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Game review: Agricola 2016 edition: It's better all around, but the family still needs to be fed

The board game Agricola is a popular classic with quite a fan following. It was released in 2007 and maintains an overall rank of eight for best board games on the website boardgamegeek.com. Recently it underwent a reproduction by Mayfair Games. This is a review of the new revised edition.

In Agricola, players take on the role of 17th century farmers trying to create something out of the soil. Each players starts with a spouse, a two-room home and some farmland. The new version is beautiful and features upgraded wooden components (sheep, pigs, cows, people, veggies and resources), better written rules, better designed boards and cards chosen from a variety of expansions.

A central board contains actions that can be performed by everyone and each player can assign one of their two starting workers to accomplish an action. However once a player takes an action, it is not available to other players until the next turn. One thing about the revised central board in this version is that it snaps together easily and contains all of the information for the number of players involved right on the board without placing cards.

Some of the actions that can be performed during the game are preparing a plot of land for vegetables, planting vegetables, improving or building on to a home, breeding animals, gaining resources or finding food to feed the family. But the game also includes tons of cards that allow actions as well. (Cards are what add great variety to this game.)

At the beginning of the game, each player receives some minor improvement and occupation cards to work with. These are unique to an individual player and are shown when played. Improvement cards must be paid for with resources but can help a player receive significant advantages. A set of major improvements on the main board are also available and can be accessed by anyone. Once they are gone though, too bad.

As the game progresses, there are more and more options available each round. Players have the choice to gain more workers by having children and adding them to the farmhouse. It's all done in a fun and family-friendly way. After certain rounds, there is a harvest, and planted vegetables grow, animals breed and resources are collected. If a player can't feed his or her family after a harvest, he or she collects negative point tokens.

After 14 rounds, the game ends and each player counts up their points based on what accomplishments they achieved. What vegetables were grown or how many animals did a player breed? Was a home improved? There are a bunch of ways to score. The player with the most points wins.

Most likely the biggest thing to be aware of in this revised edition is that it plays one to four players and the previous version played one to five players. However, Mayfair Games did announce a five- to six-player expansion is planned and should come out sometime in September 2016.

Agricola is a fabulous game and the revised edition is excellent. It improves the original edition with better components, well-written rules and several minor improvements that make the game easier to play. For those who have card expansions from the previous version, rejoice because the card sizes are the same and those expansions can easily be integrated into this new edition.

If a gamer already owns the previous version of Agricola and some expansions, I don't think there is enough here to warrant going out and purchasing the new version yet. If a gamer doesn't own Agricola, this is absolutely the version to get and it's that kind of game that should be in every gamer's closet. Mayfair Games did a wonderful job of continuing the Agricola legacy. Long live Agricola. Find out more by clicking here.

rmorgenegg@desnews.com