This Labor Day marked the usual 3-day weekend that surprisingly opened up opportunities to play board games. Surprisingly, because even if I had the chance to meet and spend time with members of my family, more often than not it would be doing family stuff rather than seeing board games at the center of a meeting. But so to speak, the opportunities presented themselves and I took them. Sunday night an exciting burger brawl took place in Food Chain Magnate and Monday night Agricola hit the table. Very rare to have the chance of a big game in one weekend, let alone two!
Food Chain Magnate is easy if no one else cuts the prices!
Food Chain Magnate’s Sunday Night Game was an exciting mix of new and proven strategies, but unfortunately for innovation, it was the proven strategies that reigned over the day. The game saw me, my fiancee, and my brother beat me on a much smaller map than I’m used to playing. Plus, the smaller player count also meant fewer billboards and a cap on unique characters like the CFO and executive vice president. My brother continued the opening of the coach while my fiancee and I went to get the opening of the 3 locations. For my part, I combined this with a first price manager and a first Errand Boy to set up my production and I made sure to get the milestone of the first drink on the market to increase my income.
This strategy has been something that I have been using for quite some time, not because of the flexibility it offers. I was generally able to respond to most attempts to outdo myself by producing whatever needed to be produced while still being able to make local managers and business development managers work for me. Needless to say, mid-game I was running away with the game and no one could really stop me.
Here are my 3 takeaways from the game:
Of all the opening moves we’ve tried, I think the first Recruiting Girl round leading up to the Management Trainee bonus 2 on round 3 is still the way to go. This opener gives you a lot of flexibility to organize your org chart, whether you are playing a long or short game. While I won’t go into details, the flexibility of hiring and the flexibility of stocking enough trainers to upgrade your crew isn’t to be taken lightly.
Pricing Manager, especially in conjunction with the milestone that definitely lowers prices for you, wreaks havoc on everyone. All houses are, in effect, two tiles closer to your restaurant when you only have to use one space in your precious org chart to keep people honest. The reason this game was particularly powerful was that no one else was dropping the prices as aggressively as I was, otherwise the game would have been very different.
First Errand Boy is deceptively useful. Even more so if you can take the freezer as a side benefit. The freezer is useful enough that you can rig your production to save turns and make your growers as useful as possible, but the First Errand Boy milestone effectively prevents people from bullying you so you can’t deliver the drinks you demand. . When someone tries to shoot this on you, just spam Errand Boys and laugh.
Basically I managed to win because I was overtaking everyone and no one was punishing heavily for my lack of burgers and no one was even making a lot of effort to lower the prices. You have to be proactive in stealing business from other players and if you don’t, someone can easily run away with the game which is precisely what happened then.
Agricola’s fundamentals reign supreme!
On Monday a friend came over for a 3 player game of Agricola. Agricola, for me at least, is a game best played with 4 people because it offers a good balance of solid spaces in which to place your family members without making it obscene. In the 5 player game there are too few good spaces to play your workers and the last player can easily get fucked. In the 3 player game, there is a dearth of amazing spaces to settle into.
So, while the basics are valid for both 3-player and 4-player Agricola, you will still need to make some adjustments. One of these days I’ll be writing down the top 5 dos and don’ts for Agricola, but for now, here are my takeaways from the 3-player version I played with my friend and my friend. bride:
The absence of the Reed, Stone, Food tile makes it much more difficult to start your food engine in high gear. This tile is incredibly flexible due to the way it gives you just about anything you need. After all, food is always useful, Reed is great for building those rooms that will make your family grow taller and the stone is great for getting the well or moving to a stone house. As a result, you can never really go wrong choosing this tile if you don’t know what to do. But because that square isn’t there, you have less room for error and fewer multi-functional tiles to make your moves super optimal.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. The absence of the Reed, Stone, Food tile in the 3 player version means that Reed becomes a much higher priority if you want to run to the first family growth. Remember, the game is about having a mind blowing farm and having more family members help you get there. Always be prepared to shoot the first player to get the 2-Reed stack if you think someone else might be looking for it. Because if they do and manage to shut you out, you might end up in the dust.
Beyond that my game plan was to stick to the fundamentals and I think it went pretty well. Having sheep robbed led to inefficient feeding rounds through daily laborer, but in the end I was sitting down with 5 family members and received a huge boost from a full slate triple animals and a cooking stove to catch me 9 foods. Having a 2x 3 field plow also led to some really effective actions which when combined with the market woman also easily got 4 points each for grains and veg and won the game for me.
The amount of games over the Labor Day weekend turned out to be more than I expected, mostly because they were heavier games that I love so much. I’m always learning new tricks in Food Chain Magnate and over time I hope I understood my openness because there are a lot of ways I can improve myself, just by doing post-mortem analysis.