Agricola Board Game Review
Have you ever wanted to start your own farm, feed a growing family, and compete with others to have the best agricultural business? Well that’s what Agricola can afford you, and it’s one of the better worker placement games currently available. While there is a lot going on, and you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff, once you get the hang of it you’ll want to play game after game. Let’s dive in!
This is not a how to play for Agricola, but simply an overview and review. You can check out this great How to Play guide from Nights Around the Table.
Here is a bit about the game from the Asmodee website:
The 17th Century Was Not an Easy Time to be a Farmer. In Agricola (Latin for farmer), you’re a farmer in a wooden shack with your spouse and little else. You might think about having kids in order to get more work accomplished, but first you need to expand your house. And what are you going to feed all the little rug rats? Guide your family to wealth, health and prosperity and you will win the game.
Agricola is a game that is solely structured on resource management. You need to produce a certain amount of food to feed your hard working family. You need to produce other resources to build and expand your farm. You need to manage and care for animals to maximize your points. It’s all about building an engine, and managing that engine to the best of your ability.
The game can get quite lengthy, played over 14 rounds. The game is further broken down into six stages, at which point a harvest action occurs and you must feed your growing family, or suffer negative points. During each of the 14 rounds, players will use their farmers (you begin with 2) to take actions on the central board. These actions might allow you to collect resources, build a field, expand your home, play specific cards, and more. Each action is limited to a single player, so knowing what you want and changing tactics on the fly as less options are available to you is key to success.
Each player starts with a hand of minor improvement cards and occupation cards, which they may play throughout the game to drive their engine and build into their strategy. In fact, these cards come from incredibly large decks, which means each game likely will require a different strategy. And that is what I really enjoy about Agricola. There never feels like there is only one path to victory. How you play the game will depend on what actions you might be able to take, what cards you have in your hand, and so much more.
This has, unfortunately, led to games where I felt out of it from the start. The plethora of cards available to me didn’t really work well together, and I was fighting both my own hand and the actions taken by other players, and never got my strategy to fully work. That will happen, and it can be a bummer when it does. However, there is always that hope that the next round might change your fortunes, which has always kept me coming back for more.
Further, the central board gets a new location to visit each round, which means something that turns face-up there might also change how you approach the game. What you quickly realize, however, is that this game is all about turn order. If your strategy requires you to go after in-demand locations on the central board, you might want to prioritize being the first player round after round. What I enjoy, however, is that you can not prioritize that and instead, build your strategy off of the actions of other players.
Ultimately, I believe this is where Agricola shines as a worker placement experience. While there are a lot of pieces included in the game, it’s not overly complex once you start figuring out how it works. Finding the right strategy, however, does take work. But that is the fun of playing a game like this. The more you play, obviously, the better you will get. That will make it a rough go for new players playing with experienced players. Still, however, building up your farm is a lot of fun, whether you end up winning or losing.
There are worker placement games I enjoy more than Agricola, but I’m also a firm believer in having multiple different games in the same genre on my shelf. So while this may not be my favourite, it is one that has seen significant play over the past decade, and a lot of play over the last few weeks as I reviewed this. If you enjoy worker placement games with multiple strategies that can be utilized, we highly recommend Agricola.