The agricultural landscape of 17th century Europe looked a lot different than it does today. The subtitle of the game “The 17th Century: Not an Easy Time for Farming” is highly appropriate, as common folk struggled to get back on their feet after centuries of fighting off plagues and other natural disasters.
Starting with a family of two poor farmers, players will need to expand their families to achieve greater wealth. However, keeping the family members well-fed is a challenge of its own, so you’ll need to balance growth and health as you navigate your way towards victory!
Brief Overview of Agricola (Revised Edition)
The original Agricola was released in 2007 and immediately saw a high burst of popularity. This came as a surprise to no one, as Uwe Rosenberg was in charge of the game design.
Nine years later, in 2016, Agricola (Revised Edition) was released as an update to the original game, featuring revised rules and mechanics, as well as wooden board pieces. To avoid repetition, I’ll refer to the Agricola (Revised Edition) simply as Agricola from now on.
Agricola is a 1 to 4-player worker-placement, resource-management game, a genre popularly referred to as a Euro game. It’s a fairly complex game, suitable for ages 12 and up. Playing time increases by 30 minutes for every player, so a four-player game will last at least 2 hours.
As one of the finest examples of Euro board games, Agricola will be interesting to those that like a challenging worker-management game. If you’re just getting into the genre, I wouldn’t recommend it as the introductory game, and instead, I’d advise you to take a look at our reviews of Viticulture: Essential Edition and Lords of Waterdeep.
Versions & Expansions
Agricola: Expansion for 5 and 6 Players
When you’ve got more than four players willing to play Agricola, it’s time to get this expansion! It includes the necessary player pieces, farmyard boards, tiles, and markers, with four Scotland-themed promo cards to mix things up. Keep in mind that each additional player extends the playing time by at least 30 minutes.
- For 2-6 players
- 30 minute playing time per player
- Expansion to Agricola
Agricola: Farmers of the Moor
The 2018 expansion called Farmers of the Moor brings several improvements and new features to the base game. Horses are introduced as a new farm animal, and heat is a new resource you’ll have to manage, as your farmers can now become ill from the cold. To gain firewood, you’ll have to chop down your forests or harvest peats.
Agricola: Corbarius Deck
Corbarius deck, otherwise known as the letter C deck adds 60 new minor improvements and 60 new occupations to the game. These cards can be freely combined with the standard Agricola deck, or used on their own to gain an entirely different experience.
- The Agricola Corbarius deck contains 120 cards to be added to the...
- More Agricola Fun - Expands the base game deck or can be used on...
- Expanded Options - The Corbarius deck add even more strategic...
Digital Version on Steam
Unboxing Agricola (Revised Edition)
The game includes the following components:
- 46 Wooden Animal Pieces
- 84 Wooden Building Resource Pieces
- 40 Wooden Crop Tokens
- Wooden Sets of 15 Fences, 4 Stables, and 5 People For Every Player
- 1 Starting Player Token
- 4 Farmyard Boards
- 1 Large Game Board
- 1 Supply Board and 2 Game Board Extensions
- 42 Resource and 10 Goods Tiles
- 44 Food Markers
- 3 Suggestion Markers
- 120 Cards
- 1 Scoring Pad, Rulebook, and an Appendix
- 10 Transparent Sorting Bags
The more board games I play, the more I learn to appreciate the wooden components. Plastic has a greater potential, but most game developers rarely utilize it to an extent where they outperform wooden pieces in detail.
Agricola features 267 pieces made out of wood, shaped into cows, sheep, wood, fences, and 9 other forms, painted in bright colors. The weight of the wood and the texture are just right, and you won’t have to worry about damaging or breaking these pieces easily.
Cards feature simple illustrations, clear text, and bright colors that grab attention and make it easier to follow the effects. The boards come wrapped in a thick stack of cardboard and are very well made, as expected of an Uwe Rosenberg game.
I found it interesting that there’s not only a bunch of punch-out pieces but also larger board components that can be separated, and later reattached for easier storage. The rulebook is nicely organized and the 12-page appendix is full of information.
Aside from occasionally confusing the wild boar and the stone pieces because of the same color, I haven’t experienced any issues with the components. The art style is on the simpler side, but it catches your attention and is consistent throughout the game.
How to Play Agricola (Revised Edition)
Agricola is a classic worker-management game that takes place over the course of 14 rounds. Players get to place one worker per turn until everyone has exhausted their farmers.
The number of board spaces is limited, so you’ll have to prioritize your actions or risk getting blocked. The following sections will take you through the basics of the gameplay and give you a better idea of what to expect.
Players need to take all the people, stable, and fence pieces of the same color to act as their supply. Everyone gets one farmyard board and places one farmer from supply in each room.
The first player is randomly chosen and gets two food tokens, with everyone else receiving three. Shuffle the minor (orange) improvement deck and deal 7 cards to every player. The rest of the setup involves setting up the game board based on the number of players and placing tiles, decks, and components on predetermined spots.
Rounds are divided into four phases, each with its own set of mechanics.
- Preparation phase: New action space enters the game, and unclaimed resources are accumulated.
- Work Phase: Players take one action per turn until all workers have been spent.
- Returning Home Phase: Players take their workers and place them in their spots on the farmyard board.
- Harvest Phase: Crops are harvested, workers fed and animals breed.
The harvest phase of the 14th round signifies the end of the game. Points are scored based on the amount of grain, vegetables, farm animals, and the number of pastures you’ve gathered throughout the game.
The player with the most points is declared the winner, with building resources used to solve tie-breakers.
You may be thinking that Agricola is a simple game that loops around placing workers and gathering resources. However, there’s so much more going on:
- Building houses.
- Planning a family.
- Breeding animals.
- Crops cultivation.
- Major improvements.
- Hand cards.
I’ve racked my brain trying to find a way to explain these mechanics in a few hundred words, but it can’t be done. They add a lot of depth to the game, but they’re difficult to learn and even harder to explain. The rulebook doesn’t help all that much and it’s going to be the main topic of the pros & cons discussion.
Your First Game of Agricola (Revised Edition)
Eurogames tend to have a high barrier of entry a ton of rules and mechanics to remember. However, as soon as you figure it out, these games will become a very enjoyable experience. Agricola is one of the best examples of this phenomenon, so even if you’re feeling overwhelmed and discouraged to play, stick with it, and you won’t regret it!
That being said the game is the easiest to learn with someone who knows how to play it at the table. If you’re the person buying the game, I suggest playing a couple of solo games and learn the mechanics at your own pace. Then you can bring in other beginners and help them learn the rules.
As far as actual gaming tips go, I can provide you with a couple of universally good strategies. The early game is all about gaining extra farmers. In a game that limits everyone to two actions per round, having that third or fourth farmer out earlier than anyone else will put you at an advantage.
If you’ve prepared a sound strategy that relies on a few missing components or realize there’s an opportunity coming up in the next round, don’t be afraid to snatch the first player token. This is especially important in the last three rounds when the most powerful actions become available.
Be prepared to have your desired action occupied right before your eyes many times during the game, so always make a plan B, or even a plan C should that happen. Likewise, you’ll accidentally, and sometimes intentionally prevent other players from using a specific action.
Pros & Cons
- Highly Replayable
- Excellent Game Components
Praising a game for its replayability may seem generic, but Uwe has really put in the effort to make Agricola a fun and different experience every time.
There’s a lot of paths you can take, and usually, they’re steered by your starting cards, circumstances, and actions of other players. It’s a game of constant adjusting and creating multiple ‘what if?’ scenarios. This may sound overwhelming but will come naturally as you get a hang of the rules and strategies.
The components of Agricola are some of my favorite among board games. A bunch of wooden pieces, hard cardboard, and cards that feel nice in the hand. The box is surprisingly heavy for its dimensions, which is always a good thing!
- Rule Explanation
Agricola isn’t a game for everyone, a fact that can be portrayed best through analysis-paralysis. Some players are not capable of making decisions on the fly or creating alternative strategies.
When the person playing before them occupies their desired action, you’ll be left with a minute-long lul as they try to find an alternative solution. This can easily turn a 2-hour game into a 3+ hour-long experience that’s nowhere near as enjoyable.
Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t figure out almost anything from the rulebook and had to watch a YouTube tutorial before it made sense. When core gameplay takes up just one page but is then followed by six pages of different, multi-layer mechanics, I have a really hard time following.
Agricola Review (TL;DR)
Agricola (Revised Edition) is an improved version of the original game and provides an exciting and challenging Euro game experience. It may take you a while to learn all the rules and mechanics, but once you figure them out, you’ll be able to enjoy Agricola to its fullest in dozens of sessions!
Other Versions of Agricola to Try
|Asmodee Agricola All Creatures Big and Small - The Big Box Toy, Multicolor||$39.99 $36.69||Buy on Amazon|
|Agricola Family Edition||$28.61||Buy on Amazon|
|Lookout Games Agricola: The Goodies Expansion||Buy on Amazon|
When you’ve played as many Eurogames as I have, it all starts merging together at one point. You see elements of one game in another, and you really get spoiled for choice. Because of that, my personal opinions may be clouded, but I’ll try to put myself in the shoes of an average board game player.
Agricola is not a game I would recommend as a first Eurogame. It’s too complex, the sessions easily cross the 2-hour mark, and towards the second half of the game, novice players may start to feel drained.
Once you’ve played through some of the easier titles (you can find several good options in our Best Euro Games article) then you’ll be ready to take on Agricola. The game itself isn’t all that complicated, but it depends a lot on how easily you can learn certain types of games.
Despite being a more complex game, I had an easier time figuring out A Feast for Odin, than I did Agricola.
You may think I didn’t really like Agricola, but that really isn’t the case. While I didn’t get a chance to really dive into the game and explore more tactics, the sessions I did have were enjoyable for both the company and myself.
We hope you enjoyed our Agricola review! Have you tried the Revised Edition? Drop a comment below to let us know your thoughts on this heavy Eurogame (or any other Euros you may enjoy)!