Noch nicht angemeldet!   |   Neu Registrieren!   |  
   Passwort vergessen?

Artikel vom 21.08.2009

Autor: Smuker

Kategorie: Sonstiges
Umfang: 2 Seiten


Kommentieren (1)

Agricola - Wie es zu dem Spiel kam. (Ein ausführlicher Werkstattbericht von Uwe Rosenberg)



Deutsch | English

Uwe Rosenberg is well known by gamers all over the world because of his game Agricola. It quickly captured the hearts of many gamers and it banned the most favourite game Puerto Rico (Alea) on second place (according to boardgamegeek). You can now read how Uwe Rosenberg developed the game exclusivly on cliquenabend.de as a workshop report!

Contents


01 - The first publication of this document
02 - A game on my own
03 - Success in ranks
04 - Agricola in different languages
05 - Awards
06 - The award ceremony
07 - A 70m² stand at the fair
08 - History repeats itself
09 - From the inventor of cardgames to author of complex games
10 - Development of the mechanisms from game to game
11 - From an inventor of games to the author of games
12 - A heavy game
13 - The inspiration
14 - Agriculture as a theme
15 - First developmental approaches
16 - Modern economic games
17 - The basic mechanism of Agricola
18 - The usage of action pawns as a mechanism
19 - Interaction
20 - The Agricola Team
21 - Klemens´ preparation and Susanne´s wrap up
22 - In the open air museum
23 - The expanded Agricola team
24 - The language of collectible cards
25 - Playing the multiplayer game alone
26 - The first cards
27 - The start player
28 - Which actions may vary?
29 - The Stables
30 - The Day Labourer
31 - The first tests
32 - Different actions with different numbers of players
33 - Agricola with six players
34 - The printed sheets of the first editions
35 - Differing numbers of players and Occupations
36 - The final three Round cards
37 - Scoring and a tie-breaker rule
38 - The Fairplay grades
39 - The name of the game
40 - The game box
41 - Agricola at the game’s fair 2007
42 - Seven fair days 2007
43 - The fair puzzle 2007
44 - A quick introduction to Agricola
45 - The comparison to the computer game
46 - Agricola as an online game
47 - www.Boardgamegeek.com
48 - Recommendations for novices in boardgaming
49 - Points of Critism
50 - Could you gimme a hint? What should I do?
51 - Agricola deluxe
52 - Second edition coming out june instead of februar
53 - Expansion 1: First plans for an expansion
54 - Expansion 2: Agricola – Second generation
55 - Expansion 3: Calorific value and terrain types
56 - Expansion rules for Agricola
57 - The wood deliveryman
58 - Redesign of the cards
59 - The replacement deck
60 - The Z-Deck
61 - The L-Deck
62 - The X-Deck
63 - The Ö-Deck
64 - Re-allocation of the elementary cards
65 - Le Havre
66 - Game targets embracing multiple sessions
67 - Agricola as a solitaire game
68 - Claudio’s solitaire record
69 - Agricola as a family game
70 - The term Family Game
71 - Variants 2: Standard variants for the handling of the hand cards
72 - Variants 3: House rules and replenishing facilitations
73 - Variants 4: Alternative starting player rule and a 15th round
74 - The Obi Craftman’s Dictionary and the balcony
75 - The new rules
76 - The rules explained on video
77 - Complex, complicated, or epic
78 - Agricola – A game with a prompting character
79 - Seldom-players
80 - Often-players
81 - Agricola for seldom- and often-players
82 - Information on the game box
83 - The three characteristics of a good rule book
84 - My NRW tour
85 - Special enclosures to Spielbox
86 - Portum Negrum
87 - Postcard give-away
88 - The discussion in the run-up to the 2008 postcard
89 - Agri-Cola
90 - Agricola as a tournament game
91 - Media appointments in advance of the game fair 2008
92 - Sound bites while playing Agricola
93 - Media appointments in advance of the game fair 2008
94 - Game fair 2008
95 - The game night of the jury “Game of the Year” (“Spiel des Jahres”)
96 - Conclusion
97 - 25th anniversary of being active in my profession
98 - Career phases of a games inventor
99 - Translation into English and additional reports
100 - The last sentence



01 - The first publication of this document

This report gives an overview of the nearly two-year time of origin of "Agricola", which today, apart from "Bohnanza" (Amigo 1997), I can see as my most successful game, and it tells the story about the work that Hanno Girke and I had as a small publisher after its publication. In November 2007, I already wrote some of the chapters. They were published in the same year as part of an advent calendar on the website www.cliquenabend.de. All the other chapters were written in the following months. I´d like to thank my wife Susanne and Georg Deifuß for proofreading.



I can look back on about 200 playtesting sessions of "Agricola". During this
long time, I had a lot of ideas for new games. As it came to translate these ideas, I always had more fun to work out "Agricola" than to start with something new. Thus, I can´t call it work.
Work was rather the layout of the 360 cards and the translation of the game into
a total of eight languages. I´d like to kindly thank Klemens Franz for this, due to whom we not only have a wonderfully illustrated game, but also the fact that it´s now available in many countries and languages (see chapter 4, "Agricola in diff
erent languages").



02 - A game on my own

"Agricola" often is called "the fi rst big Rosenberg", big not in the sense of "signifi cant", but in the sense of "eventually no cardgame". It´s a buildup game that doesn´t come along as a big kingdom, but rather lets the players worry in small-scale about the welfare of their families. Instead of struggling for great pro ts, the players need to struggle with hunger.



In order to publish the game with all of the material I planned for the game
during the development process, I presented the game to just one big publisher and then I just decided to publish it on my own at Lookout Games. The editor to whom I´ve showed the game confi rmed me in my decision. "We could do this, but I think we wouldn´t do you a favor", he judged. As a way of saying thank you for this really friendly advice I immortalized him on one of the occupation cards. He owns the game. To this day, I don´t know if he has already found himself. It´s already known for a long time that we´ve left a memorial for his collegue, Klaus Teuber, due to the article about "Agricola" at www.wikipedia.de. Just three months after its publication the game got its own entry there.

03 - Success in ranks

The feedback for the game was overwhelming. Following my profession as a qualified statistician, I´d like to precede my report with a list of ranks the game got in various elections.

At the game fair itself, where “Agricola" was presented in October 2007, there
were two elections. In the scout campaign by the gaming magazine “Fairplay", the
fair attendees voted for the novelties. The result was:
1. Tribune 1.61 (Fantasy Flight Games, Karl-Heinz Schmiel)
2. Brass 1.61 (Warfrog, Martin Wallace)
3. Agricola 1.66
The editors of the website www.hall9000.de jugded similarly:
1. Agricola 5.44
2. Tribune 5.43
3. Hamburgum 5.40 (Eggert-Spiele und PD-Games, Mac Gerdts)
During the following months, “Agricola" was voted into the list of the best games of all times on the world´s greates gaming website www.boardgamegeek.com. It hit the top 100 in just a few weeks. Who likes, can poke there a little. For “Agricola" alone, people have uploaded over 500 images.
On gaming events, there also are elections for the most favorite games. And again, the farm architects join the lists.
Hilchenbach (February 2008): 1. Agricola 2. Skib Bo 3. ,,Phase 10"
Oberhof (March 2008): 1. Stone Age 2. Agricola 3. Drachen Wurf
Rosenheim (April 2008): 1. Agricola 2. Brass 3. Stone Age
Bödefeld (November 2008): 1. Agricola 2. Stone Age 3. Cuba
Hilchenbach (March 2009): 1. Dominion 2. Agricola 3. DOG
Austria´s biggest gaming club, the Spiele Kreis Wien1, has a voting for the most
favorite games every two weeks and they give 1 to 5 prestige points to each game. Any game that gains 50 prestige points joins the “Hall of Games". “Agricola" has joined this list in May 2008 after it got the ranks 7/5/2/3/1/2/1/3/1/1/1/1/1 in succession since November 2007. Every time it was second or third, it was ranked after the space games “Galaxy Trucker" (Czech Games Edition, 2007, Vlaada Chvatil) or “Race for the Galaxy" (Abacus, 2007, Tom Lehmann) { Especially myself I´m a big fan of “Galaxy Trucker". Maybe due to our alien deck (see chapter 62, “The X-deck") “Agricola" now also belongs to the space games.



The list with the nominations for the “Spiel des Jahres” was published on May, 25 2008. We already received the prize “most complex game of the year”, five weeks before the “Spiel des Jahres” was published. Every year the website www.spielbox.de offers the possibility to place a bet on which game will become “Spiel des Jahres”. Until the publication of the nomination list the ranking was as following: 1. Stone Age (Hans im Glück), 2. Agricola, 3. Oregon (Hans im Glück), 4. Metropolys (Ystari), 5. Jamaica (Pro Ludo), 7. Keltis (Kosmos), 10. Suleika (Zoch), 18. Wie verhext (Alea), 35. Blox (Ravensburger). As you can see “Agricola” was the second favorite to win the award, even though everybody knew that “Agricola” has to many rules to win this prize. On June, 30 2008 “Keltis” (Kosmos, 2008, Reiner Knizia) received the award “Spiel des Jahres”. “Keltis” is the old “Lost Cities” (Kosmos, 1999, Reiner Knizia) as a multilayer game.
At the end I would like to call attention to the website from Michael Weber, www.reich-der-spiele.de. In a mail correspondence Michael gave me his permission to quote him with the words, that since the publication of “Puerto Rico” (Alea, 2002, Andreas Seyfarth) there had not been a game that was evaluated so high even half a year after his publication in his monthly charts, as “Agricola” did in 2008. In the meantime the quotation needs a revision since far more than half a year has passed. But look for yourself in the word document.




04 - Agricola in different languages

In 2008 I was asked more frequently “When does the second edition come out?“ than “How are you?“ The frequency of the question about the size of the second edition surprised me. This question surprised me because the number of copies does not say anything about the product. Important is the number of sold games and not the numbers of games one still wishes to sell.

Whatever.

In the fall 2007 we produced 5000 copies for Germany. In the summer and the fall 2008 the we made a second and a third edition of the game ( see chapter 52 “The second edition in June and not in February”) in addition we also produced a lot of games for the English market – divided into four editions. Fewer numbers of copies were produced for France, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, Spain and South Korea. At the end of 2008 Italy and Japan joined the list. For 2009 we plan a Chinese and for 2010 a Portuguese edition. We also think about a Swedish and a Russian edition.



Our production really started with the first editions of “Agricola” for other countries. It took a couple of month before all rules were translated and set the way our partner publishers wanted them to be. The people who p reordered the game had to wait a long time before the games were delivered to France, South Korea, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic, England and the Netherlands in June 2008. Americans had to wait one month longer, Australians even until September. Until the end of 2008 we sold world wide between 50.000 and 60.000 copies.

05 - Awards

In this chapter I would like to talk about eight game awards, four German ones and four international ones, “Agricola received.
In Germany there are two important awards. The most important one is the “Spiel des Jahres”1, (elected by committee of eleven members – this prize is unattainable for a complex game like “Agricola”), the second important award is the “Deutsche Spielepreis”2 (elected principally by Internet users). “Caylus” (Ystari, 2005, William Attia) showed me how to do it, first it was offered the special prize “Complex game” by the jury of the “Spiel des Jahres” and afterwards won the “Deutsche Spielepreis”. I wished to imitated this game in this (see chapter 13 “The inspiration”). About the special prize “Complex game” I already heard on May, 25 2008, and since August, 1 I waited for the results of the “Deutsche Spielepreis”, which I got ten days later, but I was not allowed to tell anybody about it. Only one month later, on September, 17 I was allowed to show my happyness. As competitor I was most afraid of Bernd Brunnhfer´s wonderful work “Stone Age”, a game which has a similar mechanic as “Agricola” and at which Bernd had worked for a couple of years. At the end “Stone Age” got the second prize before “Cuba” (Eggert, 2007, Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler), the second game this year which was illustrated by Michael Menzel. “Agricola”, “Stone Age” and “Cuba” all three have in common that one has to use basic materials in order to build buildings which give you victory points at the end of the game.



The Austrian Game Award is the third most important award within the German speaking countries. There games are elected in different categories. In August 2008 it was certain that “Agricola” had won in the category “games for experts”. “Suleika” (Gigamic, 2007, Zoch, 2008, Dominique Erhard) won the main prize. Hanno and I had also seen this game as one of the top candidates for the “Spiel des Jahres”.

The German website “Hall 9000” also has something like the Academy Awards. Here it is not called Oscar but it is a cat called Hallbert. 2007, like every year the users elected the top three in different categories (www.hall9000.de/links/umfrage2007.html). Here „Agricola“ won the first prize in the category „favorite board game“, the fifth place in the category „favorite family game“, first place in the category „favorite big game“, third place in „most beautiful game“, second place in the category „most innovative game“ and luckily not mentioned in the category „Flop of the year“. I will talk about the family game in chapter 70. One year later at the Hallbert´s 2008 the little postcard expansion “Through the seasons” by Julian Steindorfer and myself (see chapter 87, Postcard Give- away) won the fourth place, directly behind “Le Havre” in the category “favorite game” as well as the fourth place in the category “favorite big game”. In this category my new game “Le Havre” won the first prize (see chapter 65).

Even more like the Oscars are the Origin Awards, which are elected once a year since 1975. With this I would like to lead over to the international prizes. At the award ceremony 2008, where even Reiner Knizia flew over to Indianapolis, “Agricola” was not present because there had not been an English version before July 2008. (www.critical-hits.com/2008/06/28/34th-annual-origins-awards-winners/). “Starcraft” (Fantasy Flight Games, 2007, Christian T. Petersen und Corey Konieczka) won the main prize, a game for which one needs almost twice as much space as for “Agricola”. “Agricola” also was six weeks too late for the Nederlandse Spellenprijs. “Cuba” won 2008 this prize.

Another game award which can be mentioned as one of the most important ones, is awarded like the “Deutsche Spielepreis” each year at Essen. Since 2000 the “International Gamers Awards” are awarded. The jurors are internationally top-grade. My idol “Caylus” won this prize in 2006. “Agricola” was nominated with nine other games (amongst them two games by Martin Wallace). Like for the “Deutsche Spielepreis” we were told already before hand about our victory, but were not allowed to talk about it. “Agricola” taught me diplomacy. I always knew what to say and what not to say. The awarding ceremony was in the big hall on Friday at the fair in Essen.

Since 1995 the readers of the yahoo group “Spielfrieks” award the Meeples Choice Award. Meeple is the American name for the wooden figure, we call “Carcassonne Männchen”. Each year three winners are announced. The winners 2007 were “Race for the Galaxy” (Abacus, 2007, Thomas Lehmann, 62 points), before “Agricola” with 51 points and “Brass“ (Warfrog, 2007, Martin Wallace, 44 points). The second prize is remarkable since “Agricola” had appeard only in German until the election. The users of the website “Boardgamegeek” elected “Agricola” in November 2008 as Gamer´s Game and as Game of the year. The prize is called “Golden Geek”. I will mention the website “Boardgamegeek” in more detail in chapter 47.

In the meantime the game has won the most important awards in Spain (Juego del Ano 2008), the Czech Republic (Hra roku Winner 2008), Portugal (JogoEU User’s Game 2008) and Poland (2009).

The elections in France were similar to those in Germany. “Agricola” won the Tric Trac d´or 2008, comparable to the “Deutsche Spielepreis” and was awarded with the special prize “complex game” at the As d´Or Jeu de l´Année, comparable to the German “Spiel des Jahres”.

06 - The award ceremony

Since many years the jury for “Spiel des Jahres” holds their final meeting in the same four stars hotel, the Esplanada in Berlin. There the jury decides which game will bear the title “Game of the year”. Some years ago the jury always met weeks before and informed the press and the winner beforehand, so that the publishers could prepare themselves for increased demand. Once a well-known German weekly journal did not keep the information to themselves, as agreed upon, and with that took the media interest away from the jury. Then the price was awarded Sunday evening: not even the members of the jury knew which game had won. For some years now the price is awarded only Monday morning – live in a press conference, for the whole world to see. It is only a pity that the whole event is not live on TV or the internet.



I was at two award ceremonies, 2001 with “Babel” and 2008 with “Agricola”. There could not be a bigger difference. 2001 the meeting was accompanied by a menu with different courses and different acts, like a wedding. 2008 was the European championship and we waited more tensely than curiously for the next morning: the price was only rewarded at the press conference. The walk on stage had to be practiced. Everybody knew where he had to stand. It was planned that the ceremony should take half an hour. Luckily nobody submitted to this dictate. The electronic accompaniment was exemplary. Every nominated game was introduced on a film screen, there was a live-ticker on the internet, Photographers and TV had their own stage, and the journalists could “plug themselves in” to make notes about what was being said.



The “Deutsche Spielepreis” was awarded in the used ceremonial way the night before Essen started. I am especially happy that Hanno´s and my parents could be there that evening. Generally only board game experts and the media can be seen there. I liked that the winners – and therefore we too- had a lot of time on stage. If you see a person only for a few minutes on stage, you see only a nervous person. You will only get to know him if he will get over his excitement. I was especially nervous when I gave one Korean version of “Agricola” to a representative of the South Korean government. We offered the public our Agri-Cola, with the money we financed an fund-raising agricultural project in southern Ethiopia (see chapter 89 “Agri-Cola”). Almost nobody drank the coke immediately, since coke and wine do not fit together too well, but many took them away with them.

07 - A 70m² stand at the fair

Kosmos was the first publisher in 2008 to renounce his right to use the stand which is always reserved for the “Spiel des Jahres”. Kosmos thought that Hall 9 was too far away from their main stand in Hall 12. Our distribution partner Heidelberger took the stand on the spot and thus provided us with a 70 m² stand including12 tables with chairs and a cubby-hole. That meant for us to ask our friends and acquaintances in order to find enough people who would explain our games.



Our own little Lookout stand which is always on the same spot, we concentrated on selling the products. We wanted that our new game “Le Havre” could only be bought at this stand and therefore were prepared for a bigger rush than we had the years before. Since we also gave away a lot of “Agricola” material (see chapter 94 “game´s fair 2008”), we caused from both sides a queue of about ten meters each, the whole Thursday and half of Friday. It had been the right decision to sell “Le Havre” only at our stand since “Kaufhof” sold games, (from small and big publishers), just a little over cost price at the first two fair days. Only on Saturday was it possible to change the company´s sale policy. But who was ready to buy a game on Saturday for a – subjectively perception- much higher price.
How did it come that a small two-men publisher was allowed to let off steam on a 70 m² fair stand. I want to draw a parallel with another phase in my career as an author.

08 - History repeats itself

In 1995 Peter Gehrmann, who I can maybe call my mentor, told me about the Magic-boom in the USA. I decided to prepare myself for the time after “Magic”: the Gathering CCG (Wizards of the Coast, 1993, Richard Garfield), which did not arrive until today and concentrate completely on the development of card games. I developped 50 cardgames in 3 ½ years, not mentioned the unfinished ideas and developments. Already the second game became my biggest success: "Bohnanza" (Amigo, 1997), which is inspired by the classic boardgame "Civilization" (Francis Tresham, 1980, Hartland ). The first and third cardgame in this series were also published: much later "Nottingham" (Abacus, 2006) and already in 1999 "Klunker" (Hans im Glück). I was not driven by success (who can guess as a young person that his games will be published), I was driven curiosity what one can do with cards. I discovered a whole research universe at this time.



Now "Agricola" is the second game in my series of complicated games. The numbers 1 and 3 are "Von den Toren von Loyang" and "Le Havre". We published "Le Havre" like "Agricola" at Lookout Games in 2008. It would be nice if "Von den Toren von Loyang" would be published just a little later. As number 4 and 5 I am working at "Mercator" a game about the trading behavior of Hamburg during the Thiirty Years´ War and "Ora et Labora" a game about convents and enterprises. The latter one is inspires by a visit in a museum during my honeymoon. My card games numer 4 and 5 have never been published. I like "Mercator" and "Ora et Labora", therefore enough of the parallels.

09 - From the inventor of cardgames to author of complex games

In July 2008 I had a meeting with Udo Bartsch in Hannover for an interview for the Spielbox. It really was a meeting like those you know from TV-Shows: "Udo B. meets". Udo´s crucial question was how a specialist for cardgames came to concentrate on complex games now. I don´t like the term "complex games" (see chapter 77, complex. Complicated or epical), but my answer was mainly that since I grew up with "Civilization" and "1830" I am a child of these types of games. During the end of my cardgame phase in the 1990´s my favorite game was Klaus Teuber´s "Löwenherz" (Goldsieber, 1997, now Kosmos) which I will talk about in more detail later (see chapter 14, "Agriculture as a theme). The slow change towards complex games collided with a time when I wanted to orientate myself professionally. In 1998 I finished my studies of statistics.



Until 2004 I had not decided whether I wanted to work full time as a statistician or as an author of board games. The time of card games was over and I tried it with family games but had no luck and saw no way for me to become happy as a full time professional author. In 2004 I was looking for gaps in the market. I liked my working situation, to “write” games which text orientated (including “Wi8r sind schwanger”, 2005, Amigo and “Frauen und Männer”, 2005 Kosmos). Thus I decided to take the artistic career. Free of doubts and pressure to succeed, which I imposed on myself in my later considerations, I started (like with my card games) with inspiration and curiosity to invent more complex games. From “Antiquity” (Splotter Spellen, 2004, Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga) I came to “Von den Toren von Loyang” in 2005 and from “Caylus” (Ystari, 2005William Attia) to “Agricola” in the same year.



10 - Development of the mechanisms from game to game

In my series of big games I liked to transfer mechanisms from one game to the next one. In the spring of 2005 “Vor den Toren von Loyang” already had the harvesting mechanism from “Antiquity” that a few month later would be called “Sow action” and “field phase” in the game “Agricola” which I invented in December 2005 (see chapter 14 “Agriculture as a theme”).

In “Agricola” each turn goods are brought into play which only have to be taken by the players. At the beginning of each turn the goods were refilled. In “Le Havre” (invented in December 2007) the goods trickle each turn on the fields (more in chapter 65 “Le Havre”). The same in “Mercator” my big game number 4. The only difference is that in “Le Havre” the goods which come into play are dictated and in “Mercator” the new goods depend on the move the player made.
“Agricola” and “La Havre” have in common that new action spaces come into play during the game. This mechanism was influenced by the game “Caylus” (see chapter 13 “The inspiration”). “Le Havre” is even nearer to the original than “Agricola”, since the players bring the new building through their own actions into play while in “Agricola” a new action cards are turned over each turn. All three games “Caylus”, “Agricole” and “Le Havre” all have in common that there are fields where players can get goods and other fields where one can take actions.

11 - From an inventor of games to the author of games

In the late 70´s Reinhold Wittig formed the term game author as an alternative to game inventor. Inventor always makes one thing of “Gyro Gearloose”. Book authors are story tellers for me. I understand the two terms as following: the “inventor” concentrates during the development on the mechanisms, while the author concentrates on the story behind the game. Regarding this definition I define myself as a game inventor until 2003, since 2005 more as a game author.

In 2004, the year of my text orientated games I even was more an author than a game author. A few years ago I worked hard on the mechanisms of a game and they were always the starting point of my considerations. Nowadays I work more on the story which I would like to tell for the duration of three hours. The third term which is used is the term of “game developer” A “game developer” is for me someone who starts to outline the game, than creates modules, which he combines into a complex game and adjusts the parameters in a long row of testing games. This description often fits for computer games, but on my complex games I also fiddle around on the adjustments for a whole month. The only difference is that I don´t outline and plan a lot. The story I tell sometimes only develops further when I adjust the parameters.

I like to plan only the beginning which I play alone until I am satisfied with it. Then I move on. “Agricola” is the best example for this. In the first week of development I only ever played until round 4 and then stopped. In the second week I played until round 7 (see chapter 25 “Playing the multiplayer game alone”)


12 - A heavy game

Some players know Lookout Games, the collective publishing house of Hanno Girke and me, for a multitude of variants of “Bohnanza”. “Bohnanza” is a trading game which appeared in 1997 at Amigo. We have some subscribers who come to fetch their “personal number” each year. In 2007, the year of “Agricola” we deliberately did not publish a variant of “Bohnanza”, but instead started an illustration contest for “Bohnanza”. The result of this contest was a game with 116 different bean illustrations.



We put our main attention on our, up to this time, biggest and most expensive project. We put so much material in the box, and completely overlooked the fact that at the end the game had over 2000 gram. It had 360 big cards and more wooden material than any game before. We should be sponsored by parcel services which calculate their prices not after the weight but after the size of the package! (Until then the record holder of the most wooden pieces in one game was said to be “Caylus”, which I already mentioned and which I will talk about in the next chapter). We were surprised that there were seldom complaints about the boxes which first we and later our distributor “Heidelberger” send by mail. When we talked about it we came to the following conclusion for this phenomenon: The parcels are so heavy that they cannot be thrown.


13 - The inspiration

The month of birth of “Agricola” is December 2005, the month of pregnancy was November 2005. The same procedure repeated itself with “Le Havre” in 2007: in November the pregnancy, in December the birth.



“Caylus” by William Attia was the most famous new release of the autumn 2005. I was so fascinated by this game that I played it every evening for two weeks. In the daytime I thought about about an own idea for a game. In the game “Caylus” the players place exactly one worker on one action field like “take one wood” or “construct a building”. Every round new action fields come into play and therefore there is more choice where to place your workers. Unfortunately the number of workers you have does not change. I did not like that. I thought about a theme which justified a controlled and limited increase of your workers. To employ workers seemed to increase the workers more or less unlimited. But to to conceive children as a couple needs time. Definitely.



The impressions of “Caylus” were still present for me in the end of 2007. My game following “Agricola”, which I called “Le Havre” was published in the fall of 2008 and has still more in common with “Caylus” than “Agricola” (see chapter 65 “Le Havre”).

14 - Agriculture as a theme

The theme agriculture was on my mind in many different aspects in 2005. I still remembered the game “Dicke Kartoffeln” 1 (Abacus, 1989, Doris Matthäus und Frank Nestel), where every player cultivates sometimes ecologically, sometimes profit-orientated potatoes on maximum five fields, by putting field tokens on his farm plan.



The harvesting mechanism from "Antiquity" (Splotter Spellen, 2004, Jeroen Doumen und Joris Wiersinga), I just embedded in another economic game: “Vor den Toren von Loyang”. The harvesting mechanism plans that the players cultivate or consume the goods they have in stock (and thus increase them). Like in “Agricola” in “Antiquity” cultivated goods are restored by goods from the general supplies. At the end of each turn each player is allowed to take one good from the sowing into his personal supplies.



The theme of livestock-breeding had another origin. I had Klaus Teuber´s game “Löwenherz” (Goldsieber, 1997, today Kosmos) in mind. It´s a long time since I wanted to use boundaries for other things than to define kingdoms. I proofed with “Agricola” that grazing land is more stable than kingdoms: while the boundaries always change in “Löwenherz”, they are stable in “Agricola”, since it means for all fences : built is built.



15 - First developmental approaches

I added my idea to let the players work on their own offspring to already well established game mechanisms. I started with building a house. Who wanted to increase his family had to increase his house first. I quickly had the idea to realize different building strategies. The players could renovate their building and after that if they wanted to increase their building they had to do it on a different building level. I decided upon the building goods, wood for the wooden hut, clay for the mud hut and stone for the stone house.



That you needed wood also for the boundaries, the fences, was obvious. I thought about where I could use clay and stone. Following the Puerto-Rico-tradition (Alea, 2002, Andreas Seyfarth) I wanted to let players construct victory-point-buildings towards the end of the game. In the development this turned into the ovens, the Crafts buildings and the wells. For clay I found another utilization. The players should pay a fee for their offspring, so that they had to think about the best moments during the game to increase their family. What would be more evident than to let them provide food? I liked that the term nutritional value1 sounded a little bit like currency2. The players should build with clay what they need in order to feed their families, like clay ovens and fireplaces. Thus all three materials had two applications. As additional material I added reed. Reed was meant for the roofs of the different huts.



During the first weeks my game was called “Robinsonade”. The two pawns should feel like Robinson and Friday in their wooden hut. But when I came up with some purchases which you could not find on a lonely island, I searched for a new name. (see chapter 39 “The name of the game”). When it came to insert my idea of increasing the family thematically, which I had already planned, I said goodbye to the idea of the lonely island. I finally realized that Robinson and Friday could not have children. In this phase of the development the plan still had 4x5 farm fields, which was too big, as I realized later.



16 - Modern economic games

In science, economic games are characterized by variable prices. This is not true for board games. For me as an author it is important that money fades into the background. Either it is as in “Die Siedler von Catan” (Kosmos, 1995, Klaus Teuber) ignored completely or its only meaning is to get the more valuable “currency” called victory points. Friedemann Friese, the author of “Funkenschlag” (2F-Spiele, 2001/2004) formed the doctrine that one can prevent an early victory in economic games by letting the players transform their money, which automatically produces more money, into victory points which contrary to money do not increase themselves. Thus there is the possibility to catch up every handicap during the game by taking the risk of waiting a little longer to transform your money into victory points.



In former economic games like “McMulti” (Hexagames, originally in 1974 as “Crude”, James J. St. Laurent), “Schoko & Co. (Schmidt, 1987, Yves Hirschfeld und Gilles Monnet) and “Dicke Kartoffeln”, the player with the most money won the game. Formed by the stock exchange game (Ravensburger, originally 1961, S.Spencer and F. Murray) stock exchange mechanisms like in “Acquire” (3M, 1962, Sid Sackson), later in “Shark”(Flying Turtle, 1987, Jean Vanaise) and in “Big Boss” (Kosmos, 1994, Wolfgang Kramer) predominated economic games.

17 - The basic mechanism of Agricola

"Agricola" and I owe William Attia a lot. Not only the basic mechanism of the game, which is based on ideas from Richard Breese ("Keydom", R&D Games, 1998 or alternatively "Morgenland", Hans im Glück, 2000).



On the further development of these mechanisms at the same time worked next to William also Stefan Stadler and Michael Rieneck ("Die Säulen der Erde", Kosmos, 2006). It was also William who translated "Agricola" in french at a time when we had no license agreements with France yet. He also found some mistakes on the cards.
The basic mechanism was further developed in games like "Tribun" (Heidelberger Spieleverlag, 2007, Karl-Heinz Schmiel) and "Kingsburg" (Truant, 2007, Andrea Chiarvesio and Luca Iennaco), which both like "Agricola" were published in October 2007 and are distributed by the Heidelberger Spieleverlag. "Stone Age" (Hans im Glück, 2008,. Bernd Brunnhofer) was published half a year later but it is still worth mentioning since it had been in the developmental stage for over ten years.

From the seven games mentioned "Agricola" differs in the fact that the played actions are realized immediately and not like in the other games in a special round. Not to realize actions immediately is only attractive if the placing of the pawns is speculative. That means that players can choose the secure way, first conform to the condition and then take your action, or players can choose the risky way, first take your action and later fulfill the condition. This mechanism is terrific when it is possible to fulfill the condition one round in advance. Unfortunately not all mentioned games exhaust this possibility. “Caylus” exhausts this possibility the most.

18 - The usage of action pawns as a mechanism

Interesting at this point is the question whether the mentioned “finesses” can be called mechanisms. Karl-Heinz Schmiel formed the term “Engine” for this. One could also speak of “handling”. Attractive about putting ones pawns on action fields is always the fact that you can snap actions from your opponents. In the games “Bali” (Kosmos, 2001) and “Puerto Rico” (Alea, 2002, Andreas Seyfarth) the contrary approach was used: the action the starting player chose could be copied by all other players.



Important in both cases is that a player limits his opponent with his choice. In this way permanent interaction is created. The most recent game which worked with this idea is “Die Prinzen von Machu Pichu” (PD-Games, 2008, Mac Gerdts). Once one player produces a good, every player can produce this good. Once one player scores with his priest everybody gets points for their priest, too.

19 - Interaction

At the end of the 90´s the degree of interaction became one of the quality characteristics in a game. Interaction means for many people to take something away from somebody else or to give somebody else something. In regard to multiplayer games I think that the more a game instructs a player to plan the future, that means the more strategic a game is, the more it is disturbing for the player if his plans can be destroyed by direct attacks or if it is made too easy for him by receiving sudden bonuses. Superficially regarded, this creates the contradiction: that games, the more strategic they are the less warlike they should be. Even though the terms “strategy” and war are closely related. But not in games with three or more players.



In “Agricola” I found it important that it is not possible to take nutrition values away from the players shortly before they have to pay the nutrition. One should not get arbitrarily three negative points in a game where the one will win after hours of tension with the average of 35 points. (see chapter 72 “Variants 3: House rules and replenishing facilitations”).

20 - The Agricola Team

The Agricola team consists of a couple of persons (see chapter 23 “The expanded Agricola team”). Even before William began his translation into French, I got a message from Melissa Rogerson from Melbourne, asking if she was allowed to translate the game into English. She had lived for a while in Austria and therefore speaks German very well. (An Interview with Melissa you can find here: a href="http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/347046">http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/347046). Our illustrator Klemens Franz is also from Autria. Hanno met him at the game fair in Essen in 2006.



Like for “Bohnanza” in 2007, Hanno called for an illustration competition for his own game “Die Drachenbändiger von Zavandor” (Lookout Games, 2006). Klemens took part in this competition. In fall 2006 we had decided that we wanted 300 game cards illustrated for “Agricola”. Hanno talked to all who took part in the competition and who visited us at our stand in Essen. He let them draw dragons on white cards for his documentation of the competition. Klemens was not the only one who drew a wonderful dragon without hesitation. But as a trained sketcher it was his destiny to draw our 300 cards. Hanno told him about “Agricola” and they soon came to an arrangement. A long time Klemens did not know what he got into. Only after the release of the game he had the pleasure to play the game. Because there existed only one prototype the whole time of development (and I almost always had it.)



21 - Klemens´ preparation and Susanne´s wrap up

It started in the summer of 2007. Klemens wrote in a really readable workshop report on www.Lookout-Games.de about our teamwork. Until we started to complete the playing cards, he prepared the drawings: 300 drawings and in the end Hanno and I had suggestions for corrections for only about 10 of them. Klemens borrowed a lot of books and even allowed his family a visit to a medieval open air museum. Even after the publication of the game the work did not cease for him. For the second edition one had to change all the graphics so that other languages could be embedded without problems. In the meantime “Agricola” was published in over eight languages (see chapter 4 “Agricola in different languages”) and for some languages Klemens set the texts himself.



Another important person in the developmental process of this game is my present wife Susanne. We married only a short time before the editorial work for “Agricola” started. It probably was the most stressful time of my life. With her I played endless games of two (something between 50 and 100), furthermore she corrected all the texts. Especially the rules were smoothed by her.

22 - In the open air museum

During the development of “Agricola” Klemens and I, independent of each other, both visited an open air museum. For Klemens a lot of good drawings were the result of this visit for me at least a reportage on WDR1.



The open air museum Stübing in the south of Austria is one of the biggest in Austria. Farmhouses of different regions and from different times give you an impression how hard the life as a farmer had been. Klemens visited the museum because of an exhibition about “The development of agricultural tools”. The internet was not a useful source in this regard and scientific literature about this subject was hard to get. Because I researched so many tools and plough variants for the game, Klemens had to come up with something. The visit could not resolve all the (plough) questions but some drawings would not have been possible without the visit.



For Klemens the visit was, apart from the concrete motives, a possibility to get into the right mood for the upcoming work in the spring 2007. One should not forget “Agricola” has over 300 different cards.
My visit to the museum was less useful. In October 2008 I talked to an WDR editor from the “Lokalzeit Dortmund”. I suggested to shoot the reportage at the fair in Essen. She told me she could not do this because Essen was not in her area of responsibility. When I asked her which area was part of her responsibility she mentioned amongst others the city of Hagen. I told her that I drew my inspiration from a visit to the open air museum there and she made an appointment. On the spot we were ensnared by persons responsible. I even was able to talk to the director of the museum. One can not believe how important the local news are for a museum. Among other things we shot at the nailer and I could talk about my plans to make an iron-expansion. I had to pretend that I was watching everything and was filmed by that. For the final statement I sat in front of a water mill and talked about what is driving me to develop one game after another. I answered that my stimulation has changed. A couple of years ago it was the desire to create something that would outlast me. Now, that my game “Bohnanza” has gained the status of a classic, it is the delight to improve people´s gaming life.



I compared the artistic work of creation with a love relationship. At first one craves for something that lasts. Once one is arranged in his relationship it is like a harbor. One has the feeling that one has arrived. I think that at the latest since “Agricola” I “have arrived”.

23 - The expanded Agricola team

Today I can count to the expanded Agricola team a few more people than Hanno, Klemens and Susanne. First of all of course our longtime colleagues who work at our stand at the fair in Essen, Felix Girke and Thomas Hageleit, and since “Agricola” also Hagen Dorgathen.



Miriam Bode helps me every year at the “Spielewahnsinn” at Herne. Our team at the fair in Essen in 2008 consisted of 25 people, most of them participants of a weekly game meeting in Dortmund, but some only “Agricola” fans from Münster, Köln and Bonn. With Inga Blecher I designed the occupation and minor improvement cards, which influence the possibilities of the players negatively (a variation which gets divided reactions). Julian Steindorfer dealt with “Agricola” in a fantasy world (instead of learning new occupations one can work charms). Mike Schröder tries to combine “Agricola” with “Bohnanza” (I am especially curios to see the result). The good old occupation and minor improvement cards I still develop alone. For tests Ralph Bruhn, , Michael Kapik, Nils Miehe, Heiko Schiffer, Michael Lopez, Carsten Hübner, Frederik Häfker, Claudio Maniglio and the gaming club Münster are at my disposal. Carsten Hübner and Detlef Krägenbrink already worked a lot at testing the basic game.



Dale Yu and Claudio Maniglio proved themselves as experts for the single game. Dale analyzed the campaigns and Claudio holds the solo-record. Dale was also in charge of the alien-expansion. These are 24 event cards, which were attached to the version 5/2008 of the magazine “Spielbox” (see chapter 62 “The X-Deck”).
Julian Steindorfer, Grzegorz Kobiela, Ralph Bruhn and Hagen Dorgathen are my most important companions when it comes to the development of expansions for “Agricola”. You will read again of Julian, especially his expansion “Through the seasons” I think is the best variant, since “High Bohn” (Lookout Games, 2000, Hanno Girke) which someone developed for one of my games.

24 - The language of collectible cards

In the summer of 2007 it was part of the editorial work of “Agricola” to develop guidelines for the use of language. It was interesting to dispute with Hanno because two different game worlds bounced into each other. We wanted to publish “Agricola” in a collectible card´s language and Hanno had to teach me a lot. For years he has translated everything of the collectible card game “Magic: The Gathering CCG” (Wizards of the Coast, 1993, Richard Garfield) into German. Contrary I did not busy myself with collectible card games. At collectible card games the texts exactly refer to what happens under specific circumstances. In a uniform language one can for example cancel the word “allow” because a difference between the words “allow” and “can” is not necessary. In boardgames “allow” describes everything what the rules allow, “can” describes the application of the material.



The language of collectible cards can be understood as an own artificial language. Especially in English the reduction of words went thus far, that for example independent of the sex of the players, one always takes “it” as the referent, because “it” refers to the card, whether the card shows “a hammer” or “a sickle”.
Another problem are active-passive-formulations. Instead of a passive, “you get”, one can also formulate an active “you take”. An active is better readable than a passive but has the disadvantage that sometimes it is not clear whether the active act is valued as an action. In passive sentences one has to have in mind that instead of writing “either or” one has to write “optional or”, when the player can choose for himself what he gets.



This chapter would contain many more finesses. Also important is for example the difference between “if”, “once” and “whether”: The word “if” can be interpreted as a temporally “once” or a causal “whether”. “If” itself is only used if a point of time is mentioned. “Always if” is written when the point of time is repeated.

25 - Playing the multiplayer game alone

Let’s go back to the year 2005. In December, I was sitting at the table day after day planning the first few rounds of Agricola. During the first week I’ve played until round 4 only, i.e. until the first harvest, and during the second week until round 7, i.e. the second harvest. I had to find out which actions should be available from start, which ones should appear during the first rounds and, finally, which ones would be needed later on.



I’ve found, for instance, I’d need family growth later. The players should first develop their estate which the offspring would move in. Action fields with goods, however, are needed right from the start. I considered which actions I’d like to do in the first rounds and which ones might vary.

26 - The first cards

Occupations and improvements should be playable quickly. At first, I didn’t distinguish between major and minor improvements. Initially, there were major improvements only. They consisted of cooking and baking improvements that could be acquired on an action field for improvements. Soon, I’ve added more and more cards and I didn’t like all of them to be displayed openly. I’ve realized quickly, that I had to clear a space for these important improvements that provide food and make use of clay, so that they could be acquired in every game. These should be accessible to everyone and be displayed; all the other improvements went to the players’ hands together with the occupations. I called them minor improvements.



27 - The start player

The first improvements that I’ve redefined as minor improvements were a little weaker than the first occupations, which were already there together with their appropriate action field. This incident caused me to enhance them with the ability to become start player. I’ve decided to not let the start player move around. Also, I didn’t like the players to fight for start player like in Caylus. I need games where the turn moves around in a circle. Everything else tasks me too much.



Major improvements that entered the game later were Pottery, Joinery and Basketmaker’s Workshop. For a long time, the Plow was a major improvement ? technically reasonable, but thematically untenable. So, I’ve invented a whole series of plows and added them to the minor improvements. The earliest minor improvements were Canoe, Raft, and Fishing Rod; also Duck pond, Dovecote, Loom, Milking Stool and Axe. One of the first occupations that came into my mind was the Wet Nurse. I’ve to smile when I reminisce how I’ve tried to analyze each card in detail, initially. I’ve played the Wet Nurse in combination with the Axe over and over again as I’ve tried to avoid so-called “killer combos” (this word doesn’t come from me). Later, I’ve abandoned this kind of perfectionism. Try to combine over 200 cards in pairs! Other early occupations were Schafbauer, Meat Seller, Carpenter, Hedge Keeper, Seed Seller, Market Crier, Fisherman, Wood and Clay Deliveryman.



Each time a player becomes new start player I recommend to do it like Carsten Hübner from Duisburg and place the start player pawn on the family member that takes the start player action. This leads to fewer irritations.

28 - Which actions may vary?

Which actions should be available from start and which ones later on? I liked the idea to have sessions with a good or bad food situation. In this regard, it presented itself to create a further differentiation in mixed farming. I wanted cultivation to be a slow but fast developing economic sector, so I enabled it from start. Consequently, the food action “1 sheep” remained as a varying one. If it appears in round 1, there will be a good food situation. If it appears in round 4, feeding oneself will be tougher.



The Fences, Sow, Sheep and Major Improvement actions achieve beautiful effects when they appear in different but early rounds.
Renovation appeared to be important later on. On the other hand, sometimes I’d like to take family growth already in round 3. However, it’s good that this isn’t possible, so the action burst occurs later. Someone with few family members that does family growth later is still able to win the game, but has little to do. I won’t call it boredom. A good game needs to be exciting for each participant. If family growth was available earlier, this player would have little to do earlier as well.
To balance the late stone action field I’ve included a second one later ? I didn’t want to have stone from start.
In the end, the “Build Room(s)” action was left, an action field that might have come into play later, but as it didn’t fit in my round design I’ve made it available from start.

29 - The Stables

The “Build room(s)” action has been made available from start due to a lack of alternatives. However, even in this position it has undergone some changes. At first, “Build room” became “Build room(s)”? a hands-on subtlety that I’ve forced early through the use of hand cards (see the minor improvement “Axe” that saves oneself the occupation “Carpenter”). Later, I’ve enriched this action field by allowing building stables to motivate the players to not only build small pastures. Stables should double the capacity of an entire pasture and not only of one pasture space. Initially, unfenced stables had no further function than removing the one negative victory point for an unused farmyard space.



In my initial design, a player had to decide what to use the stable for when building it: either gain one victory point or more pasture capacity. Clichéd, a woman, namely Anja Grieger, wanted unfenced stables to be able to hold a single animal. Livestock breeding is just fun. If I had obeyed her wish, unfortunately, this would have destroyed the balance. Unfenced stables would be more valuable than fenced ones. So, I’ve decided to give one victory point for fenced stables. With this ruling it was equal victory-point-wise whether or not a stable is fenced. Now, building stables solely depends on what a player wants to do with their animals.

30 - The Day Labourer

After many test session, I’ve finally added the Day Labourer to the start actions. It was Frank Grieger who asked me to add a very ineffective action where, at hard times, you could at least ensure your family won’t be starving. He wished for an action field with just one food, I’ve made two food of it later. Even I love to take the Day Labourer action in early rounds to get those two food when there are very few good actions anyway. In the revised version, I’ve changed the action from two food to one food and any one building resource in the family version (see chapter 69, “Agricola as a family game”.



This action is meant to save newbies from taking just one reed or one clay. Usually, there are better moves than taking just one building resource. Today, people ask me why this action is called “Day Labourer” ? a day labourer paid with building resources? “A nuisance that evolved over time” is my usual answer. We thought, it would lead to irritations if we had subsequently changed the name.

31 - The first tests

Playing for me alone I always stopped at round 8 or 9. The game situations become too complicated that late to cope with them alone. I didn’t take part in the very first test session shy of Christmas 2005. I’ve always tested “Agricola” as a three player game by then and we were four. I’ve found food to be unbalanced. It was too tight. I’m also well reminiscent of the second test session after which I’ve abandoned the rule, that per pasture two or more animals breed a new one. Hagen Dorgathen proved that it was way too easy to feed oneself through offspring animals.



32 - Different actions with different numbers of players

Christmas was nigh and I’ve wondered about versions for two and four players. I asked myself which actions I could do without with two players and which I’d need to add for a four-player game. This way the action cards depending on the number of players have evolved (the cards with a green back in the first and those with actions on both sides in the second edition, respectively). With two players there are no additional action cards, whereas with four there are six of them. I’ve commit to the number 6 early as I’ve planned to split the game board in three smaller boards. The reason was expense budgeting: a foldable game board is double as pricey as a game board consisting of four smaller ones. So, there was no space for more than 6 additional action cards.



This presetting proved to be a problem only after months when I tried to extend the game to five players. Due to the great downtime I didn’t believe in successful tests. The key to fitting the additional actions for five players on just 6 cards was to create either-or-actions and thus having multiple actions on one card. Attention! The “Family Growth from round 5” action tends to be overlooked.



33 - Agricola with six players

I played my first game with six players on August 3rd 2008. I recommend the Family Game for six players, although there aren’t enough Major Improvements for everyone. This disadvantage might be adjusted by adding two more food actions to those of the five-player game. All in all the actions „Take 1 Reed, 1 Stone and 1 Food“, „Take 1 Wood“ and „Travelling Players“ from the four-player Family Game and the action „1 Clay“ from the three-player Family Game should be added.



You’ll only have to get the material for the sixth player from another „Agricola“-game. It’s best to mark these new Family member discs, so they are distinguishable from markers of the same color. Additional resources are not needed, but the Multiplication markers will be put to good use. The triple-Multiplication markers are only included from the second edition on, but are especially needed for reed in the six-player game. Also appealing is the six-player game with the “post card” (see chapter 86, “Post Card-Give-Away).



Winton Lemoine, a user from www.boardgamegeek.com, suggests, that every round one action space may be used twice, which is a nice idea. Constanze Schwarzhuber does not use additional action spaces at the beginning of the game. She plays the first nine turns just like in the five-player game and then inserts two new rounds (9A and 9B) with the action cards “Take 1 Building Resource” (from the three-player game) and “Traveling Players” (from the four-player game) with an additional harvest round. Instead of 14 rounds you now have 16.

34 - The printed sheets of the first editions

The more experienced you are, the more you take production costs into consideration while developing a game. For the publication of the first edition I decided early on to use two printing sheets with the same backside. That’s how two blank cards emerged (in case anybody wondered). This would have saved costs if, indeed, we had printed on solitaire cards. But seeing how beautiful our illustrator Klemens designed the cards we made them big anyway. Yet we kept the 90-cards decks, because at that point I had the cards already arranged in three decks, and I did not want to change their elaborate distribution. This change happened later, for the 2nd edition. I sorted the cards of the E-deck and distributed some of them to the I- and K-deck. 35 Occupations and 35 Minor Improvements were to remain. You need exactly that many cards for the five-player game. With all players and 70 new cards for beginners you get a new experience: If you know the cards, you know exactly which ones are in play, but not who has them and whether they will be used (Continued in chapter 64, “New distribution of the beginner cards”).

35 - Differing numbers of players and Occupations

While testing I noticed that a few hand cards – especially those with player interaction – could not be used with two players. Improvements with their building costs I found to be complicated enough, so I chose Occupations to be the card type that depends on the number of players.



The subdivision into cards for the four- and five-player game came only after I had invented the “Travelling Players”-action. For me, this obviously made many new “careers” possible, e.g. the Juggler. Another reason for a second subdivision of the Occupations were the animals. Those few animals that came into the four-player game via the action spaces were all eaten during my first tests. I could not watch that. I hurled one animal-Occupation after the other into the game, to ensure the survival of at least a few animals. I quickly ran out of names for animal-Occupations, but luckily there’s the internet. A page that only wanted to give English terms for old German occupations provided me well into the first 100 Occupations for an expansion, because in summer 2008 I and others began to test about 200 new cards (see chapter 74, “The carpenter’s encyclopedia and the balcony”).



36 - The final three Round cards

After playing “Agricola” alone numerous times, little has changed in the rules during testing. During the first games I often changed the final three Round cards (rounds 12 to 14). I wanted to design these actions so the players feel as if they have accomplished everything with their farm that they wanted to, provided the game went as planned. Renovations bring points for final scoring, but almost no benefits during the game itself. So most often players want to renovate at the end of the game, which led to the final action in round 14. But they want to have new family members as early as possible. For the players to get an appetite for new family members at the end of the game – Person markers that won’t give them many actions – they got a new Family growth-action, one in which they didn’t need any room for their new Person marker. The third of the final three actions went to farming. With this action the players could plow and then immediately sow wheat and vegetables.



In testing it was generally tried to balance out farming and animal husbandry. I have to thank Christian Becker for an important, late change in the game: An oven may be immediately used by the player who buys it.
I have another tip to pass on for the Round cards. Paul Newsham from England suggests to not sort the 14 Round cards before a game and shuffle the individual “decks” separately, but to shuffle all 14 cards and sort them afterwards. This is much easier and brings another advantage. The player who shuffles does not have to concentrate on forgetting which card is on which position. Shuffling two cards isn’t so easy – two shuffles and everything is as it has been before.



37 - Scoring and a tie-breaker rule

In “Agricola” there is only one scoring round at the end of the game. I designed this game that way from the beginning on, and not only that. Regardless of a few exceptions, scoring was fixed from week one on and hasn’t been changed since.



Here are the exceptions: Fenced stables only began to score points when it was decided that unfenced stables could house exactly one animal (see chapter 29, “The stables”).
The fields I changed relatively late. For consistency I wanted to have only zeros in the first column of the scoring table. So fields scored the same as Pastures and Vegetables for a long time. But some day the strategy to neglect farming and plow only one field at the end of the game annoyed me. So I demanded from the players to plow at least two fields.
At the end of the testing phase I twiddled with the “beanometer” of the wheat again. In long-term testing wheat proved to be somewhat weak in relation to the effort that had to be put into it. So instead of for 1/4/7/10 units wheat scored now 1/2/3/4 “bean coins”, or points, for 1/4/6/8 units. I’m surprised how little this parallel in scoring to “Bohnanza” is cited. While changing the “beanometer” I also improved the Cooking Hearths. Baking wheat with a Cooking Hearth should from then on result in 3 food and not only in 2 food.



After the game’s release a discussion came up, whether an additional tie-breaker rule for ties in scoring would have been better for “Agricola”. I liked Richard Hutnik’s suggestion best to let the player win who at the end had the most unused materials. I understood Richard’s rule thus, that for example wood resources wouldn’t count for the tie breaker, if they had already been used for scoring with the Joinery (or another card). The same goes for clay/Pottery and reed/Basketmaker’s Workshop. Personally I have nothing against more than one winner, for this happens in only about 20% of all games.




I also liked a design of Carlos Olivares from Spain. In the internet, under http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/365631 you can find how every player can view their score. If for example the player’s amount of sheep changes he can move the paper strip and immediately see, how his score changes accordingly.




38 - The Fairplay grades

I had over 130 test players. It is a matter of principle to name everyone who helped. This could go without saying for other publishers also. Lack of room should not be a decisive factor, names may be written very small.
Small publishers depend on good sales in Essen to meet their production costs. A good game – and every game should be a good game – has to make a reputation as such during the fair that takes place every October. Indicators for the best games are the Fairplay grades, given by the fair’s visitors. These grades have a large impact on direct sales on the fair. If a title is under the best rated games, then the customer only has to see for themselves if he likes that type of game. He may then trust that this game works properly and buy it, hit or miss. If the game is ranked lower, the customer will want to try this game in quiet – if it interests them – to only buy it if he likes it. Only at this point the fair is already over and the customer buys the game at the vendor, which results in a lesser profit margin for the small publisher.



If you know about this phenomenon, then you are very interested in seeing the grades being protected from manipulation. It is commendable that the magazine “Fairplay” has made a few first attempts to do just that. An additional safeguard is the custom of the editors from the website www.Hall9000.de to display their grades already during the fair. That way the fair’s visitors may inform themselves on two different booths.

39 - The name of the game

Hanno and I weren’t sure about the game’s title for a long time. Many testers pronounced the title “Agri-Cola”, as if it were a soft drink. Miriam Bode told us about a very nice theme. In the 19th century, colonists founded the Swan River Colony. They brought the technology needed, but an existence they had to build up from scratch. The colony was named after the black swans that lived there. This would have made a beautiful cover.



I had started a poll, from which all the same the title “Agricola” resulted as a winner. Andrea Boekhoff, our illustrator for “The Scepter of Zavandor” (Jens Drögemüller, 2004) and “The End of the Triumvirate” (Max Gabrian and Johannes Ackva, 2005), calmed us down. If we capitalized the first and last A in the title “AgricolA”, nobody would pronounce it as “Agri-Cola”.
Sure enough, on the fair I was asked: “Who discovered it?” – as a reference to the advert for those Ricola bonbons that you can sing so nicely: Riiiicolaaa! Here I’d like to point to chapter 89 with the title “Agri-Cola”. We used the semblance in name to serve our own brand of Cola in Essen 2008. Amongst other things also for the award Deutscher Spielepreis on Wednesday evening (see chapter 5, “Awards”).

40 - The game box

Much work went especially into designing the backside of the game box. For one month I let 50 people examine my plan for this design. Time and again I got suggestions for improvement which I worked into the design. I did not want to ramble à la “An exciting game for the whole family”, but to tell as much about the game with as few words as possible. In the end, a few words became many – I hope this doesn’t discourage reading the backside.



I also found it important to explain that Agricola means “farmer”. And I still don’t know why this word has a feminine suffix. My estimation of 30 minutes game time per player meets with approval, the figure is realistic (see chapter 82, “Information on the game box”). The front part of the cover went through some changes. Where now stands a sheep originally a heap of grain and then a heap of grain with a sheep could be seen. We thought the heap was too yellow, an eye catcher that distracted too much from the other details of the picture. The sheep remained and stands now in a perhaps slightly naughty position in relation to the farmer. This earned us quite a few sneers.



I’m astonished how few people were able to read the date on the wooden beam. It is written in Roman numbers, and with 1673 I deliberately chose a number which is written with many letters. Above the door it reads “Collis Roseus”, which means “rose hill”. This is Klemens’ idea. “Mons Roseus” (rose mountain or rose mountains [in reference to the author’s name Rosenberg]) Klemens and I deemed too corny. Rose hill is much cuter. “Bohns Roseus” would also have been an alternative.



41 - Agricola at the game’s fair 2007

For the fair in Essen we were able to get only 1050 copies of the game. A wood manufacturer’s insolvency got to every publisher. We had the games delivered to us on the fair and made a makeshift plan for the evacuation of the remainders after the fair. We came only with two cars, and we hoped to pass the rest of the games on to wholesalers and e-tailers on Sunday – a rest that did not exist anymore after four days at the fair. Before the fair I had saved 100 games at my home for my testers. We then sold an unbelievable number of 700 games to customers and the rest to traders that visit us at our booth every year.



Until the fair Hanno and I had been without a distribution partner. Yet we were confident and started with a print of 5000 copies, aiming to make marketing agreements after the fair. We decided for the publisher Heidelberger Verlag, a wholesaler who had provided for good sales of our games in the past. Today we are very happy about our decision, since our partner has brought us quite a few “comforts” (see especially chapter 7, “70 m² of booth”).



42 - Seven fair days 2007

As if the fair in Essen would take only four days! For me it begins on Monday and it ends on Monday. The Monday after the fair consists mainly of me lying in bed the whole day and telephoning. The Monday before the event I arrive with my friend Hagen Dorgathen in a full car. On this day the halls are still empty and you can comfortably drive to the booth in your car to unload. As every year Hagen and I have a meeting at the hotel Arosa in the evening with a friendly journalist. The next morning in 2007 I was waiting for a call, when our games would be delivered to the fair. Unfortunately that call then came directly from a truck driver who couldn’t find our booth at the fairground. He said that if he didn’t find anyone to give him a signature he wouldn’t be allowed to unload the games. Luckily I reached Christian Hildenbrand, another friendly journalist, who gave the signature in our stead. After this call I unhurriedly drove to the fair and stacked “Agricola”-games, till Hanno came. Tuesday evening we had the booth ready, so on Wednesday we might act as if it were a normal day at the fair.



We sold and explained our game and stood next to it during the exhibition of new releases. One cannot really strike up conversations with the press guys there, sooner with the sales representatives, who stand around equally bored. Wednesday evening 2007 there was quiet. There the yearly ceremony for the Deutscher Spielepreis takes place – an appointment which “Agricola” wrote into our planners also for 2008 (see chapter 6, The award ceremonies). On Thursday the regular fair started and we were being overwhelmed by the positive feedback to our game. It is still wonderful to experience how this game appeals to younger and older audiences. The days at the fair from Friday on were then marked by us even having to use free tables at the edge of the restaurant area to explain our game.

43 - The fair puzzle 2007

Klemens Franz, our illustrator, had imagined something special for the fair 2007. For some of his characters he had looked for fictional models, which the visitors of the fair should guess. After the fair he solved his riddle.

First about the characters from comics and animated films. The Social Climber (the name of the card) is Gaston from Disney’s “The Beauty and the Beast”. The Manufacturer is from another cheesy Disney movie and is – just like Gaston – a villain: Frollo from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. The inspiration for the Field Warden was the character Kay from Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone”. Everyone from Europe recognized the Stone Carrier. It seems that Obelix isn’t that well known in the USA.

Then the characters from feature films. The Fisherman is modeled after Deagol from the “Lord of the Rings”-movie. In an according scene in the movie he sits in a boat together with Sméagol. The brashly laughing Master Forester was recognized by almost everyone, even though he had a tinkerbell staff instead of a bow. Errol Flynn as Robin Hood. Many took the Businessman to be Pavarotti. It was Al Pacino as Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice”. The Church Warden with his severe look was Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman. Nobody guessed the Chief’s Daughter. It wasn’t Lara Croft. The beautiful Sienna Guillory as Arya looks at you lasciviously in just that pose from a movie poster of “Eragon”. The Lover was often taken to be Orlando Bloom, but it is Johnny Depp as Don Juan in “Don Juan DeMarco”. The Tutor is Obi Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guiness. For the Storyteller the suggestions ranged from Reiner Knizia to the German sex educator Oswalt Kolle. But indeed this Storyteller is the Storyteller from Jim Hensons “The Storyteller”, played by John Hurt. And the Lord of the Manor [German: Lehnsherr] is Lensherr. Eric Lensherr, also known as Magneto, played by Sir Ian McKellen in all three “X-Men”-movies.


Messestand 2007


And finally to characters from board games. The Hut Builder is not Sherlock Holmes. It is the Builder from the second “Carcassonne”-expansion (Hans im Glück, 2003, Klaus-Jürgen Wrede), illustrated by Doris Matthäus. “Agricola” owes its pigs from the second edition to this expansion. Finally Klemens would like to thank everyone who guessed that the Cabinetmaker was a self portrait. Actually, the model was an illustration of Michael Menzel from “The Pillars of the Earth” (Kosmos, 2006, Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler). Who knows, maybe Michael Menzel took Klemens as a model himself.

44 - A quick introduction to Agricola

Even after the board game convention 2007 I explained Agricola almost every day. The computer games inspired me to use a new explanation technique for the family version of the game. „Imagine this is a computer game and you don’t know anything about the game except the things you can see. This one is wood; this one is clay, etc. Try the game and I will explain during the game what you are doing. One after another you place a figure and take one action. It is about building a house, farming and cattle-breeding. At the end of the game you get victory points for your fields, grazing land, your crop, vegetables, animals and your home, as well as played cards. You get penalty points for unused courtyard fields.“ After only a few minutes you can start with this explanation. The players discover the game while they are playing it. The most recommendable situation is when the one who explains the game, who should not play himself, introduces the game to two players. After only 90 minutes of show everything is done- including the time to prepare the game and the explanation. And the two beginners had something like a cinema experience.



45 - The comparison to the computer game

In the future Hanno and I want to produce more complex games and change the table into a place where stories will be told. We want to look at the environment of the table as a surface in a computer game. With “Agricola“ I tried to get in touch with computer games, with the depth of the narration. It was said “that the first two expansions are already included in the game.“ I had fun thinking about new cards and then to test them. Most ideas worked well. With „Agricola“ a small universe opened, with playing and developing opportunities. Few ideas did not work. In my opinion for example, one should not take nutrition values from other players with cards since those players are led straight into begging cards. Furthermore no one should have any privileges as long as he is the starting player, because the other players, depending on their place at the table, have different disadvantages, “Agricola“ has what it takes to become a computer game. Now I am waiting if a provider of computer games asks us and makes an offer.



46 - Agricola as an online game

The first online version of Agricola was available in October 2008. Chris Deotte, a young student of mathematics at the University of California in San Diego, offers the game at http://banach.ucsd.edu/Agricola/Board1/Agricola.html. One to four players can work and plow at four places. With the right software one can watch the players during their game. In November Chris wrote me that “Agricola“ is played daily by up to 200 players from 60 different countries.



47 - www.Boardgamegeek.com

Grades for board games are given everywhere. Many internet sites are known for this. The world wide biggest site is www.boardgamegeek.com with a ranking list of all-time best games. In the ranking list are over 4000 games. “Puerto Rico”,which had been graded by over 1200 players, held place 1 until August, 17 2008.

Mid November 2007 the third boardgamegeek con took place in the US. Some BGG users pretended that they would collectively mark “Agricola” with the worst grade: “Agricola was played too much at the con they argued. The theme is boring and the price of 70€ for the planned English version – due to the weakness of the dollar – is an impertinence (when the game came out in 2008 it actually cost 60 dollar – a lot more than 70€)”. Later this action was taken as a joke. Until this action “Agricola” had only one 1 (worst grade), after this joke the number of 1s always were in a two-digital area.



On July, 17 2008, the day I also talked to Hagen for two hours about “Agricola” (see chapter 55, Expansion 3: Calorific value and terrain types) “Agricola” got, due to a programming error, of which one user took advantage, over 100 best grades (10). These grades were removed a few hours later. But the reaction which followed this “attack” the same day could not be removed: three more 1s. One can see that extreme actions always have the opposite effect. It is just a pity that oneself can’t do anything about it and has to watch it from the outside.

Since August, 18 2008 “Agricola” replaced “Puerto Rico” and is now on place one. Despite all the bad feelings I got with all those 1s, I am a little bit proud of the first place.



48 - Recommendations for novices in boardgaming

The site www.boardgamegeek.com comes close to one of my visions without reaching it exactly. I wonder about every website or magazine which writes about boardgames if they provide an opportunity to become a fan of boardgames to someone who is new in the boardgame world. If this is taken as the criterion of what should be achieved I come to the following conclussion: It doesn´t matter which games I learned to know I always wanted to get pointed to more games which could fascinate me like those before. How can this be achieved? Boardgamegeek tries to do the job with statistical correlation but unfortenately this gives games from 1992 a high correlation with other games from 1992. Thus my proposal: A commitee of ~200 people should be established which initially propose for the most important games three other, closely related, games. 10 points are distributed on those proposals. If at least 10 persons have given their proposals the computer generates a ranking based on the sum of it points. For example I would choose to distribute the 10 points for “Agricola“ in the following way: 5 points to “Caylus“, 3 to “Puerto Rico“ and 2 to “Stone Age“. For the references for “Stone Age“ I would propose “Pillars of the Earth“ (4 points), “Yspahan“ (3 points) and “Kingsburg“ (3 points). “Kingsburg“ is on one level with “Goa“, “The Scepter of Zavandor“ and “Yspahan“ in my view.

The proposal list for “Settlers of Catan“ will be fascinating, because it will give substance to the common phrase: “This game is just like Settlers“.




49 - Points of Critism

Three points of critism became clear during the first year after publishing Agricola. Those characterise the game in just like the positive characteristics do.

A lack of interaction is critizised. If I cause the attraction for the game in far-reaching considerations it will be annoying all the more if those considerations are foiled by surprisingly attacks. This doesn´t cause the players to play solitair by far. They block each other important actions spaces and have to think in which priority they place their family member discs.



It is a different thing with the starting player. This is the second point of critism. Who is starting player in the following rounds is indeed unpredictable but not surprisingly also. Every player has to reckon with every position. If a game is so luck-independant as “Agricola“ you wish rightfully that you have a greater influence on the sequence the players get their turns. This can be achieved for example that every player takes influence on the position he gets to play in each round (see chapter 73 “further Agricola Variants“). One objection against this would be the more comfortable game-feeling if it just goes clockwise around the table as usual and you don´t have to concentrate who goes next. Unfortenately one can fall back from position 1 to the last position in the sequence of play without one´s own fault. I call this interaction, too.



As the third point of critism you can hear that the cards are unbalanced. I have played over 200 times with those cards (most of them with maximum players) over a period of 1 ½ year. I did my best to make all those cards equal powerful. I gave crucial cards intentionally to myself to test them am I´m sorry if my intention did not suceed totally. The cards get different powerful in combination with other cards. This is done intentionally. You can measure the playing ability of a player in his ability to judge his hand correcty. I´ve won over 90% of the games with handcards (nowadays this quote is not this high anymore). Playing without handcards I´ve won not as much. I had the impression to get “bad handcards“ too. When this happened I concentrated on gaining much ressources.



50 - Could you gimme a hint? What should I do?

“Agricola“ gives the player plenty of choices right at the start of the game although those at the beginning does not have such an impact as those later in the game. Usually the starting player takes 3 wood and the second already asks for a first hint. I took to not give them a concrete hint but explaining them the three best choices available to them, but they have to choose themself which one to perfom. Occassional I leave a green arrow (backside of the guest marker) to mark the three explained actions.



Normally the “1 Occupation“ field is one of the explained action spaces. I offer the players to have a look at their hand and give them a preselection of their cards. It´s not that some cards are more powerful than others but some need to be played out at the beginning while others don´t. Nowadays I have the opinion that it´s rarely to the benefit of the player if he is always given concrete hints. A preselection does take away the fear to make a fatal mistake and does leave him the possibility to make his own choice.

51 - Agricola deluxe

Hanno and myself were surprised how many feedback we got in the months before publishing “Agricola“ telling us how to get the game even better looking. In a hardware store you find cases for the wood material in every size. As a starting player figure I recommend “Die Bäuerin“ (the peasant woman) by Schleich (www.Schleich-S.de).



I also liked the sheeps in the Kinder Egg from 2008, expecially Nils Nickerchen and Grandma Wolle (see Chapter 91 “Kinder Egg“). The field tiles can be replaced by mosaic stones by Rico Design (www.Rico-Design.de). In my prototype I used exactly those.

By now there are stilized animels made of wood in the second edition of the game which can be ordered by owners of the first edition (see www.Lookout-Games.de). They were called “Animeeples“ in the USA and could be seen since 2007 on photos on www.boardgamegeek.com. Someone in england even discovered appropiate tin figures. We didn´t sell the animeeples, which were a bit more expansive, in the first edition because our previous boardgames didn´t sell that well. The market was saturated by “Scepter of Zavandor“ (2004, Jens Drögemüller) after 7.000 games. For “The end of the triumvirate“ it happened after 1.500 games. We decided to print 3.000 games for Agricola and thus calculated the fixed costs for the animeeples. Those were too high so we calculated again with white, black and brown discs.



Two very positive occurances took place soon after:
The Illustrations got a lot more beautiful then we dreamed of for the costs we were willing to risk. A big “Thank you“ to Klemens Franz!
We got so much positive feedback the week before the print date that we quickly decided to increase to 5.000 games. Sadly it was too late for the animeeples which might proven worth the cost for 5.000 copies.

52 - Second edition coming out june instead of februar

We wanted to have the second edition of “Agricola“ by februar – it became the end of june. This delay is mainly caused by the production of eight languages in order to save costs (see Chapter 4: “Agricola in different languages“).The game should be identical in three printing colors but should differentiate in the fourth color: black. Black was exclusively used for the letters. It was black on white in the first edition but should not have any relations to the background in the second edition. We did the new design quite fast but it took a lot of time to typeset the different languages which had to be made (with the exception of english) by the foreign publisher. The positions for the pictures are fixed so we had to adjust the letters to it. This was not always easy because in different languages words – or even whole sentences – are differently long.



53 - Expansion 1: First plans for an expansion

The first expansion for “Agricola“ I had in mind introduced an additional round 0 in which a card “1 Iron“ comes into the game. For 1-3 players it should accumulate 1 iron each round where as for 4-5 players it should even gives 2 iron. The card “Take an arbitrary building material“, which is available just for the second edition for 3 players should be able to provide iron too. I had a few ideads for major improvements: tractor (3 iron), kitchen (3 iron, 2 clay) and a bakery (2 stone, 2 clay, 1 iron). I´m in the process of collecting card headings for minor improvements and occupations,



Additionally I can imagine to make a scoring after round 14 and give the players more space for their farmyard and let them play a few additional rounds. The expansion for their farmyard could be a forest which would have to be stubbed before you actual could use the space. The additional wood which would be acquired by stubbing the forest could be used for pales to open additional space for buildings in nearby waters. You could build boats and trade along seaways. If I really realise the iron space I´m going to think about trading by train, too.

54 - Erweiterung 2: Agricola - Expansion 2: Agricola – Second generation

On Februar the 4th, 2008 I began to think about the following draft. I know the exact date because I wrote down my ideas immediatly. After Round 14 the family version of the game should be expanded by further rounds – it was the family version because I didn´t want to expand the game infinitely. I continued on the expansion of the plan as I considered in the iron-variant. The players should get the new fields which expanded their plans on the side. They build a new hut consisting of two woodrooms and opposing their residence. One of their offsprings should move into it and they get a free additional family member.

The first family member placed in a round should be the man, the second always his wife. I wanted to place a counter on each action field which I would call “biological age“. The persons of the first generation would age with each action they would make starting with the age of 16. If the wife reached the age of 40 it would not be possible for the first generation to get new family members (instead maybe an adoption). The family growth field should be the only field with a negative valued counter. Beginning with round 15 it would be possible that the family member from the first generation would die. In the beginning of the game aging fast could be to the players advantage: eventually the village elder should be able to buy the right of the starting player.



The following thoughts create a crossover to the next chapter. It should be possible to plant fruit trees on empty spaces which brings 1 food each round. In rare cases a fruit tree should expand into two: the fruit tree marker would then turned onto his backside. As a new animal species I had a draft about horses in mind. They wouldn´t provide food but a lot of points.

55 - Expansion 3: Calorific value and terrain types

On Juli the 17th, 2008 I designed a further draft for an Agricola Expansion together with Hagen Dorgathen.
Next to Food the players should have to pay calorific values (CV). 1 CV for each room. As each grain is worth 1 Food each wood should be worth 1 CV. For each calorific value the player would not be able to pay he would have to draw a thievery card blindly. This card would tell him whether he would be punished or not. In case he gets a punishment it would also tell him what kind of punishment.

Horses and sheep-dogs would get into the game as new animal species. For each sheep-dog you could hold 2 sheeps on an open farmyard space. Sheep-dogs themselves could be able to be everywhere on the farm. Horses would – similar to the sheep-dogs – be worth no food but instead be worth 1 point at the end of the game (max 4, similar to vegetables).
Rapeseed would be a new type of ware for farming. For each animal or vegetable which the player changes into food he could add a rapeseed and gets 2 food additionally. Rapeseed would be sowed similar to vegetables. You could turn it into edible oil. The action field „take 1 vegetable“ would become „take either 1 vegetable or 2 rapeseed“.

Next to the 15 fences each player would get 3 ditches and 3 walls to environ his pastures. You could build them like fences on the action field for fences. Ditches would be build without materials but wouldn´t hold back goats or horses (see peat fields). Walls would be build with stone and could only restrain the farmyard to the outside. Additional the walls have to be placed next to each other.

Additional to the 4 stables you would get 2 barns. A barn could be build (instead or additional) on the action field “extend hut“ with 3 wood and 1 reed. They could be only placed on empty spaces. For each barn the player would get one ressource of which he has the most at the moment (in doubt he can choose which type)

The farmyard contains 5x4 spaces and the starting hut consists of three woodrooms. Each player could play with an additional but different family member: the farm labourer. The farm labourer could do everything like a usual family member but couldn´t give birth to new children. He would be the last family member to place on the actions fields. This additional person is necessary because the farmyards are not freely available. Next to the known farmyard spaces there would be forest-, peat- and boulder-spaces.

Forestspaces have 2 wood on them. You could get this wood by the action “clear-cutting“. After this you could use the spaces as an underground for your hut or a pasture but you can´t plough them.
Instead of getting the 2 wood you could use the action “fire clearing and plough 1 field“ losing the wood but placing a field on the space. Instead of choosing on of the abouve you can hold a wild boar on each forestspace.

There are 5 CV lying on each peat-space. You could do the action „cut peat“ to get 3 peat from them, leaving 2. If you use the action on an space with 2 peat you would get them all. Instead of getting the peat you could abandom the peat and put them back in the general supply. You could be able to build pastures or your hut onto it. Ploughing the field is only possible if you place an additional ditch on the space.

1 Stone is lying on each boulder-space which you could get with the “collect boulder“. The space is just like a normal one afterwards.
How does the new action cards get into play? There are 2 additional action fields, which will be lying on the board at the start of the game: “2 of the 4 following actions: Take 1 dog, clear-cutting, cut peat or collect boulder“ and „fire clearing and plough 1 field“. The action field “1 horse“ comes into play with the action field “1 Cattle“.



56 - Expansion rules for Agricola

I´ll talk about variants and house rules for “Agricola“ later but here I´m going to list all those special rules which are small variants for themselves.

Junk Dealer
The junk dealer is a pawn which moves counterclockwise from player to player. It comes into play in the third round with 2-4 players or in the fifth round with 5 players. The junk dealer has 3 ressources. You can take what you want from it but you have to return goods according to a fixed trading ratio.
Maybe it would be possible to add a minor occupation (by Julian Steindorfer).

Menu
Menus have the format of normal occupation and names like “wild boar ragout“ or “oatmeal gruel“ and have fixed ingredients. When a player has all ingredients he may evaluate the card and take another one. An accomplished card gets rewarded by points and food. (by Julian Steindorfer).

Booth
A player can place a booth for 1 wood and 1 stone instead of a normal stable on an empty farmyard space. It can be enclosed with fences afterwards. It is marked as a booth in placing it onto the wood and stone counter. Players with a booth may trade food, wares or unplayed cards with other players owning a booth everytime. (by Alex Munger)

Market stall
An additional action field “market“ comes into play. 1 stone, 2 reed, 2 clay, 5 wood, 1 vegetable, 3 grain, 1 cattle, 2 wild boar and 3 sheep are placed on the table at the start of the game. Whoever uses the market may buy or sell any wares he likes. A virtual currency is used (excess is not paid back). The costs are either fixed (Wood ? 1 Money, Stone ? 5 Money, ...) or depend on the offer. Each ware has a maximum capacity. (by Georg Deifuß)



57 - The wood deliveryman

The wood deliveryman in Agricola is an occupation which brings you each round 1 wood starting in round 8. Hanno and I had a bit of bad luck with our wood deliveryman from the first run of Agricola which we sadly realised just a few weeks after the release. We didn´t had any problems with bags for the material in which the animals, the buildings materials, the grain and the vegetables were delieverd. The computer did all the work putting those in the bags without failure. In the third material bag there were the family member discs, fences, stables and the starting player token which had to be placed in the bag manually. Oddly: this token was always in the bag. If something was missing it was material from exactly one color and then it was missing nearly completely if not completely.



In the second december week I had a presentation in Hagen and opened six games. In four of them I missed something: ten red fences in the first, four red stables in the second, all violet fences in the third and all family member discs in the fourth. I wonder to the present day how can this happen? A single piece missing? Sure, you can always miscount the pieces but here it seems like one forgot to grab in a material box completely – over and over again. There were a shattered red fence also. In the end only one game was without a flaw. An editor from Amigo, Uwe Mölter, was present at this presentation and he was totally gobsmacked – and it was not just him. No one wonders why we changed our wood deliveryman for the third edition of Agricola from the second greatest wood provider to the greatest one. It was already too late for the second edition.

Touch wood!

58 - Redesign of the cards


“A game for young people“ the game was called by a fan from the first edition. He refered to the fact that the text on the cards was a bit small. This happens when you write them too detailed. We decided to remove the headings for the second edition and the editions for different countries in order to enlarge the size of the font.

After publishing the game I explained Agricola week after week without playing the finished game myself. An important reason why I did this is explained at chapter 65 (Le Havre). I keeped track of the other players and wrote down every mistake they did while playing the game. Those notes slipped in the redesign of the cards. On the card “cattle market“ the sheep in the top right corner was overseen quite regular – one could really think it was just a decoration.



Much more important or worse was that sometimes a “3“ was read as a “1“. This mistake was based on the font which provided a small 3. For the redesign we took a mixture from two fonts: the letters from one and the numbers from a different one. Did someone realised this yet? The text “after renovation a mayor improvement too“ was understood differently that I intentended. So that others won´t think that you can make a mayor improvement once you renovated your house once the text on the card was “renovation and after this a mayor improvement too“. We changed the other “after ... too“ accordingly.



59 - The replacement deck

Two incidents led us to the replacement deck – a small pack with a mere 24 cards.

The first reason was that some of the cards of the first edition were defective. In addition, the Hobby Farmer and the Wood Distributor proved too weak, while the Academic in combination with certain Improvements proved too strong. Players understood my texts on some of the cards differently from what I had intended. German is an ambiguous language.
Second, we had revised the rules for the Family Game for the second edition and integrated six additional cards: for instance, there are fewer Begging Cards in the second edition than in the first one.
These were many changes which should not annoy the buyers of the first edition. Hence, we updated them in the summer of 2008 with playing cards in the old design, most of which were replacements for the original cards. We did not take money for the replacement deck, but solely for the cost of postage.



60 - The Z-Deck

The Z-Deck (published in 2008) consists of 12 Occupation and 12 Improvement cards. Originally, it was planned as a “Thank You“ for all those who agreed to purchase the English version of the game directly from the producer (Z-Man-Games, hence the name of the deck), thus guaranteeing a minimum level of sales. In the face of the dollar’s very bad exchange rate, this was necessary for us to dare to realize the English edition at all. Today, the Z-Deck is said to be the first Agricola extension. Hopefully, it will lose this “nimbus” again. It does not introduce any new rules. A more boring extension is barely imagineable. Two other countries then also wanted the Z cards, so we filled an entire printing sheet of 120 with different packs of 24. For instance, we also accomodated the replacement deck (see chapter 59) on this sheet.

We took 1 euro for the German Z cards, thus just covering our costs.
The Z-Deck’s most popular card was the Maypole: “Play this card before the end of Round 4. When you play this card, place one of your unbuilt fences upright on an unused farmyard space. If you have not knocked it over by the end of the game, you earn 2 Bonus points.” Whoever plays this card can be assured to be mockingly warned to take care by his fellow players every few minutes.



61 - The L-Deck

Between spring and summer 2008, Hanno was having fun putting another fun Occupation online every Tuesday. With these, he portrayed ourselves as well as our partners and employees. He himself took the privilege of going first. As second and third persons, Hanno sent Klemens and myself into the race. The fourth card was devoted to the Heidelberger mascot (Heidelberger Spieleverlag being our distribution partner), while the Spiel des Jahrs meeple went sixth. The fifth card shows Melissa Rogerson, our translator into English and collector of rule questions, the seventh Hanno’s brother Felix who helps us at the fair stand every year – just like Thomas, immortalized on the nineth card. Zev Shlesinger, our partner from the USA (Z-Man-Games), can be seen on the eigth card, our licensing partner from Poland, Przemyslaw Korzeniewski (Lacerta), on the twelfth. Hanno devoted the tenth card to our wives and the eleventh to his little son Jakob. Card 13 was in anticipation of our 2008 novelty, “Le Havre”, card 14 an obituary for the late game-designer Rudi Hofmann. With “Schuss und Tor” (“Shot and Goal”), Rudi Hofmann also had a game in our program (2001). This is the level of progress Hanno’s collection kept for quite some time. With all the pre-exhibition stress, he had to concentrate on what was essential.



Hanno produced eight of these L cards for the game fair in Essen. Hanno, Klemens and I, as well as Felix, Thomas, Melissa, Zev and Harald Bilz (representing our distribution unit) have had “their” L cards always with them at the game fair. Everybody could just approach us and have a card signed. As we had not made public who disposed of an L card and who did not, a kind of scavenger hunt entailed. We kept sending the fairgoers on to the next person. Our more than 20 fair helpers were also asked rather often. Ronny, who helped us on every day from Wednesday on to Sunday, just like several other people, was having fun asking fairgoers for their day jobs and improvising a matching Occupation on a blank card for them.

62 - The X-Deck

I use to call the X-Deck (published in October 2008) the Alien-Deck. It contains 24 event cards, was developed by Melissa Rogerson, Dale Yu, David Fair, Fraser McHarg, John Kennard, and Larry Levy and has been attached to Spielbox 5/2008, which could also be purchased at the game fair in Essen. By their green margin and the many little green men, the cards are clearly distinguishable from the other cards. This deck made it clear why there had been an alien among the Agricola stickers attached to Spielbox 3/2008 (see chapter 85, “Special attachments to Spielbox”). Whenever a player takes Stones from the first of the two Action Cards “1 Stone”, he must draw one Alien card and put it face-up on the table. Why Stones? Because Aliens like to land their UFOs in quarries. The event described on the card is carried out immediately. This can bestow a sudden Family Growth without a room on the respective player. Happening in the wrong moment, this can reduce the player to beggary. This card, by the way, bears the beautiful title “Earth Girls Are Easy”.



Some gaming circles like these event cards so much that they reveal a card even whenever someone only takes Wood from an action space. In the end, thus, all cards have been revealed.
200 sets of the English-language X-Deck were sold in Essen for the benefit of our charity project (see chapter 89, “Agri-Cola”), i.e. 50 sets per fair day. Those buying during the first hour were allowed to contribute 15 euros, during the second hour 14 euros, and so on until the daily ration was out.
The most controversial card is said to be “Mind the jets!” Contentwise it is completely logical. The players’ Wooden Huts burn down, whereas the Clay Rooms harden to Stone Rooms. Concerning the mechanics of the game, the card naturally tears a huge gap. It is best understood as a gag and might better be put aside before the game. Taking the inspiration from the L-Deck, it may be the ideal signature card. Among the funniest (and furriest) cards are the “Furry Friends”. Tobias Brouwer, a user in my Agricola group at www.StudiVz.de, has taken the Grain counters, organized wobbling eyes and yellow pipe cleaners from a handicraft supplies store. The result were marvelous small and furry meeples.



63 - The Ö-Deck

The roundel of letter decks was continued in November 2008 by the Ö-Deck, a card set specifically created for the Vienna Spielefest. At the Vienna Spielefest I should be awarded the Experts’ Game Prize, comparable to the “Spiel des Jahres Special Prize Complex Game” in Germany. In the run-up to the Essen game fair, Ferdinand de Cassan had the idea to put “Agricola” in the center of the event with some special cards, as in his opinion this game has the status of a gaming success such as Puerto Rico. The term Ö-Deck contains the attribute “öde”, i.e. “bleak”. I, however, do not find bleak what Markus Wawra and Julian Steindorfer devised at the end of October.



In just a few days, 12 new Occupations and 12 Minor Improvements were created after the Z-Deck’s example, all with a connection to Austria. At first, they chose a representative from every political faction for illustration: Werner Faymann, Josef Pröll, Eva Glawischnig and the recently deceased Jörg Haider. However, they finally decided to forego this combination. As the best-known musical export to the USA, the group “Sound of Music” is depicted. You’re never done with learning. I myself tried to integrate Mozart and Schwarzenegger into the deck. My favorite card is Hansi Hinterseer as the Ski Instructor. “Whenever another player grows his family, he has to pay you 1 Food. You must take the Ski Instructor out of the game immediately when you grow your own family.” Remarkable ist also the Hundertwasser card “Strange Architecture” with its strange syntax: “Whenever you new built one or more rooms, you receive 2 Food per new room.” I would like to ironically point out that of course this was fully intended this way.
Klemens Franz was so kind to send me some annotations for every card. Even the title card, the “Main Sponsor”, will be recognizable for barely a foreigner. Depicted is Dietrich Mateschitz, the boss of Red Bull, who actually likes to dress the way he is drawn. The “Action Artist” is Hermann Nitsch, who caused quite a stir with his blood paintings, but who has meanwhile arrived at the bosom of society. The “Therapist” is Sigmund Freud, a weirdo who used to lay his guests onto a couch. The “Ski Instructor” is Hansi Hinterseer, a singing former skier complete with awful boots and a disposition towards novel schmaltzy alpine movies. Massively dreaded is his obtrusive Tyrolean slang: “G´frei mi bähhrig!” The “Adorable Tramp” is dear Augustin. There is a Viennese song: “O, my dear friend Augustin, All is lost! Money´s gone, Gold is gone, Augustin lies in the dirt. O, my dear friend Augustin, I just can´t win!” Actually, the song is about a boozy homeless man. A sad song, but typically “austro-morbid”. The “Opinion Maker” is Hans Dichand, boss of the Kronenzeitung. Worldwide, the counterpiece to Germany’s BILD newspaper (and England’s The Sun) has the greatest circulation in relation to the number of inhabitants, yet is a shameless tabloid hostile towards the EU. The “Building Tycoon” is Richard Lugner, a builder with a strong media presence. He usually invites busty stars for the opera ball and used to be a candidate for the federal presidency. The “Environmentalist” relates to actions for the rescue of Hainburg Meadow. This was the birth hour of Austria’s Green movement. The “Singing Family” is the Trapp family. They embody the image that Americans have of Austrians: They yodel and wear traditional costumes (which is not all that wrong in certain regions). On to “The Waltzers”: Prejudice number 1. All Austrians can ski. Prejudice number 2. All Austrians can waltz. The “Magnate” is Frank Stronach, the expatriate boss of Magna, a Canadian automobile parts manufacturer. When he returns home, he likes to play big boss. The “Wonder Boy” is Mozart, depicted with violin (1 Wood) and piano (2 Wood) – thus the relation to the card’s text.

On to the Improvement cards. The “Coffee House” is what Austrians in Germany miss most. The “Spielefest” was the occasion to publish the Ö-Deck. The “Farmers’ Ball” is a reference to the Vienna Opera Ball, although there is an actual very big Farmers’ Ball in Styria. And that one is more civilized than the archaic name might make you think. “Neutrality”, Austrians claim, was allegedly copied from Switzerland. The “Guest Workers”: Without them, nothing would come to pass in Austria. To the “Schnitzel Mallet”: Actually, the Viennese Schnitzel descends from Milan. Yet the Viennese have perfected the “golden Schnitzerl for the poor”: hammered tender by hand and made from veal. For “Compulsory Schooling”, Austrians have to thank Maria Theresa. Unfortunately, an “Emergency Shelter” is much too often necessary in Austria. The “Vineyard” is abundant, in particular in Klemens’ neighborhood (near the Slovenian border) – and there is an abundance of passed out drunks. The “Strange Architecture” is a hut in Hundertwasser style. The “Leather Trousers” are another Austrian stereotype, which is true. The “Styrian Oak” relates to Arnold Schwarzenegger. (After not overruling a death sentence in California despite intervention, by the way, the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium was re-named.)

64 - Re-allocation of the elementary cards

For the second edition of the game, Hanno and I reduced the elementary cards from 180 to 120. Major Improvements, Action cards as well as a small number of Minor Improvements and Occupations were to be shrink-wrapped together. As we could only include few Minor Improvements and Occupations for this deck of 120, this had the advantage that by playing with these cards only, the game would run in similarly narrow lanes as the family version: In every session, similar actions take place, allowing the players to more quickly develop a sense of understanding the game.

Getting to know “Agricola” can happen over several stages. First, the family version without hand cards is played, then the just described version with the very first Basic cards from the elementary pack, which can later be extended by additional Basic cards from the other two packs. This is possible because what was a Basic (or E) card in the first edition remained a Basic card in the second one. In a fourth step, the players can then venture on Interactive (I) and Complex (K) cards.
I allocated the 70 Basic cards for the elementary pack (that is how many are needed for a game of five players) in a way that included something from everything. Two cards each cover Fishing, Day Laborer and Traveling Players, a minimum of three each support Wood, Clay, Reed, and Stone, a minimum of three also Building Houses on the Wood hut, Clay hut, and Stone house levels, and another three help with Building Houses in general. Six cards support growing Grain, five growing Vegetables, and four help with Plowing Fields. Four cards make room for animals, three support breeding Sheep, and another three breeding Wild Boars and Cattle. Six cards generate a stable supply of Food, and five bring Victory Points at the end of the game, while another three cards allow to trade goods at any time. There is something of everything included, and yet the elementary cards are not supposed to provide a cross-section of all cards. I supported field farming more heavily than breeding animals, as I used to witness first-time players coming to the opinion that breeding animals was more effective than field farming, while in fact it is only easier to play, while field farming accelerates only late in the game. Moreover, I tried to assemble the cards in a way that it is impossible for players not to be able to make any use of their options. During testing, I could affirm that with these cards I was enabled to reach higher levels of Victory Points than in sessions with all of the hand cards.

65 - Le Havre

The main reason why I myself did not play “Agricola” during the first weeks after its publication day was that my mind was sort of “pregnant” with the brain child of new ideas for a management and building game – a management game founded on the ideas for “Agricola”. (By the way, I like to call putting the new family member in “Agricola” on top of the other one a “big pregnant belly”. I like everybody on a playing table being pregnant once in a while.) I wanted to avoid playing the old game because at first it might feel so much better than the new one, which I did not want to begin to dislike for that reason. It is very likely that the old game is much better, just for the simple reason that any game at the beginning of its development is inherently premature. In the week before driving home for Christmas to my parents I had managed to get it presentable. Nevertheless, I wanted to continue playing it all alone.




I, for one, do not like playing a new game all alone after first playing it with others: Then, it is no longer sufficiently exciting for me to think and plan for all parties simultaneously; instead, it becomes rather straining. But with a week ahead where I wanted to be able to occupy myself besides the daily inventory taking (my parents operate a draper’s shop), I wanted to absolutely avoid spoiling my fun in playing alone. My parents, on the other hand, should not be bothered with my extensive project.



In October 2008, then, “Le Havre” was published. I dedicated a separate text to its development. This present chapter may well be seen as the intersection between both “works”.




66 - Game targets embracing multiple sessions

For three weeks, I played “Le Havre” all alone. No matter whether testing it as a game for two, three, four or five players, I used to hit the one hundred points-barrier. (Today, these barriers have grown to 240 points with two, 210 points with three and 180 points with four players.) It occurred to me to establish these game targets embracing multiple sessions in the rule book. I thought back to 1999. When “Mamma Mia” (Abacus) was put on the market in February, I played it every day for one entire month in order to show it to everybody. With every possible number of players (two, three, four or five), my target was to once succeed to fulfill all eight pizza orders in one single session. This had taken me longest in the four-player version. Similar game targets could be formulated for “Agricola”. Whatever the number of players, there seems to be a magical barrier of 42 points. Independent from the number of players, I finish about half of my session with between 40 and 42 points. I seldom get beyond 42 points.

I would also like to formulate special game targets for “Agricola” and “Le Havre”: I am interested in the best results from “Agricola” without ever using family growth (with the Turf Extension, see chapter 55, my record is 47 points), and the best number of points reached in “Le Havre” entirely without food-generating ships (luxury liners are allowed).
In February 2009, I had the privilege to be allowed to test-play an essentially professional realization of “Le Havre” as a computer game. Grzegorz Kobiela from Hanover had made the effort to even program all the Special Buildings. Using computer realizations, records can be recorded in a very nice way. I have discussed the computer game realization of “Agricola” in chapter 46, “Agricola as an online game”.

67 - Agricola as a solitaire game

After publication, the solitaire game took a particular turn. Originally intended as a mere gimmick, it was soon lauded as deepening for the study of the rules. And then the record hunt began. Occupations and improvements as well as the order of the action cards were no longer randomly chosen, but viewed as part of an optimization task. At the end of 2007, the point record stood at 115 points, reconstructable by a protocol. Meanwhile, it has reached 159 points, achieved by Claudio Maniglio from Bonn. The look of Claudio’s farmyard at the end of the game is surprising. He had 15 stone house rooms. More on that in the next chapter.

For the second edition of the game, we had announced three new “competitions”: The hunt for the point records for the E, I, and K segments of the cards. We also formulated the rules for a “campaign” in the sense of computer games more precisely. Eight sessions are to be played in subsequent order, where at the beginning of each session one additional occupation is layed out in front of the player. We owe detailed feedback on this time-consuming form of the game to Dale Yu from the USA.

At the Essen Game Fair 2008, we distributed our Seasons postcard (see chapter 87, “Postcard give-away”). Starting in winter, I achieved 56 points in my only solitaire session to date. I was playing the family version. In round 10 already, I disposed of five family member discs. As I had not “allowed for” sufficient space for stone house tiles, I got out of puff toward the end of the game. Nevertheless, I recommend the Seasons for the solitaire game.



68 - Claudio’s solitaire record

For several months, Claudio Maniglio has been fine-tuning his choice of hand cards in order to achieve the best combination for the best result in points. Claudio has become known to the German TV audience through his appearance at “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” in September 2008. His 159 solitaire points at “Agricola” have been unmatched to this day. This session has been reported to us in all detail. The round cards are introduced into the game in the following order: Sheep, Improvement, Fences, Sow, Stones, Family growth, Renovation, Wild boars, Vegetable, Cattle, Stones, Plow & Sow, Family Growth, Renovation. In round 1, he plays the Seasonal Worker and goes on Day Laborer (bonus: 1 Grain). In round 2, he plays the Church Warden to obtain 4 Wood and goes on Day Laborer again. In round 3, he plays the Merchant in order to be able to directly play two improvements with his second person: Clay Pit and Bookshelf (additional cost: 1 Food). In round 4, he takes the Food from Catch Fish for the subsequent Harvest and plays the Day Laborer again. In round 5, he takes Reed and then obtains Reed Hut and Writing Desk with his second person. The Reed Hut gives him a third person, which he immediately uses for the Day Laborer. In round 6, he plays Lord of the Manor and Carpenter (due to the Writing Desk), as well as Brushwood Roof and Quarry. The third person becomes a Day Laborer again. In round 7, he takes Wood, becomes Day Laborer and plays Broom, Ladder, and Stone Oven (the Stones stemming from the Quarry). He immediately bakes two Grain. In round 8 he becomes Animal Tamer and Chief, goes on Day Laborer and renovates with subsequent Fireplace and Well. In round 9 he takes Reed, Day Laborer and Clay, which he follows up in round 10 with the Day Laborer (with Grain) and building eight Clay House Rooms at once. With the third person, he goes on Family Growth with subsequent Swan Lake and Tavern. He then has 1 Reed left. In round 11 he plays Day Laborer (now with Vegetable), gets 2 points in the Tavern, goes on Family Growth with Forest Pasture and Loom, and takes the Sheep. In the Harvest, he obtains 3 Food through the Loom and cooks 3 Sheep. In round 12 he takes Wood, plays Day Laborer with Vegetable and turn his Reed Hut Inhabitant into a Family Member through Family Growth, with subsequent Mansion and Wooden Strong-box. Then he enters the Tavern and takes one more Grain. In round 13, he takes 9 Stones, plays Day Laborer with Vegetable, enters the Tavern, renovates with subsequent Joinery and Pottery, and takes the Wild Boars. He feeds upon 1 Boar, 1 Sheep, 3 Loom Food and 1 Joinery Wood. In round 14 he takes 4 Stones, plays Day Laborer with Vegetable, enters the Tavern, builds 5 rooms and takes the Cattle. He feeds upon 1 Sheep, 3 Loom Food, 1 Joinery Wood and 1 Pottery Clay. At the end, his farmyard has 15 Stone House Rooms with 9 Sheep and 6 Cattle in the rooms. His Wild Boars stand on the Forest Pasture. In the end, he gets –1 point each for Fields and Pastures, 4 points each for Grain, Vegetables, Sheep, Wild Boars and Cattle, 15 points for Persons, 25 points for cards and 71 bonus points. In sum, this gives 159 points. How does it feel when you have reached everything in your farmer’s life?



69 - Agricola as a family game

This is the headline we gave to the part of the rule book covering the game without hand cards.



For the second edition, then, Hanno specialized on revising the family game. In the first one, the proximity to the main game was paramount to me. When Hanno analyzed it on its own, he came to the conclusion that especially when playing with four and five players, one baking action per round was too little. The combination of the second baking action with building stables, of all things, resulted from the intention to provide the players with a greater flexibility in breeding animals. Through modifying the Day Laborer, moreover, he wanted to distract first-time players from taking one single good from an action field. Hence, the Day Laborer now brings 1 Food and 1 building material of choice (see chapter 30, “The Day Laborer”).

The typical strategy of a ten year-old girl playing “Agricola”, by the way, is to first collect Wood, then to fence Pastures in order to keep sheep as soon as possible. It was like this in the time of the first edition already, when sheep still were little white cubes.

70 - The term Family Game

In the vote for the best family game 2007 on the web site www.Hall9000.de “Agricola” came fifth in January 2008 (see chapter 5, “Prizes”). This placing was commented with the words, “Guys, this is not a family game”. Following the gamers’ definition of the word, it indeed is not. By a family game, the jury of “Spiel des Jahres”, in particular, understands a generational game with quickly learnable and catchy rules which can be played by the entire family, from (very) young to (very) old. I like this definition, and yet I feel like another word is missing to denote another facet of playing in the family. Ten year-old children like to play with their parents, but turning fifteen, they want to be grown-up. This includes not vacationing with their parents, let alone playing with them. I wonder whether it would be all that wrong to call a game a fine “family game” that manages to transfer teenagers in a world full of experiences, comparable to a computer game. A world, moreover, one likes to share with one’s parents at the gaming table.



Terms are subject to changes over time, and at a given point in time mean just what the majority of people understand by them. I would like to establish a notional subcategory of a “family game” for games which teenagers actively want to play with their parents. Unfortunately, there is no term denoting families with teenaged children. We know patchwork families, but there is no requirement profile for “patchwork family games”. I am left, therefore, to speak of family games of the first and the second degree. According to that, “Agricola” is intended to be a family game of the second degree.

71 - Variants 2: Standard variants for the handling of the hand cards

During the many tests I conducted in the run-up to “Agricola”’s publication, more than one person requested to be able to put to another use the cards one does not want to play out during the course of the game. Personally, it is not my cup of tea to have to think about which cards I could dispense with most easily. Therefore, I come to have difficulties with some games that are in essence well designed, such as “San Juan” (Andreas Seyfarth, 2004, Alea, Rio Grande), “Race for the Galaxy” (Thomas Lehmann, 2007, Abacus, Rio Grande), and “Brass” (Martin Wallace, 2007, Warfrog). The many requests induced me to introduce the following variant: a player can exchange three hand cards of his free choice against a new Occupation or Minor Improvement from the face-down draw deck at any time (see first edition of the game).



Upon “Agricola”’s publication, however, completely different variants became popular. Stephan Valkyser defined the “Draft” (an expression that is common in American professional sports – also known from the card game “Magic”): every player obtains 7 cards, of which she keeps one and gives 6 on to her left, keeps another one, gives 5 on, etc. This variant was included in the second edition of the game. Jens Bernsdorf modified this into speed drafting, which I personally like more. Every player passes four cards each of both card types on to her left neighbor. Of the four cards of a card type thus received, another two are passed on to the left neighbor. Other variants proposed in the second edition of the game are to distribute ten cards of each card type to every player, of which seven must be selected, or to allow a player to discard all seven cards of a type before the game begins in order to draw six new ones of the same type. Those, in turn, can be discarded for five new cards, etc. This idea was introduced by René Puttin.

72 - Variants 3: House rules and replenishing facilitations

Many people play as a house rule that animals have first to be accommodated on the farmyard before they can be turned into food.
Georg Deifuß plays the Action Cards which provide animals in such a way that only as many animals may be taken as can be put to use (either accommodated on the farmyard or turned into food), while the rest of the animals remain on the Action Card.

Both variants of the rules make the game another bit more constructive. Other popular approaches include tolerating incomplete pastures when building fences, and ignoring the rule that pastures have to be adjacent.
Myself, I would like to offer a house rule which makes building the farmyard more strategic and the game itself more difficult: farmyard spaces put to a use must always be adjacent, no matter whether for building rooms, building stables, plowing fields or raising animals. In addition, the rule remains that rooms must be adjacent to rooms, fields to fields, and pastures to pastures. Personally, I really like to play with this rule because it is extremely demanding, but I can recommend it only to experienced players.

Georg Deifuß told me of house rules which say that in the beginning, every player obtains 6 Minor Improvements for playing out and 1 Minor Improvement to pass on (Traveling Cards). Michael Lopez allocates the Occupations in a certain way: every player gets 3 cards “1+”, 2 cards “3+” and 2 cards “4+”.



Two rules variants, of which the second one is very reasonable and recommandable in my eyes, originate from Norbert Szongott. For the three-player game, he suggests to turn the card “Take 1 Stone” into “Take 2 Stones”. In my opinion, “Take 2 Stones” is too strong. In the second edition of the game, as suggested by Harry Kübler, we turned “Take 1 Stone” into “Take 1 Building Material of Choice”. Norbert Szongott complements the two-player game with the “1 Wood” card from the four-player game. Indeed, Wood is in short supply in the two-player game.
The Begging Card rule is not always interpreted in the hard way that gives one Begging Card per non-payed food. One alternative that is known to me is that you have to feed as good as possible. Possibly lacking food gives a Begging Card – but in no case more than one. I cannot recommend this rule to experienced players. During much of the test phase, a Begging Card equaled –2 points. Yet this penalty proved not high enough, with the players frequently putting up with them willingly. This is how, in the end, the –3 points came to pass. Before there were Begging Cards, by the way, I had planned to have Family Members vanish which cannot be fed. In a self-experiment, I tested how far one can get when having to play with one single person for a couple of rounds. The result: one falls massively back, but even worse, it is absolutely no fun to have to play with just one single person.

Replenishing goods in phase 2 of each round is often carried out by initially putting the new goods on the text field of every Action Card. Only when all goods have been replenished, the goods are moved onto the actual spaces intended for the goods. This trick allows all players to simultaneously distribute goods without the risk that certain Action Cards are equipped twice and others not at all. In the meantime, I have designed playing cards on which the new playing material is interim placed. The interim storage comes with two advantages: at every point of phase 2 of a round you know precisely which cumulative space has already been served, and replenishment proceeds much speedier than before.
The most macabre house rule I read about on the internet. It derives from Craig Phillips, should not be taken entirely seriously, and could be called “human sacrifice”. Those who would have to pay only 1 food for a newborn offspring in the feeding phase of the harvest time, can entirely forego feeding their families and instead take the newly born out of the game for good. That is, the person disc does not return to the supply. What happens to the newly born is left to the players’ fantasy. In any case, however, a player treating newborn babies in such a way should be bedeviled by his fellow players for the rest of the playing time.
Finally, I do not want to leave unmentioned the house rule of the Gruga fair hall in Essen: no pets!

73 - Variants 4: Alternative starting player rule and a 15th round

With the following variant, Jens Bernsdorf has led “Agricola” closer toward its role model, the game “Caylus”. Independently, Volker Thiemann suggested the same alternative to me. All the players must place one stable on the Starting Player space, and do so in the order of the right to make a move. Whenever a player places one of his family members on the Starting Player space, he moves his stable to the very left on this field at the end of that round. The order of the right to make a move then goes according to the order of the stables on this field. The previos starting player becomes second, the previos second third, and so on.

I admit that in “Agricola”, it is annoying when in a game of 4 or 5 players the player on position 2 secures the starting player token. The player on position 1 invested a full action of a person, and now he is back being last again. To avoid this, I prefer the house rule to forbid the player on position 2 to take the “Starting Player” action. I do not like the hurly-burly resulting from the players taking their actions in an ever changing order. I want the play to proceed in turn, in a circle. I want to concentrate on playing instead of whose turn it is just now.
Who prefers which variant arguably remains a matter of personal taste.
Other than the injustice concerning the Starting Player right, players approach me with requests for a 15th round with a following Harvest Time in order to get a chance to be really satisfied with how they have built their farmyard. With increasing experience with the game, 14 rounds will suffice for them to fill their farmyard, but this level of experience takes quite some time to reach. As a first alternative to a 15th round, I would like to recommend to allow every player to play out one Occupation at the beginning of the game as an additional action. The player playing the card with the smallest consecutive number becomes Starting Player (unfortunately, consecutively numbered cards are only included from the second edition on).

As a second alternative to a 15th round I propose that before seeing his hand cards, every player must in turn buy one starting good against payment of bonus points. Only one player may abstain from buying one good. Wood costs 0.1 points, sheep 0.2 points, reed 0.6 points, clay 0.7 points and stone 0.8 points, grain 1.3 points and vegetable 2.5 points. The advantage of this rule: there can be no tie in the end. If one likes, one can additionally offer a field for 1.4 points and for 1.9 points a stable of the own color. Therefore, this rule is attractive as a tournament rule as well (see chapter 90, “Agricola as a tournament game”).

At the end of this bouquet of variants, here is my not entirely earnest variant “Aknizia”, which I hope will win over the friends of majority games to “Agricola”. For every scoring line (including Bonus Points) 1 extra point (hence the special name) is distributed to the player who has reached the most points in the respective scoring category. If several players all have reached the most points in one category, none of them receives the extra point.



74 - The Obi Craftman’s Dictionary and the balcony

From December 2007 to April 2008, my mind was solely focused on my new building game “Le Havre”. Then, the weather got fairer. I moved my work place on the balcony, enjoyed the not-yet too hot sun, placed the laptop on a side table, and bit by bit I found my inspiration for an ever-longer list of potential Minor Improvements by consulting the Obi Craftman’s Dictionary. This is not a book, but part of the internet presence of the chain of home improvement stores well-known in Germany. The Obi Craftman’s Dictionary actually contains everything. I destilled potential Occupations from various web sites on the middle ages. I ate ice cream and yogurt, drank coffee and tea. This way, one by one new cards emerged. I did not care whether anybody would be interested in playing with such an abundance of cards. I simply enjoyed coming up with them. In the following, I played the cards through in my mind, kept correcting them again and again, and finally printed them and glued them onto old Agricola cards. With completely new, entirely untested cards, I appeared at the Herner Spielewahnsinn (Herne Game Frenzy) in early May. I thought that maybe the attendees would like to try them out. Instead, they simply kept asking when they would be published. With more than 100 new cards, nobody wanted to believe me that they had really been entirely untested so far. Testing then took off in June 2008. I split the cards into several decks and distributed them to Ralph Bruhn, Michael Lopez and Michael Kapik. Their feedback was incorporated in the revisions. I myself had only tested joke cards such as the “Day-Cattle Center” (“Rindertagesstätte”) [laut leo.org heißt Kindertagesstätte im amerikanischen Englisch “day-care center”] or the “Reed Men of Gotham’s Prank” (“Schilfbürgerstreich”). I wanted to check these cards out a bit more thoroughly because I intended to select 24 of them for the 2008 game fair. This project was among those which came to nothing because “Le Havre” strained Klemens, our illustrator, so much that he barely managed to design a few Special Buildings for “Le Havre” as “Promotion Cards”.



In the final phase of the tests Carsten Hübner is subjecting the new cards to an in-depth examination. The are supposed to be ready by the end of 2008. In 2009, I want to publish them together with an extension (see chapters 53 to 55, “Extension 1-3”).

75 - The new rules

Compared with the first edition, the second one contained extended solitaire rules, the scoring appendix was integrated into the main body of the rules, and most importantly the rules were prefaced with an introduction. During the Christmas holidays 2007, I had written down the rules verbatim to how I had explained them at the end of the Essen game fair (like a vinyl record, not to say like a mantra): first the object of the game and a look at the scoring card, then the play of the game over 14 rounds and subsequently the course of one single round, afterwards building rooms with a reference to family growth, field farming with a reference to the harvest phase, and finally raising animals with a reference to the breeding phase. Finally a list of how to obtain food, and in this context the Major Improvements. Hand cards and beggary are always tackeled only at the very end. During the first days of explaining at the game fair 2007 I had still varied the order of my sentences.



But soon I had found the optimum order to explain exactly what the members of the audience had asked themselves at that very moment. With “Le Havre”, this spectacle was repeated at the Herner Spielewahnsinn (Herne Game Frenzy) already, several months before the publication of the game. It is after all an advantage to present prototypes of a soon-to-be-published game to a greater public rather early: through the repeated explaining you find out how to “sell” the rules well to the player. I optiomized the transcript of the rules together with Ralph Bruhn (see chapter 83, “The three characteristics of a good rule book”).



76 - The rules explained on video

In the age of www.YouTube.com you might think that you can get every game explained on the internet. However, we have not yet come so far anno 2008. At the Herner Spielewahnsinn (Herne Game Frenzy) of the same year I felt honored by being allowed to talk my head off on the Agricola rules in front of a video camera. The video which has been available on the web site www.Cliquenabend.de since June 2008 clocks in at 25 minutes. Due to its length, it is subdivided into two shorter videos.



I am not entirely happy with the flow of my explanations. You can see a game author with a camera noticeably breathing down his neck. Still, it is sort of funny to watch yourself. At the Essen game fair I had explained “Agricola” considerably better (and not forgotten the Beggary in the end).



For “Le Havre”, however, the video explanation came at the right time. A mere two days after “Agricola”, Andreas Buhlmann of www.Cliquenabend.de approached me again. With “Agricola”, he had still been able to help me with the Begging Cards. With “Le Havre”, I was all on my own, as Andreas did not yet know my prototype. But I had been allowed to explain that game nonstop the day before. This way, I managed a rather fluid and, I believe, complete explanation.

77 - Complex, complicated, or epic

Already when “By Hook or Crook” [auch “Hoity Toity” oder “Fair Means or Foul”, Klaus Teuber, 1990, FX Schmid, Avalon Hill) did not match the expected sales volume for the Game of the Year 1991, I began to make a distinction among elaborate games between complex and complicated games. With “Agricola”, I had to add a third category, the epic games. “By Hook or Crook” has few rules, yet among these are two which are not intuitively understandable, i.e. not catchy. With two inelegant rule details, “By Hook or Crook” became a complicated game. On the other hand, there are games which have very many rules, but where every rule by itself is plausible. These games form a complex entity which has to be worked out before starting to play in a longer session (for instance fantasy role games).

You do not need to have understood “Agricola” to be able to get started. After a mere 30 seconds of explaining, I have let people play. Thus, setting up the board takes longer than explaining. Even if one wants to explain everything, it all connects in a natural way. You do not have to take pains while listening. You do not hear rules, but you watch how the one who explains develops his sample farmyard. After all, it is plausible that pastures have to be fenced for the animals not to run away. For me, “Agricola” is not a complex game, but a simple game with a lot of history: an epic game.



How would it have been if the Jury “Game of the Year” had awarded us the “Special Prize Epic Game” (see chapter 6, “The Awards Shows”? Probably the buyers would hardly have been able to picture anything when hearing that. Anyway. On the poster the jury had had printed for the awards show, they subtitled “Agricola” as an “epic agricultural game”.
Because of the sound of the word, many people consider the “Special Prize Epic Game” an anti-award: “Do not buy this game, learning it is exhausting.” Personally, I do not mind if there are people who see the prize as a warning. I prefer selling a few units less of my game when in turn it is actually played: by people looking for challenges and whose attention is guided to my game by the award.

78 - Agricola – A game with a prompting character

It is frequently assumed that there are people who like to play simple games and others who prefer more elaborate ones. As a matter of fact, many people find games they like in both genres. This is different, however, with the question of in which way one likes to face his fellow players. Some like to attack each other directly, are happy to destroy something and to live out their aggression. Others prefer to avoid direct attacks and instead like to build something. Here, it actually holds: those to whom one form of games is appealing find that the other form does not do much for them.



That people who like to play simple games avoid elaborate ones, however, is often caused by the design of the games. This may result from the structure of the rule book, but in particular also from the entry into the game. Precisely through the entry, “Agricola” has a prompting character for “simple players”: in the family game version, the player is required to demonstrate only a low level of overview at the beginning. He is slowly confronted with the foci of the rules, little by little. The more consequential decisions have to be taken only late. My advice for those who are asked which moves are currently best for a first-time player is never to give a concrete suggestion, but always to explain the three best move options to the fellow player, for him to choose on all by himself (see also chapter 50, “Could you gimme a hint? What should I do?”). Games in which a concrete “Why don’t you do this” is legitimate, are those where manipulating others for the own advantage is intended. I would like to mention “Bohnanza”. But also “Carcassonne” (Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, 2000, Hans im Glück, Rio Grande) is a good example. Here, the author makes the player draw the new tile at the beginning of his move for others to discuss it together with him. This is the “Bohnanza” and “Carcassonne”’s formula for success: both games are very well suited for seldom-players, for often-players, and for turning seldom-players into often-players.



79 - Seldom-players

In players’ tongue, seldom-players are people who prefer a direct entry into games, but who do not necessarily actually play seldomly. Those who play two hours of “Crazy Eights” (“Mau Mau”) per day would, by this definition, still count as seldom-players.
There is no differentiation according to how the direct entry takes place. Usually, it is assessed upon the learnability of the rules of the game. Most games, however, are more easily accessible when being explained than through the written word. Directly showing the gameplay when explaining often proves advantageous for understanding. It would be interesting to have a measure for how many percent of the reading-out time is required for explaining the rules instead of reading them out. (A potential record holder, in my opinion, would be “Bohnanza”: The measure for that game could amount to 10%, i.e., a tenth of the reading time.)
Another aspect that should be considered beyond the quick reading and understanding is that not every detail of the rules has to be explained at the beginning of the game. In many ways, it is sufficient for the seldom-player to be instructed during the first session, or when others think along for him and compile and justify a selection of good moves for him.



80 - Often-players

Often-players are players who like to play a wide assortment of games, but who do not necessarily actually play much. What is frequently forgotten: often-players like simple, funny games as well. I tend to call those who solely play elaborate games, “gaming freaks”. Those who regularly play exclusively at one or two bigger events a year, and at no other times, but who then want to be introduced to the entire range of novelties at these occasions, count as an “often-players”.
If, in the understanding of the gaming community, games are only suitable for often-players (and gaming freaks), then this is usually because of the burden that first-time players have to time-consumingly puzzle out the rules of the game. In this context, the “Game of the Year” jury speaks of an “entry barrier”. Games are categorized with between 1 and 4 plus signs. The ideal “Game of the Year” has the barrier level 1 (with one plus) – quick gaming fun with emphasis on “quick”. But quick gaming fun does not have to equal simple gaming fun. Gaming fun itself is not as easily measurable as the entry barrier. Gaming fun can also mean strategic or tactical depth of the game, joy in puzzling, amusement, or simply good entertainment. Here, strategic depth of the game typically means planning several moves in advance or making a move which gains meaning only many moves later. Tactical depth of the game means that you face a wide variety of possibilities for taking actions with every move, and that your decision at any time is dependent on the respective momentary incidents. If the best move becomes entirely calculable here, this is called an optimization game. Optimization games are prefered by people who like to enter a calculus competition.



81 - Agricola for seldom- and often-players

Whether “Agricola“ is something for seldom-players or for often-players depends on the point of view. Its suitability for often-players is already indicated by the fact that 25 minutes are needed to explain the game from beginning to end. As proof, I cite my rule explanation on www.Cliquenabend.de (see chapter 76, “The rules explained on video”).



I actually tested, however, that it is also suitable for seldom-players. The family game without hand cards starts with so few optional choices that it is rapidly possible to start playing even if there is only one person at the table who already knows the game. “For the time being, plow a field. I will later explain the functioning of field farming to you.” Or: “For starters, take that building resource, I will reveal later how you can make use of it.” … “So now you got 3 wood and 2 reed. As you can see here, you only lack a mere 2 wood to build a new wooden room.”
“Agricola” is a strategic game. The experienced player takes wood, for example, with a precise intention for when to use the wood for building fences or rooms. It has a tactical component as the player may for instance hit upon 6 wood from time to time, an amount I personally dislike to let pass.

Optimization aspects are fortunately only included in “Agricola” toward the end of the game, when during the last harvest time the question is how to best feed one’s family members.

82 - Information on the game box

“Agricola” was the first game to give me occasion to talk about honesty on game boxes. Hanno, Klemens and I were wondering whether we should condense the truth, “30 minutes per player” (plus incalculable incidents such as optimization-addicted fellow players), into the approximate declaration “90-120 minutes”? 2.5 hours of playing time for a five-player session might scare people away from buying. On the other hand, reading “30 minutes” seems rather pleasant, even if the danger persists that the “per player” might get lost in game lists.

“Agricola” should become the first game where I wanted to realize a vision: it should get a declaration which number of players it is most fun with – not an absolute declaration, but 100% divided in a pie diagram. In my player survey, the advantages showed evenly distributed. With five, it was praised for the opportunity to get animals early, with three, because it is one’s turn so soon again.

With “Le Havre”, the undertaking proved more unambiguous, although in the end, my vision stayed had to keep out due to space concerns. On the prototype box already, I wrote, “1-5 players, recommended in the order 3, 2, 4, 1, 5”. My personal order was confirmed by many testers. As a solitaire game, I prefer it not only to the Agricola solitaire game, but also to the five-player game. “Before playing it with five, I shall rather play it alone. Before playing it with five, I shall rather stay alone? That cannot be.” This example made it clear to me that solitaire evaluations must not appear in my pie diagram illustration.

For I long time, I had had the wish that there should be an internet platform where players could state their preferred number of players. In May 2008, www.Boardgamegeek.com realized my secret wish. For “Agricola”, it showed that the game is most popular with three or with four. A surprise came with the assessment of “Bohnanza”. Myself, I like playing it with three or four best, whereas the users of www.Boardgamegeek.com like it best with five or six.

83 - The three characteristics of a good rule book

Somebody who invents games, writes rule books, yet less often reads them. Whenever I am allowed to get to know other authors’ published games, they are kindly explained to me. In his review on www.Hall9000.de, Ralph Bruhn had much praise for my “Agricola”, while the rule book, in his opinion, was badly structured. When he had a question concerning a rule, he could not answer them quickly: the answer was not to find at those places where he expected it.

When, in May 2008, I set about formulating the rules for my next game, “Le Havre”, I sent a draft of the rules to Ralph, hoping for a few supportive tipps. Ralph, however, re-structured my rules in their entirety. For several times, we mailed the document back and forth. At the end of the day, Ralph had invested so much work into the rules as he usually may spend one one year’s worth of reviews.

Why the rules got better with his structure, he had already explained to me beforehand. Rule books have to possess three charakteristics: 1st, The rules must be easily understandable in the first reading, and at the same time free of gaps and contradictions. 2nd, It must be possible to quickly look up particular rule points during the first game. 3rd, And the rules should be easily re-learned after two months by skimming through the rule book.

I am aware of one thing: if “Le Havre” becomes a similarly successful game as “Agricola”, Ralph has a huge share in this success.

84 - My NRW tour

Because of the similarities, before its publication, I liked to call my game “Le Havre”, “Agricola 2”, a title to make Agricola fans curious, but which equally stirred up expectations. Using the internet, I had the privilege to arrange meetings with people from all over North Rhine-Westphalia for presentations of the game. I enjoyed these appointments and appreciated the many, often private, invitations. I made the meeting dates public at www.StudiVz.de. Thus, other people could also join the meetings. In Hanover, which for once is not part of North Rhine-Westphalia, I joked with my host, “Man, you know many people”, as about 25 gamers had followed Grzegorz’s inivation. That is, until Grzegorz told me that he had never before seen most of them. These are incidents which are indeed only possible in the internet age.

A highlight of my “tour” was the Herner Spielewahnsinn (Herne Game Frenzy). Our stand was vis-à-vis from Eggert-Spiele’s. Peter Eggert, too, demonstrated prototypes of his planned Essen novelties. During all three days of the event, there was great interest in our stands. On Sunday, I came to the conclusion that the Spielewahnsinn (Game Frenzy) had indeed been a successful event despite the heat. Actually, however, I was subsequently told that about one third of all attendees of the entire event could be found at Peter’s or my stand at any given time. Playing prototypes is like watching movie previews in cinema.



85 - Special enclosures to Spielbox

In June 2008, a feature for Agricola players was enclosed to the high gloss magazine “Spielbox”, a sheet full of different stickers for the person discs: for the one side of the person disc, a depicted figure from the occupation cards, for the other side of the person disc, the same figure – drawn as an adolescent. The players should recognize an addition to the family, as long as it requires only 1 food in the harvest time, from the side on which the person disc lies. Klemens allowed himself to include a joke by mingling a werewolf and an alien (see chapter 62, “The X-deck”) among the adolescents. Those whose sense of humor has not been met by doing so, however, need not despair. Instead of providing stickers for 25 person discs, the printing sheet contains stickers for 35. Thus, everybody can choose his favorite persons. This is a peculiarity which led some gaming circles to combine two Agricola games in order to play with six or seven players. I already treated the six-person game in section 33, “Agricola with six players”.



The inspiration for the printing sheet came from Artur Baginski, who uploaded a photo of person discs with “occupation heads” stuck on to www.Boardgamegeek.com on December 8, 2007. For clarity reasons, the person discs on the Spielbox sheet are called “family member playing discs”, by the way. Using this expression, our rule book would immediately have been extended by a few pages. Via the web site www.Spielbox.de, the print edition 3/2008 can be reordered.

86 - Portum Negrum

The sticker sheet from Spielbox 3/2008 inspired Jochen Steininger to invent a variant, which I want to publish here, slightly modified. Required are 1 hexagonal dice, 2 playing discs for werewolf and alien (with the respective stickers from the sticker sheet) as well as 5 brown person discs (slaves). Whenever the starting player wants to place his first person disc, he must throw the dice before and, depending on the result, carry out an event.



1 – Full Moon: If the starting player does NOT have the werewolf disc, he obtains it and becomes a werewolf. He preys on an own animal of his choice, for which he obtains 1 food. When the starting player changes, the werewolf disc can also change between players again.

2 – Lunar Eclipse: The alien disc in put to the starting player. The player who has the alien disc at the moment of animal breeding, may additionally once have two animals of different species breed together, resulting in an animal of the third kind. Neither parent animal may be involved in another conventional breeding action.

3 – Solar Eclipse: The rest of the round (including a potential harvest time) takes place in the dark. Every player can use every action field “family growth” once in this round. A maximum of three building resources or two animals from those lying on an action field may be taken. Renovating, extending houses and building stables is not possible. If the round ends with a harvest time, every player may harvest from one field only, and every player must pay 1 additional food in the feeding phase.

4 – Blue Moon: Nothing happens.
5/6 – Harbor Delivery: The dice is thrown again. The number of eyes indicates what is provided for the players at the harbor:
1/2/3/4 – Goods Delivery: Every player obtains 1 wood/clay/stone/food.

5 – Pirates: From every player, 2 goods from a kind of goods of which he has most are stolen. Possible are wood, clay, reed, stone, sheep, wild boar, and cattle.

6 – Slave Delivery: A new person disc is auctioned. Every player may have no more than one such “slave”. The starting player makes the first bid, bidding food, until all other players have passed. The player with the highest bid pays the food to the supply and obtains the slave disc. Every player may house his slave in the hut (only if there is enough space) or in a stable – the residence may be changed at the beginning of every round. If the slave lives in a stable, the player has to pay 1 food after each round, because the slave lies on the floor and freezes. If the slave lives in the hut, it is fed with two food in each harvest time, just like any other person. The slave counts as an ordinary additional person. If a slave cannot be fed, he is lost.

Jochen’s “Portum Negrum” is not the only dark game variation of “Agricola”. At www.Boardgamegeek.com, a zombie variant with very nice ideas, called “ag-NECRO-la”, can be found. It derives from Andy Van Zandt from the USA (http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/348905). Zombies exist in all players’ colors and unite the three game elements of “Agricola”: building the house, field farming, and raising animals. They are held like animals and bring points in the end. They breed through being sown (buried) like grain on fields. 1 brain is needed to feed 2 zombies in the feeding phase, otherwise they disappear. Actions can be performed with zombies. Personally, I would design the zombie variant so that (depending on the number of players) action cards for brains come into play and zombie actions cost 1 additional brain each. If humans perform actions that zombies have already performed, they turn into zombies. In my concept, zombies would come into play by having a neutral zombie, during the working phase, run move by move along all action fields from left to right (and from top down within one column). If a human meets the neutral zombie, the player obtains a zombie of his color.

87 - Postcard give-away

Producing a small give-away was a proposal of our illustrator, Klemens Franz. By financing the printing of a postcard for us, he wanted to thank us for the trust we put in him for our overdimensioned project. After all, he had been an “unillustrated” quantity in the gaming scene before “Agricola”. He says that today, he could apply to any greater publisher without any problem.

My task should be to find a suitable motive, at best an extension of the game, for the postcard. On the internet site www.Spielbox.de, I asked the gaming community for suggestions. A proposal that fascinated me from the first second on was posted in my Agricola forum on www.StudiVz.de. Through the Seasons is an additional Agricola board with four seasonal spaces, of which one is active at any given time. This variant by Julian Steindorfer is playable both in the family and the complete version. It can be downloaded from the internet site www.Lookout-Games.de. It had also been distributed at the 2008 Essen game fair.

At the beginning of the game, a guest marker is put on the seasonal space that corresponds to the actual current season. At the beginning of each round, the marker is moved one space further. Depending on the season, then, there is a corresponding action space. Furthermore, sometimes more, sometimes fewer building resources arrive on the action spaces. The other two guest markers that are present in the game are turned on the arrow side (arrow marker). They should be used to show in each round which action spaces are subject to seasonal specific rules.



88 - The discussion in the run-up to the 2008 postcard

In summer 2008, some possibilities to offer new action spaces for “Agricola“ on a postcard were discussed. The main point of criticism was that additional action spaces take the pressure to decide away from the players. This is how Julian happened upon his wonderful seasons idea. The suggestions for accumulations of action spaces which preceded the seasons were in detail a monastery, a market and a “lager”. I have exactly documented all three suggestions. In the course of this report, I would like to provide a short outline.



Matthias Kornmaier’s idea was a monastery with herb garden, monastery mill and beer brewery: one could send a person disc to the monastery for 3 rounds. In the first round, the person works in the herb garden and receives 2 food, in the second round, in the monastery mill which enables “Baking Bread”. In the third round, the person can „Brew Beer“, and thus also turn grain into food.

My favorite idea for the postcard was to arrange six new, yet weak action spaces 3x2. The special feature: two neighboring action spaces should be taken with one single person at the same time (like at roulette), which are then executed in the order of choice. Julian picked up my idea of the little action spaces by suggesting a market to me. There, the players run small errands. For instance, they buy 1 cattle or sell vegetables. Ralph Bruhn also wrote me on the topic of the market that, as the special characteristic of the market, one should always have to give up something in order to get something else. In a second draft on the “market” topic, Julian introduced a village phase after every harvest time, when every player could carry out a special action.

The “lager” topic derives from the German word Lager having several meanings, including stock, store and storage, camp, lager, and bearing. Hence, Arne Claussen suggested a “campfire”. This is an action space that can be used exactly like a fire place. For every use, one pays 1 wood. Ralph Bruhn suggested a space for which the starting player decides which building resource is added to the space before placing his first person. I would have called this space “stock room”. Several other “Lager” creations have been suggested: La Gerance (in English, “management”), store keeper, bearing grease, lager beer, storage cost, and cabin fever (German: Lagerkoller).

One of my own designs prescribes that a postcard should have five new action spaces, one in every playing color. A guest marker shows which one of the five action spaces is active. When somebody places a person on the starting player space, he must immediately put the guest marker on the action space of his playing color. It suggests itself to make the later actions possible earlyon as action spaces, because they will only occur temporarily anyway. I want to try “Take 1 Sheep and 1 Cattle”, “Take 2 Stones”, “Renovation and Occupation”, “Exchange Grain 1:1 against Vegetable”, and possibly “4th Room for 1 Reed and 3 Building Resourcen on House Level”. In early November 2008, and together with my wife Susanne, I began to develop a Christmas postcard from this idea. The Lookout Christmas postcard 2007 showed Santa Claus as an occupation (and was posted to many students).



89 - Agri-Cola

It was Hanno’s and my dream to create a donation-based agricultural relief project through the game “Agricola”, in which an agriculture is built. The requisite success, and thus the attention, had been reached by the game. Thus, in Summer 2008, it was time to take the initiative. Through his brother Felix, a graduated ethnologist, Hanno got into contact with a representative of the Arbore people from Ethiopia who is married to one of Felix’ colleagues. Hence, we knew that our money, hitherto not even collected, would be in good hands. The Arbore are a small population (about 5000 people) living in four villages near Lake Stefanie in the south-west of Ethiopia. “Ar” means bull, and “Bore”, land. Like most people in that region, the Arbore live mainly on their herds as well as on self-grown millet. In September 2008, there was a massive flood. Water destroyed all the ripening grain. The inhabitants of one of the villages had to be evacuated and relocated.
The project got rolling when Hanno found a beer brewery in Zeil am Main whose managers were willing to bottle their house cola with Agri-Cola labels. The original drink can be found on the site www.Brauerei-Goeller.de by navigating “Produkte” (products) => “Alkoholfreie Getränke” (soft drinks) => “Cola”. The prerequisite was that we ourselves would not earn any money with the drink. But, of course, we had not intended to do that. On the back of the bottles, our donation account can be found, which I would like to specify here as well: recipient: “Lookout Games – Arbore Projekt”, account number: “1943335801”, bank: “Oldenburgische Landesbank”, bank identification number: “28020050”. Donors from abroad can use the following account details: Lookout Games - Arbore-Projekt, Kontonummer: 1943335801, Oldenburgische Landesbank, BLZ: 28020050. Our relief project is intended for the long run, thus the bank account will be in existence for quite a while.



90 - Agricola as a tournament game

Organizing tournaments with one’s successful games, and calling these tournaments “German Championships“ or even “World Championships“, has become a popular marketing tool these days. At a games con in Hamburg, a young woman approached me about “Agricola”. Instead of revealing her name to me, she introduced herself as the German “Pickomino” [Achtung: Im Deutschen steht Bratwurst statt richtig Bratwurm!] Champion (Zoch, 2005, Reiner Knizia), and then blatantly criticized the second edition of our game. Unfortunately not for the reason of not yet giving her the chance to become German “Agricola” Champion, too. That, we would like to make up for. But she did not like the animeeples and wanted back the first edition’s wooden cubes.

The point of controversy, however, is according to which rules a championship should take place. Due to its playing time, “Agricola” was not shortlisted for the qualification for the venerable German Board Game Team Championship. Even in the family version, the organizers found the game too long. Experienced tournament players want a handcard distribution by the draft method (see chapter 71, “Variants 2: Standard variants for the handling of the hand cards”). For them, the game cannot end late enough.

My suggestion of how I would like to see a championship organized is as follows. 12 occupations and 12 minor improvements with particularly short texts are chosen. The 12 occupations are layed out in 4 covered stacks à 3 cards, with the top-most card of each stack revealed. The 12 minor improvements are handled likewise. In the course of their actions, all players have access to these cards. When one card is taken, the next one of the respective stack is revealed. We sell these 24 cards in a mini deck. The particularity: the chosen font is particularly large, so that every player can read every card without any problem. Only cards from the “Agricola” basic game are chosen, thus nobody has to buy the deck to “train” for the tournament.

91 - Surprise eggs

In summer 2008, one in seven of the German surprise eggs from the “Kinder” brand contained sheep (5 white, 4 black). For those who would like to integrate some of these figures in his Agricola game, I would like to provide the following draft of rules.

Every white sheep figure is put on another action space. When a person reaches an action space with a white sheep figure, the respective sheep action is carried out first, followed by the actual space action. There is a different sheep action corresponding to every white sheep figure. After the space action, the player relocates the sheep figure to another action space where at that point in time, neither a white sheep figure nor a person disc are present.



In detail, the white sheep figures are:

Sven Startklar (“Sven Ready-to-go”, at the beginning of the game on “Plow one field”): Give the starting player token to your left neighbor. If the starting player token changes hands, the previous starting player is compensated with 1 food from the general supply. Attention: Sven Startklar must never be put on the space “Starting player”. If possible, he must always be put on the same board on which also Lisa von Lieblich is grazing.

Nils Nickerchen (“Nils Nap”, at the beginning of the game on “Take 1 grain”): When next time it is your turn to place a person, your action is deferred. However, the action is not forfeited. You only place your person accordingly later. (The “next time” may happen to be one round later.) The action space with Nils Nickerchen is blocked to the player who has P.C. Peace on his yard.

Timmi Träumer (“Timmi Dreamer”, at the beginning of the game on “3 wood”): In the subsequent space action, you have to leave one of the tokens on the space behind. Attention: Timmi Träumer can only be put on arrow fields, i.e., on action spaces where animals, building materials or food are accumulated every round. (If all arrow spaces are occupied, Timmi remains on his old space.)

Oma Wolle (“Granny Wool”, at the beginning of the game on “1 reed”): You must immediately buy one sheep for 3 food. (If you do not dispose of enough food, you must turn to beggary to get it.)

Lisa von Lieblich (“Lisa von Lovely”, at the beginning of the game on “Fishing”): Throw one guest marker in the air. If it lands on the “Guest” side, you forfeit the following space action and are compensated with 2 bonus points. If Ron Rebell is in the game, you get 3 instead of 2 bonus points. Those who have Larissa Läster on their yards, obtain no bonus points instead of 2-3. (If the marker lands on the green arrow side, Lisa’s loveliness has no effect.)

On to the black sheep figures. They travel from farmyard to farmyard and impact the respective yard.

Ron Rebell (“Ron Rebel”, at the beginning of the game still secretly in love with Lisa, Ron can only participate when Lisa is also taking part): Ron Rebell always travels immediately to the farmyard of the player who takes a sheep action with Lisa von Lieblich. This player may only own 5 tokens of every building material at any time. Additional building materials are immediately returned to the general supply. Ron Rebell is worth 1 bonus point at the end of the game.

P.C. Peace (at the beginning of the game still rehearsing, as P.C. plays percussions): Peter Carl, called P.C., comes into the game when the first stable is build. He makes this stable ineffective until the end of the round. At the beginning of each subsequent round, P.C. pilgrimages from farmyard to farmyard in clockwise direction. Where he finds an empty stable, or a stable on an empty pasture, he settles down, bringing 1 food from the general supply with him. (Occasionally, he ends up with the same player one more time. If a player has several stables without animals, the player who last housed P.C. decides which of these stables P.C. prefers.)

Larissa Läster (“Larissa Badmouth”, at the beginning of the game in a room of the starting player, both person discs of the starting player are put into the other room): At the end of each work phase, Larissa Läster moves on to the farmyard of the next player in clockwise direction. (In the following return phase, the family members of the concerned player must relocate to the other rooms.) Until the end of the next work phase, she blocks one room for regular family growth.

Kurt Knatter (“Kurt Rattle”, still on the road at the beginning of the game): Kurt Knatter comes into the game as soon as the first field is plowed. He blocks that field until the end of the round. At the beginning of each round, he drives in clockwise direction from farmyard to farmyard. Where he finds an empty field, he settles down. (Frequently, he ends up with the same player one more time.) Kurt Knatter is worth 2 bonus points at the end of the game.

92 - Sound bites while playing Agricola

In more than 200 test games, I happened upon two “no idea” sound bites again and again. First-time players used to say in round 3, “I have no idea what I am doing here”, and in round 8, “I have no idea how to get my farmyard filled.” That was rather peculiar and made me smile. Some Sebastian noted in the Agricola group at www.StudiVz.de that at the end of the game, there is always somebody to point out that he still wants to do this and that, but has only a certain number of moves left. When the host realizes he wants to renovate, Michael Kapik sometimes tells him, “About time.” Nicer is Christian Stöhr’s experience with first-time players: there is always somebody to ask, “How do you perform family growth again?” Better, however, than when Gabriele Goldschmidt says that she would like a wild boar for offspring. The memorable sentence, “You’ll be a grandpa before you’ll have bred” stems from Alexander Urban’s gaming circle. It is my favorite sound bite.

Gerhart Grabovszky wrote that “I go fishing“ is frequently said, and that somebody to have many occupations is a “brainiac”. With him, butchering animals is usually accompanied by a burning sound, such as “Voucchhhh”. Sebastian calls this process, “sausage making”. His animals are jestingly called “shoop”, “sow”, and “moo”, while they are called “sheep”, “swine”, and “moo” by Grzegorz Kobiela. Those who get wood and stone from an action space in his gaming rounds receive a “Schleswig-Holzstein” (“Schleswig-Woodstone”). In my gaming circles, the combination of goods stone, reed, food is called “sushi” (Why? Pile these goods up and look at the resulting structure!), and a “mixed bag” in Andreas Höhne’s.

Heiko Schiffer said that his rounds use the word “practical constraint” to comment a situation when there are so many goods on an action space that a player spontaneously defects from the originally planned move. On this, Melissa Rogerson tells a beautiful story. “Shortly after ‘Agricola’ was published, Valerie Putman wrote a review at www.Boardgamenews.com. There, she mentioned ‘shoe shopping’, when you are out shopping, do not actually need shoes, but see a pretty pair and just ‘have to’ buy it (…) In her opinion, the same thing would happen in ‘Agricola’ when you see 8 clay or wood, for example, on an action space – I don’t need it at the moment, but I might possibly need it lateron, and in any case I don’t want another player to get it. Since then, we call taking a large pile of wood/clay/…, ‘shoe shopping’.” I see, women thus buy shoes for other women not to get these shoes. I used to suspect something like that.

I find funny that Christian Becker has taken to calling aloud “Homecoming!” at the end of the work phase when all players are supposed to take their person discs back to their houses. I would also like “Let’s call it a day!” Ingo Keiner says, “Well, your people want back home now, too”, when once again somebody forgets to take his persons from the board. “Prisoners” are “made” in Sebastian’s rounds when somebody accidentally takes the wrong person discs. Time and again, somebody asks in Gerhart Grabovszky’s rounds, “What, feeding people yet again?” Well, the harvest times do indeed heap up most rapidly.
Myself, I like to say that “some spaces make sounds”, when somebody uses an action space, which causes another player to sigh audibly.
I wonder which other sound bites I will be told about in the future.

93 - Media appointments in advance of the game fair 2008

If you have to give interview after interview during a short interval of time, some answers will develop from one interview to the next. In my case, this happened for instance with the question what a game had to have in order to become a great success. Today, I say that it is here just as it is in other areas of entertainment – a game should be both lightly consumable and profound at the same time. This is where my wish for the near future is located, that “Agricola” becomes established as a game for the family. After loads of repeated question, I answer to what makes me a good game inventor with the ability to think well in conclusions (implications). I do not necessarily have the best ideas at all times, but I am probably able to discover mistakes more quickly. Thus, I can play with many ideas during a short period of time, all in my head.

Having once participated in such a media spectacle as in October 2008, also changes how one deals with the media. You loose your nervousness and become more confident. All of a sudden, I could even speak freely in front of an audience at the award ceremony of the “German Games Award” (“Deutscher Spielepreis”). First, there were the newspaper interviews, during which I had talked myself in form for the subsequent radio and TV interviews. What I still lack is a better accentuation. I had contributed to three radio shows at “Eldoradio” (every third Tuesday of a month at 7 p.m.) before the game fair. My demeanor became more confident, but my voice still sounded rather reluctant. The highlight of my media marathon was an eight-hour shoot with the WDR (West German Broadcasting) which, among other things, lead me back to the Hagen open-air museum, one of the places that inspired my ideas (see chapter 22, “At the open-air museum”).



94 - Game fair 2008

Due to the media spectacle, I only fleetingly perceived that long lines formed at our sales booth at the Essen game fair. It has been years that we managed something compareable with small bean games, which were subsequently traded at eBay for 30 to 40 euros. In 2008, we also had a Bohnanze variant. We offered Hanno’s “Schwäbische Eisenbohn” (“The Swabian Beanrailway“), and once again sold close to 1000 sets.



People also lined up for our carved-in-form grain and vegetable meeples (veggiemeeples), the give-away postcard (see chapter 87, “Postcard give-away”), the soft drink “Agri-Cola” (see chapter 89, “Agri-Cola”) and our fair novelty, “Le Havre”, with up to twelve extra cards (for every 10 euros paid, you got one such card). You could also get trading cards signed which we had published in the form of occupation cards (see chapter 61, “The L-Deck”). In the end, my trading card as well as our distribution chief Harald Bilz’s, were traded as “rare” because we could be met so rarely.

In my opinion, Essen 2008 was once again a game fair that was dominated by one single game. Maybe this is where its title derives from: “Dominion”. I’ll use the chance to make a daring prognosis and congratulate the Hans-im-Glück-Verlag for its “German Games Award 2009” (“Deutscher Spielepreis 2009”).

It was the most exhausting game fair, and the most exciting week of my life. Sometimes, I was a bit overstrained by the quick succession of interviewers. But it was fun.

95 - The game night of the jury “Game of the Year” (“Spiel des Jahres”)

In the course of the Essen game fair, the jury “Game of the Year” (“Spiel des Jahres”) each year organizes a game night. As award winner (see chapter 5, “Awards”) in the category “Complex Game”, my wife Susanne and I were invited to this event in 2008. However, Susanne and I did not play anything, as we would barely have been able to do after two exhausting fair days. But we had the privilege to get to know Andreas Seyfarth, the author of our favorite two-player game “Puerto Rico”, and his wife Karen. An incredibly funny man. Among my first questions was whether the university was not too expensive. Dialogues such as these are only possible in the gamering scene. Susanne and I enjoyed the evening very much. The food was as phantastic as two days before at the awards ceremony for the “German Games Award” (“Deutscher Spielepreis”), the location was directly reachable from the fair via subway, and there were not only quite many game novelties, but also many explainers.



By the way, Andreas confessed to me that today, he would indeed decrease the cost of the university by 1 doubloon and increase the cost of the factory by 1 doubloon. Hence, he would exchange the positions of both buildings on the Puerto Rico board. I think that he should try. I would like it better.

96 - Conclusion

I have frequently been asked if I was proud that “Agricola“ was received so well by the gaming community, or if that feeling had lost much of its emotional power since “Bohnanza”. Compared with “Bohnanza”, I consider “Agricola” to be my own game to a considerably larger degree, because I spent almost two intensive years with the game. More than 200 test game evenings in the complete version leave their marks. “Bohnanza”, meanwhile, had been more or less ready after four days. Working on a game can make you proud. Having had a good idea rather feels like a lucky coincidence. With “Bohnanza”, what made me proud was making people play who otherwise never used to play. With “Agricola”, I always felt proud when I heard that people prefered spending several hours with my game instead of a computer game, or when teenagers wanted to play with their parents even though playing is considered pretty much uncool among 15-year-olds, but most strongly when even 8-year-old children marvel at keeping sheep.

I want to begin the final part of my report by pointing out something important that game authors are able to achieve. They can go to elementary schools and show the children that it can pay to invest your heart and soul into the occupation you have most fun with, especially if it is something that usually appeals to all kinds of people. In life, work is allowed to be fun, because one day, you will have maximum success where you have most fun.



97 - 25th anniversary of being active in my profession

My personal investment-of-heart-and-soul history dates back to the early 1980s. Around 1984, I used to play chess, skat, “Scotland Yard” (Ravensburger, 1983, Dorothy Garrels, Fritz Ifland, Manfred Burggraf, Werner Scheerer, Werner Schlegel and Wolf Hoermann) and later also “You’re Bluffing!“ (“Kuhhandel”, Ravensburger, 1983, Rüdiger Koltze) on almost a daily base with two children from the neighborhood, Ansgar Scherb and Ude Goeman. Occasionally, my sister Insa would join us.



One afternoon, and making use of “Focus” (Milton Bradley, 1964, Sid Sackson) in the Kosmos version of the game of the year (Spiel des Jahres) 1980, Ansgar and I straightforwardly invented a soccer game: “You get these three meeples, I get those, and this is the ball. Now, I jump on the ball and kick it toward your goal.” In the following, I was again and again pondering ideas for games. Removed from reality, I dreamed of something like immortality. Sometimes, I realized on the same day that an idea for a game did not work out. With other games, it took me up to ten years until I could see that it had been futile to work on these ideas any further. But I dreamed of games which would still be played after my death.

It is a pity that my own taste in games is not the same as the taste of the masses. My favorite games are elaborate, make the brain “boil” and have me literally sink into the world of the game. These games give me such a surge of adrenaline that I like to get awake again with a “heavy-hitting” game (as I like to call complex and big games) when others want to play “one for the road” at midnight (which means a light, original sort of game). Thus, I never enjoyed inventing games as much as in the spring of 2005, when I developed “At the Gates of Loyang” (“Vor den Toren von Loyang”), my first prototype in a series of elaborate games (see chapter 10, “Development of the mechanisms from game to game”). This feeling became even stronger at the end of the same year, when I began with “Agricola”.

98 - Career phases of a games inventor

At the beginning of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso first went through his blue, then his pink phase. I wondered if he had first been a heavy drinker and then happily in love.

I have never been a heavy drinker, and even seldom drunk. In 1992, I had the first longer relation of my life. 1994, in the year of the separation, I went through an unhappy year. The creative powers had barely come back when their bloomed with all their might. My card games „Nottingham“, „Bohnanza“ und „Klunker“ all originate from the spring of 1995 (see chapter 8, “History repeats itself”).

The mathematician in me likes to formulate the sentence today that human beings feel in the derivative – and I actually mean the mathematical derivative. If they were doing badly yesterday and neutrally today, they feel good. If they were doing well yesterday and neutrally today, they feel bad. Carried by the euphoria of the first games, I went through my card game phase (1995-1998), followed by a work-over phase (1999-2000), which was less characterized by getting to the limits of exhaustion due to overworking, but by taking up ideas such as those for “Limits” and “Nottingham” for a second time. In 2001, I started an unsuccessful board game phase (until 2003), from which “Bean Trader” (“Bohn Hansa”, Amigo, 2003) has resulted as the only publication to date, even though the origins of that game do not lie in this phase, but back in 1989. My to this day most promising board game from this time, with the working title “Daily Star”, features – little wonder – a particular card game mechanism.



2004 was my year of party games, while in 2005, I migrated toward the elaborate games, where my Agricola years 2006 and 2007 and my Le Havre year 2008 followed. I hope to continue to be able to squeeze in some Bohnanza variants in the future. Otherwise, I would like to continue the existing series.

99 - Translation into English and additional reports

The present report is published in German and in English. For the translations to date, I would like to cordially thank Grzegorz Kobiela, Julius Kündiger, Timo Loist, Stefan Altmann and Bernadette Beckert. Bernadette Beckert translated chapters 1 to 24, Grzegorz Kobiela chapters 25 to 32, Julius Kündiger chapters 33 to 43, Timo Loist chapters 48 to 58 and Stefan Altmann chapters 59 to 100.
My Bohnanza report was published in 2007 under the title “Bohnanza – Das Fanbuch” (“Bohnanza – The Fan Book”) by Amigo. It comprises 56,000 words, and thus twice as many as the present text. Included are ten special rules each for the solitaire game and the two-player game. I advise those who like “Al Cabohne” to try the basic Bohnanza game in combination with the book.



As additional reports, my autobiography (or, as I hope, “The Beginning of my Autobiography”) and a Le Havre report are in the works. Chapters 97 and 98 of this report originate from the biography. The Le Havre report mimics “Agricola” by initially being published with an extent of only 24 chapters in form of an Advent calendar ar www.Cliquenabend.de (see chapter 1, “The initial publication of this text”). The Agricola report is to be continued. Chapters 101 to … follow. We will see.


100 -

The last sentence stems from Jeff Temple. On www.Boardgamegeek.com he wrote in a flowery language that only ardent wine drinkers command:
“If boardgames were wine, here’s what the label on Agricola would look like: This delightful offering from the Essen ‘07 line, is a clean, crisp vintage that gamers will want to drink down to the dregs. When uncorked for the first time the seasoned ‘gammelier’ will immediately detect the subtle floral scent of Pillars, with the rich undertones of St. Petersburg. Best savoured as a main course, the ‘Gric’s bold, yet unpretentious flavour might easily be paired with an appetizer of Ticket to Ride: The Card Game and followed by a lush dessert of Rum and Pirates. Sure to please the most discerning of palates, this spirited and winsome vintage will prove a sparkling addition to any gaming cellar!”

In this spirit, have fun at all the farms in this world!

Your Uwe



THANKS UWE, for this article
< vorige Seite Seite   1  2  nächste Seite >