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Subject: Basic Subsistence Strategies in Agricola rss

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Jerry Hagen
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Disclaimer: Based on 5 plays of 3/4/5 player version with the E deck only. Assumes basic knowledge of game rules and goals. There are multiple good reviews already posted with this material.

No single resource in Agricola is worth as much as the 3 points of each food unit fed to your family. A surplus can also be a great benefit as it allows the play of the occupation cards which can fuel a point-scoring engine. In addition, a food source of sufficient efficiency can reduce the cost of growing the family, which provides both direct and indirect victory points -- indirect through the additional actions. It behooves a player to know the main ways in which the family will be fed by the end of the first couple turns, as diversifying aimlessly reduces the benefit of the occupations and minor improvements.

There are four major ways to avoid those nasty Begging cards.

Food actions. Multiple board actions allow the player to take food directly. These actions are the day laborer (+2 food), catch fish (1 accumulated food/round) and, in the 4/5 player game, Traveling Players (1 accum food/round). These actions require no investment, and even without card benefits can be worth taking on occasion. However, spending actions to take food without any other corresponding benefits can be weak, as other players are likely finding ways to feed their families while also accomplishing other game objectives.

Grain/Vegetables. Bread can be among the more efficient paths to a full stomach. No action in the game converts a less valuable resource to as much food as baking bread does with one of the higher-end ovens. 4-5 food from 1 grain is an excellent deal, and one which can provide a majority of consumed food for an entire harvest in one action. There are actually two sub-strategies here. In any case, look for the Baker, who can be extremely powerful, providing a free "bake bread" action every harvest.

Planting. The traditional method of creating food from grain, this involves acquiring grain, ploughing, and sowing. Provides large food surpluses when successful. A major drawback, however, is the number of actions that must be invested to get this engine going. A poorly executed planting strategy can lead to a lot of wasted actions, while the carnivores around the table address their needs by tossing a couple sheep into the fireplace. Certain cards can get around this by providing bonuses to grain production, or providing grain. Vegetables can be used here as well, but unless a player has a surplus of vegetables those are better off shunted into VPs. A vegetable/grain strategy would look to buy a cooking hearth instead of an oven or place a lettuce patch (4 food when vegetables planted on card are harvested). I prefer not to eat vegetables unless my hand is forced.

Gathering. In this approach, grain is not primarily planted, but acquired through the course of other actions and then consumed. One example is the seasonal worker (+1 grain whenever the day laborer is chosen). Provides short-term benefit in the form of 2 food, then an additional grain. It is not necessary to plant the grain; the grain can be baked directly or simply eaten at 1/1 while focusing on animal herds and family growth for VPs.

Animals. Requires less resource investment than the grain strategy; only a breeding pair of animals and a fireplace/cooking hearth are needed to jumpstart. Sheep are usually the animal of choice, even though less efficient on a food-per-resource basis. This is because under normal conditions (i.e. without cards that yield boar/cattle) boar and cattle come out at a point in the game when one looks to be scoring points, not attending to basic subsistence. A sheep turned into 2 food early is a worthwhile sacrifice; a cow turned into 4 food late is generally not. Better to be saving that cow for VPs at that point, since a carnivore is not likely to be scoring many points for fields/grain/veggies. An exception is the brush maker, who scores points for slaughtered boar -- I haven't had a chance to see this hit the table yet, but it seems quite powerful and a reason to invest in boar early (especially in the 5-player game where the Sheep+1 Food/Boar/Cattle-1 Food action is available), as few others at the table will be scoring points for the act of feeding. Also see the butter churn and spindle, who provide bonus food for sheep herds (and in the case of butter, cattle herds as well) of sizes 3 and 5. Resist the temptation to spend on a cooking hearth unless there is nothing better to do; the simple fireplace provides the same 1 sheep/2 food conversion, and unless the cards pull you in another direction, your family should be eating mutton rather than pork or beef anyway.

Resources. Certain cards -- Potter/Pottery, Basket Weaver/Basket Weaving, Turner/Cabinet Maker are some -- allow one to turn clay, reeds, or wood into food. Any of these can be useful, as they allow one effectively to combine actions. Gathering that pile of 6 clay is a far more powerful and versatile action if 2 of those clay can feed your family this harvest. You've just taken care of your food needs and a raw material with one action, allowing you to spend your other action(s) enhancing your farm in other ways -- perhaps by using those clay to renovate or build a turn earlier than you might have without the potter. A major additional benefit is that stocks of point-generating items are not depleted in the act of feeding.

Which of these strategies is most effective? The answer, of course, is that it depends on the cards in your hand and the strategies of the other players at the table. With the right support cards, any can work well. It is far more important to take into account food per action, and what else you are accomplishing while also picking up food. An action that picks up 3 sheep when pursuing an animal strategy is very valuable -- that is 6 food for one action, or three times the benefit of an unmodified day laborer. Using the mushroom collector to take 2 food while also gathering wood is valuable, as an action that primarily benefits you in another area addresses food needs as well.

An unmodified Catch Fish/Day Laborer/Traveling Players (all actions which net ~2 food) is to be avoided unless the fish or players net 3 food or greater. Even then, one would prefer to take any unmodified pure food production roles as few times as possible.

Edited: I don't think I'm going to get to a card review.
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Ralph H. Anderson
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Excellent work, Jerry. Very clean and clear presentation of Basic Subsistence.

I have been very impressed with the food and VP that the grain growing strategy can produce if it gets running. Cards willing it is what I want to try in my next game!
 
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Jerry Hagen
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Plough and Sow seemed to be very sought-after actions in the games I've played thus far, so it would seem the community agrees. Most of the time I've drawn animal cards, though.
 
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Jeff Kahan
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Great work Jerry! My best advice for myself is to actually heed what you say. So sayeth the 3 begging cards dealt to me last night in the final round. I can't wait for the card summaries!

Jeff
 
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Jerry Hagen
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If everyone heeded what I said, I'd be much better at negotiation games.
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Philip Thomas
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What about the strategy of not bothering feeding your family and just trying to maximise points? I imagine it doesn't work...
 
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Jerry Hagen
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I've always been too frightened by the begging cards to try it -- the problem is, for each food you're short in a given harvest phase, you take a -3 point penalty. I'd be very interested to see a strategy that didn't require food, but I suspect it's just not possible to score points quickly enough to make up for a -6, -9, -12 point penalty per turn.

I could see it being worth it on the last turn perhaps, although in my experience a single action on the last turn tends to be worth about 2 points, less than the penalty for taking one begging card.
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
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Many thanks!
This was just what I thought after 1 play. Grain is terribly slow and improductive and the animal strategy other players follwoed worked amazing. I had trouble feeding a family of two while others were just making babies and slaughter some sheep. I do think it indeed depends on the support cards / turn cards what should be done. Anyhow this game rocks (mind you I am a wargamer!).
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Jerry Hagen
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I don't want to give the impression I think animals are superior to grain. A lot of it depends on the strategies the other players are following.

The strengths of the animal strategy are that it provides a consistent food source (through breeding) and takes advantage of actions which tend to be ignored by others. It's not uncommon to see three sheep pile on the "1 Sheep" action mid-game, as the players struggle to build more pasture land. If you have a fireplace, that's a 6 food action, which is very powerful. Realistically though, an animal player will need to take fishing/traveling players occasionally, or have some other food source, to avoid slaughtering faster than he breeds.

A severe weakness of grain is that it is dependent on taking the "Sow/Bake Bread" action. I would only follow the grain strategy if I were willing to commit to it fully -- to take advantage of the "sow" half of the action too -- and if I saw no more than one other player doing it. If there is a lot of competition around this action, a grain player could find herself in a tough spot.

That said, when it goes off it can be a wonder to behold -- a consistent source of 4-8 food per bread baking, depending on the oven chosen. That's hard for the animal players to keep up with.
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Moisés Solé
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Hi. This is a good primer on subsistency. Sadly, I haven't gotten to play this yet. But for what I'm reading about it, I'll love it when I finally get to play!

On to the topic, Of course there are better options, but aren't you too harsh on not eating cattle? For instance, in the final turn, slaughtering a cattle for food would cost you at most one point (assuming it's not the only one you have) and yet it could yield enough food to feed two family members, that's 6 points worth of begging cards. I agree that midgame one should probably eat sheep if eating meat. Am I the only one wondering why is there not a card with +1 Sheep, Ewe after Round 12?

There's something I need to quote.

jhagen1908 wrote:
I prefer not to eat vegetables unless my hand is forced.


That's so much like me!
 
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Jerry Hagen
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If the alternative's begging cards, then by all means do what you can to avoid them. Begging cards are horrible.

I wouldn't go so far as to say "never eat cattle." Agricola tends to resist generalizations like that. But to get the most out of cattle requires having spent a substantial amount on a cooking hearth, and they come very late in the game, so they really aren't suitable for a full-game feeding strategy. Barring oddities like the card that loans you one of each animal, that is -- it can be fairly easy to get breeding pairs in that case.

As for the line about vegetables, unfortunately it holds true for me in real life as well.
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Hanno Girke
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Well, keep the 5-player-game in mind where you can get cattle from round 1 on...
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Pretentious? Moi?
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These are some very well thought out points. While reading through it, I realized that I hadn't really taken the time to consider many of the consequences of selecting a particular food strategy--I usually just look at what my cards (& seating position) dictate, then plan from there.

Even though this post is prefaced with "Assumes basic knowledge of game rules and goals," I'd add the following:

"Oh no, this is a harvest round" has been uttered by someone during Round 9 or 11 (or 14!), in nearly all of the games I've played. (Where "all" is ~6.)

As the "harvest season" shortens, you have to establish your food strategy early. This is true, whether you plan to use a single, primary source (grain, for example) or if your cards suggest a better return by switching to cooked meats, as they become available.

Plus, your production has a direct affect on growing your family. You need those extra laborers uh, "youngins" to out-compete your neighbors, but they gotta to eat...

More considerations

Subsistence vs. Scoring:
You need to accumulate 8 Grains and 4 Vegetables (& 5 plowed Fields) for a maximum score. All else can be eaten, baked, converted, etc. For scoring, it doesn't matter if they're harvested or "in the ground," but your family can only eat them before (instead of) sowing OR after harvesting.

The "Live off the Land" rule of thumb: given the choice between 'eating your remaining grain' OR 'planting it & fishing for your meal,' you should plan on planting & fishing. Planted, each one returns three; eaten, they return nothing & it then costs another action to obtain a new one.

I'd argue that, you should only eat those grains which come out of the ground. Or put another way, don't eat your last 2 (or 3) unplanted grains, unless you already have a steady supply in your fields. (Think of this as eating one of your last two breeding sheep!) Otherwise, you'll end up feeding your family for a season, but you'll lose out at the end, do to having to re-start your production from scratch.


Harvest Season:
As I mentioned above, the harvest seasons get shorter as the game progresses. Here's the breakdown:

Rounds 1 - 4
Rounds 5 - 7 <---*
Rounds 8 & 9
Rounds 10 & 11
Rounds 12 & 13
Round 14!

*Although the boards' layout hide this fact: the game is half-over by Round 7.

By this point, all of the basic resource Actions will have been revealed--the remaining ones are just variations or combinations--except for Vegetables (see below), Boars, & Cattle (in the 5-player game, these last two are always available). Your strategy, or the "seeds" for it (Ha ha!), need to be in place by the end of this Round.


Sowing:
When can you sow your fields? You can always plow, beginning in Round 1, but you may not be able to sow until as late as Round 4 (in which case only one player will have planted in time for that harvest). This is crucial to a Grains strategy. It also sets the stage for competition between Farms (as opposed to cattle "Ranches"). The earlier the Sow Fields Action appears, the more likely competition will be among your opponents, but the later it appears, the fewer opponents are likely to be counting on Grains as subsistence.

If Sow appears late, probably only one or two players will be in a position to use it (the rest will be fencing in their free-roaming mutton).

If otoh, Sow appears early (say round 1 or 2), it's very likely that each Grain strategist will only need to use it once (if they're trying for efficiency), thus giving you a chance to also plant before the first harvest.

If it's early AND they're being inefficient (or maybe trying to block you from planting--say by plowing at the end of each round & then sowing at the beginning of the following), you should probably take the "Start Player" Action. Much of this depends on what strategy the player(s) to your immediate right is(are) following.


Vegetables:
I too am loathe to eat them (in Agricola, that is)--they're worth too much at the end, they don't reproduce as many, and they feed you no better than grains, when raw.

Without some lucky cards, you won't be able to get any until Round 8 or 9, which leaves little time to plant & harvest them. Don't forget to have an empty, plowed field ready when that Veggie Action appears.

If you do manage to get Vegetables early, plant them. They don't reproduce in volume as the grains do, but they do allow you to turn over your fields more quickly and you only need 4 to max out their scoring.

Best case: accumulate 2 Vegetables & sow them both by Round 9. This gives you your needed 4. Plus you'll have those fields back by Round 12 (or 10), so they can be rotated to Grains for subsistence or to round out your 8.

Worst case (sowing a single Veg by Round 11): it will take you two harvests, plus one additional Sowing to get 4 back. This situation also ties up two fields until the game's end.
____________________

I was going to add some thoughts on "Ranching," but this has gotten rather lengthy. Maybe later.


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Geeky McGeekface
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The real thing to keep in mind (as is always the case with Agricola) is efficiency. If you sow one field with veggies, you only get one additional crop. You can accomplish exactly the same thing by choosing the Take 1 Vegetable action (and you don't even have to wait for it). So the key is to get more out of the action. Sowing at least two fields or sowing one field with veggies and baking bread makes the action worthwhile. Sadly, this last option doesn't allow you to make carrot cake!
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Jerry Hagen
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RicochetRita's post (not to mention Hanno's before and Larry's after) is a very thought-provoking one, and I don't have time to respond in full now (running late for Wed. night gaming).

But one thing that occurs to me from reading it is that vegetables and boar/cattle combo very well together if you can get a large vegetable surplus -- since they both require the cooking hearth for full efficiency. Heck, one cow + one vegetable, using a cooking hearth, = 7 food = 3.5 family members for 1 harvest.

I'll have more to say tonight or tomorrow AM. I'm really wishing I knew someone with an imported copy right about now -- haven't had a chance to play since Dallas.
 
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Larry Levy wrote:
The real thing to keep in mind (as is always the case with Agricola) is efficiency. If you sow one field with veggies, you only get one additional crop. You can accomplish exactly the same thing by choosing the Take 1 Vegetable action (and you don't even have to wait for it). So the key is to get more out of the action. Sowing at least two fields or sowing one field with veggies and baking bread makes the action worthwhile. Sadly, this last option doesn't allow you to make carrot cake!

Right, I was assuming multiple fields planted per Sowing action (Back to that 'When can you Sow?' question). Although, I'm not sure you'd be able to collect all 4 Vegetables in this manner (ie. taking that Action 4 times) during a 4 or 5 player game. There'll likely be other players who aren't set up to grow their own & will be trying to do the same.

To maximize efficiency the fields should probably be in use full-time, creating the bulk of these resources, & those precious Actions used for other things, like fences for Cattle. But much depends on when the Sowing action appears, in relation to the first Harvest, and how early you're able to take it. During the 'early' game, you don't get immediate returns on planting.


Harvesting, A Work in Progress:
Assuming no fancy E or I cards, try to minimize the Take Grain/Vegetable Action. I'm thinking that *potentially* you should strive to take no more than 2 to 4 Grain Actions plus a single Vegetable Action per game (or possibly two Veggie Actions) & then Sow them simultaneously or in multiples.

Something like: Sow 2 Grain each Harvest Season. These 2 will yield 6, two of which should be replanted. (It's very likely that, you'll eat the fruits of your first few harvests per game). Planting the last two in the same fields, repeats the cycle--possibly with the benefit of an oven, for more food efficiency. But that won't occur until Rounds 10 or 11 at the earliest. If you could manage to replant the first two by Round 7 (in different fields), you'd set up a staggered system of crops, which would probably better sustain your family.

Otoh, 4 Grain planted (the 2 from above, plus 2 more from Actions), yields 12. These fields could also be staggered across 2 or 3 growing seasons, such that you'd have a supply of empty fields to replant late in the game (when the Harvests arrive more often). Excess crops could then be eaten, on a more regular basis. Maybe.

I really need to sit down with the components & run through some of the likely combinations: "Plow/Take, Plow/Take, Sow" vs. "Plow/Take/Sow, Plow/Take/Sow" etc.

So far, it's never worked out this way for me during a game...shake

Discuss.



Mmmm...carrot cake!

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Dave Eisen
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The primary problem I have with a grain-based subsistence strategy is that there is no possibility to kick start it with multiple grains on a single action the way it is possible to start animals that way. The places that animals are available add an additional animal each turn so if it is not taken for a couple of turns, you can get several sheep with one action.

On the other hand, the action to plow a field is always just one field. The action to take a grain is always just one grain. It is difficult to get a crop-based economy going on these terms.

The exception being if I have an occupation or improvement that allows me to plow several fields with one action. In this case, I go aggressively into crops and have had great success doing so.

But if I do not have such a card, it is the animals for me.
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Jerry Hagen
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The dreaded multiple-quote post...oh no!

Hanno wrote:
Well, keep the 5-player-game in mind where you can get cattle from round 1 on...


I'd be interested to hear stories from those who have gotten a cattle strategy working in a 5p game through liberal use of the "Pay 1 Food -> 1 Cattle" action (i.e. more than once). I'd be concerned that I'd have to spend too many actions gathering food to make it work well -- perhaps in a low-Occupation, high-Improvement game as a counter to opponents who hit the Occupation spaces hard in the early game.

Huzonfirst wrote:
The real thing to keep in mind (as is always the case with Agricola) is efficiency. If you sow one field with veggies, you only get one additional crop. You can accomplish exactly the same thing by choosing the Take 1 Vegetable action (and you don't even have to wait for it). So the key is to get more out of the action. Sowing at least two fields or sowing one field with veggies and baking bread makes the action worthwhile. Sadly, this last option doesn't allow you to make carrot cake!


dkeisen wrote:
The primary problem I have with a grain-based subsistence strategy is that there is no possibility to kick start it with multiple grains on a single action the way it is possible to start animals that way. The places that animals are available add an additional animal each turn so if it is not taken for a couple of turns, you can get several sheep with one action.

On the other hand, the action to plow a field is always just one field. The action to take a grain is always just one grain. It is difficult to get a crop-based economy going on these terms.

The exception being if I have an occupation or improvement that allows me to plow several fields with one action. In this case, I go aggressively into crops and have had great success doing so.

But if I do not have such a card, it is the animals for me.


Two arguments which speak to the same key point, I think -- that efficiency is more difficult to achieve with grain and veggies, and also more situational. How many others are going for grain? Do their cards push them in that direction, or can they be convinced to reverse course and take animals instead? Given the likely choices of the other players in the game, am I going to be able to sow multiple fields with my single action, and also bake bread on the side?

I'm weaker at reading opponents than I'd like to be, which is why I prefer to be holding cards which give me grain/vegetable bonuses before committing to a planting strategy. If I can't time it the way I'd like due to multiplayer chaos, at least I haven't wasted very many actions in the process.
 
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Jerry Hagen
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RicochetRita wrote:

Subsistence vs. Scoring:
You need to accumulate 8 Grains and 4 Vegetables (& 5 plowed Fields) for a maximum score. All else can be eaten, baked, converted, etc. For scoring, it doesn't matter if they're harvested or "in the ground," but your family can only eat them before (instead of) sowing OR after harvesting.

The "Live off the Land" rule of thumb: given the choice between 'eating your remaining grain' OR 'planting it & fishing for your meal,' you should plan on planting & fishing. Planted, each one returns three; eaten, they return nothing & it then costs another action to obtain a new one.

I'd argue that, you should only eat those grains which come out of the ground. Or put another way, don't eat your last 2 (or 3) unplanted grains, unless you already have a steady supply in your fields. (Think of this as eating one of your last two breeding sheep!) Otherwise, you'll end up feeding your family for a season, but you'll lose out at the end, do to having to re-start your production from scratch.


A flipside of the subsistence discussion is the need to know where your final VPs will be coming from. I like to re-evaluate this around round 5 -- have I gotten enough traction in my initial subsistence plan (be it animals or plants) that I can also depend on it to provide me max or near-max VPs? Will I be heading all the way for stone, or would it be more advisable to stop at clay and focus my efforts elsewhere? Is my food strategy robust enough to support five family members?

It's in running through these questions in my mind that I decide how to feed. At least that's the theory. Just as often I end up eating the grain I've gathered and mutter to myself, "this sucks, but it's better than going hungry."
 
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Okay. I've tried a number of combinations in an attempt to survive by primarily eating Grain but without any Grain-helping Occupation/Minor cards or any resource accumulations. Initially, I was just running the "Take Grain/Plow/Sow" numbers to maximize the final Grain/Veggie scores, but realized they were useless without the built-in resource depletions.

Disclaimer: I based all this on the Actions from 4/5-Player games. (Although, 2/3-Player games wouldn't change the model as much as the timing & final scores. The useful 5-Player "Reed/Stone/Wood" Action or similar 4-Player "Reed/Stone/Food" Action would be replaced by a much less useful 3-Player "Stone" Action and with "nothing" for 2-Players. Without these extra Reeds, it may take an additional Season for house expansion & family growth, which affects the final Score.) The majority of Actions selected come from the standard Actions printed on the board or from the Action cards revealed during each Round.

I have attempted to keep the selections flexible enough to allow for the Actions' random appearance within each Season. For example, Sowing during Round 4, ensures that the Action will be in play (& taking "1st Player" during Round 3, ensures it will be available!).

Initial Food supplies are 3 (assumes unlikelihood of starting 1st in a 4/5-Player game).

Note: my use of the term, "Season" is meant to include all of the Actions or Rounds between Harvests. Approaching the game in terms of Seasons, as opposed to Rounds, can greatly help with the overall strategy. For example, the Seasons become shorter as the game progresses. This can & should be offset through Family Growth.


The Bakers Three
First off, to sustain your family with Grains, you have to buy an Oven as quickly as possibly. And since Clay is more readily available than Stone in early game, I've targeted that model--by Round 7. Other than occasionally taking the Fishing or Day Labor Action, the Oven was able to provide throughout the game for a family of 3.

The key to this whole strategy revolves around preparing to Bake Bread at some point during every Season (NOT every Round) & normally Sowing fields at the same time. With this model, I was usually able to get a base Score 22-23 points, plus 9-11 more points for Pastures & Animals (assuming no accumulations).

Most of the time, I only had to take the Fishing Action twice--once before the 1st Harvest (no Oven, yet) and again before the 4th. However, it's also possible to eat a raw Grain during the 4th, and then another one during the final Harvest, which reduces the final Grain count a bit (along with the Score). The 'Fish Occasionally' method provides a Lot more flexibility in competitive situations. (This strategy was NOT meant to be a solo-player "puzzle" exercise.)

The Family Growth Action can be taken as early as Round 7, without breaking this food-chain, provided the Oven's in place, as well. This would probably require a lot of luck in a competitive game. A more likely scenario would be: Oven by Round 7, Baby by Round 9.



Bread & Meats for Four
Expanding the Grain-eating family to 4 members, means that this new child will have to spend time either, Baking more Bread, taking one Fishing/Laboring Action every Season, or developing an additional self-sustaining food source (say, Sheep).

The Forced Fishing/Laboring choice is not very efficient, as you'll only net one extra Action per Season from this child (but +3 to the Score). By contrast, the firstborn child normally gives you two extra Actions every Season (by eating the excess Bread/Grain yields).

Additional Baking is an iffy option. Since the yields are very close for a family of 3, plus it'll be increasingly difficult to hog the 'Sow/Bake' Action twice in a Season, but it's still a very efficient method. It appears that extra Baking (beyond the standard 'Once per Season' Bake) would only have to occur twice per game--at most, to feed this extra child (removing very few of the extra Actions gained).

Investing in a cheap Fireplace & some disposable Sheep is possibly a better option for this family, especially if it plans on further growth (haven't run the numbers on feeding 5 yet...). Either way, having 4 well-fed members should lead to a notably higher score.

________________________


I finally had to resort to an excel sheet to keep track of these transactions. Not yet sure how to present the results here. I'm loath to draw ascii tables...

So, I may upload them as 'Strategy Worksheets' or screencaps, or something.


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Jerry Hagen
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Wow, great stuff.

You don't call it out explicitly, but I'm sure you're already taking into account that Ovens give a free "Bake Bread" action upon purchase. That helps a planter out as long as the improvement purchase is timed well.
 
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jhagen1908 wrote:
Wow, great stuff.

You don't call it out explicitly, but I'm sure you're already taking into account that Ovens give a free "Bake Bread" action upon purchase. That helps a planter out as long as the improvement purchase is timed well.


Yes, in all but one of the cases, I utilized that "Free Bake" Action and one time during the same Round as a Sow/Bake Action for a total of +10 Food! (I didn't see any rules against this, but it's sort of unlikely...)


 
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jhagen1908 wrote:
RicochetRita's post (not to mention Hanno's before and Larry's after) is a very thought-provoking one, and I don't have time to respond in full now (running late for Wed. night gaming).

But one thing that occurs to me from reading it is that vegetables and boar/cattle combo very well together if you can get a large vegetable surplus -- since they both require the cooking hearth for full efficiency. Heck, one cow + one vegetable, using a cooking hearth, = 7 food = 3.5 family members for 1 harvest.

I'll have more to say tonight or tomorrow AM. I'm really wishing I knew someone with an imported copy right about now -- haven't had a chance to play since Dallas.


Michelle's right here Jerry! Between her, Tom, Dave and a few others... DC is swimming in Agricola

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Doesn't a grain strategy get better with multiple ovens? You get points (plus a free baking action) for the ovens, and you don't even have to bake every season, if you make extra food for future harvests.
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I'd think it would be better, though it's tough to get a second oven until relatively deep into the game.

I'm actually much higher on the grain strategy than I was when I originally wrote the article six months ago, although I doubt that the game's especially unbalanced toward either. It seems more high-risk, in that you're depending on getting a particular action at least once a season, but also more high-reward, in that if you do get to bake bread you've just fed the whole family for one action.

 
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