Agricola arrived on Monday. It's interesting but not exciting... exciting was past in about April. I read the rules that night, and settled down for a couple of solo family games. It is still a good game, despite the sorry saga attached, and it got me sucked in. In my first game I played as if I was playing multiplayer, and ended up with a miserable 33 points. I realised afterwards I'd spent too much time taking resources that would still be there later anyway - in multiplayer they won't be. I also decided I should try to use the combo actions better, e.g. Sow and Bake Bread. With those ideas and another glass of red under my belt, I went on to score 44 points in the second game. I went to bed trying to figure out an optimal field placement.
The next morning I wrote down all the actions and the major improvements and spent the bus trips to and from work trying to figure out a better plan. I decided that I would work on a plan involving a Clay Oven so that I could play a mega-move involving Renovation, Major Improvement and Bake Bread for 5 food. As there are two Renovations in a game then I could choose another Major Improvement, and that was to be the Cooking Hearth so I could convert animals to food or Bake Bread to get 11 food in one turn. So that meant I needed 3 clay for the Clay Oven, 4 clay for the Renovation, 4 clay for the Cooking Hearth.. and there were only 14 clay in the game, so I couldn't also build a clay hut. So I had to build a wood hut, and along with 15 wood for fences and 8 wood for stables, that was all the wood used up as well. If I wanted 5 houses I'd have to build two stone houses, which is difficult because the stone arrives late in the game. I put a lot of thought into this plan, but was twice interrupted by the bus arriving at its destination.
This morning I got up early to test out my incomplete plan. Sure enough, on about Round 7 I was at a loss what to do next - it's easy to plan the start and the end, but there are too many combinations in the middle. I could tell I wasn't going to manage a 5th house, so I took a 5th field instead. I got maximum points for fields, pastures, vegetables, sheep, family members and stables, and missed one on each of grain, boars and cattle. I got 8 points for 4 stone rooms and 3 points for Major Improvements, for a total of 55.
Let me pause this narrative to say there are some posts on BGG which say "oh yeah, I played the family game solitaire, got 60 on my first try...", to which I reply (a) HOLY CRAP! and (b) what rules mistakes did you make? On my 3rd game with over an hour's planning I only got 55. I'm no savant, but I'm no goose either. For someone to get 60 on their first game is unbelievable. Anyway, I have heard of someone getting 62. When I can manage 60 I'll start with the cards and try the campaign mode.
After this morning's experience I've decided I need to get more than 3 points for Major Improvements. My revised plan involves a Stone Oven and a Well worth 7 VP in total. I'll probably need a Fireplace as well so I can convert animals to food. To execute this plan I'll need 29 wood, 13 clay, maybe 8 reeds, and at least 10 stone. I can get away with 28 wood if I lose a point on pastures. I have two more bus trips tomorrow to work on this plan!
I'd love to be playing now, but the school Christmas concert has sucked my soul, and I have to go to sleep. Goodnight!