App Reviewed on: iPad
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Agricola is a European-style worker-placement game that initially appeared as a board game back in 2008. Now, in the hands of developers Playdek, the game has been recreated for iOS devices complete with a colorful visual style and revamped design to make it ideal for mobile gaming. While the idea of a "worker-placement" game may not appeal to all, Agricola successfully interprets the board game while simulating the trials and tribulations of day-to-day farm life, making for a very rich and deep gaming experience.
To play Agricola, players have to juggle a number of farm tasks given a specific set of workers. To do this, players simply drag and drop worker tokens over cards that initially appear as rural houses and businesses within a town (note: this can be toggled to the more informational "card view" at the touch of a button). The ultimate goal of the game is to manage workers so that players build up their farms while also appropriately feeding all farm workers. This makes for a gameplay experience that asks players to balance progression and survival simultaneously.
When players first boot Agricola, they are met with a robust set of tutorials that cover all the core mechanics. For those unfamiliar with the board game (myself included) these tutorials are crucial to understanding how to play Agricola. Although the game could be considered helpful in this regard, at times I also felt like the game was dragging me through steps without detailing the underlying strategy behind certain maneuvers. Thankfully, there is also a rule book included and a solo series mode, both of which allow for players to figure out how the game works without much consequence.
Once players have the basics down, they can then challenge either AI or go online. Once multiple players get involved, Agricola truly opens up as a game of strategy. While playing solo, the game is very much about personal resource management, whereas when playing against others, an element of resource scarcity and competition comes into play, requiring players to carefully decide where they should place their workers to both advance their own progression while potentially disrupting their opponents'. When a game ends, a series of victory points are assigned based on a variety of factors including things like livestock, unused space, and beggar cards (a card that players earn if they are ever unable to feed their workers), and the player with the most victory points wins.
Agricola's success as a board game seems due to its balanced gameplay and replayability, and the same is true for this version. Every game is ripe with new opportunities for strategic decision-making. On top of this, the developers put a lot of time and effort into the game's appearance on iOS, making it both visually pleasing and functionally efficient. This game is a must buy for board game enthusiasts.