Playing the Agricola Game

How to Play the Agricola Board GameAgricola is a popular board game that emphasizes resource allocation as players try to grow their family and improve the condition of their farm. Created by Uwe Rosenberg, Agricola has won numerous awards and even surpassed the legendary Puerto Rico board game in popularity on several board game review sites.

One to five players can play, although Agricola game veterans say that the game works best with three or four players. An average game takes 120 minutes to complete, and the suggested minimum age for players is 12 years old.

In this article, youíll learn how to play Agricola, as well as picking up some valuable tips to make you more competitive than the average beginner.

Agricola Instructions

The instructions for Agricola follow. You can get more detailed Agricola instructions with the purchase of the game.

When a game of Agricola begins, youíre a simple farmer with a wife, a small plot of land, and a ramshackle farmhouse. Over the next 14 turns, itís your responsibility to increase the size of your family and convert the property into a thriving farm.

Players are able to take two actions per turn to begin with, one each for the farmer and his wife. As you add children to your family, your number of turns can increase. In addition to regular turns, there are also harvest phases after six of the turns (4,7,9,11,13,14).

The basic Agricola instructions are simple enough, but greater degrees of complexity can be added through expansion decks. The E-deck is Basic, the I-deck is Interactive, and the K-deck is known as Complex. Other decks include the O-deck, CZ-deck, and Z-deck, with these expansions adding everything from a Czech theme to visitors from outer space.

Major expansions for Agricola include Agricola: The Goodies and Agricola: Farmers of the Moor. The former includes a number of previously-released expansions for the game, while Agricola: Farmers of the Moor introduces new improvements (major and minor).

Agricola Rules

According to the Agricola rules, a player begins the game with seven job cards and seven minor improvement cards. Occupations range from animal breeder and wet nurse to acrobat and magician, while minor improvements include planting a bean field and obtaining a better quality plow. The basic deck includes 169 occupation cards and 139 minor improvement cards, so you donít have to worry about drawing the same starting hand each game.

You're limited to two starting actions, but the number of actions you can take can increase as your family grows, and you put them to work in the fields. Activities include tending to crops, expanding your house, building fences, baking bread, gathering wood, and several others. Keep in mind that an individual action can only be taken once per turn.

At the beginning of a new turn, an action card is flipped over. These allow players to perform a range of actions including having more children, harvesting crops and animals, and cooking food.

When the harvest phases occur, animals can be bred, crops can be harvested, and your family must be fed. Players are urged to plan ahead for harvest phases, as failure to feed your family will have a negative impact on your score.

The above Agricola rules are used in the standard version of the game. In the family version, no cards are used during gameplay. As the name would imply, the family version of Agricola is intended for a simpler game suitable for kids and adults alike.

Agricola Strategy Tips

Since you now understand how to play Agricola, itís time to look at some Agricola strategy tips for winning the game. With only 14 rounds to work with, youíll need to maximize your efforts in order to be successful.

Pay Attention to Scoring - Different actions pay out different point values, so be sure youíre familiar with the scoring to make the best use of your opportunities.

Food Source - The early stages of the game will test your patience as you struggle to provide food for your family and work your farm. Occupations and improvement cards can make your task easier, though, so be sure to get these items into play as soon as possible. Also note that animals will be harder to come by in games with more players, so take that into account when developing your strategy.

Take Advantage of Multiple Actions - In some cases, you may have the opportunity to perform two actions instead of one. Always take advantage of this, as it can effectively give you an extra turn over the course of the game.

Increase the Size of Your Family - As soon as you can afford to feed another family member, be sure to bring a child into the world. Remember, the number of actions you can perform are based on the size of your family.

Weight the Value of Occupations - Playing an occupation card will cost a full action, and in some cases it may also require additional resources. Before you play an occupation, make sure that itís going to give you something that you canít get at some other time. If that isnít the case, you will be better off playing a different card. Remember that Agricola has 169 occupations in the basic set, so youíll have multiple options to choose from during gameplay.

Minor Improvements - Making minor improvements will save you actions later in the game, so perform them early and often. These are often free, so thereís no reason not to use them to your benefit. In the early stages of the game, you should pay particular attention to improvements that help you increase food production or add to the size of your family.

Add to Your House - During the early rounds of the game, seek to gain materials so you can increase the size of your home.

Take Resources - Resources are a valuable commodity in Agricola, but itís also important to scoop them up at the right time. An action that nets three to six items should never be passed up, while anything less can often be a waste of your precious time.

Now you have a basic understanding of how to play Agricola, as well as some strategies and tactics to incorporate during your next game. Whether youíre playing Agricola online or with a group of pals around the kitchen table, your fictional farm is certain to benefit from this information.