Agricola: Review

Agricola

OVERVIEW

Our Rating:

Your two meeples are settled into their wood house on their plot of land but there’s a problem, harvest is coming up and they don't have any food. Your role is to place your meeples in order to help them to grow crops, raise animals, get jobs and expand their houses. Decide what you want to do carefully this season, as your neighbour may be looking to place their meeple on the same spot, screwing up your farming plans!

Agricola was recently featured on one of our favourites lists...
Best Solo Board Games

If you are looking to understand how Agricola is played, check out
How To Play Agricola - Simplified Edition

KAITLYN'S REVIEW

My Rating:

Likes

  • Quality of the wooden pieces 
  • Not much luck involved
  • High Replayability

Dislikes

  • Needs a box organizer
  • Lots of rules to go through
  • Turns can be long

Intro/First Impressions

To clarify this review is based off of the revised May 2016 version of Agricola.

​I was gifted Agricola for my birthday and I was super excited, we had been talking about adding it to our collection for a long time. We were looking for a game that involved more strategy and less luck. My first thought upon opening the box was Wow! There are a lot of pieces, and a lot of rules to go through. Its overwhelming at first, but once you get playing it's really not too complex.

Thoughts

Agricola is a people placing game meaning that, there are a limited number of spots on the board to place your meeples. You alternate placing your meeples on the board with the other players (1-4). To start the game you have one meeple in each room of your two bedroom house, an open field, 7 occupations, and 7 minor improvement cards.The cards you're dealt is the only time that luck comes into play, sometimes you use a bunch of them and receive big benefits, other times they aren't all that useful to you. Other than that the luck component of dice rolls and drawing cards is eliminated.

Your goal is to grow crops, obtain animals, upgrade your house, grow your family, and ultimately have enough food to feed your family when harvest comes around. There are 14 rounds in each game and the rounds are grouped into 6 stages. At the end of each stage comes harvest. Initially you have 4 rounds to grow your farm and get enough food to feed your people before harvest but by the end you only have one round which makes this game at all times, STRESSFUL. At no point do you ever feel ahead of the game, or safe because you constantly need more and more food! I both love and hate this factor. I only hate it because it's so difficult, but ultimately it's a huge part of what makes the game so good.

I mentioned that there are spots to place your meeples, on these spots you can obtain food, obtain crops, build fences so that you can put animals inside them, play one of the 7 job or 7 minor improvement cards you were dealt, really there's a bunch of different options but everyone seems to always be battling for the same things. Your game plan is constantly changing because the spot you want may be snatched up by another player.

There are so many things to be thinking about in Agricola, and while you could play with a similar strategy each time, the job cards and improvement cards you are dealt will add some changes. Also, since there are not all that many places to place your meeples, you may need to change your strategy based on your opponent's game. The variety of cards ups the replayability factor, i’m not big on games that have you refining your one strategy each time you play so i’m a huge fan of the random cards at the start!

Every round a new placement option is flipped up giving you more options on your turn. As the rounds go on, the more valuable tiles start becoming available, such as getting cows which are worth more points at the end. Don't worry, the experienced players won't have an advantage in knowing which cards are coming up because they provide a guide so that everyone know in what rounds they can be expecting what cards to be flipped over. The fact that they added this in makes me really happy, it helps to eliminate some of the experienced player advantage.

(Click to enlarge)

Throughout the rounds you will work on plowing fields and getting crops on them, and also building fences and getting animals. These things are important because for every one of the 3 animals you don't have, every one of the 2 crops you don't have, and all the spots on your board you don't fill you receive negative points at the end. Scores are not very high, in a good game you may score around 40 points so any negative points really affect you.

In the reprint they really stepped up the game when it comes to the pieces, I absolutely love the wooden pieces and the fact that they have now made the pigs shaped like pigs and not just a colored circle. It makes it a lot easier to see what you have on your board and also makes it feel more realistic.

This brings me to my largest complaint, while they do provide you with a ton of plastic baggies to store the plethora of pieces in, I wish they would have created a box organizer. There are so many component that set up and take down take a lot longer than they need to. If they had included an organizer like Lords of Waterdeep, then the pieces would be easy to access throughout play and also quick to clean up.

We have also played Caverna, a game based on the same principles but with different scoring and elements of play (check out our Caverna review) and while you may only want one in your collection, I do find them quite different and like each one for different reasons (check out our Agricola vs Caverna comparison).

I have never played a solo game of Agricola, its on my list of things to play, but other members of our group have and they liked it so much that it made our list of Top solo board games. ​

Conclusion

Agricola is new to our collection but it very quickly became a favorite. Its challenging, stressful, and fun. It gives you the opportunity to try out different strategies and find what works best for you but also forces you to step outside your box if you want to earn extra points.

Games are around 30 mins per player, they can be longer especially if there's people learning in which case turns might take some more time, but I find it's the ideal length for a longer board game. Being able to play on your own or with friends makes Agricola a game that you can get a lot of value out of!

About the author

Kaitlyn

I love playing board games with my family and friends! If i'm not doing that you can usually find me belting out a song or drinking way too much coffee! Check out my full biography on the about me page!

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