Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Agricola: Facing off Against the Lord of Grain

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Jacking in to the Game-Net

One of the banes/benefits of playing online is this…you have access to some of the world's best gamers. The magic of the Internet draws the infinite distance close, like pulling a string into a knot. They might be in their basement and you in yours. But now it is one basement, a forever basement, full of men (and potentially women) who play Agricola for real.

After a lot of plays, I can honestly say online Agricola players are special.

For many online games, there are the people who have optimized their play style to take the absolute most efficient path to victory. They are in the game for the big W…grinding out ELO, or whatever loopy-doopy imaginary point system the particular online game uses. These lizard people typically squat around random Puerto Rico games, complaining you aren't playing it right and petitioning the rest of the players to vote to quit the game early so they don't have to sit through this travesty.

Farm Living is the Life for Them

Agricola players are a different breed. When you play Agricola, you get these cards that create all sorts of modifications to your available opportunities each turn. The other members of the Rosenbergian dysphoria…Le Havre, Cavera, etc…never adopted this and the occupation/minor improvement cards are one of the unique things about Agricola. They even create combos…situations where you might be able to do something more often, make it cheaper, and then do BOTH and really run away with the game.

Behold the Lord of Grain

In this match, during the time I was flailing around trying to feed my starving children my opponent was instead getting down to business. The Potato Dibber and The Manure Pit both increase the number of grain/vegetables you get when you sow. While the Field Watchman plows a field for you whenever you take a grain. Which is how my opponent ended up with 12 grain and 4 vegetables.

With an oven to bake the occasional bread (which also allows you to sow grain/vegetables at the same time!), the guy never had a problem feeding people at any point in the game. Each field also uses a space, so he had a fully utilized board at the end, too. A really masterful and unusual use of space that makes you think more about the game rather than gnashing your teeth over what you didn't do.

Agricola Looking Forward

I started 2 new games immediately after losing this one. Opening my mind is a challenge, but I am buoyed by the fact that if I can't see the cool card combinations in front of me at least my opponent will be able to show me theirs. And that is almost as fun as winning. Or so I tell myself.