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Inspired by Jim Cote's thread for Pandemic, I thought I would compile a list of common mistakes that can occur when first playing Agricola along with some rules that could easily be overlooked. I just recently received my copy from Z-Man Games and read through the many rules postings on BGG to have some of my questions answered. With the new printing widely available in Europe and now hitting stores in North America, I assumed there would be many like me who had a few questions or who played the game incorrectly the first time. In this thread, I hope to compile all these common mistakes and the aspects of play that could easily be confusing the first few games. For issues where it matters, this information is based on the second edition of the game.

I’ve divided the errors into two sections, one for the multiplayer game and one for a few specific issues that may arise with the solitaire version, though many comments from the first section also apply to the second. In general, I’ve placed the items in the order they occur during a game. Most of these answers relate to the general rules which can be altered by various Occupations and Improvements. I decided to not include questions about specific cards in this thread – there were just too many of them (I’ll leave that to another BGG user). If there are additional items I need to include or errors I’ve made, please let me know in the thread and I will update this post. Some of the information is a restatement of the rules while most of it comes from other BGG threads. Thanks to all of you who have posted questions and, more importantly, provided answers. Sorry if some of these seem obvious or too basic, but nearly every one of them has come up in the forums. Please note, this thread is not for errors in the printing of the game, just for mistakes that can be made while playing.

Multiplayer Game

-All players start the game with food. The starting player receives two food while all other players receive three.

-When a player places a family member on an action space, he immediately takes that action. In other words, action spaces ARE NOT resolved at the end of the round but are resolved immediately.

-In all spaces with red arrows, the goods accumulate over the rounds, including the “Fishing” and the “Traveling Players” action (the latter is only used in games of 4+ players). When a player takes goods, animals, or food from these spaces, he takes all of them. Note that in the Family Version, the "Starting Player" space accumulates food each round.

-Using one of the "Occupation" action spaces in the game allows a player to only play one Occupation card that turn (the only time a player can play more than one Occupation card from a single space is if he has a Minor Improvement or Occupation in play that allows him to break the rule).

-The actions on spaces that include two actions divided by “and/or” can be taken in any order. Both actions do not have to be taken, but at least one must be taken or a player cannot select the space with his family member. One example is the “Sow and/or Bake Bread” space.

-For action spaces that include two actions using “After . . . also . . .”, the first action must be taken and the second action is optional. One example is the “After Renovation, also 1 Major or Minor Improvement” space.

-In order to take the “Family Growth” action, a player must have more rooms than he currently has family members (including other newborns). If a player expands his family using the “Family Growth even without space in your home” action and later builds a new room in his house, that family member must be moved into the new room.

-The "Build Room(s) and/or Build Stable(s)" space allows a player to build as many rooms as he can afford and, if he has enough wood, all four of his stables. However, there is a "Build 1 Room or Traveling Players" space in a five player game that only allows a player to build a single room.

-In the five player game, the action space “1 Reed, In addition, take 1 Stone and 1 Wood” accumulates one reed every round. The one stone and one wood that come with the reed are taken from the general supply and these two additional resources are given to each player who takes the action.

-From the five player family game, the action space “Take 2 different Building Resources of your choice” requires that a player must take two different resources.

-The Start Player Marker only moves to a new player when someone takes the “Starting Player” action.

-Fences can only be built if they form a completely enclosed pasture with fences on all sides. A fence cannot be placed unless it is part of such an enclosure.

-Stables – A player can only have one stable on any farmyard space. Pastures can thus have one stable for each space they cover. Each stable doubles the capacity of the pasture as a whole, so a two space pasture with one stable can hold 4 x 2 = 8 animals, while the same pasture with two stables can hold 4 x 2 x 2 = 16 animals. An unfenced stable can be fenced later. When scoring, a farmyard square with just a stable is considered occupied, which allows a player to avoid the -1 penalty for an empty space (an unfenced stable is not worth any positive points, however). Also during scoring, one pasture is a single fenced in area, regardless of the number of farmyard squares in the pasture.

-Renovation – A player cannot renovate to clay and then to stone in the same action. When renovation occurs, the entire hut must be renovated at the same time. The amount of reed required for renovation is always just one total, regardless of the number of rooms being renovated. For example, if a player is renovating a four-room clay hut to stone, he must pay four stone and only one reed.

-When a player takes a “Sow” action, he can sow as many fields as he has plowed, provided these fields are empty and he has enough grain and/or vegetables.

-When harvesting grain and vegetables, one of each good is taken from each stack in a field and the remaining goods are left in the field until the next harvest. This occurs at the beginning of the harvest phase, before a player feeds his family members. Grain and vegetables in a field are not consumable – they must be harvested and placed in a player’s personal supply first. However, grain and vegetables left in the fields at the end of the game are counted for scoring purposes.

-Grain can only be baked into bread when using a “Bake Bread” action (don't forget that one grain, or one vegetable, can be used as one food at any point in the game). Ovens convert a limited amount of grain into food while Fireplaces and Cooking Hearths convert unlimited amounts. A player can own multiple cooking improvements and use all of them when he takes the "Bake Bread" action. A player can only cook the grain in his personal supply, not in his fields. Immediately after a player places an oven as a major or minor improvement, he get to perform the "Bake Bread" action.

-With a Fireplace or Cooking Hearth, animals and vegetables can be converted to food at any time, even immediately after they are taken from the board. The only limit is that animals cannot be made into food during the Breeding phase of the Harvest. Thus, a player could take animals for the sole purpose of cooking them immediately (a player can even take animals and simply let them all go if he does not have an improvement to cook them or room to place them on his farm).

-A player can keep only one animal is his house which is known as a pet. This pet is identical to other animals in all respects – it can breed, it can be eaten, and it is counted for scoring at the end of the game. All animals, including a pet, can be freely moved (meaning it does not require an action) during the course of a game as long as all rules regarding animal placement are followed. The general consensus on BGG is that a player is better off not naming a pet – the animal will likely meet a tragic end.

-A Begging Card is taken for each food that a player is short when he feeds his family, not for each family member that cannot be completely fed.

-During the Breeding phase of the Harvest, a player with at least two of one type of animal receives only one baby animal of that type. In other words, a player with two sheep gets one lamb and a player with ten sheep gets one lamb as well. A maximum of three animals can be bred during this phase, one each of sheep, boars, and cows.

-When a player plays a Minor Improvement or Occupation card from his hand, he does not draw a new card to replace it. Unless playing with any of the variants listed in the rules, a player is limited to the fourteen cards he is dealt at the beginning of the game (the only exception to this limit if when a player is required to pass a Minor Improvement card to his left after playing it).

-If a player "returns" a Major Improvement, the card goes back to the major improvement board where it can be repurchased, either by a different player or the same player. The player returning the Major Improvement does not forfeit any goods he received, or will receive, from the card (this is really dealing with the well). When a player "returns" a Minor Improvement or Occupation, it is removed from the game. If a player is still to receive goods in upcoming rounds for these removed cards, those goods are removed from the board.

-A card that states something like, “Add 5 and 9 to the current round . . .” means that a player adds the given numbers on the card to the current round number and places the designated goods on the corresponding round spaces. For example, if a player is to add 5 and 9 during round 4, he would place the respective goods on rounds 9 and 13. If this card was played in round 7, the player would only place the goods in round 12 since there is no round 16.

-Any card (Major or Minor Improvements) with the word "Fireplace" in its title is considered a Fireplace. Any card with the word "Oven" in its title is considered an Oven. Though both can bake bread, a Fireplace and an Oven are considered different cooking implements in this game.

-As noted in the rules, resources, animals, and food are meant to be unlimited, as are plowed fields and rooms for the various houses. Only a player’s family members, stables, and fences are limited in number.

-The main decks that come with the game, the E, I, and K decks, can be used in any way a player desires. They can be used separately, two could be combined, or all three could be used at once. The Z-deck is a small expansion deck that can also be combined with the other decks in any way a player chooses.

Errors Specific to the Solo Game

-A player who is playing either a single solo game or the first solo game in a series of eight begins the game with no food. It cost three food to feed each adult family member during harvest, while children are still fed only one.

-The “3 Wood” space provides only two wood per round in the solo game. A player who is playing a series of eight games begins the second and subsequent games with one food for every two points (rounded down) that he exceeded the scoring goal in the previous game.

-At the start of a new game in a series, a player is considered to be in round 0. This is important if a player has an Occupation card already in play from a previous game that grants goods or animals a certain number of rounds after the current round. For example, if a player is to add 5 and 9 to the current round, he would simply place goods on rounds 5 and 9.

-From the second game in a series, a player must pay for the initial Occupation he plays from his hand during the game as it is not technically his “first” Occupation (since he has Occupations in play from previous games).

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Todd Pytel
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Good summary. You might consider elaborating a bit more here:

cagriggs wrote:
-Stables – ...When scoring, a farmyard square with just a stable is considered occupied.

True. However, only fenced stables score points. Another way to think about this is that in fields with unfenced stables the -1 for an empty field cancels out the +1 for a stable.
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Brian Bankler
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The "Build" space lets you build multiple rooms (assuming you can pay for multiple). Several people missed this for a few games (including me!).
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AB
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Good list. A couple of points for addition and improvement of your list.

I'd say another common mistake is regarding renovation. You require 1 resource of the hut type you want per room but only 1 reed TOTAL for the roof regardless of number of rooms. This is noted in the rules but can often be skimmed over and played as a resource and a reed per room which is not correct.

[For example to renovate a 3 roomed wooden hut to a clay hut requires 3 clay and 1 reed (NOT 3 clay and 3 reeds)]

I'd also amend your fences advise as it is a bit loose (I think what is written in the rules is less ambiguous). As it isn't enough to just enclose at least 1 field, as all fence pieces must fully enclose a pasture(s). For example you couldn't lay down 6 fences to enclose at least 1 field with say 4 of them and use the other 2 fences to start enclosing the next field space but not complete it

AB
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Branko K.
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Nice summary.

You might also add a few more easily overlooked facts:

- in the Family version the starting player action also accumulates food. Even though there IS an arrow there, it's easy to forget about adding food here, especially if you frequently switch from family to regular and back.

- buying ovens gives you an instant "bake bread" action. This is definitely one of the most overlooked things in games I played. Sometimes it may pay off to get another oven JUST to use this extra bake bread action if the one on the sow place is already being used.
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Martin G
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In our first game we forgot that you are supposed to start with 3 food (or 2 for the starting player). Certainly made the first harvest a bit more challenging!
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Matthew Barratt
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we missed that you take the action when you choose the action. We assumed it was like Caylus and Pillars of the Earth where no action is executed until all workers have been placed.
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Dale Martin
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Quote:
-For action spaces that include two actions using “After . . . also . . .”, the first action must be taken and the second action is optional. One example is the “After Renovation, also 1 Major or Minor Improvement” space.

Is this fully clarified elsewhere? The language itself does not imply that the second action is optional, but rather required. The rules state that you cannot ignore the first to gain the second, but the rules are silent on gaining the first and ignoring the second.
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Branko K.
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This has already been discussed in a few other threads, but the bottom line is "After X also Y" actually means "You must do X and then you can optionally do Y".

The "after" is supposed to imply that the first one is mandatory, and "also" means you don't have to do it if you don't want, even though I would never understand it that way myself (if I did no know better I would also think that "also" implies you must do that, too).
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Tim Fiscus
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Bankler wrote:
The "Build" space lets you build multiple rooms (assuming you can pay for multiple). Several people missed this for a few games (including me!).

This is true for the preprinted "Build" space, but not for the one added in the 5-player game, which only allows the building of a single room. Good tip.
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Pedro
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baba44713 wrote:
In other words, a player with two sheep gets one lamb and a player with ten sheep gets one lamb as well. A maximum of three animals can be bred during this phase, one each of sheep, boars, and cows.

Wow, we've been playing this wrong from the beggining! No wonder animal breeding is such a dominant strategy in our games...
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Brian Bankler
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HuckmanT wrote:
Bankler wrote:
The "Build" space lets you build multiple rooms (assuming you can pay for multiple). Several people missed this for a few games (including me!).

This is true for the preprinted "Build" space, but not for the one added in the 5-player game, which only allows the building of a single room. Good tip.
That may be why I got confused, I initially only played five player games and we probably passed the cards around to show the actions, and I assumed the board space matched.]
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1603-1714
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Thanks for all the great feedback. I've edited the post with a number of additions and clarifications based on the posts.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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One other note is that you harvest before you feed, so you can use the grain to feed your people if needed.

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Tim Rogers
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I agree with other responders that this is a very well put-together list. A few things I have only recently become aware of:

- In the single player experience you need to feed your people 3 food each, each harvest (but still only 1 to a newborn).

- When you "return" a major improvement (such as the well) it goes back to the major improvement board for re-purchasing. When returned you do not lose any of the resources it granted you (such as food from the well), and when re-purchased it re-triggers anything associated with its being built.

- Stable double the capacity of the entire pasture they are in, not just the square they are on.

Good list, and thanks for compiling all of these things in one place!
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Kevin Bracey
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And when you "return" a minor improvement, it goes out of the game (eg trading in a Simple Fireplace for a Cooking Hearth).

Also, when you return improvements/occupations, any upcoming resources on the round spaces are normally returned - you can't collect the resources without a card to show your claim on them. The upgrade from Well to Village Well is an exception.
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Adrian Larson
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Funny list...I got one more overlooked rule...

Play the game....devil
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Mike Haverty
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cagriggs wrote:
-With a Fireplace or Cooking Hearth, animals and vegetables can be converted to food at any time, even immediately after they are taken from the board. The only limit is that animals cannot be made into food during the Breeding phase of the Harvest.

I don't have the rules in front of me, but I thought it was only the three animals involved - two parents plus the offspring - that could not be cooked that round? If you have more than 2 animals, you could cook any number of excess and still breed 1 that round.

jschlickbernd wrote:
One other note is that you harvest before you feed, so you can use the grain to feed your people if needed.

I thought grain had to be baked into bread to produce food -- veggies and animals can be converted to food at any time, but grain specifically required a baking action?
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Steve Duff
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cagriggs wrote:
the action space “Take 2 different Building Resources of your choice” requires that a player must take two different resources.
Ok, I was with you up to here, but is there really anyone out there with an IQ more than 50 that's confused by this one?

"Hmm, take two different things. Surely that means I can take two the same, right?"
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Steve Duff
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SiddGames wrote:
I don't have the rules in front of me, but I thought it was only the three animals involved - two parents plus the offspring - that could not be cooked that round? If you have more than 2 animals, you could cook any number of excess and still breed 1 that round.

There's no such thing as "two parents" though. All your animals combined create 1 baby. So by that time, you really can't cook any.

Doesn't much matter, because you can cook them beforehand in the feed phase, and just leave yourself with 2 if that's your plan.

SiddGames wrote:
I thought grain had to be baked into bread to produce food -- veggies and animals can be converted to food at any time, but grain specifically required a baking action?

You can eat raw grain as food, 1 grain = 1 food.
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Joseph Cannon
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The rule I missed for my first 20 or so games was that raw grain and vegetables in a player's supply can be converted to food at any time. I was playing that they could only be eaten at harvest time, and there were times when I wanted to play an occupation card and had grain in hand but no food, so didn't. Now I can!
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Mat L. B.
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cagriggs wrote:

-A player can keep only one animal is his house which is known as a pet.

That means not one pet in every room cause all rooms are considered to be one house. We played that wrong in our first game and thought every room is meant to be a single little hut.
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Chris
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I messed up the scoring of the pastures my first time. A pasture is a fenced in area, not the number of squares enclosed by fences.
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Mike Haverty
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UnknownParkerBrother wrote:
SiddGames wrote:
I don't have the rules in front of me, but I thought it was only the three animals involved - two parents plus the offspring - that could not be cooked that round? If you have more than 2 animals, you could cook any number of excess and still breed 1 that round.

There's no such thing as "two parents" though. All your animals combined create 1 baby. So by that time, you really can't cook any.

Doesn't much matter, because you can cook them beforehand in the feed phase, and just leave yourself with 2 if that's your plan.

I reread the rules last night and it just says "the animals" that have offspring - I guess I logically assumed that meant "the two parents" that produced an offspring, but in keeping with that logic it would mean every pair of animals reproduced, which isn't the case.

I guess in casual play we wouldn't worry too much about letting someone cook an animal to make room for an offspring if they forget to do it in the previous part of the Harvest phase.
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Dr. Urza, PhD of Dungeon Crawl
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qwertymartin wrote:
In our first game we forgot that you are supposed to start with 3 food (or 2 for the starting player). Certainly made the first harvest a bit more challenging!

We forgot that, too! blush No wonder the game was so hard. I did manage to score 28 points, regardless!
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