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Subject: iOS Review, Board game vs iOS, Pictures, Thoughts, and more. rss

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Kelly North Adams
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This review originally posted on www.boardofplaying.com, to read more reviews like this one, visit BOP today!

Starting last night at 11pm Eastern Standard Time, i’ve been a tad bit addicted to playing the much anticipated Playdek release of Agricola for iOS. Getting very little work done today because of this, and very little sleep last night, also because of this, I have decided to continue this extremely unproductive slightly groggy spell and write a review. So bare with any run on sentences & incoherent ramblings, I promise to do at least a half-baked cooking hearth job of it! Keep reading, it gets better.

Agricola is in my top 5 no particular order board games of all time, so if anyone is going to be critical, it’s going to be us Agricola die hard enthusiasts. And I’d like to say, albeit slightly jealous I did not get picked to be a beta tester, the developers, artists, and team of testers did a stand up job on pretty much everything.
Game play is pretty flawless so far. I’ve played quite a few games and I haven’t encountered any glitches, like at all. I’ve lost a few victory points due to user error but that’s expected while getting used to the interface of any game, it takes a game or two.

Board games are still in their infancy, but iOS board games are even younger. I still can’t believe that they have only been around for just a few years. In these few years there have only been one or two iOS boards games that I felt really hit the mark. In the sense of very few glitches and superbly thought out features, interface, graphics, special touches, and AI – my favorite being Carcassonne.

I really think Agricola iOS has hit this mark too. And with the even higher complication compared to Carcassonne, I’m even more impressed by it. So lets start by listing off some of the bells and whistles :
- When you first open the app, under settings you’ll find all sorts of goodies. Game speeds, a card gallery of all the cards (less expansions, but coming soon), a rule book and a slew of tutorials including a tutorial for people who already know how to play and just want to learn the interface

- Once ready to play you have options to play online or offline. Online includes asynchronous or real-time online play for 2-5 players. You need an account but my list of accounts is so long, this really doesn’t bother me much anymore. Offline play includes a solo play, solo series, pass-n-play, and Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master AI opponents.

- Once you pick which game you are going to play, you have the option of 4 game play options which include family game, and basic games of random draw, 10-3 (get 10 discard 3) and Draft.

- Some other nice tidbits is that is has a universal game application, so once you buy it you can play it on all your devices, as well as multiple profile capabilities. So if you share an iPad with your spouse for instance, they can create a profile. Which is pretty neat, because I kick my husbands arse at Agricola and surely don’t want him messing up my stats :-P (love you hun…) In addition to different profiles, you can also customize your family token art which is pretty cute.

- Game Center achievements which include various things like “Mansion” for example where you have to finish a 2 player game and end with a 5 room stone house. So for those of you that really enjoy attaining achievements, they have 11 of ‘em for ya.

- Rankings, overviews, and multi-lingual

I’m sure I missed some stuff, but that is a pretty comprehensive list regardless. After lots of plays, and besides the mentioned above, here’s what really stands out to me.

Board game vs iOS : In the actual board game you have lots of moving parts, tons of bits, and you manage everything yourself. This includes stocking the game board each round and making all your own calculations. The iOS game is more of an experience. When you begin playing instead of seeing a game board, you see this little village of people working. Instead of a fishing space, there’s a little dude sitting by a lake fishing with a sign by him with the symbol for food, and a little speech bubble telling you how many fish he’s caught. Instead of a card with Build rooms and stables, you’ll see a little man chopping wood with 2 signs telling you what he can provide for you – rooms for your house or stables for your farm. When you get to the higher stages, the village becomes more populated; animals start getting added to the land, and stone workers began hauling stones, it’s really quite animated. It really looks nothing like the board game at all other than using similar symbols for the different resources and the same style artwork. A really interesting feature though is if you aren’t into all this cuteness (which means there is something seriously wrong with you), you can with the touch of a button cover up all the spaces and turn it into more of board game layout. You can also toggle between these while learning the different spaces (see below).


How it plays on small devices : I’ve only played on my iPad mini, but they’ve made quite a few really nice features to make playing on even small devices manageable. The main feature being tons of toggle features. You can toggle between your board and your farm, different players resources, different players farms, your occupations and minor improvements, the major improvements and of course, the scoring screens. All of which are beautifully laid out and easily accessible.

Graphics : In addition to the the animated game board, your farm space is pretty awesome too. They really went above and beyond to make it feel fun and customizable. Your house comes with the traditional rooms but brought to life with wagging tale pets, candle lit rooms and of course the upgrading board game tables. The game is 2-D but has a 3-D feel. When you pick up your animals they wiggle their little legs, and you can drop them anywhere you want in your house and on applicable farm spaces. When you sow your fields, your wheat and pumpkin patches sprout up and come to life. To the left of your farm are all your occupations and improvements nicely laid out for you to reference when needed.



Special Touches : Another really nice feature is they’ve highlighted all the occupation, minor and major improvement cards with a bright green glow when they are available for use. This is also visible when purchasing improvements and you have the appropriate resources. It’s just really nice making referencing very easy on the smaller devices.

Although much of the game does the micro managing for you, there is still the right balance of interaction. For instance when it’s time to build or upgrade something, if you have multiple resource options or routes to do so, due to cards you’ve played, then the game calculates the options for you, but then you choose which option. Or if you want to bake bread, you actually have to drag each wheat onto your cooking hearth or oven, this tripped me up a bit at first, but makes total sense after your first play through.

The last special touch i’m going to mention is the scoring. I really really like the scoring features. There is the traditional scoring card, but it’s smart. Meaning, it highlights where your farm currently falls in each category, so if you have 2 sheep, it highlights the 1-3 sheep column. And also shows your current points for stables, family members and so on right on the the quick reference score card. BUT THEN, there is also an entire scoring section you can bring up during the game that shows a quick and dirty overview of all the players stats, it’s really cool and super useful for quick reference during the game, especially once you learn the icons.



Final Thoughts : The whole game is just phenomenal. And with all the game logic that had to be calculated, i’m really surprised how well it plays. The smarter AI’s can be a tad bit slow at times, but i’m talking less than 5 or 6 seconds at most and this is only on occasion. Which really isn’t a complaint when real people can take forever!
The best part is I can finally play Agricola curled up on my couch, I just can’t believe it and i’m just so happy it meets all my expectations and beyond.

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Nick ChemE
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+1!
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Sky Zero
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Fantastic review!
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Jeff Lingwall
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Good review. I'm very, very impressed with this. The solo series is especially addictive.
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Jann Beckers
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Very nice review. I agree. I don't think Playdek could have done a better job for this rather complex game. It plays so much better than e.g. Le Havre on my little iPod touch screen.
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Eirik Uthus
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Great review! And the game looks nice!
This and Eclipse is almost enough for me to want an iPad...
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eryn roston
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Thanks for the great review! I'm looking forward to downloading this.

PS. Go, Chess, and Kalah, would like to have a word with you re:

Quote:
Board games are still in their infancy

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The Soot Sprite
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Thank you for the review!
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Scott Coggins
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Great review! It's nice to see more of these iOS reviews popping up.
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David Larkin
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But is it worth the cost of an ipad? What is the cheapest bit of kit that it will run on? Have to admit I am tempted to buy one just to play Agricola!
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Matt
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On the iPhone, you can scroll both vertically and horizontally in the Town view, which can make it tedious to get to the space you want (e.g. Sow and/or Bake Bread) if it is off the bottom of the screen. Does the town fit entirely onto the iPad screen from top to bottom?

That is the one issue I had with the iPhone/iPod version. Even a feature to lock vertical scrolling would fix the problem. As much as I love the art, I wouldn't mind having the little cottages at the top cropped out if it meant less scrolling.
 
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Perry Tarantine
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Zark wrote:
But is it worth the cost of an ipad? What is the cheapest bit of kit that it will run on? Have to admit I am tempted to buy one just to play Agricola!

Also runs on iPhones (3gs, 4, 4s, 5) and iPod touches (3-5) as well. So if you're in the market for either of those that might help justify the cost.

The experience would be best on an iPad though. I have it on both my iPhone and iPad but have only played on the iPad.

ETA: iPod generations
 
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Perry Tarantine
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mmoberly wrote:
On the iPhone, you can scroll both vertically and horizontally in the Town view, which can make it tedious to get to the space you want (e.g. Sow and/or Bake Bread) if it is off the bottom of the screen. Does the town fit entirely onto the iPad screen from top to bottom?

That is the one issue I had with the iPhone/iPod version. Even a feature to lock vertical scrolling would fix the problem. As much as I love the art, I wouldn't mind having the little cottages at the top cropped out if it meant less scrolling.

On the iPad there is vertical scrolling also, but it isn't necessary for anything other than art - all the game "spaces" are on the board all the time.
 
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Andrei Boiko
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Zark wrote:
But is it worth the cost of an ipad? What is the cheapest bit of kit that it will run on? Have to admit I am tempted to buy one just to play Agricola!

I have an iPhone3GS and iPad2. On iPad2 it's great, just what would you expect from a tablet. Resolution is fine for games (for me).
On 3GS it runs almost smooth, but without any really annoying lag. What's worse is that 480x320 resolution is clearly not enough for game's typeface. Small fonts are almost unreadable and normal fonts are just ugly and blurry. I suspect that 960x640 iPhones (4 and up) are better for it.

I also do not recommend buying iPad1 for gaming since it has too low RAM size for many games (while CPU+GPU is enough). There is a 256Mb chip inside but only 128Mb are usable for a single application and OS can drop applications from 96Mb and up.
If you want to buy any iPad I suggest either iPad2 for cheaper version and iPad4 for more expensive one but with better display.
And personally I don't find playing on phones enjoyable at all.
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Kelly North Adams
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radiofyr309 wrote:
Great review! It's nice to see more of these iOS reviews popping up.

I have an iOS section on my blog, and I post a few a year, I recently did one on Qin, which I really like as well. I try to cross post them on BGG but sometimes I forget.
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Matthew M
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Moved to VGG >> Agricola - Review link cross-posted to BGG

Completely agree with this review. They did a phenomenal job with it. The solo series is SO addictive!
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Kelly North Adams
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[q="Octavian"]Moved to VGG >> Agricola
Hi Octavian -

This is board game on a different platform, why was it moved to Video Games? I'm a bit curious...

There is news about electronic versions of board games on BGG all the time, why wouldn't they cover iOS versions of board games reviews too?

It's not a first or third person game, it's a board game, so I doubt too many people would be interested in it on VGG. And I doubt too many board gamers would know to look there.

Seems odd place to put these reviews.
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Liam
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When it comes to the database, the Geek differentiates between software and hardware.

Hardware games go to BGG.

Software games, including those based on board games go to VGG.

Uses can access the VGG record via looking up the game on BGG and scrolling down to 'linked forum' (The VGG record is new so this link may still be pending).

(If you want to talk to Octavain you may need to send him a GM, he may not be subscribed to this thread.)
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J. David Koch
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Joel Eddy
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Ooops wrote:

It's not just your review, it's the same for all boardgames that have been translated to video game format. The practice has been consistent for quite some time now. Users should know where to look for those reviews by now, don't worry

Also, there is more to video games than just 1st or 3rd person.

It has not actually been consistent. There are several threads, reviews, videos, and what not about the iOS implementations that live ON BGG... not on VGG. More threads, comments, etc... exist on BGG than for their VGG counterpart.

Also, an iOS Blog is heavily featured right on the top of the main BGG page specfically dedicated to iOS (and sometimes Android) games.

It's (inconsistent) hypocrisy at it's finest.
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Keith Collins
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eekamouse wrote:
Ooops wrote:

It's not just your review, it's the same for all boardgames that have been translated to video game format. The practice has been consistent for quite some time now. Users should know where to look for those reviews by now, don't worry

Also, there is more to video games than just 1st or 3rd person.

It has not actually been consistent. There are several threads, reviews, videos, and what not about the iOS implementations that live ON BGG... not on VGG. More threads, comments, etc... exist on BGG than for their VGG counterpart.

Also, an iOS Blog is heavily featured right on the top of the main BGG page specfically dedicated to iOS (and sometimes Android) games.

It's (inconsistent) hypocrisy at it's finest.
I agree, I don't need to be forced to VGG, and I won't follow a thread to VGG. If I want to read about video games, I will use one of the myriad of sites dedicated to it, if I want to read about iOS Board Game versions with members of the BOARD GAME COMMUNITY, I want to read it on BGG.
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Matthew M
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eekamouse wrote:

It's (inconsistent) hypocrisy at it's finest.

It's actually just not being aware of them. We can't read every thread in every forum.

Flag such threads as being Wrong Forum by using the red X in the header of the thread. and they will be moved.

This thread is well off topic - so please move further discussion unrelated to the review if the iOS Agricola app to a new thread. Further disruption of this thread will be moderated accordingly.
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W M
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I've said elsewhere that I think the move of content related to IOS board games to VGG is a bad idea. This is particularly the case for this review which compares the IOS version to the physical boardgame. shake
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W M
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Octavian wrote:
eekamouse wrote:

It's (inconsistent) hypocrisy at it's finest.

It's actually just not being aware of them. We can't read every thread in every forum.

Flag such threads as being Wrong Forum by using the red X in the header of the thread. and they will be moved.

This thread is well off topic - so please move further discussion unrelated to the review if the iOS Agricola app to a new thread. Further disruption of this thread will be moderated accordingly.

I see a civil conversation relevant to the review and your threat of 'moderation' following 'thread disruption' is unwarranted.

Excellent review by the way.
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Bryan Thunkd
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I think I may have run into a bug... but I'm not 100% sure.

I had a situation where I was getting a cow from one of my occupation cards and I was already full up with two sheep and a cow (really poor planning as I couldn't eat the sheep). Anyway I wanted to let the sheep go so that I could have two cows that could have a baby. But I couldn't figure out any way to do that. I tried dragging animals around, but no matter what I tried, I couldn't release the sheep and keep the cow. Maybe I was missing something in the interface that would have let me do that?? But I really don't think I did. I certainly tried everything I could think of for several minutes.
 
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