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Subject: [Review]Family Edition Makes Agricola Accessible rss

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Seth Brown
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OVERVIEW
In Agricola: Family Edition, players build a farm on which they attempt to raise animals, grow grain, and build improvements, all via worker placement. It's basically Agricola streamlined to be more user-friendly.

COMPONENTS IN BRIEF
Large board with puzzle-slotted addendum by player number. Many chipboard square/rectangular tiles for rooms/fields/pastures/improvements. Chipboard chits for food and markers. Various shaped wooden meeples for workers, resources, and animals.



GAMEPLAY IN BRIEF
Players each start with a 2-room wooden house, 2 workers, and 2-3 food. On your turn, you may place one worker on an open boardspace to receive its benefit. Examples include:

*Receive resources (wood/clay/reed/grain)
*Use resources to build (room/pasture/improvement)
*Get field
*Plant grain
*Acquire animals (sheep/boar/cow)
*Grow family
*Upgrade house

Once all workers for a round are placed, they all return and the next round starts. At the end of specified rounds is a harvest round, where workers must be fed, and animals and grain reproduce. At the end of the game, points are awarded for most things (animals, tiles, &c) and the most points wins.




GOOD POINTS

*Very user-friendly. While the original Agricola did come with rules for playing a "Family Game" (meaning without the cards for occupations and improvements), Agricola Family Edition has done an excellent job of streamlining to maintain the essence of the game while making it much more accessible to new players and infrequent gamers.

Some accessibility improvements include:
*No cards - In addition to eliminating the occupation and improvement cards, family edition also does away with the round cards, leaving a set progression of available actions each game.

*Fewer resources - Stone and Vegetables have both been eliminated from the game.

*Helpful Rulebook - Everything is very well diagrammed and signposted on the page, and walked through in a clear and thorough manner.

*Shaped meeples - While animeeples were available in some later deluxe versions of Agricola, Family Edition comes standard with different shaped resources for each animal, grain, wood, clay, and reed, making it much easier for new players to keep track and tell which resources are which.

*Pre-built pastures - Rather than handing players a bucket of fences and asking them to think about how best to arrange them, Family Edition simply has a few different sizes of pre-built pasture tiles with a set wood cost and animal capacity.

*Excellent signposting
- The aforementioned pastures state right on them how many animals they hold, so players don't have to remember. Spaces clearly indicate how many resources must be spent for each action. And the flow of the board is much improved, thanks to a wooden turn marker than moves along a path clearly indicating what round it is, what actions are available, and which are soon to be available.

*No fixed player board - Rather than having to fit the rooms, fields, and fences all carefully on the 3x4 board, everything in Family Edition is tiles which have no boundaries, so players can build whatever they like without pausing to consider how it will affect available room for future expansions.

*Simplified scoring - While Agricola classic required a spreadsheet cheatsheet to figure out what threshold of each type of animal/resource/field/pasture was worth how many points, Family Edition simply awards 1 point for every thingy (animal, tile, or planted grain). It also removes the negative points for not having anything in a category.

*A much more reasonable playtime - Thanks to everything listed above, the game is not only faster to teach, but faster to play, with much less complicated analysis each turn, resulting in a game you can finish in under an hour.

And thankfully:

*Still feels like Agricola. While a tremendous amount of streamlining has been done, the essence of Agricola is still here. You still have your farmers who are placed each turn to gather resources, build rooms, grow your family, built pastures, plant grain in fields, and breed animals, still the tension of acquiring food to feed your family each harvest, still the forward planning of acquiring resources in advance of using them to build things. Some games lose their heart when attempting to streamline; that has not happened here.



BAD POINTS

*Original Recipe Agricola fans may find it slightly thin. While obviously the streamlining is a tremendous advantage for the target audience, more gamery gamers will likely prefer the meatier full Agricola.



CONCLUSION
Agricola Family Edition very much does what it says on the tin. It is Agricola, streamlined to be family friendly. As I own and love the original Agricola and enjoy the complexity, I don't imagine I'll play this again with any of my regular gaming partners. I'm not the target audience, this is more for people who want to play with their family and/or non-gamers.

That being said, I have friends who have asked about Agricola and I shied away from playing it with them, either because I didn't have 2-3 hours to kill, or because I was afraid the game would be too complex for them, and this game seems like it would be handy then.

IS IT FOR YOU?
Here's another way of phrasing that question: Do you want to play Agricola with someone who isn't a seasoned gamer and/or not take 2-3 hours? If you like original Agricola how it is, this just removes a few interesting things and makes it faster, which may not be worth the tradeoff.
But if you like Agricola, and you would like to play it with someone with less gaming experience (whether because they are a non-gamer or a child), this edition is precisely the solution you've been looking for. It also plays in under an hour, which is quite convenient. If you're looking for the best way to introduce Agricola to players who don't always love complex games, look no further.
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Randy Espinoza
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Osirus wrote:
IS IT FOR YOU?
Here's another way of phrasing that question: Do you want to play Agricola with someone who isn't a seasoned gamer and/or not take 2-3 hours? If you like original Agricola how it is, this just removes a few interesting things and makes it faster, which may not be worth the tradeoff.
But if you like Agricola, and you would like to play it with someone with less gaming experience (whether because they are a non-gamer or a child), this edition is precisely the solution you've been looking for. It also plays in under an hour, which is quite convenient. If you're looking for the best way to introduce Agricola to players who don't always love complex games, look no further.
Thanks. However, I would appreciate some words for those of us not versed in Agricola: what if I have not played Agricola or don't even want to BUT I am interested in what this version has to offer? How can I decide if it is for me or my family/group?

Is it heavier or lighter than say, Lords of Waterdeep or Stone Age or some other intro worker placement?

Would it get old after a few plays? At first glance it seems somewhat linear, with few paths to victory, is it?
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Seth Brown
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Espinoza wrote:
Osirus wrote:
IS IT FOR YOU?
Here's another way of phrasing that question: Do you want to play Agricola with someone who isn't a seasoned gamer and/or not take 2-3 hours? If you like original Agricola how it is, this just removes a few interesting things and makes it faster, which may not be worth the tradeoff.
But if you like Agricola, and you would like to play it with someone with less gaming experience (whether because they are a non-gamer or a child), this edition is precisely the solution you've been looking for. It also plays in under an hour, which is quite convenient. If you're looking for the best way to introduce Agricola to players who don't always love complex games, look no further.
Thanks. However, I would appreciate some words for those of us not versed in Agricola: what if I have not played Agricola or don't even want to BUT I am interested in what this version has to offer? How can I decide if it is for me or my family/group?

Is it heavier or lighter than say, Lords of Waterdeep or Stone Age or some other intro worker placement?

Would it get old after a few plays? At first glance it seems somewhat linear, with few paths to victory, is it?

A fair request.

It's hard to say whether it's lighter or heavier than the games you mention, because it varies in two different directions. Compared to Stone Age or especially Lords of Waterdeep, AgricoFam is a faster game, with fewer special cards that have their own rules. So in that respect, you might consider it lighter. However, as I mentioned in the review, it maintains Agricola's requirements for forward planning -- meaning you might need to gather wood and reed, in order to build a room, in order to grow your family. SA and LoW don't tend to have dependency chains, you just gather resources and then buy the thing with them. So in that respect, AgricoFam might be considered heavier.

I don't think the game would get old after a few plays if you were unfamiliar with Agricola and not into complex games; there are some choices and options there, different things to focus on. But for me I'll admit it's very difficult for me not to compare it to Agricola, and it is certainly more linear in comparison to its more complex cousin -- which is sort of the idea.
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Tahsin Shamma
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Espinoza wrote:
Osirus wrote:
IS IT FOR YOU?
Here's another way of phrasing that question: Do you want to play Agricola with someone who isn't a seasoned gamer and/or not take 2-3 hours? If you like original Agricola how it is, this just removes a few interesting things and makes it faster, which may not be worth the tradeoff.
But if you like Agricola, and you would like to play it with someone with less gaming experience (whether because they are a non-gamer or a child), this edition is precisely the solution you've been looking for. It also plays in under an hour, which is quite convenient. If you're looking for the best way to introduce Agricola to players who don't always love complex games, look no further.
Thanks. However, I would appreciate some words for those of us not versed in Agricola: what if I have not played Agricola or don't even want to BUT I am interested in what this version has to offer? How can I decide if it is for me or my family/group?

Is it heavier or lighter than say, Lords of Waterdeep or Stone Age or some other intro worker placement?

Would it get old after a few plays? At first glance it seems somewhat linear, with few paths to victory, is it?


I reviewed this for Board Game Quest. I would say it's about the same or slightly lighter than Stone Age. It's heavier than Lords of Waterdeep in terms of mastery of the efficiency of taking actions.

It does get old after a few plays. Yes, it is pretty linear.

I would purchase Agricola or All Creatures Big & Small instead for the same feeling as Agricola in a smaller, shorter package.
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Seth Brown
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veector wrote:

I reviewed this for Board Game Quest. I would say it's about the same or slightly lighter than Stone Age. It's heavier than Lords of Waterdeep in terms of mastery of the efficiency of taking actions.

It does get old after a few plays. Yes, it is pretty linear.

I would purchase Agricola or All Creatures Big & Small instead for the same feeling as Agricola in a smaller, shorter package.

I haven't played ACBAS so I don't have it as a comparison point. I certainly agree that after a few plays, my reaction is "I'd always rather be playing Agricola." But I'm trying to put myself in the mindset of someone who hasn't played Agricola, for whom the complexity of Agricola (even without the cards) is overwhelming, and I don't know if AgricoFam would get old fast for them. I'd actually be curious to hear from people who have played this but have never played Agricola.

(As a sidenote, your comment certainly serves as a reminder of the subjectivity of weight; I would not consider LoW a lighter game than Stone Age. Again, there may be ways in which it is, but there are certainly ways in which it is heavier as well.)
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I have not played this version, but have some thoughts/insight as to the full game and ACBAS and how this family version MIGHT fit in the overall Agricola (+Cavenra) landscape.

I love full blown Agricola with minor improvements and occupations - I own at least 5 or 6 expansion decks above the full game itself. Downside - The cards add an element of luck (yet requires MORE skill for success) that can create a very unbalanced playing field - If I get crappy, non-combo cards I can just skip them for the most part and move forward, BUT... if my opponent gets a 2, 3, or 4 card combo it could mean a landslide victory without any mechanism to stop them. It creates a hugely random element that I often like less than the nearly pure strategy game Agricola is when played without the cards.

Add in Agricola: Farmers of the Moor, set the cards aside and then you have what I consider a perfect "10" game. And this version is accessible after a little work and patience.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is very much Agricola light, almost too light for me - it's quick, easy and fun-ish. Yes you can play two games in about an hour, but it's super linear/formula driven. Adding the two more building expansions doesn't do much other than create an unbalanced pool and a race for who gets that broken tile first element. The completest in me said screw it and bought them anyway. I think we've used a set from each expansion 1-2 times (I've logged over 100 plays of ACBAS). We always play at least "best 2 of 3" if not more rounds of this in one sitting.

Having not played Agricola: Family Edition, I cannot say where it falls, but it seems that it is probably in between ACBAS and Agricola. I don't think ACBAS is a gateway to Agricola, but based on what I've learned of the family addition, I think it is a great gateway to get those not so heavy gamers into Agricola (and potentially the addition of Farmers and the cards as well!), so I think I will be picking the Family edition up to entice my gamer-lite friends and family into one of my all time favorites.

My thoughts:

Track A - new gamers, new to euro games, new to resource management and/or action efficiency games:

1) Start with Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small as a gateway game with newbies to see if they take to the theme and style of resource management and action efficiency games. Good? Fun? Want more? Go to #2!

Rating: 7-7.5 (100+ plays - Typically play best of 3 games)

2) Agricola: Family Edition appears to ramp things up a bit and makes a big leap from ACBAS. Still having fun? Want even more strategy and challenge? Not afraid of investing about 2 hours into a game? Go to #3!

Assumed Rating: 8-8.5 (0 plays)

3) Agricola withOUT the cards is the next stop. Pure genius in game design - a perfect 10 in my book. A first play for most serious gamers I know leaves them wanting to play again, often immediately. Want more options, but like the controlled, strategy based, almost luckless style? Go on to #4!

Rating: 9 (50+ plays - Dropped from a 10 due to FotM expansion)

4) Agricola + Agricola: Farmers of the Moor withOUT the cards and done! Sweet spot for me... <<Drops the Mic>>

Rating: 10 (75+ plays - First Choice always)

5) Glutton for punishment? Wanting to crash and burn because you have too many choices, too few actions, not enough discpline to say no AND you want some random luck thrown into your strategy game of choice? Agricola WITH the cards - draft for some control (adds time) or straight up deal cards out (Law of Chaos/Murphy's Law at it's finest!) Adding Agricola: Farmers of the Moor doesn't change the game much - probably gives a feeling of a little more control due to the free actions (not free costs... manage those resources or nose dive!!!) to play some of your cards! Really Love this game? Go to #6!

Rating: 8.5 (25+ plays - Requires the right table of players)

6) Like Solitaire? Don't have any friends? Agricola + Agricola: Farmers of the Moor WITH the cards - Perfection if you can play through a series over time (rules allow you to keep additional cards from round to round). How good are you? Don't stop until you fail to beat your previous score! Synergy Bonuses = Ridiculous scores.

Rating: 10 (40+ plays - Longest streak was 15 games in a row with increasing score)

Track B - Casual gamers, played a few euro games, knows games have different "mechanics" - ie. worker placement, resource management, action efficiency, etc... Plays with more than two people commonly and/or budget is a factor:

Skip #1 above (ACBAS) - not needed based on what the Family Edition brings to the table so start with #2.

Track C - Gamers, played and own multiple euro games, has played lots of games with lots of different "mechanics" - ie. worker placement, resource management, action efficiency, etc... AND has favorites, specifically those listed above. Plays with more than two people often:

Start with step #3 above, add Family edition if you're a drug dealer, err, I mean game teacher and have $$$ to but multiple versions of the same game.

Track D - Fit somewhere within Tracks B-C above but hate the unforgiving nature of Agricola but love the design, concept and cute ani-meeples & veggi-meeples:

Go directly to Caverna: The Cave Farmers.

Rating: 8 (15+ plays)

Comments and questions are welcomed. Cheers!
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