The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘Agricola

There’s no good movie with a “3” at the end of the title.

Maybe not be strictly true, but I mean “Saw 3”, “Tremors 3”, “Iron Man 3”, “Rocky 3” (fun? Sure. Good? No), “Alien 3”  (I happen to think Alien 3 was a noble failure, but a failure nonetheless). Listing it on and on is just inviting tragedy. By the time you get to the third movie in a series, if it didn’t have a title and you are just making it up as you go along, then the temptation is “Well, let’s just do what worked, but more.

That’s how you get a bad movie. Or in the case of games, a JASE.

I went to my FLGS. (I wasn’t actually sure it had re-opened). I called first. So I felt like I should be a game. And, given the nature I felt like a hefty game that could work as a solitaire or 2 player game. So I got Caverna. At the time, I thought it was similar to Agricola, but I didn’t realize how much DNA they share. So, is Caverna“Agricola 3: The Dwarfening”

There’s much to like, but like any 3rd movie so much of this title is just a lot more of what worked.  That’s not necessarily a good thing.

But the box is so stuffed and heavy that $100 price tag didn’t seem outrageous. Caverna is chock full of animeeples, vegimeeples, so much cardboard to punch. It doesn’t fit well into the box. There are no random cards, the family growth always appears on turn 4 (which is kind of a big randomness in Agricola, do you set up for it on T4 and then it doesn’t show up until T6 …). The weapon mechanic is interesting and clearly is intended to be a (mild) punishment for have more dwarfs, so there’s that. There are enough buildings to feel overwhelming on the first play, but I suspect it becomes manageable. (We followed the Alan Moon rule of “True Gamers do not play introductory games”)

Now, losing the development and occupation cards means Caverna may wind up feeling samey from game to game, but I’ve definitely played games of Agricola that were over after the initial deal. (I respect that it may be better as draft, but I just haven’t played it that way). So, when I lose Caverna (and losing is what I’ve been doing) I can’t blame the cards. Agricola — by contrast — seemed much more straightforward: grow your family, do all the things. For some reason, Caverna’s slightly more things seems much more daunting. In particular, the slight variability of the harvests, when/how to spend rubies (basically wild cards), the slightly more complex layout rules, they trip me up.

That’s good.

My first problem with Caverna is that I bought it for 1-2 players, and it doesn’t shine with two. The spaces scale with # players, but I felt like there are too many buildings. I think the upper limit of seven is super ambitious (and its a fixed fun game, so …. no), but thee or four seems reasonable.

And solitaire (which I haven’t tried) …. well in that case Agricola’s occupations seems much more interesting.

Now, to be fair. I bought and sold Le Havre (“Agricola 2: Shipping Boogaloo”) because it felt like there was a dominant strategy, which I suspected after two games. If a dominant strategy exists in Caverna, I have no earthly idea what it would be. So, its likely a better game.

So, its a “Good for a  3rd title.” It suffers from the “but I’ve played Agricola.” I knew I was getting some of the game, but I didn’t do my research and didn’t realize just how much of it there was. It was my first time in a game store in six months, I was going to buy something, and its not like Caverna is bad, but it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped.

RatingIndifferent plus.

Written by taogaming

August 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Agricola, Reviews, Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Some Gaming, Some non-

  • Forbidden Island — Pandemic lite, which is fine if you have young kids who can’t quite grasp the implication of Pandemic’s infection model. (On the other hand, The TaoBoy check-raised me in our last poker game, and was the only person to make it to the helicopter in today’s Zombie Hunt, so some things have sunk in. They grow up so fast).
  • St. Pete — I (mildly) regret having sold this. Need to play the expansion again.
  • Battlestar Galactica — Our (human) admiral jumped us 2, then 1, then 1, then 2. So, you can guess how that worked out.
  • Agricola — Academic (Counts as 2 occupations) –> Writing Desk (requires two occupations, lets you play two at a time) –> Stone guy (stone for food) + Building Master (Free expansion once you’ve expanded) –> Animal Pen (2 Food a turn, but it requires four occupations) –> 3rd person on round 5, 4th on round 6.  No problems with food. It’s almost like the opening setup determines the winner… But I still like this game.
  • I even played a game of Magic! That takes me back.

Non-gaming observations:

  • The Protector (movie) — Tony Jaa really is a human special effect. The parking garage set piece reminded me of the best of Jackie Chan and the fight in the burning temple? Classic.
  • When did George Will stop wearing bow-ties? He was on ESPN (talking baseball) with a hideous yellow/blue thick stripe tie.
  • “Do you want to play another.” “I have to be home at 4am.” “That’s an oddly specific time.” — I probably had that same conversation when I was younger, but it would have been a lot closer to 4am back then.
  • Your tower defense timewaster de jour — Don’t touch my gems! You are welcome.
  • “Triangle” (Horror Movie) — They telegraphed the twist a mile ahead, but it was pretty well done.
  • “Archer” (TV Series) — Fantastic. My new “go to” series for quotes.
  • Vending Spree — Have I mentioned this?
  • “Thirst” — Of all the foreign vampire movies I’ve seen recently, this was the most recent.

Written by taogaming

May 16, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Agricola Expansion and Loyang

Good gaming session today, the new titles hit the table, classics were played, the Band was Rocked.

Farmers in the Moors — I knew nothing about this apart from “Expansion” and “You clear your land and need to provide heat.” While those are both true, FitM nicely twists the action mechanic. You can, instead of placing a worker, take one of the action cards. These usually give a reasonable (not great benefit), but they don’t use up an action. As the rules were explained, you also can’t do this if you have no workers left. Each card can be used twice (by different people), but the second person must pay two food (in addition to any costs on the card). These actions are used to clear forest/moors from your land, which free up space. These felt like a  good addition

  • You can sometimes get an extra action, which is necessary to balance the extra requirements (for heating and space clearing).
  • Taking those actions means skipping a great action, or risking it not being there. In the ‘basic’ Agricola I felt that most of my worker placements were pretty obvious (even in the first few games). Now there’s a “chicken” element involved. Take a great action, or take a card (free action), and hope a good action is still left next turn. The number of tough decisions seemed much higher.
  • Clearing land frees up space, but you can also try to work around a few uncleared spaces, since they prevent the “unused land” VP. Also, each player gets a different starting arrangement. A nice touch.

Assuming I don’t find out I’ve got a rule wrong, I could see playing 15+ games of the expansion, and picking up a copy.

I’m not sure how I feel about Loyang. Conflicted at best. I want to play a few more times, but I don’t necessarily want to play them soon. Too much AP. The options are easy, but you can spend 5 minutes performing calculations in your head (“If I trade this, buy that, deliver that, I make $17. If I trade, swap, buy, deliver, I make $18. I need $19. Do I spend $2 to draw two cards, and hope that they can get me a $3? Uh, OK. I got X and Y. Do I play X first? No, Y? Yes, that gets it.” Goodbye five minutes. Now, two players can do this at once, in the four player game, but man. Also, for a heavy calculation game, the helper cards let you really stick it to your opponents. I did very well, but early on I kept getting dealt one great card before the draft, and since you can only keep one card out of your hand, I’d just dump my chaff until another good card was out there, then take it.

Loyang felt like a solvable, tedious, short term optimization. For that, I can play Dungeon Lords and get a few chuckles, and then have the worker placement round for blind-bidding hosage. Or play Moors, and groan when the action/card you wanted gets snatched right before your turn. Loyang, like a job, feels like a chore. It can be satisfying to do it well, but that’s not a reason to spend free time on it. I’ll give it another go, if the game speeds up by 45 minutes or so that would brighten my feelings on it.

Written by taogaming

December 13, 2009 at 1:11 am

Quick Note

David Fair posted his “Pimp my Agricola” show.

Played two more games of Kutschfahrt. The second game was interesting in that both teams quickly discovered identities quickly, but then had to jockey for position and time attacks to best use the items and identities. Probably half the game was spent with known teams, which meant attacks were quick (all people instantly declare support). There were a few trades to share information or get items into the correct position. I’m still enjoying this, and its now got ~10 plays from our group.

And a few more games of Race. Perhaps I’ll write up another card review at some point. Not right now, though.

Written by taogaming

June 2, 2008 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Misc

Tagged with , ,

Agricola Pre-order?

Thanks to my bad back, I spent BGGcon at home.

I guess it worked, since someone watching my gait would peg me at 50, instead of 85 (last week). But that means that I missed trying out Agricola before making the pre-order decision. So I am appeal to faithful TaoGaming Readers (especially those who know me) to supply me (and the other readers) with their thoughts.

After careful deliberation I’ll go ahead and order, but appearances have to be maintained.

Written by taogaming

November 19, 2007 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Open Thread

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