Podcast #12: Agricola

The first Games With Garfield audio game review harvests a popular board game called Agricola. From zero level strategy to the passive aggressive German player interaction, game designers Tyler Bielman, Skaff Elias and Richard Garfield cover it all. Oh, and there’s a pig of indeterminate European origin. Listen now!

LINKS: Agricola | Race for the Galaxy | Puerto Rico | Dominion | Settlers of Catan |

EMAIL: info@threedonkeys.com

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Comments

9 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Tyler,

    Thanks guys you have convinced me to finally bite the bullet.
    I have found a great tutorial for anyone else who needs a bit more explanation of how the game works. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwPgWjzx-Cc

  2. Robin Russell (RoninX),

    I will probably also give this a try – largely because I have enjoyed Puerto Rico (in an admittedly small sample size of exposures).

    I thought the brief discussion of the passive aggressive nature of some of many “eurogames” was interesting. I have found this type of interactivity to be a huge variable in my enjoyment of games. Often a single unengaged, or less engaged member of a gaming group can drastically change the play dynamic if they do not understand or desire to play as “optimally” as possible.

    Of course “optimal” refers to increasing their chances of winning, which is not necessarily the same as increasing their enjoyment. Anyway, my two cents is to choose your gaming partners especially carefully for these kinds of games.

  3. Willi B,

    I own Agricola and have played about 10 times so far. I have found that the 30 minutes per player approximation to be fairly accurate, though your first two plays by newbies will slow that a bit.

    Always play the family (basic) version if there is a new person at the table as it is a bit much to take in your first time.

    Some of the cards (minor improvements and occupations) are better than others and can create some luck factor, but I think it is still a great game – I don’t like too much luck.

    The Farmers on the Moor expansion is good at balancing out the luck in the cards from what I have seen so far.

    Hope you have fun with the game.

  4. Mellowcow,

    You encouraged me and a friend of mine to get Dominion, so each and every episode is much appreciated. What interests me the most is the duration of a single playthrough. There’s a reason why pop songs take around 3 minutes and movies around 2 hours. Concerning Pen&Paper RPG I think it’s much more dependant on the group, still sometimes there’s this feeling that a session took too long or was entirely too short. The participant has to feel satiated but not exhausted. What is your preferred duration for a board game or do you think it’s a matter of gameplay?

  5. @ Mellow. Interesting distinction you are making.

    I have always felt that “churn” (how often you get to do something) is more important than absolute duration, at least for engaging players in a given game. For example: Ticket to Ride is easy to get new players to engage in because even with 5 players you get a turn every 5-6 minutes. Certain games address this through the “defender” role (ie. Axis and Allies). To me it seems like most people will play (and enjoy) a game that lasts an hour (or several) if the get a turn or piece of the action every 5-10 minutes instead of getting a 20 minute turn and then waiting 45 mins before they do something again.

  6. I love the term “Churn” I will have to adopt it!

  7. As others, the topic of time per game in Agricola is what stuck with me and got me thinking about what makes games take longer and what we’re actually doing during that time. I know Richard wrote on “busywork” in a Lost in the Shuffle column a couple years ago, and I would naturally agree that busywork should be reduced as much as possible. My feeling is that once that’s excluded your interaction comprises two activities: observation (discovery) and decisions (strategizing). Then the rest of the game is waiting on someone else’s turn.

    Now as you said back in Podcast #3, downtime can be occupied by chatting with other idle players. At least for in-person games. Also you could argue that it’s relaxing not to be “on” constantly. But I think this downtime is dangerous because it leads to finding a distraction, which makes them late for their own turn, creating a positive feedback loop for inactivity.

    Therefore I would, as Robin says, try to increase the “churn”. But faster turns are only one way to do that. You could also have a turn-less game or one where you perform a role on another player’s turn. Furthermore, for a game of sufficient complexity and players capable of handling it, strategizing becomes a full-time activity. (Examples would be chess players thinking on the opponent’s turn or a poker player watching the opponents even between hands.)

    My own preference, at least nowadays, is definitely for shorter commitments of time. All other things being equal, I’d rather play a 30 minute game 6 times than a single 3-hour game. Quantum gaming sessions. Of course things aren’t all equal, and sometimes the greater strategy from a long game is worth the time.

  8. Only a heads up, the hyperlink within your article is broken above

  9. Thanks for the heads up! The link to Settlers of Catan has been fixed.

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