Fischer-Agricola

Yesterday, January 28th, 2020, a novel version of Agricola was played for the first time at ARES, Blindern: Fischer-Agricola. Inspired by the innovation in chess, named after the legendary champion Bobby Fischer, BA Kildalen proposed translation of the same idea to Agricola by randomising resource allocation to the fixed action spaces before the start of the game. We tried this twice and, as you will se, it worked! 🙂

This is how we modified the setup:

  • The 9 fixed Action spaces (3Wd, 2Wd, 1Wd, 2Cl, 1Cl, Rd, RSF, TP and Fish) were all treated as Accumulation spaces. For simplicity (and in order for cards that address specific Action spaces to make sense), the names of the Action spaces were retained although the resources to be placed on the Action spaces no longer corresponded to the names of the spaces.
  • All Building resources and Food that were to be placed on these Action spaces in each Round, 15 resources in total (6 Wd, 3 Cl, 2 Rd, 1 St, 3 Fd) were pooled.
  • Allocation of the 15 Resources to each of the 9 fixed Action spaces was drawn (using Grain markers for Food) before the start of the game (i.e., before the draft), with the following restrictions:
    • The number of Resources on each Action space was kept the same as in the basic setup, i.e., 3 on the 3Wd and RSF spaces, 2 on the 2Wd and 2Cl spaces and 1 on each of the other spaces
    • The two Reeds were not allowed to be allocation to the same Action space
  • All the 9 fixed Action spaces (including RSF) were considered Accumulation spaces (this hardly added Resources to the game, since the 3-resource spaces were taken almost every Round of the games)
  • Stone accumulation spaces that were revealed in Stages 2 and 4 were not affected by the randomisation
  • The effect of some cards (we identified 11) had to be changed. This is the amended wording we used:
    • Animal Trainer. Whenever you take Food from a Resource Accumulation space, you may immediately use it to buy animals: Pay 2 Food for each Sheep or Wild Boar and 3 Food for each Cattle.
    • Basket. Whenever you use a person’s action to take Building Resources from an Action space, you can leave 2 of the Building Resources on the Action space and receive 3 Food in exchange.
    • Dancer. Whenever you use the “Travelling Players” action on an Action space, you receive a total of 4 Resources. If there is 1 to 3 Resources on the space, take Food from the general supply until the total number of Resources received totals 4.
    • Fisherman. Whenever you use the “Fishing” Action space, you can choose to take the same number of Food as there is Resources on the Action space. If you do this, you must give one Food each to the Fishing Rod, Raft, Canoe, Fish Trap and Landing Net.
    • Fish Hook. Whenever you use an Action space orthogonally adjacent to the “Fishing” Action space, you may immediately take 1 Resource of your choice from the “Fishing” Action space if there is Food on that space.
    • Gem Hunter. Whenever you use a person to take Clay from a Building resource Accumulation space, you may also receive 1 Stone. In Round 9 or before, if there are 3 or more Building resources on the space, you must leave 1 Clay on the space to receive the Stone.
    • Juggler. Whenever you use the “Travelling Players” action on an Action space, you can choose to take the same number of Food as there is Resources on the Action space. If you do this, you must give one Food each to the Magician, Conjurer, Street Musician, Puppeteer, Acrobat, Dancer, Animal Trainer and Storyteller.
    • Spinney. Whenever another player uses the “3  Wood” Action sopace, s/he must give you one of the Resources of her/his choice.
    • Storehouse Keeper. Whenever you use the “RSF” Action space, you also receive of your choice 1 Clay or 1 Grain.
    • Storyteller. Whenever you use the “Travelling Players” action on an Action space, you may leave 1 Resource of your choice on the space and receive 1 Vegetable instead.
    • Wood Distributor. At the start of the Work phase, you may distribute all Resources on the “3 Wood” Action space as evenly as possible onto the “1 Clay”, “1 Reed” and “Fishing” Action spaces. If there are different kinds of Resources on the space, you decide which Resource is to be placed on which Action space. When you play this card, you receive 2 Wood.

In the very first Fischer-Agricola game ever played (to our knowledge), the Resources were distributed on the 9 fixed Action spaces as follows:

AgrFischer200128

(3Wd-ASp: WRF; RSF-ASp: WWR; 2Wd-Asp: CF; 2 Cl-Asp: WF; 1Wd-Asp: W; 1Cl-Asp: C; Rd-Asp: C; TP: S; Fish-Asp: Wd)

After some thinking, the draft started. Noticing that the single, accumulating Stone on the TP space would probably be popular in early game, I first-picked Puppeteer (over Head Of The Family). Also many other cards changed value. With 5 Wood accumulation spaces, Gunnar found Wood Cart to be more valuable than in a standard game. However, after some time to familiarise with the new setup, playing was business as usual. The game was completed in 90 minutes and the winner (surprise!) was Bernt Ivar. The participants in this historic first Fischer-Agricola game were Bernt Ivar Nødland, BA Kildalen, Gunnar Arvid Sveinsson (and myself, Rune Halvorsen).

The first Fischer-Agricola game in history was immediately followed by the second, in which the distribution of resources was closer to standard; with RSW on the 3 Wd-Asp and accumulation spaces for 2 Wd, 2 Cl, single Wd and single Rd (on Fishing). The RSF ASp got WFF, which sometimes accumulated to 2W+4F. After the game, we concluded that Fischer-Agricola is likely to survive, bringing variation to our  favourite boardgame. Furthermore, we agreed that skills in standard Agricola are easily transferred to the Fischer variant: Bernt Ivar also won the second game.

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