For more reviews and other garbage, check out my blog at www.timwingame.com
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Grant Rodiek
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Thank you for the review!
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Phil Kilcrease
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Thanks for the review, Tim!
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