Suitable for 1 to 5 players and adaptable for younger players or more experienced players.
Game time: around 15-20 minutes per player.
The aim of Agricola is to win.
Winning is achieved by having the most Victory points.
Victory points are gained by finishing this feudal farming game with a bountiful and varied farm.
The game comprises of numerous tokens, cards, tiles, boards, wooden discs and wooden cubes, all of differing sizes and colours. Despite all that, the game is not as complicated as all that.
Each player is given a pre-printed board that is divided into a 3 by 5 grid. With the exception of the left-side bottom two squares which are reserved for two farmhouse rooms, each grid is a section of unused grassland. They are also given two wooden room tiles to occupy the two farmhouse rooms on the board. Players choose a colour and are given a selection of wooden pieces in that colour. Five large discs represent the family members, two of which occupy the farmhouse at one room each. The remaining family members, stables and sections of fence are kept off the board for the time being.
Three printed boards represent the main playing area and feature the main actions performed in the game. The first board is largely blank (well, grass is printed on it) with spaces for 6 action cards of which the number and type depend on the number and ability of the players. There are also some pre-printed actions down the right hand side. This board is double-sided for either a family or full game. The full game also comes with Occupation and Minor Improvement cards of which there are three decks of each and are of different levels of complexity (basic, intermediate and expert). The family game does not use the cards at all.
The second board has more actions printed on it with spaces for the Phase cards. Twelve Phase cards cover the rest of this board and the entirety of a third board. Each Phase card is an extra action but only turns up on that round (the game is twelve rounds long). These are split into 4, 3, 2, 2, 1 meaning the same four cards will always feature in the first four rounds, etc. but may turn up in any order within their stage (group).
A fourth board holds the 10 Major Improvement cards and has the cards pre-printed on the board as well to show where they go (these are bought by the players but may be returned). These are always the same.
If the full game is to be played, the deck complexity is chosen and seven Occupation and seven Minor Improvement cards are dealt to each player. Occupation cards meant for a game with more players than are currently playing are return and new cards dealt until this requirement is met. (I always forget to sift the illegal cards out first.) Certain actions allow players to choose and play an Occupation or Minor Improvement. These are always beneficial to the player in some way – if used properly.
Finally each player is given 3 food tokens which go into their supply.
The starting player gets the starter player thing and pays in one food for the privilege.
The first Phase card is turned over and the corresponding resources are placed on any action (on a board or a card) that provides resources (and has an arrow on it).
Food: a cardboard token of a plate complete with knife and fork
Grain: a yellow wooden disc
Vegetable: an orange wooden disc
Wood: a brown wooden disc
Clay: a reddish wooden disc
Stone: a black wooden disc
Reed: a white wooden disc
Sheep: a white wooden cube
Boar: a black wooden cube
Cattle: a brown wooden cube
Players take turns to place one famer on an unoccupied action to perform that action. Actions range from gaining resources, playing Occupations, making Minor or Major Improvements, building fences and stables (needs wood), building extra rooms, renovating from a wooden house to clay or clay to stone, ploughing and sowing fields, baking bread, producing extra family members (needs 1 room per member). Once all players have played all their active family members, the family members return to their rooms, the next Phase card is turned over and the resources and cumulatively placed on the action spaces.
At the end of each group of rounds (the 4, 3, 2, 2, 1 bit – called stages) there’s the harvest. Each harvest is broken into 3 parts. Part one is where players can harvest any crops they have growing. Part two is where players must feed each family member 2 food (1 food for new arrivals) or get a Begging card at -3 Victory points for every food they lack. Players who have two or more of an animal type get 1 extra animal – if there’s room, though if a player has an oven type card they can always convert a non-parent animal into food.
With each stage having less phases in it (4 phases in stage 1, 1 phase in stage 5), the harvests come quicker and harder.
The game ends at the conclusion of the fifth harvest.
Points are awarded players according to the quantity of crops, rooms, family members, fields, stables, animals, pastures, cards with victory points. Points are deducted for not having at least one of everything (-1 for each missing resource), each unused space on the board and begging cards.
The player with the most points is the winner.