The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Agricola Strategy Musings

Another efficiency game to dominate my thoughts for a few weeks or months? Don’t mind if I do!

Random thoughts in no particular order. (Note to David — Feel free to comment or just laugh maniacally, but stay away from my car).

  • As noted before, the early game focuses on family expansion. Get your house ready ASAP (especially in a 5 player game, when you know at least one family growth space will be ready on turn 5). If multiple people are ready, you’ll have to fight for start player as well.
  • The other early game race is often to a fireplace/hearth. Particularly if sheep are the first card, getting one early can often mean a single action for 6-8 food, and flexibility throughout the game. (Also in a 5 player game where an extra livestock card is set. It doesn’t accumulate from turn to turn, but it’s always worth 3 food with a fireplace).
  • Much like Race, a few cards that combine well tops many random cards.
  • You don’t need five occupations down to win. They are (often) cool, but a time sink. I’ve won with as few as two.
  • I Often have a fair number of improvements down, but that’s because many of the best spaces in the game (Family Growth, Renovate, and Start Player) let you drop an improvement. Since you are already spending the action, dropping the card (even for a resource or two) often pays off.
  • If you have an unblockable play, take the other play first. Common sense, but I see players rush for their great first play without realizing nobody else can (rarely, can but won’t or shouldn’t) take it.
  • I’ve now seen several people try to dominate clay, then renovate and build a huge clay house. Maybe you can do this purely (without expanding on wood), but I’ve never seen it done. Get to 3 rooms with wood — the cards have to be perfect to do it the other way.
  • If you have a travelling improvement (one that passes to the left), consider holding it for an extra turn or two. Other players may splurge to get it spent, then be done. On the other hand, if you are always going to have a problem obtaining whatever the card gives, you may want everyone to know it exists and hope that it gets back to you.
  • Assuming you have enough plowed land, you can go from 3 grain to 9 and 2 vegetables to 4 in one turn. Harvests gain livestock, sowing gains agriculture. It’s tough to jump up in livestock, unless some have accumulated.

More later …

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Written by taogaming

August 13, 2008 at 10:07 am

Posted in Agricola

7 Responses

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  1. Some comments…

    Yep, the house is crucial. One of the reasons that the Wooden House Extension Minor Imp. is especially valuable in 5-player is that you can use it as you take start player, expanding your house and getting first shot at Family Growth.

    Cards &Synergy: I would rather get 3 mediocre cards of each type that all work well together than 7 great ones that pull you in different directions.

    Renovating to Clay: Yeah, this is a fool’s gambit. It almost never works without the Clay Pit, the Clay Mixer or another great source of clay, and even then you are gambling that renovate comes out before FG. Tough break if you are wrong… this is not something I do ever.

    On traveling improvements: Make sure that if it is something your LH opponent would benefit from on this turn that you don’t give him too big an incentive to take Start player… wait until start player is taken if you are playing it with Renovate or Minor Improvement, or you may see a big drop in turn order. The free fenced pasture is the most common one to go around the table at least once.

    I too find that I often have more Minors played than Occs, and for the same reason you state. I also often will try to monopolize the Ovens by buying both. If you set it up right, you get both free bake bread opportunities (one for 5 or 8, and the other for 13 food) and you force others to the animal/FP/Hearth tree where they can fight over sheep while you plant and sow in peace. This works better in 3 or 4 than in 5 player. It also prevents one of the Oven Minor Improvements from showing up…

    David Fair

    August 14, 2008 at 7:48 am

  2. OK, the double oven thing is rude.

    Brian

    August 14, 2008 at 11:05 am

  3. Bwah-hahahahahaha

    David Fair

    August 14, 2008 at 3:03 pm

  4. On the oven thing: they seem weaker to me than fireplaces, why would I want to monopolize them?

    In my 3 games I’ve had one player buy an over in total, and then later when he wanted to cook his animals and was told he couldnt, was disappointed that he hadnt bought a fireplace.

    Of course, Ive only played 3 times…

    Alexfrog

    August 15, 2008 at 6:52 pm

  5. Well, the ovens provide a nice bake bread action … if you’ve sown early (two fields) then you can use 3 grain and have 3 grain left over for a late “Sow” action to get to 9 grain (and 4 vp). So you can take the major improvement space, get a fair chunk of VP and then convert spare grain to a reasonable amount of food.

    The lack of animal cooking is a downside if you’ve been breeding, but it’s pretty rare that you’ll have spare livestock (whereas 3 grain is enough to get max vps assuming you’ve got three empty fields on the last turn).

    And if you’ve got a baker (who gives you a free bake bread action each harvest) you are certainly going to want an efficient one….

    Brian

    August 15, 2008 at 8:35 pm

  6. Well, The Ovens are more VP’s (2 or 3 vs. 1) and they make (potentially) a lot of food — if you have both ovens, and a bunch of spare grain, the Bake Bread action nets 13 food. Often enough for 2 harvests.

    Plus, I find it easier to get a plow/grain/sow strategy going faster and more efficiently than I can usually manage the wood/fence/sheep/pigs strategy.

    David Fair

    August 17, 2008 at 12:13 am

  7. Well, The Ovens are more VP’s (2 or 3 vs. 1) and they make (potentially) a lot of food — if you have both ovens, and a bunch of spare grain, the Bake Bread action nets 13 food. Often enough for 2 harvests.

    Plus, I find it easier to get a plow/grain/sow strategy going faster and more efficiently than I can usually manage the wood/fence/sheep/pigs strategy.

    David Fair

    August 17, 2008 at 12:13 am


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