Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘Agricola: All Creatures Great and Small’ iOS Edition
For those not part of the tabletop community, ‘Agricola’ is a multiple award winning competitive farming game with player success coming from resource management and worker placement. On each turn the players choose where in the market their workers will be sent in order to obtain resources in the forms of wood, rock, reed and a variety of farm animals. At the end of the game the farmer who has built the largest and most prosperous farm will have earned the most points and won the game.
Where the competitive aspect comes in is the limited resources available to players in each round of play. There will only be set numbers of animals and purchase options in the market, and if another player has already picked up the available horses then you are out of luck. Once you have a pair of animals of the same type they will start breeding and increasing your points, but you need to keep paddocks fenced, buildings upgraded and land bought to accomodate their growing number. In short, a successful player is one who will be able to identify and act on the best times to take each resource to maximise efficiency. This may not sound like a thrill ride, but the frequency in which circumstances can change means players are constantly rethinking their strategy. It’s a popular game for this reason.
This iOS version is just making it’s way on to the phone for handheld, on-the-go play. For new players the game may not appear immediately accessible as the layout and gameplay is not completely intuitive. Fortunately the app has an easy to follow tutorial mode that comes up automatically and does a reasonable job of taking you through the mechanics. The small screen size does make identifying the different market spaces and items problematic, but tapping on each will bring up a description to guide you along. It will only take a few games to have familiarised yourself with all the options so you can focus on your strategy.
At the time of review the release of the game had just started in Australia so we couldn’t find any other online players to compete with. The AI players proved to be pretty easy to beat after a bit of practise, so as a solo adventure it’s very limited. Nonetheless the easy to play design of the app and the proven reliability of the original promises plenty of replay-ability once more players are on board.