If you've never played the physical version of Agricola then you're going to spend a good while scratching your head during the tutorials for this iOS version. It will talk at you about crops, occupations, livestock, and mating, and it'll feel a lot like sitting an exam you haven't studied for.
Bear with it, though, because when things start to click - which they will, slowly but surely - you'll find an engaging and brilliantly presented boardgame that will give you hours of fun without having to worry about getting everything back in the box afterwards.Tough ground
Agricola is a game about running a farm. As well as trying to bring in enough crops to make sure your family don't starve you need to keep ahead of your opponents, building your farmhouse and raising animals to earn victory points.
These points are added up at the end of the game to determine a winner, and there's plenty that can go wrong in the game's 14 rounds to make your score plummet.
Fail to feed your family and you'll get begging cards, which take 3 away from your final score. Fail to populate your farm with every kind of animal and you'll see your points dropping too.
Everything is controlled with taps and swipes. You'll drag workers to positions in the village that give you resources or let you perform actions. You'll need resources, like wood and stone, to perform the actions like sprucing up your house and fencing in your animals.
On top of the simple resource-gathering there are professions and house extensions that give you boosts and bonuses.Hard living
You only get as many moves as you have family members. But while expanding your brood is a good idea, it takes up a valuable slot in one round that could have been used to sow some crops, plough a field, or build a stable to allow you to put more animals in your pastures.
Learning what the various occupations and house upgrades do is pretty important, as you'll need to make sure you're using them to the utmost of their abilities. Some give points at the end of the game, while others help you out during the harvest section.
These happen at set points. You'll reap your crops, your animals will mate, and if you don't have enough food to give two pieces to each of your family members those left without will have to beg, losing you points.The reward of a well-tended patch of earth
This is a game of choices and strategy. Should you try and up the price of your house or add some wild boar to your herd? Should you hire a clay mixer or spend some quality time making a new member of the family?
You'll be asking yourself questions like this throughout the game, all the while trying not to let your opponents have things their own way by grabbing resources they need and making sure their best laid plans fall through.
Agricola is a game that does nothing to hide its depth, and some people will take one look at it and throw in the towel.
That's understandable, but if you put in some effort you'll find an incredibly rewarding digital boardgame whether you're playing on your own, online, or with friends on the same device.