Posts Tagged 'Agricola'



Weekend Gaming: Relaxing

Gina and I played Hawaii and Race for the Galaxy Friday night.  In Hawaii, I was trying to be efficient and only bought a single side two fruit.  I was getting good deals and had quite a bit of fruit, but I really didn’t have enough goods each round and I still failed to meet the target at the end of a few rounds.  Gina, on the other hand, was playing with Spear Huts.  She was regularly picking up around 10 points each turn, and I just could catch up.  I did come close, only losing by 15 points.

In Race for the Galaxy, I started with some strong military cards and with some nice Uplift windfall planets.  I also had a Genetics Lab that let me refill those planets so I could trade the genetic goods for cards.  I picked up the New Galactic Order about halfway through, and that was the difference in the game, adding about 15 to my final score.

On Saturday, Ryan, Jaime, Joe, Louis, and Kevin came over.  We started the night with 7 Wonders with Joe sitting out to watch their newborn.  I was trying a money to science/civilian strategy, but I didn’t get enough money and didn’t really see much science.  I did score quite a bit off of civilian cards, but not enough.  I was in last place with 46, while Ryan had a nicely balanced setup and 60 points.

Then Ryan took off, and Joe took Jaime’s place for Hawaii.  All of the huts and the tikis were close to the beach, so I started with the intent to fill my island with Kahunas.  Problem was that I was going last on the first turn.  I missed out on any huts, but I did spend everything I had on Kahunas, which were pretty cheap.  In round two, when I wasn’t able to get a long hut early and the other huts were too expensive, I went to plan B.  I was able to get a side 2 boat relatively cheap, and I grabbed the top island for a foot hut.

From there I continued on my island dominance.  I was able to get the boat/surfer god, and a few more islands, netting me some nice points.  I did end up with huts in all of my villages, but I wasn’t able to get any tikis until the last turn.  Because of that I was only able to score three of my villages.  Even though I was in first going into final scoring (Gina was in second from spear huts and Joe was in third from getting end of round bonuses all game), I didn’t think I had a chance.  Louis pulled in 45 points from all of his kahunas, but not much more.  Gina and Joe only had about 20 end game points.  Kevin had a ton from his irrigation, hula girls and fruit god, but it wasn’t quite enough.  My three kahunas, one hula girl and my boat god were just enough to eek out the win by two points.

The group finished the night with a game of Dominion with Intrigue and Prosperity.

 

 

Everyone seemed to either have a Militia or Goons, so having 5 cards on a turn was a real treat.  I was pushing a Peddler, Minion, Trade Route strategy that started with a couple Militias to get things rolling.  I was off to a slow start, while Joe had started minting gold and was buying Provinces fairly regularly.  He wasn’t able to push the end of the game soon enough, though and started to stall, while I started hitting runs of Peddlers and Minions with 4 coin Trading Posts.  I was able to grab three Colonies to go with my two Provinces and Estates to put me at 44 to Joe’s 41.

 

Gina and I weren’t tired after everyone left, so we played a game of Agricola.  My hand seemed to just go together well, and I actually ended up playing all of my cards.  I had the Bookshelf to help play more occupations, and my Animal Tender allowed me to keep animals in my house early, which I used for food.  The other two major occupations were the Adoptive family allowing me to use my new family members more effectively and one that let me fence in stables when I built them, keeping my wood costs low.  I ended up filling in all but on space and had points in nearly every category.  It was an incredible game that scored me 57 points.

Weekend Gaming: Out of Town

I spent Friday night with my friend Nick while our wives were out seeing a musical.  We spent most of the night playing Dominion: Hinterlands.  I think we managed to play six games in the few hours we had.  The games were pretty evenly split between the two of us.  As far as strategy went, Nick favored the Embassy and Tunnels when they were available to fill his deck with gold.  I tended to try more efficient routes, though Hinterlands didn’t provide a lot of opportunity to trash cards.

In one attempt I tried to use Farmland to trade gold for Provinces.  It was working alright, but I the stack of Farmlands ran out before the Provinces.  I wasn’t able to get the money to buy the last two Provinces, and Nick was.  In another game, I pushed a very strong Scheme, Highway, Develop strategy which allowed for cheap Provinces and trading copper for much better cards.

After the girls returned home, we all played a “quick” game of Euchre.  It started off strongly in Nick’s favor, but things turned toward the end.  Gina and I caught up, and went into the final hand each withing 2-3 points of the win.  Gina had bid three, and I had a change for a no-trump hand, so I took it for five.  It was a long-shot, though, and Gina had the cards to stop me.  She ended up taking enough tricks to put it all away.

On Saturday, Gina and I were both too tired for anything major after staying up way too late on Friday and then having to drive home.  We did get in a game of Agricola, though, using the Komplex deck.  I had a set of cards that really favored animals and gathering Wood.  I was able to build my family rather quickly and then get to a stone house, but wasn’t able to leverage the animals as well.  Gina was focusing on the animals as well, which hampered me a bit.  She did fill out her family, but not as quickly, which was surprising as she had the Wetnurse available.  The game ended with 30 points for her and 47 for me.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Agricola and Hawaii with Joe

Joe came over for some games last night and we started things off with Agricola.  Not much to say about the game other than my play was less than great.  I was trying to get a grain production going, but was too slow with it.  I didn’t get extra family until far too late and just wasn’t very efficient.

Joe, on the other hand, made strong use of a couple cards that gave him discounts on improvements and an occupation that let him buy two improvements if he took the start player action.  He ended up with a full family and 18 points worth of improvements at the end.

We played Hawaii next, and that one went much better for me.  Boats were close to the beach, and started out very cheap.  Gina went straight for the god that let her walk around the island for a single foot, Joe was collecting shells and I went straight for the boats.  I picked up two boats in the first round and then started visiting the islands.

I was able to pull in quite a few feet, and then the god that gives bonus points for boats was available in round two, so I grabbed that.  Boats continued to be cheap, and ignored, and I ended the game with all but two of them.  That combined with the two surfers netted me 36 points from my god at the end of the game.  I had already picked up a bunch of points visiting islands, and the end game points just put me over the top.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Weekend Gaming: Dominance

Friday started off with Gina and I playing some Agricola.  My first hand had the Community Well, Water Carrier, Well Builder and a few other cards that would put food onto future rounds.  I was able to get the Well built in round 5, and then it was off to the races.  There was tons of food on each round, and there was only one turn where I needed to worry about food, which was taken care of by a big fishing trip.  By the end, I had points on every one of my improvements and a strong farm for a nice 52 points.

The second game started off well and I was heading for a decent grain strategy.  I had left myself open, needing a grain to get things moving, but Gina got there first.  I had to take Beggars that turn.  I ended up picking up veggies and some animals, but it wasn’t the best.  I ended up losing to Gina by a point.

At that point we decided to play Castles of Burgundy, and Joe happened to call just as we were setting up.  Gina started off very strongly by completing a bunch of small areas early.  I was slowly building up my area, but nothing terribly focused.  In the second phase, I grabbed the bonus for each different type of shipped goods and later the one for each trading post.  I was also able to snatch the knowledge that would let me build multiple of the same buildings in a city, since I only had two big cities with two single hex cities.

I was eventually able to catch up, but I didn’t think I had much chance of winning it.  Gina had a big lead, but not much for bonuses, and Joe had both a good score and some bonuses.  When the final score was tallied though, I was able to just edge out the both of them with my bonuses.

Then on Saturday, Ryan, Jaime, Joe and Kevin joined us, and Louis showed up part way through the first game.  We started with Eminant Domain with Ryan, Kevin, Gina and I.  Gina was pushing heavy Warfare, Kevin was doing Technology, Ryan was mixing some Tech and Trade, and I was going heavy into Survey and Colonies.  I was able to grab two Improved Colonizations and followed Survey every chance I got to pick up ten different planets.  I then was able to use Improved Colonize twice to colonize four planets.  I ended up with 25 points overall for the win.

We finished up the night with a big game of Dominant Species with Joe as the birds, Louis the Arachnids, Kevin the Mammals, Gina the Amphibians and I the Insects.  I started off the game by forcing the Amphibians extinct after removing the elements from their tile.  This also got rid of the Arachnids on that tile and gave me dominance.  The glaciation was mostly controlled by Gina and was mostly pushing away from me.

The Amphibians did come back on the other side of the ice from me, and I was able to spread out pretty well uncontested.  Grass was coming up on the abundance action multiple times and I was able to populate my area with a bunch of it.  Things were going well; that is, until the birds appeared.

Joe was having trouble, as the seed elements had pretty much been wiped off the board and nothing new was coming up.  He eventually was able to adapt and then proceeded to fly across the ice to attack me.  He did some damage, but not enough.  I was able to repopulate, while Joe continued to attack everyone.

Through this whole thing, Gina and Louis had been able to strengthen their positions on the bottom and left of the board.  Gina had come back strong and was picking up Domination points all over the place along with some Survival points.  Kevin was lagging behind a bit, but not too far back.

By the time the Ice Age happened, I had dominance on eight areas with only Joe in the area to get domination points.  I was a ways back from Gina and Louis, though.  I picked up 36 points from the Ice Age and then the final score pushed me into the win.  It was a pretty close game for most of us, and a lot of fun.

Until next time, happy gaming!

Weekend Gaming: Holiday Bonus Edition

Since yesterday was a holiday, Joe and Ryan joined us Tuesday evening for some games.  We started things off with some Eminent Domain.  I decided to try a heavy military strategy, with some research thrown in for extra points.  Gina took the Warfare role occasionally, but not enough for me to really benefit.  Ryan was colonizing a lot, with some decent research and trading for additional points.  Joe was going straight for colonizing a ton of worlds.

I was able to get about four level two research cards and five worlds, but it wasn’t enough.  Joe and Ryan tied on points, but Ryan took the tie-breaker.  Joe losing on ties would become a theme for the day.

Next up was Hawaii.  Phil had joined us at this point as well.  I pushed for a bunch of gods and took the god that scored extra at the end of each round and one that scored bonuses for surfers/boats.  Joe was visiting the islands a bunch, while Ryan managed to grab four side two spear huts and was scoring eight points every time he grabbed a shell.  He just blew past all of us, but didn’t have much for end game bonuses.  I did alright, but didn’t catch Joe or Ryan.  Joe had a bunch of end game points, but ended up one point short of Ryan.

Phil had to take off after that, and so we played some Castles of Burgundy.  I grabbed the bonus tile that provided four points for each kind of animal.  Then I started grabbing banks.  In the second round, I was able to grab the knowledge tiles that allowed me to have more than one of the same building in each city, and to buy any tile on the board.  With this I was able to fill in my entire estate minus the boats.  In one city, all but one of the tiles was a bank.  Joe was heavily invested in trading with a minimal estate, while Ryan and Gina were more balanced.  By the last round everyone was very close.  I had a bunch of bonuses for my banks and animals, and ended up tied with Joe for first.  Since my estate was more developed, I was declared the winner.

On Wednesday, Gina and I played a quick game of Agicola in the morning.  We were both able to fill our farms nicely.  I was using the Manure card to harvest a bunch of my grain and bake bread, while amassing a bunch of animals and fences with a fence delivery.  Gina had a huge pasture and a bunch of points on cards.  She finished with 40 points, while my full family and stone house propelled me to 49.

Then after spending some time at the lake, Joe and Ryan joined us in the afternoon for Navegador.  Ryan wasn’t too sure about the game when we started, but got into it pretty quickly.  He and Gina were sailing around picking up colonies and occasionally exploring, but nothing major.  Ryan was able to amass some major cash and turned it into some factories.  Joe was exploring pretty heavily and picking up a ton of colonies once we got into the spice areas.  My plan was to build factories and process the goods that the others were producing.  I actually ended up with a single colony, and then used my two starting boats to help me around the rondel a couple times.  I picked up a few churches to get me more workers and then just hammered the market, building and workers actions.  Once I got up to enough workers, I picked up the privileges for factories and churches.

I finished the game without a boat or exploration token, but I had a bunch of points from my churches and factories.  Joe had a ton of colonies and points from shipyards.  Joe didn’t have quite enough, and for the fourth time in two days, he fell just short, losing by one point to me.

Until next time, happy gaming.

Weekend Gaming: Cylon Invasion

On Friday, we went over to Joe’s for a barbecue and following that, Joe, Kevin, Louis, Phil and I played a game of Hawaii.  Phil and I both ended up going for a heavy fruit strategy.  Louis was raking in the points with the spear huts and god.  He was actually ended up lapping Kevin on the score track before end game scores were added.  Joe was amassing a ton of feet and using boats to score off the islands, and Kevin was trying to get Kahunas and Tikis, but having difficulty as they were the furthest from the beach.

Going into the final scoring, Louis had a massive lead, but he only ended up with about 15 end-game points.  Joe, on the other hand, scored nearly 50 points and managed to pass 100, and sneak by Louis for the win.

Then, on Saturday, Ryan, Louis, and Kevin joined Gina and I for some Battlestar Galactica.  I was playing as Gaius Baltar, Gina was Starbuck, Louis was Admiral Adama, Kevin was Helo and Ryan was Chief.  I initially forgot to deal myself a second Loyalty card, but remembered before we finished setting everything up.  It didn’t really matter, though, as I was a Cylon from the very first card.  I was also the President.

As the Cylon President, I spent most of my early turns gathering Quorum cards.  Sadly none were too useful.  It was evident fairly early that either Kevin or Gina was the other Cylon, because we failed a couple skill checks due to pilot cards getting tossed in the mix.  Gina had the option to look at a Loyalty card of the Admiral or the President, and she chose Louis’ and stated that he was a Cylon to the rest of us.  Shortly thereafter, she sent me to the Brig with a crisis card.  I then used my once per game to look at Gina’s loyalty card, and found out that she was the other Cylon.

A little while later, after I got out of the brig, things weren’t looking terrible for the humans.  All of the resources were at 6-7, but none of them really knew who the Cylons were.  They had jumped again to a total distance of five and the second loyalty cards had been dealt.  Ryan was getting fed up with the way that Kevin wasn’t really helping, so he took an action to send him to the Brig.  Gina was next, and she proceeded to reveal herself and sent Ryan to the brig.  I was ecstatic at this point, because I had just drawn a Quorum card that let me send Louis to the brig.  So the only free people were the revealed and unrevealed cylons and I was now both President and Admiral.

Things for the humans went downhill pretty quickly from there.  Galactica jumped again, and I made sure they were still two jumps away from winning.  Gina used her Super Crisis to surround Galactica with ships.  Ryan and Kevin eventually got out of the brig, but Ryan was still suspicious of Kevin, even though I had all but revealed myself when I brigged Louis.  Ryan took the Presidency from me, but then made me an Advocate, which I tried to use to throw Kevin back in the brig, but failed.

By this point, space was swarming with Cylons, and I was very tempted to jump again early to try and lose the three population.  With all the Cylon ships, though, I couldn’t pass up a Crisis card that might activate some of them.  Sadly I ended up with only activating heavy raiders, which didn’t do much, and advanced the jump track.  Ryan did jump successfully to put them within one jump of Kobol, but it wasn’t destined to be.

The next few Crisis cards again swarmed Galactica with Cylon ships and when Gina activated the Raiders, they blew up three civilian ships, knock the population down to one.  On my turn, I used the Communications Array to send two more of the Civilian Ships straight into the Raiders’ sights.  It didn’t even matter, though, as the next Crisis card had a -1 Population as the fail condition and I had plenty of cards ready to ensure that there was no way they would pass.

The humans made it quite close to home, but the Cylons finished them off in the end.

Finally, on Sunday, Joe and Tyrel joined me for a game of Agricola while Gina was out at a bridal shower.  Tyrel hadn’t played in quite a while, but he was able to get a solid grain sowing/baking thing going, though it didn’t get him many points.  I was working hard to get a stone house, but I had trouble feeding my large family and hard to resort to eating nearly all of my animals each turn.  Joe had a strong strategy with animals for food and a large wooden house.  He had a Yeoman Farmer, so he didn’t lose any points and a huge pasture that scored him a bunch of points with a Manger.  His farm was such that he only had four points going into the bonus points, and picked up 43 points from bonuses, including nine from a Braggart for having nine or more improvements.  It was quite ridiculous.

Another great weekend full of games.  Until next time, happy gaming.

What I Like: Agricola

Theme:
Agricola is a game about farming.  Each player represents the head of a family that is trying to develop the best farm while keeping in mind the needs of their family.

Components:
The game comes with a large number of colored wooden discs, cubes, and rods representing everything from wood to grain, cows, sheep, boars, family members, fences, etc.  The pieces are well crafted and the colors makes sense for what they represent (i.e. wood is brown discs, grain is yellow discs, vegatbles are orange discs, sheep are white cubes).  The game boards are all made of a heavy cardboard with very nice, clear graphics on them.

Three separate decks are supplied with the game.  One advertised for beginners, another for “Interactive” games and another for Complex games.  The cards are nice quality, and a little smaller than a standard playing card.  The artwork is cartoony but consistent and the text on them is clear and understandable.

Gameplay:
At the start of the game, each player is given a 3×5 grid representing their farm with a two room wooden house on it, two family members and a hand of seven minor improvements and seven occupations.  The cards can be played over the course of the game and typically provide bonuses for certain actions and/or bonus points at the end of the game.

The game is then broken down into 14 rounds.  In each round, the players take turns sending their family members out to do various tasks around the farm.  Tasks include things like plowing a field, gathering grain, gathering animals, building more rooms, playing improvements and occupations, etc.

At the end of the 4th, 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th rounds there is a harvest.  During the harvest a few things happen: grain that has been planted is harvested, animals produce offspring, and the family must be fed.  If a player fails to feed his family, they receive begging cards that subtract from the player’s end game score.  This means that as a player is working toward their goal of having the best farm at the end of the game, they also need to be conscious of how they will be feeding their family throughout the game.

Once the harvest on the 14th round is complete, the game ends and points are scored.  The player with the most points at the end is the winner.

Points can be gained from a variety of sources.  The number of fields, pastures, sheep, boars, cows, grain and vegetables all can provide a maximum of four points each if the threshold in that category is met.  If a player has nothing in one or more of those categories, though, points are lost.  Points are also gained based on the number of rooms in the player’s house, the number of family members and from improvements and occupations.

What I like:

  • I like the cards that get dealt at the beginning of the game.  I enjoy trying to find the best combinations and they provide little goals to achieve throughout the game.
  • I like that the base game comes with three different decks of varying complexity.  Within a single deck there is a lot of variability and replayability, and with three the possibilities are nigh-endless.
  • I like the spacial aspect of the farm.  It is not terribly punishing if something is in the wrong place, but a little planning can go a long way.
  • I like the necessity to feed the family periodically.  It provides a sense of urgency throughout the game.
  • I like that the game rewards variety while not overly punishing specialization.

What I like less:

  • A bad starting hand can significantly impact the final scoring.  If a player has a hand with few options to score bonus points, it can be difficult to compete with a player whose hand has a large number of bonus point opportunities.
  • The importance of growing the family.  More actions are almost always better, and the player that gets an early lead can have a big advantage.  Even considering that a bigger family requires more food, it never feels like having a smaller family is a good thing.

Conclusion:
I have played Agricola with two, three, four and five players and it has always worked well.  There are enough action spaces that it never feels too crowded, while still providing competition for important actions.  It provides that perfect balance of wanting to do a lot in a round but not having quite enough actions to do everything.  It rewards long term planning while providing short term consequences.  In short, I like Agricola.

Until next time, happy gaming.

Weekend Gaming: Game-a-palooza!

This weekend I was celebrating my 30th birthday, so we took the kids to grandma and grandpa’s house and spent the weekend playing games.

Friday started things off with Gina and I playing Agricola and Ticket to Ride: Europe.  Then, on Saturday, we went to see The Avengers with friends.  It was an incredibly awesome movie, and definitely the highlight of the weekend.

After the movie, I grilled some burgers and the I broke out Eclipse.  I taught Ryan, Kevin and Louis how to play while Joe watched on for the explanation.  I had a tough time expanding early, due to a lack of money making planets.  Ryan was walled off in his own sector, while Kevin and Louis were working towards each other in the outer sectors.  I ended up spending my time upgrading and building my Cruisers and Interceptors, then went for the Galactic Center.  I took it out relatively easily, and that opened things up to Kevin’s space.  At that point, Kevin and Louis had a diplomatic agreement and Louis was moving towards Ryan.  On the last few turns, I invaded Kevin’s area until he was able to put Anitmatter Cannons on his Starbases and took out my Cruisers.  But it was too late at that point and I ended up winning with 40 points.  Louis was second with about 30.

While that was going on, Joe, Jaime and Gina played some Agricola and Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers.  After that was finished up, Ryan, Kevin, Joe and I played some Hansa Teutonica.  I was able to get to 5 actions and full bag upgrade fairly early, and then I was able to spend the rest of the game building offices and picking up bonus points.  Ryan was trying to accelerate the game, but wasn’t quite successful.  I managed to create a chain of 11 offices with a multiplier of two, and finished the game with a whopping 84 points.

On Sunday, Gina and I played a game of Agricola in the afternoon.  I completely forgot to feed my family one turn and ended up with three Beggar cards for -9 points.  I was trying to plow and bake bread, but I just wasn’t able to get things rolling.  Later that evening, Joe and Ryan joined us for another game of Agricola.  In this one, I was again trying to plow and grow vegetables, while using the Day Laborers and Traveling Players to supply Stone and Veggies due to some Improvements.  That plan worked out fairly well, but I didn’t have a strong way to gain bonus points, so I finished the game in third place, while Joe added 20+ points in bonuses and cards and finished with nearly 50 points.

It was a crazy weekend with a lot of games and a lot of fun.  Until next time, happy gaming.

Agricola, again

Phil left his copy of Agricola here, so Gina and I decided to give it a play tonight.  I started up with the Quarry improvement, which requires 4 occupations before playing, and the tutor occupation that gives bonuses for playing occupations.  So I had a plan to build up a bunch of occupations, using wood and a joinery along with the day laborers action to provide food.  That plan pretty much worked out as planned.  I was able to gather stone to upgrade to a stone house and ended the game playing all but one of my occupations.  Sadly that one occupation I didn’t play was the Tutor.  I had read it wrong and thought it game points for every occupation played “before” the Tutor, but after reading it again, I realized it was every occupation “after”.  So I missed out on six points because of that.

I ended the game with 36 points, even though I had no animals or food.  I was able to pick up a bunch of points with my house, my family and bonus points.

Gina also had 36 points, mostly from a bunch of animals and bonus points.  It was a good time, and it was nice to get another play in with just to the two of us to really figure out the game.  Now that I’ve played it again within a short period, I’m really liking the game more and more.

Weekend Gaming: Agricola

Joe, Phil and Kevin joined us on Saturday night and brought Agricola with them.  I started the game and the first thing I noticed in my hand was that I had three occupations and two minor improvements that would help in building to stone rooms.  So that was my plan going in.  My mistake, though, was that I didn’t have a good idea on how I was going to get food for my family.  I ended up getting a cooking fire and cooking some animals for food.  As for my house plans, I had discounts to renovating to stone and I could go straight from wood to stone.  I ended up building two rooms and then renovating, but I should have built a lot more, since I had a tough time getting the stone to build any more rooms.  I ended up in third place, mostly due to bonuses and my house, but it also helped that I had an occupation that prevented me from losing a bunch of points for things I didn’t have at the end.  It was a better game that I’ve had in the past, but my plan was definitely flawed.

The second game of the night was Puerto Rico.  I was heading for a strong builder strategy, but I started out with very little to sell.  It took me a few turns to get coffee production going, but I did alright selling indigo for the first few turns.  Eventually I was able to fill the bottom part of my island and get four quarries for the discounts.  I picked up two of the large buildings, and finished the game with 10 shipping points and another 35 from my buildings for 45 points and first place.

We finished up the night with a couple games of Dominion Intrigue.  The first set had both the Swindler and the Sabateur and it ended pretty badly for everyone.  I had a whopping zero points, and Joe won with 15 or so.  Phil and Kevin took off at that point and so Joe, Gina and I played another round.  I was able to use Scouts and Wishing Wells to setup a pretty strong engine, though it was interrupted periodically by Gina’s Masquerades.  I was able to pull in the last Province to end the game, which was good because up to that point Joe and I were tied.  Had I not picked up that Province he would have.

Until next time, happy gaming.


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