I’ve owned Agricola for a long while, but got the Farmers of the Moor expansion relatively recently. However, as the expansion was for the revised version of the game but I had the original I never properly played it. I recently bought the revised edition of Agricola as I found it available dirt cheap. And so, last weekend, I finally took the opportunity to try out the solo mode. This review assumed you know how to play the original game.
Soloing Agricola, like most (all?) Uwe games is just a case of trying to get the most points. Apparently 70 is a good score (which I didn’t get even close to!). So aside from a few different action spaces the game isn’t all that different in general.
Farmers of the Moor add special action cards that can be used on your turn instead of using a worker – these allow you to do actions that aren’t on the main boards (such as chopping down woodland) as they are new actions to the expansion. I like this as it means you don’t just have more action spaces to use your limited supply of workers on. However, it’s also a bit weird as it takes you out of the usual flow of actions.
What cards you can use depends on what is face up, and a card can be used by two different players each round. However, in solo mode you have only once card available which you can use at any point. The cards tend to have multiple actions on them but once you do one you discard the card and can’t use it again that turn.
Another major change is that as well as feeding your workers every round you also have to heat your house at one fuel per room (fuel being gathered through the special action cards, and through improvement cards). You start the game with woodland and moor tiles on your board which you can remove for wood/fuel with the special action cards – but if you keep them they count the space as used, thus reducing negatives.
Cards-wise, Farmers of the Moors adds in extra major improvements that you uncover when you take some of the original major improvements. It also has a separate deck of minor improvements that you can add in to the original ones or use as the only deck. I did the latter during the run through to save me shuffling the two decks together.
While the expansion adds interesting aspects without adding too many extra rules, I think at least as solo I prefer the game without. It’s already hard enough to work out how to manage your workers and do everything you want to do and it just distracted me from the main aim of the game. Because I only used minor improvement cards from the expansion this pulled me towards a strategy that fully used the expansion. That said, I do like the extra progression of major improvement cards.
I’d definitely like to try using the expansion in a multiplayer game as I’m interested to see how the special action card selection will work in the game.