Saturday, September 06, 2008

Yum. Aminals. (Agricola, Colossal Arena x2)

Bharmer is out for the month, so we were four.

Luch chose an animal theme (sorry, aminal), and asked that we lead with Agricola. We set up outside in Kozure's backyard and launched into our first advanced game as a group (it eventually started raining, so we ended inside)

Note to self: Agricola is a difficult game to bring inside quickly when it starts raining.

From my hand, I saw a number of cards which had great potential. Of note, I had a card which let me instantly go from 5 rooms to 6 for free and another which let me get a free stone room. I figured I'd try to build a seven stone room mansion on my little farm!

Trouble is, I got distracted by the pastor card which gave me a ton of goods if i could only manage to be the last player with only two rooms. Considering our last game saw everyone go to three rather quickly, I didn't think it would be too difficult. Unfortunately for me, the cards had a distracting effect on everyone else and the desire to play minor improvements and occupations led to a slower than usual path to a bigger house. Shemp, in particular, was sticking to two rooms forever. By the time I decided I couldn't wait any longer, it was already too late to achieve my goal. I did still manage 6 stone rooms, but the seven would have taken another 2-3 actions to gather the necessary goods for the minor improvement. Meanwhile, I managed a rather lucrative animal based farm which kept my family comfortably fed throughout the game. In the end, despite losing several points for empty pastures and a complete lack of plowed fields, corn or vegetables I snuck past Kozure for the win.

With four players, the game feels significantly less constricted than with five. Of course, as I mentioned earlier the cards were distracting us from the basic actions, so that may have had a lot to do with this feeling (in fact, 50% of our scores were lower with the cards than without, so clearly they take some getting used to).

I think the addition of the advanced game is a necessary thing to keep Agricola fresh, so the added complexity is worth it in the long run. The family game is more or less scripted (not to say that there aren't multiple workable strategies within that framework, just that much of the grain of the gameplay will need to follow the same basic order every game). The cards I've played with don't fundamentally change much that is going on, but it does encourage you to see the value of things differently. It also makes predicting other player's moves more difficult (in a good way).

Shemp and Luch asked that we go back to the family game a few times so that they can get a better grasp of the fundamentals, so we are unlikely to play with the cards for a while. Agricola continues to be a fun game that keeps me thinking, but like Shemp said "It's a good game, but I don't really understand all the love it's getting on BGG"

We finished up the evening with two games of Colossal Arena. We even played with the character powers! Luch proved to be quite the shark in this betting match and won both games. I'm happy to say that both games went much quicker than other games of this we've played and therefore felt much better. If we can keep the length to +/- half an hour, it's a fine game.


  1. More later, but:

    I won the first hand of Colossal Arena; not so the second.

    And, yeah, Agricola is OK. But not much more than OK, to my mind. It has the same flaw that PoF does, being essentially solitaire w/ minor screwage. I think I like things a bit more confrontational.

  2. Yeah, very much like PoF, now that you mention it. I prefer the design of Princes, however. Seems more purposeful, somehow. I really get a kitchen-sink feeling from Agricola.

    Of course, PoF is probably only second to El Grande as my favorite game to play with 5, so it' no surprise I prefer it.

  3. And I don't think you did win at CA. Didn't Luch recalculate his score and beat you? I was sure he was two for two.

  4. For the record, I found a single yellow grain counter in the backyard on Sunday afternoon. I've put it aside and will make my best effort to return it to Agent Easy on Wednesday.

  5. No, he recalculated his score and LOST to me, a-ha-ha.