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Agricola (iOS)

by Lindsay Law (follow)
iOS (98)      iPad (56)      iPhone (56)      Digital Board Game (6)      German Game (2)      Designer Game (2)      Eurogame (2)     
A beautifully executed app of a popular board game, Agricola is challenging and fun. Beware though, it is addictive, and in your quest to feed your virtual family, make sure you don't forget to feed yourself!

Agricola, games, board, screenshot
Farmer guy looks really happy to be the face of Agricola.

Type: Digital board game
Platform: iOS
Players: 1-5
Age: 12
Game Time: 15 mins
Developer or Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher: Lookout Games

Well balanced game, which provides a rewarding challenge when playing against online opponents or the Master AI
Well designed app with sharp, bright graphics
Multiple modes add variety to the game

Agricola, village, board, screenshot
The developers have done well in constructing an app that displays a lot of information in a clean and bright interface.

Complex game that is is quite difficult to understand at first
Graphics are a bit small on the iPhone
AI's sometimes pause for too long

Agricola, house, board, games
A complicated scoring system means that to play really well you need to learn the thresholds that earn you more points so that you can choose what to keep or discard accordingly.

I had never heard of Agricola before my husband downloaded me this app for an anniversary present, but I was familiar with other European board games that also have digital versions, like Carcassone and Settlers of Catan, so I was looking forward to trying this one out too.

Agricola, tutorial, game, screenshot

Agricola, tutorial, game, screenshot
The tutorials are well-written, clearly presented, and guide you through all the basic steps in the game.

Initially, I was disappointed. I found that while the tutorial showed me everything I could do, it didn't really give me any idea how to play, and win, the game. I spent the first few games with absolutely no idea what I should select either to sow, plow, build, or a whole variety of other confusing actions.

Agricola, tutorial, game, screenshot
The a a lot of different actions, but don't let this trick you into being complacent. Most of the time, one of your confounded opponents will take your coveted spots!

It would have been easy to give up at this stage, as I bemoaned to my husband, "I am so bad at this game!", but I persevered. And I'm glad I did, because it's a satisfying and brilliant port of an already successful board game.

The premise is simple. You're an impoverished farmer who has 14 rounds to build their farm house and farm lands. You collect resources, and use them to build, grow, farm and cook, gaining points for renovating your house and expanding your farmlands, whilst ensuring that your growing family doesn't starve.

Agricola, house, board, games
My family are going to go hungry unless I can cook some animals or vegetables in my Cooking Hearth. Luckily I have planned ahead, and have two sheep I can cook.

It's a constant balancing act that can be frustrating, especially when other players go for the resource slots or build options that you were going to do. There is an element of luck in the game based on the type of minor improvements and occupations that you're dealt, but it mostly relies on good strategic choices early in the game.

Agricola, house, board, games
In this game, I've opted for a good mix of fields and pastures. This means I'll avoid being penalised for empty farm land at the end of the game, and I have a constant stream of crops coming in and animals to cook at my hearth.

Once you've played the local offline mode with AIs (or pass the pad with your family) then you'll be ready to dive into playing online, although you'll need to sign up to do so.

There's also a Solo series mode, which challenges you to achieve higher and higher scores with board all to yourself. In each game you get to keep one Occupation to roll forward to make it easier for you to achieve those scores. I loved this mode because I was always able to pick the options I wanted, with no gazumping, but it's still challenging because the scores to aim for are much higher than what you can ever achieve in multiplayer.

If you're just a casual player, then Agricola is not a rewarding game to dip in and out of. However, if you enjoy more complex games that take a little bit longer to play, and let you pit your wits against others in online play, then Agricola is a fine example of the genre that you should consider buying.

#Digital Board Game
#1 player
#2 players
#3 players
#4 players
#5 players
#German game
#Designer game
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