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Can You Dig It? – Pay Dirt review

Pay Dirt cover

That Tory Niemann is a talented guy. While he only has a couple of games under his belt, when one of them happens to be Alien Frontiers you really should sit up and take a look when it’s announced that he’s got something new up his sleeve. Having moved away from Clever Mojo Games and set up with Crash Games, he’s preparing to unleash something that I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on before it’s even appeared on Kickstarter. Prepare yourself for some hard work and low temperatures – Pay Dirt is coming!

Thematically, we’re dealing with present day gold mining in the wilds of Alaska and there’s only one way to win – simply get more nuggets that your opponents before the ground freezes and the game ends. Starting with a small team of five workers, a little spending money and a bunch of really rather crappy equipment, you slowly get yourself up to speed and work your way through the poor quality claim that you begin the game with. Thankfully, there’s a few nuggets in that patch of land that you should be able to process with some hard graft.

Each game round is split into four phases – Auction, Workers, Hardship and Income. This seems like the ideal time for a quick rundown…

The Auction Phase is where you get to bring useful things and hard-working hardy types into your operation. Three different options are open to you; new equipment will speed up your processing, new claims could bring in a lot more gold, while new personnel allow you to skew the rules a little (and potentially grant you extra workers, giving you more options in the next round). Whatever you choose, everything on offer has a minimum bid that must be covered but with no upper limit it’s very easy to find yourself short on cash! A nice twist in this phase means that the chosen item type isn’t available to the next player, so it’s highly likely that someone will screw over their opposition.

Buy yourself some good stuff in the Auction - your starting Claim won't offer up much gold...

Buy yourself some good stuff in the Auction – your starting Claim won’t offer up much gold…

Once the Auctions are done with, the Worker Placement phase begins. As mentioned earlier, each player begins with five meeples but more can be added to your crew by picking up personnel cards in the Auction each round. Depending on where they’re placed, they’ll either help move Pay Dirt tiles through your processing system (or deal with the wear and tear brought about through regular use), or head to the central board where special Camp and Claim Gear can be bought and those precious nuggets can be sold to bring in some much needed cash.

A quick word about the processing. At the beginning of the game, your setup is… well, dilapidated to say the least. Each player starts with a low quality Excavator, Loader and Wash Plant, and these three pieces of equipment are split into three sections. Placing a worker on one of the three heavy machinery spaces drags a Pay Dirt tile across one single space, and they only turn to gold nuggets when they hit the spot that it furthest to the right hand side. At the same time, you’re also somewhat in the dark as the tiles you’re investing your workers in to move are secret and random, bringing in anywhere between two and six nuggets depending on the ground type. Better gear will cut down on these spaces with the best equipment only showing one space – less workers will be needed and everything feels so much more efficient! The only problem… you’ll have to pay a high price for the finest machines.

Two spaces instead of three may not seem a big leap, but if it saves you a worker it can prove invaluable!

Two spaces instead of three may not seem a big leap, but if it saves you a worker it can prove invaluable!

All equipment is prone to breaking down – must be that harsh Alaskan weather – so you’ll need to regularly devote some your meeples to fixing things up. Every time a new Pay Dirt tile is moved onto it a bright red ‘wear’ cube is added to a machine’s space, and should the amount of cubes equal the amount of symbols shown there it seizes up and refuses to work. Some of the equipment provided by the cheap and cheerful ‘Flimco’ will actually break down totally if not fixed immediately, so it’s a very fine balancing act that keeps things moving on! At least your workers are efficient; using one of them for repairs removes two cubes, and they can be used on both your processing equipment as well as the Camp and Claim Gear that you might purchase up in town that bestow small but vital bonuses on you and your operation.

Once workers are dealt with (and placed on their handy “Unused Labor Force” space on your playmat) we move to the Hardship phase. Whoever has the lowest amount of gold draws cards from the Hardship Deck equal to the amount of players around the table. They then choose a card for themselves and pass the remaining ones to the next lowest scoring player, until eventually the leader is handed a single card that will undoubtedly screw them over. Perhaps it’ll cause extra damage to their equipment or they’ll be forced to hand over a load of their money to someone else? Whatever happens, this (for me anyway) is the best and worst part of each round: best because it’s really rather entertaining, worst due to the fact that there’s not a single good card in the Hardship Deck. Well, there is actually one; the only problem is that it’s in there with twenty-nine other cards that are utterly bloody awful.

Hardships are generally awful - hence the name. Some (like this) last a round, others are a one off effect. Also note the temperature drop in the top right...

Hardships are generally awful – hence the name. Some (like this) last a round, others are a one off effect. Also note the temperature drop in the top right hand corner…

Another thing to think about is that the card in front of the leading miner is the one that triggers the fall in temperature. A drop can be anywhere from one to three degrees, and when that meter hits zero or below there’s only one more round left in the game. Everything wraps up with Income, where each player receives $2 from the bank regardless of their position in the game. As long as it’s still warm enough, play continues and the cut throat action continues apace.

While the version of Pay Dirt I’ve got at the moment is a prototype, it’s pretty much a finished product that’s ready to go to the printers. The art is done, the pieces are pretty much there (though I was sent some actual American coinage instead of plastic money – oddly, it seems to be cheaper!) and though the rules concise, they’re well written and cover all potential questions. Sure, it’s not the final version of the game, but knowing how well produced previous releases from Crash Games have turned out, I can only hope that Pay Dirt continues the streak of high quality products.

Like Alien Frontiers before it, Tory’s newest game hits that sweet spot of demanding that you think about everything you’re doing in the game while still remaining wonderfully accessible. Each action you perform, every decision you make, the worker meeples you place… they all need to be deeply considered. It’s quite easy to dig yourself into a hole (pun not intended), though thankfully it’s possible to get yourself back into the game with a couple of well constructed rounds. Pay Dirt is beautifully balanced and players will find themselves involved in tight games after only a few plays to get used to how things works. Once you’ve got the processing system down and understand moving your tiles from left to right, you’ll be grand.

The usual warnings apply for those of you who suffer from Analysis Paralysis. With each turn requiring a finely executed plan that could potentially contain up to ten different actions (assuming you somehow maximise your workers, which is admittedly rare), things could get tricky and time consuming. However, most people will simply get on with the dirty business of digging for all that gold and treat Pay Dirt as it should be treated – as a thoroughly enjoyable game that you’ll want to come back to again and again. It deserves to be as successful as Alien Frontiers and I can’t wait to see how well it performs when it hits Kickstarter shortly.

Pay Dirt was designed by Tory Niemann and will be published by Crash Games later in 2014. Between two and four people can play with games taking around an hour. The game is now on Kickstarter – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/crashgames/pay-dirt-designed-by-tory-niemann-of-alien-frontie – head on over there and get your money behind this excellent game!

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One Big Family – Legacy, The Testament of Duke de Crecy review

Legacy COVER

While there are plenty of family games out there, there are few that actually emulate the whole idea of having one of your own. Released at Essen 2013, Legacy from Portal Games aims to do precisely that, placing you at the head of a French family around the early 18th century – just before everything kicked off with the revolution. The game’s full title – Legacy, The Testament of Duke de Crecy – does a great job of telling you what you’re aiming to achieve, and designer Michiel Hendricks has created a wonderful game where you’re looking to solidify the future generations of your family.

Boiling it all down, you’re looking at a worker placement game where you’ll be looking to pull in Prestige – which converts to points throughout the game’s nine rounds – and Income. You’ll also have handfuls of Friends cards which will bestow special abilities as well as hopefully extend your family – something that you’ll soon learn is vital if you’re to come out on top. Among the actions that are available to you, the one that will invariably be used regularly is the ability to Marry (or arrange a marriage for a child in your family which will happen at the start of the next generation). A successful pairing means that a Friend becomes part of your family – complete with any bonuses they bring with them – and a child is immediately born.

Children, as you’d expect, are what drive the game. Each couple can potentially have up to three offspring, all of whom will hopefully be married off themselves, creating more children who will be married again… but it’s far from an easy task to build up the generations! Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way, and each Friend who finds themselves engulfed by your ever growing family could also have made some poor choices that may hamper your progress in the game. Yes, they may have become a successful pawnbroker and made a lot of money (thus boosting your income) but who’d want a person of that calibre on their family tree? Your Prestige drops as your reputation at the court becomes the subject of gossip! The only thing to do is to woo the beautiful but poor debutante, improving your standing but costing you a small fortune…

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A small gathering of Friends. The gold coin is the dowry you receive (or pay!) before the marriage is… ummm… “consummated”.

Also on offer are Titles that can be bestowed upon whoever you please, and “Contributions to the Community” that will show off your family in a good light. Both options are expensive but vital for success and they change from round to round, becoming more powerful and more pricey. By the time you reach the endgame though, you’ll surely be well on your way to being the head of one of Europe’s most respected and wealthy dynasties, so the opportunity to put on a Grand Ball or throw a Banquet will be a mere trifle! Well… hopefully. There’s the question of purchasing mansions and setting up your brood with businesses as well, and funds can occasionally get a bit tight; you’ll have to make the call on where the money goes, and keeping up that reputation is an expensive matter!

There’s also the secretive option of Undertaking Missions, where cards are drawn that will potentially grant huge bonuses throughout the game. This could be along the lines of ensuring there’s a certain amount of Artists or people from a specific country in your family, and the moment a target is reached you flip the card and reveal the bonus. The Missions can also be used to evoke the powerful endgame bonus that is given to you in the form of a Patron card – these are handed out at the start of the game and offer a potentially game-changing amount of points should you meet their challenging requirements.

As you can probably tell thanks to all the florid language, I’ve found this mix of Worker Placement and Desperately Managing To Balance A Bloody Load Of Stuff really rather entertaining. As is now traditional with Portal Games, it’s a lovely thing to look at – the art for all of the Friends is unique though the Sons and Daughters they spawn are not, sadly – still, you can’t have everything and I can see why that choice was made from a gameplay point of view. As the game progresses and this immense tableau starts to spread out before you, passers by are drawn in almost magnetically, wondering what on earth is going on and why you appear to be building some sort of pyramid while you rant about needing more money to give your great-grandchild the mansion they so desperately require. All the while your opponents are mocking your decision to marry off the youngest heir to the Gardener’s daughter but you did it anyway because love must prevail and it’s the only card you had at your disposal that worked…

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Vive la France! Allez les Bleus!

And it’s this back and forth that makes Legacy so damned delightful. Every time I’ve played the game, intricate stories are woven as more and more people are added to the players’ families, and the tales of how they became a part of your clan (as well as the effects of their joining) become these glorious, ridiculous tapestries from a bygone time. Sure, it can be played as a straight Euro where you’re all vying for points, but for me the pleasure is not just found in the actions that are happening on the table itself but also the creation of this unique and sprawling bunch of lowlifes and thieves, artists and princesses who come together as one massive family – assuming you play it right. Legacy is very much a game where what you put in is repaid ten-fold, a game where if you play the role as much as the game you’ll have a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Legacy, The Testament of Duke de Crecy, was released at Essen 2013 by Portal Games. Designed by Michiel Hendriks between two and four people can play with games taking around 60-90 minutes. There is also a single player version of the game in the box which I’m yet to try – sorry! A copy will normally set you back around £35, but Gameslore will sort you out for a mere £29 – a bargain price for the opportunity to choose your family for once!

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Pull Up To The Bumper – Gear & Piston preview

GnP Cover

Invention is a perfect area for aspiring designers to check out when coming up with games. It naturally lends itself to the kind of progression you’ll get in a game – starting with little, you slowly build up your brand new idea, developing it until you have a final product. Take something like Minion Games’ Manhattan Project as an example of how it can be done well, where you get a true feeling of beginning with nothing but soon build yourself up into a major nuclear power. Worker placement also feels like a natural genre to use because – after all – isn’t inspiration 90% perspiration? Get those workers doing their thing and you’ll be on your way to success in no time, surely.

A new game that mixes these elements is currently being produced following a successful Kickstarter campaign and though Gear & Piston won’t officially be available until Essen 2013 it can currently be played over on Board Game Arena. It’s a charming little affair set at the dawn of the automotive industry but rather than looking at the work of the more successful innovators of the time, players assume the roles of inventors out to make a quick buck and please their very pushy investors. Jukka Höysniemi’s upcoming release through LudiCreations doesn’t take itself too seriously, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a mean little game in there.

As I mentioned, Gear & Piston is a worker placement game that’s played out in a very familiar style. Attempting to build a brand new vehicle using whatever you can invent or scavenge, each round begins with players placing their workers on one of the board’s areas. The Patent Office and Junk Yard both allow you grab tiles that will contribute to your prospective automobile (though those Junk parts have a tendency to be rather volatile), while a visit to the Back Alley can give you an edge over your competitors. Actually putting together your various parts requires placement in the Workshop but as you might expect, there’s only going to be a limited amount of spaces for you to all fight over.

Eventually you’ll have enough parts to create your Frankenstein of a vehicle. There are a few necessary requirements – wheels, of course, somewhere for folks to sit, steering and a power source – but these can also be exceeded to make things even more awesome. Who says that you only need two axles on a car? Such conventions can be chucked out of the window as you race to finish the 6×2 grid of tiles that will make up your invention. A close eye must be kept on what you’re making though, as certain demands from the investors need to be met in order for you to score the most points. A comfortable ride can be as important as the fact that your motor won’t explode…

Three different power systems can be used in the game – petrol, steam and electricity – adding a bit of curiosity and strangeness to the proceedings (after all, an electric car is such a preposterous suggestion, isn’t it?). Once you’ve selected which route you’re going down, you’ll be fighting for all the compatible pieces and so Gear & Piston does suffer a little from the “do what no-one else is doing and you should be OK” syndrome that effects many worker placement games. However, that’s far from a major criticism; this is actually a very solid and entertaining game that acts as a great entry point into the genre.

A demo game in progress!

A demo game in progress!

Points are awarded at the end of play for the relative success of what you’ve built – how far it can travel, how comfortable it is, that kind of stuff – as well as how well the expectations of the investors have been met. As always, the highest total wins, but with games taking only a short while there’s always time to scratch everything and set up for a second go as you bid to improve on the last time.

Having only had experience with the digital version, I obviously can’t comment on the quality of the components or final print of the game, but from a “how it plays” standpoint I can safely say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Gear & Piston and will certainly be picking up a copy at Essen this year. The graphical style is charming and eyecatching, echoing the greys and browns you’d expect from a game that focuses on tinkering about in workshops, but still managing to be bright and clear. Everything is language independent too, meaning that a crib sheet to help remind you of what the various symbols mean is all you really require to play.

I’d put this at the level of being a bit of a step up from the usual gateway games – after all, there’s a fair bit more to keep an eye on in Gear & Piston when compared to something like Carcassonne, but with a group of even vaguely experienced players you’ll be grand. With promises of high quality production coming from LudiCreations, this could be one of the buzzworthy games of Spiel.

Gear & Piston will be available at Essen Spiel 2013 and will be published through LudiCreations. Designed by Jukka Höysniemi, between two and six can play with games taking around thirty to forty minutes. If you fancy taking a look at it well in advance, visit Board Game Arena where you can play a beta build of the game right now!

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Turn! Turn! Turn! – Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar review

TzolkinBOX There’s little doubt that Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar was one of the hottest games to come out of Essen this year, and with good reason. It takes a much loved mechanic (worker placement) and does something entirely new with it, adding in the element of movement thanks to a series of cogs that dominate the board. However, now that the fuss has died down a bit – seriously, you couldn’t get a copy for love or money by the time the weekend rolled around at Spiel – we can take a more reasoned look at this one.

And, all told, it’s pretty positive – however, the game is not without its faults. Nothing major, granted, but Tzolk’in is far from perfect. Did the shiny newness of those massive plastic gears hypnotize us a little? Perhaps, but it’s still a very entertaining experience…

Put simply, between two and four players are attempting to score as many points as possible over the course of four rounds. By placing their workers on the ever rotating cogs, they’ll move further round as the turns progress, hopefully getting progressively more useful and lucrative. As each turn is completed, the huge central gear is twisted around one step, moving the five outer wheels around too. Once one of your workers is in a place that you like the look of, you may remove it in order to take the reward for that space. Leave them on the wheel for too long, however, and you’ll have wasted that particular worker. Knowing how hard it can be to get your hands on more workers, you really don’t want to be chucking these chances away.

The different gears will offer you a wide variety of different things to collect as well as plenty of opportunities to spend your resources. Working your way around the board from the top left, you can either grab wood or corn. This one’s important as corn is the game’s currency – it’s very important to have plenty coming in, but you will find during play that you will NEVER have enough. Wheel two offers a wider selection of resources including gold, stone and crystal skulls. The third wheel lets you start spending what you’ve collected on buildings and monuments, necessary if you want to have any chance of winning. It’s here where you can also start moving up the three temples that will get you a decent haul of points if you play skilfully, as well as progress along technology tracks that will reap plenty of rewards.

So much happening! How will you keep track of it all?

So much happening! How will you keep track of it all?

Wheel four is a bit of a mishmash of everything and is very useful for trading your resources for corn (and vice versa). It’s also the only place where you can start getting new workers, so it shouldn’t be ignored. Finally, the larger fifth wheel is where you get rid of those incredibly valuable crystal skulls; on this one, it’s all about big points and further progression up the temples. Play it right and you could wrap the whole thing up on this wheel alone.

As you can probably tell, there is an awful lot going on in your average game of Tzolk’in. Between working out the best placements for your workers and trying to discern when and where they’re going to end up, forward thinking is the order of the day – any loss of concentration will see you slip behind pretty swiftly. You must also consider the fact that at the end of each of the four rounds you need to feed your workers using the same corn that you need to buy better positions on the wheels with. Playing this game is like juggling cats and a lapse will see you cut to ribbons.

Like any good Euro, this is a game of balance where you will never be able to do everything you want to achieve. In fact, most of the time you may well end up taking actions that you didn’t really want to do in order to protect a single worker that could help trigger a long term plan. Constant reconsideration of your objectives is necessary; there’s no way of winning if you don’t adapt as the game evolves.

And it’s here where I find an issue with Tzolk’in – I like planning out how I’m going to tackle a game but managing to pull off anything major in this game feels often more like luck than judgement. In order to do well you’re looking at setting yourself a series of smaller, hopefully manageable goals, the re-evaluate your targets. This gives the game a bitty feel, as if it were a set of linked short stories rather than a glorious and sprawling novel. Not that this is a bad thing, of course, but I love games where you progress to a final achievement and with so many different ways to collect points, the endgame doesn’t feel like a worthy climax. It’s more like you’re hoovering up as many little bits and pieces as possible.

Not that I’m saying it’s a bad game! Not by any measure! However, unlike something like Agricola where you have this story developing before your eyes, the scattered nature of Tzolk’in means that I don’t get that same feeling of an arc under my control. It may be a small complaint but to me that’s an important aspect of any game where I’m investing a major amount of time, and with this you’re looking at least at a couple of hours of pretty solid thinking and strategising. Sure, you could allow yourself to be distracted by the very lovely board and high quality components (those gears are frankly awesome), but you mustn’t allow yourself to be sucked in by beauty…

While I’m not sure that Tzolk’in will be hitting my table on a regular basis, I can happily say that I’ve enjoyed my times playing it and I’ll be returning plenty of times in the future. Yes, it’s true that it can feel like a lot of hard work at times and it does feel like a near-constant struggle to complete any of your plans, but there’s definitely a large part of the gaming market that will praise it higher than I. To me, though? It’s solid. It’s a great way to spend your games evening but it’s not going to take the place of Agricola.

Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar is a 2012 release from Czech Games Edition, with other publishers handling other versions around the world. Designed by Simone Luciani and Daniele Tascini, between two and four can play and games will take you around two hours or so. Copies are still a bit hard to come by, but should you be able to find one expect to pay around £40-45 (though Gameslore sell it for £34.99).

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Best of You – Agricola review

 

There’s a reason that Agricola has sat high in the BGG rankings since its release back in 2007 – the reason being that it is pretty bloody awesome. I initially avoided Uwe Rosenberg’s game of farming in the Middle Ages like the plague (ho ho) – what would I, a modern gamer with a love of plastic and dice, want to do with this… this… Euro?

Man, what I fool I was. Because, like I mentioned above, Agricola is pretty bloody awesome.

Essentially a point scoring affair, players start off with a limited amount of actions available to them and only a couple of discs (representing the farmer and his wife) to use in each round. As the game progresses, more and more options are opened up in a kind of random order – you’ll know roughly when certain things will happen, but can never guarantee exactly when in the game they’ll occur.

By collecting up plenty of resources (wood, clay, reed and stone), you’ll be able to increase your little farm in size and status. Building extra rooms on your house will allow you to increase the size of your family. Fields can be either ploughed and sown or fenced off to hold livestock. Everything you do in Agricola will require actions, and only by pulling off that magical balance of doing the right stuff at the right time will you manage a win.

Even though this is a pretty poor example, this is what you’re aiming to do – fill your farm board to capacity and score yourself plenty of points.

While that simple paragraph essentially sums up what’s in the heart of Agricola, it only takes a couple of rounds of your first play to realise two things. Number one is that you will never have enough time or resources to do exactly what you want to do. Even with only two players (and it handles up to five) there’s a constant scrabble for resources, an endless tirade of “Dammit, I wanted that space” – and it’s marvellous. Sure, you can try and nab the First Player token and hopefully get on with your plans for a short while, but sooner or later you’ll have to give that spot up and rethink everything all over again.

Number two is that the game actively hates you. Initial plays will see you confused by the sheer wealth of options that there are, and then you’ll spot the bit on the board that says ‘Harvest’. “What’s that?” you’ll ask. “Oh,” will come the reply, “that’s when you have to feed your family.”

Yes, every once in a while you’ll have to ensure that you’ve got enough food stashed away to keep your little family discs nourished. Food can be collected straight from the board or you could even buy an oven to bake bread and cook your animals. Either way, you need to stock up – no food means you have to take begging cards which lose you points, and in a game where every single point counts, that’s not something you want to do…

Oh yes. Cards. Agricola comes with a LOT of cards. The most basic game uses only a few of them, listed as Major Improvements. These include the aforementioned ovens, but there’s also stuff like a Well and the ability to indulge in Basket Making (thrilling, I know, but come on, it’s the Middle Ages). These will generally give you little boosts to your points and can actually be pretty hard to come by while you’re focusing on building up those resources to expand your holding. However, they’re well worth going for if you can afford to do so.

The base game also includes special decks, each consisting of Minor Improvements and Occupations. These are little tweaks that could potentially swing the game in your favour while also hopefully scoring you a few more precious points, split into three separate piles that can be mixed and matched however you please. For newbies, it’s suggested you play without them for a while to get a feel for the mechanisms of the game, then move on to the (Basic) E-Deck as an introduction to the slightly trickier elements of how Agricola works. There’s also the Interactive I-Deck and Complex K-Deck in the box which add further complexity, as well as loads of other ones available either separately or in expansions – Agricola is the perfect game for those who like to set things up just so…

Despite the fact that there’s a lot to keep track of throughout the game, once you’ve got a couple of plays under your belt you’ll never feel out of your depth. Focus only on what’s available to you at that moment in time and you shouldn’t go too far wrong – you’ll start building strategies before you know it. Of course, then you’ll start throwing in the extra decks, drafting cards and all, and it’ll feel like you’re learning from scratch again. And it will feel brilliant.

The depth of play in Agricola will see you return again and again, always trying out new plans to see if they’ll come off. When everything falls into place and you manage to pull off a perfect couple of rounds, it’s one of the best feelings you can get in gaming. Of course this is balanced by the desperation you feel when everything tumbles around your head, leaving your family starved in a crappy house with only a pig for company that you’ll probably have to eat at the end of the next round. Yet you’ll never feel that you’ve been cheated out of victory by the game – any mistakes are entirely down to the decisions you yourself have made, and you’ll have learned for next time. Because there will always be a next time.

Cool extra bits are cool. You will crave them like nothing else, then succumb like a fool.

The production throughout is excellent – boards and tokens are thick, the cardstock is easy to shuffle, and the resource cubes and discs are satisfyingly chunky. Things get even nicer when you decide to splash out on upgrading your animals and resources with the veggiemeeple and animeeple kits that are currently available that really add to the charm of the game. It just looks so damn pretty when you’ve got pastures filled with wee wooden cattle and sheep and stacks of stone and wood to play with…

Agricola is a game that just keeps giving. You can even play it solo in a score attack mode (which is a great way of learning how to play as well as hone your skills). Sure, what with all the bits and bobs involved, setup and breakdown can take a little while, but you’ll soon see that it’s worth the effort. For a game based on farming, there’s a lot of humour in there – check out some of the house tiles and you’ll see a game of Bohnanza in progress, for example – and it’s this, combined with some of the most solid gameplay I have ever experienced that makes Agricola a worthy contender for one of The Best Games I’ve Ever Played.

Agricola is published by many companies around the world, but English language copies are produced by Z-Man. If you’re after a copy, you can get one for £42.99 from the fine folks at Gameslore. Between 1 and 5 players can get involved, games take around 60-90 minutes and if you don’t own a copy you don’t know what you’re missing. GO AND BUY IT NOW.

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