Game Review – Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small

Edit: Oops, QCN pointed out that the game isn’t Agricola, but Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small.

Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small is a 2-player game where each player manages their own farm. There’s a central playing area that’s shared between the players, and each player takes turn to put one of their three workers on a particular action square to perform that action. Actions involve either obtaining resources, obtaining farm animals or building / upgrading buildings. The aim of the game is to score the most points, with points being scored via having farm animals, having buildings, or if you manage to build the storehouse, having resources in your stockpile.

The game is only 8 rounds long, which makes it pretty quick to play, once you know how it works.

At the start of each round, resources get replenished on the board. The resources that get replenished can stack, e.g. if nobody took the 3 wood action last turn, this turn it will have 6 wood. The player who has the “first turn” token gets to choose an action first. When you choose an action, it happens immediately. Your farm animals must be fenced, so if you see a large stack of animals in the stockpile, but don’t have room to house them, then the excess animals will run away. So it’s not just a matter of grabbing as many animals as you can, but on the same note, you want to pick things up before your opponent does, so you can’t afford to take your time building up your farm either.

There is some benefit to grabbing animals first, because if you have at least two of any animal, they will breed at the end of the round, granting you an extra one. But that also means you need to make sure you have the infrastructure in place to house these free animals.

I thought the game was interesting, and it’ll be good to see how the strategy evolves once you’ve played a few games against each other. However, given that there’s no random element in the game, I wonder if there’s some optimal strategy that you tend to settle towards after a few games. One of the things I thought of doing was trying to hog all the expansion squares, but since there are only 8 rounds, and you must use an action each round to grab one of the expansions, I eventually decided that it wasn’t worth it, as my opponent could have taken the time to just build feeding troughs and better utilised her farm space.

We both actually misread the rules and thought you had to have at least three of each animal to avoid losing points, but it turns out that you lose three points for each type of animal you have three or fewer of.

I should also have bought more stalls when I could, and used those walls, as I realised I didn’t really have the optimal barrier placement, and stalls are another thing that are limited in supply (there are only 4, though if you upgrade to an open stable, one goes back into the stockpile).

Overall, I thought it was a nice 2-player game (note: It’s only for 2 players). It’s surprisingly difficult to find good 2-player games, probably because people tend to play board games in larger groups. But someone did ask me for a recommendation for some 2-player board games, and while this game isn’t overly sophisticated, and I don’t think it’s the kind of game you could play very frequently, it was still really enjoyable.

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