A to Z Gaming: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

Our next game in the A to Z play-through of our gaming shelf was Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – the 2-player stand-alone version of Agricola.

Basic Info: Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small
Players: 2
Time: 30 Minutes
Designer:  Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz
Publisher:  Z-Man Games (our copy)

 

Like Agricola, All Creatures Big and Small is a worker placement game where you play a farming family. However, unlike Agricola, this 2-player game focuses on the animal husbandry portion of the game, ditching the fields, plowing, and even family growth. You still build buildings, but no hiring hands or expanding your home.

The game is played in eight rounds, and during each round you always have three workers who can pick up materials or animals, or build fences, troughs, or special buildings. We played with our two expansions – More Buildings and Even More Buildings. This meant that we had four additional special buildings available to upgrade our farm.

End of game points come from the number of animals you have of each type, farm expansions that are fully used, and points from special buildings.

While you always feel like you need “just one more move” each round, this game is no where near as tight as Agricola. And, unlike Agricola, I find this one quite fun.

My husband and I collected a number of 2-player games several years ago, and this is one that I ask to pull out more frequently than most of the others (just behind Patchwork). I like the fast-pace of the game and the puzzle of figuring out the right sequence of moves each round to get your farm built up while having room for all of the farm animals – and accounting for the baby animals that appear at the end of the round.

In the base game, there are four special buildings that you can buy (plus the stables) – these can give you bonus points at the end of the game, hold more animals, or upgrade your house.

We now play with the two expansions, which simply add new buildings to the game. At game set-up, you pick four buildings at random and add them to the four that are already always available. I like the addition of the rotating buildings to the game since these can change your strategy each game.

For example, I was able to pick up the Wild Boar Pen, which allowed me to keep one boar on each of the spaces adjacent to the forest without fencing them in. This took a lot of pressure off of trying to fill all of the spaces on my board, since I could just use boars. (And, I ended up winning that game, largely because I had filled three farm expansions.)

How is it as a 2-player game? Well, it’s designed as a 2-player game, so it’s great as a 2-player game. Okay, I know that some 2-player games aren’t that great, so just because it is designed that way doesn’t mean it’s great. However, this one plays well as a 2-player game – there are enough worker spaces that there is always something you can do, but few enough that invariably your opponent is going to mess up your strategy.

How about the art? There’s less art in this than Agricola (because there are no upgrade and no occupation decks), and what art there is feels a little cutesier, which I like. As with Agricola, though, my favorite part is the “animeeples”.

Will this stay in my collection? Absolutely! I love pulling this game out.

 

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