Game review: Agricola Family edition is a simplified farming simulation for families

Posted September 13

Agricola is a classic board game so well designed it belongs on the shelf of every gamer. The theme is building and maintaining a farm. For some it is complex because of its vast options. A new simplified edition for family is out by Mayfair Games.

This reviewer recently introduced his teenage daughter to the original edition of the game Agricola (see review here). She loved it but was a little overwhelmed by all the options. Particularly, the occupation cards that come with the game were hard to manage and were just a bit too much to understand. It would have been nice to introduce her to a more simplified version.

Within a couple of weeks of our game, the family edition of Agricola was released. It is the perfect compromise of fun and complexity to introduce children and families to this classic game. The best part is that it contains all the beautiful wooden parts, the easy-to-use board and the fun mechanics that made the original a "must-own" game.

It's important to note there are no cards in this version of the game. All the focus is on the board and the components around it. Some of the cards from the original edition are now represented by tiles. Some of the new tiles now give points for leftover resources at the end of the game.

The goal of the game is the same as before: build the most productive farm and score the most points. The point structure in this edition is simplified. A person still scores points for fields, plants, animals, family members and special tiles, but it's much easier to calculate them. For example, there are sheep, pigs and cows, but each scores only one point at the end of the game.

A nifty board snaps together depending on the number of players. It's nice because all the information needed for different player counts is available, ready to go, because of the great board design. A wooden meeple keeps track of the turn number by marching along a path on the board until the end of the game. Each turn, a different action or item becomes available for use until the end of the game when final scoring is done.

One of the most important things a player has to do in the game is feed his or her family. Each family member eats two pieces of food during a harvest, and if a family member is not fed, negative points are awarded. Cook fires, stoves, ovens and even a windmill are tools that help players feed their families. These things are available to purchase as tiles, but once a tile is purchased it is gone.

On a standard turn, a player chooses one of his family members to take an action. There are a number of actions available, such as planting a field, gathering animals, upgrading a home and gathering resources. Be aware that the family edition doesn't contain all the actions in the standard game. For example, vegetables and stone are no longer included.

A final note about this version of the game is that there are no player boards. Instead, each player builds her own farm by purchasing field, home and stable tiles of various sizes. This is an improvement over the original game because customizing a farm is so much fun. Each player can create a farm that is unique to her. Be sure to take pictures of your final farm and share them on social media.

Mayfair Games did a great job of boiling down the key elements that make Agricola a bunch of fun to play. Kids and families will love it. If the standard game seemed too complex, the family edition is much easier to comprehend, teach and play. This will open up a wonderful game to more people. Find out more about the family version at boardgamegeek.com.

Email: rmorgenegg@deseretnews.com


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