Raising Animals and Hiding Gems

Sarah's player board at the end of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. There are 9 sheep, 8 pigs, 4 horses and six cows on the farm.

Jobby and Sarah make a start on their 2019 gaming challenge…

Raising Animals

We begin our 2019 11x Best of Three gaming challenge with something a little shorter – Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. This is Agricola‘s little sibling which condenses the farming theme from the bigger game and concentrates on the animal husbandry.

I managed to type ‘animal husbandry’ without smirking, I’m quite proud of that! 🙂

Just like the bigger game, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small sees players placing their workers to select actions in an effort to gather resources, build boundaries and collect animals. Unlike Agricola, there’s no grain or veg, no expansion of house and family and no feeding people which makes the game feel a little less punishing.

Close up of Sarah's player board in Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. Sarah has three pigs in a stall. A cow lurks in the background.
Three little piggies take up residence on Sarah’s farm.

So it’s all about the animals. In my typical, contrary fashion, this meant I pretty much ignored animals at the start of the game. Instead I thought I would cleverly collect resources and build a building in the middle of my farm. In this game, the buildings are surrounded by four boundaries and so reduce your need to build fences or walls. I thought if I could get the farm set up with some good spaces to house the animals I could then bring in the animals.

Sarah, in contrast, got straight on with building boundaries and filling her farm with animals. In hindsight, I think her method worked better as animals breed in this game. If a player has two or more animals of the same type at the end of a round then they get an extra one free. So as Sarah got animals earlier than me she was then getting free animals for longer than I was. And what do animals make?

Well, they make sausages, lamb fillets, burgers and Findus ‘beef’ lasagnes. But in this game they make points! In this particular play, they made more points for Sarah than for me. Even with my building of the Storage Building to give me bonus points I couldn’t beat her. Final score – me: 36, Sarah:42. Game to Sarah!

Sarah's palyer board at the end of Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small. There are 9 sheep, 8 pigs, 4 horses and six cows on the farm.
Sarah’s farm at the end of the game (she soundly beat me!)

This Ain’t Pandora

On then to game two. This was the very lovely looking Iquazú in which each of us would be hiding gems behind the water of a waterfall. A water dragon helps by holding the water back and then letting the water go again once a column has been filled. Why? I don’t know but the moving frame in the middle of the board does make people stop and look.

And those blue people on the cards? They’re definitely not Na’vi. No. Definitely not.

In Iquazú, players take turns playing cards to claim spots on a ‘grid’ of spots. The cards played must match the colour of the target spot and the further to the right the spot is, the more matching cards must be played. Water droplets are added to the left-most column on every other turn.

When the left-most column is filled then an intermediate scoring session happens with points being awarded to the player with the most gems in that column. Then a bonus tile is awarded for each row – again, the player with the most gems on the row gets the bonus. Bonus tiles can be points or may be bonus card draws, extra turns or the ability to play off-colour cards.

Frankly, I have no idea what Sarah was doing in this game. In the early stages of the game, I concentrated on getting the bonus card draw tiles. This ensured I didn’t waste too many turns drawing extra cards (there’s no automatic drawing in this game). I could then use my card advantage to place gems further to the right which set me up better for future rounds.

During the second half of the game I switched to picking up lots of bonus point tiles, plus some tiles that granted extra turns. These latter bonuses really wound up Sarah near the end of the game where I would take two or three turns in a row and lock up a column or row to ensure I got the points.

At the end of game scoring I was sat on a lot of bonus point tiles. Sarah, not so much. Yes, I won this game – 70 points to me, 37 to Sarah.

The board at the end of a game of Iquazu. There are some purple and red crystals under the water fall.
End of the game, the water-dragon has reached the end of the waterfall.

Start as We Mean to Go On

Well, it looks like we’re off to a close start. We’ve played two games and won one each. It’s early days so let’s see where this goes!

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