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I enjoy playing Agricola, but the box the game comes in doesn't lend to keeping the pieces organized, and I generally spend a fair amount of time taking everything out, and even more time putting everything back so it's not a complete mess the next time I play.

Any good suggestions for alternative storage that minimizes the set up/tear down?

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5 Answers 5

How about a foamcore insert? I just finished my Agricola foamcore yesterday. I haven't benchmarked the setup and breakdown times (yet). There are no zip top bags to open, it should only take a minute.

I have friends who get a little tacklebox organizer for each game. This takes more effort than that, but it's much more customizable.

For a crash course on how to make something like this, check out this video series: Using Foamcore by The Esoteric Order of Gamers.

Album My Agricola Foamcore

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It really doesn't take long at all to open or close ten zip top bags; most of the setup or cleanup is just putting pieces where they need to go, or sorting them back out. I still think this is really cool, don't get me wrong, I just don't think it really saves that much time. –  Jefromi Aug 29 at 6:58

The trade-off is between setup time and maintenance (restocking at the beginning of each turn). We've chosen to split the difference as follows:

  • Each set of player pieces goes into its own ziplock bag. Hand each player a bag at the beginning of the game and let him manage it from there.

  • All the goods (wood, clay, reeds, stone, grain) go into a single large ziplock bag. We just dump this out onto the table (or, if you prefer, into a shallow bowl). Yes, you have to do a little digging when restocking the board, but it's spread out enough that you can generally just pick up three wood (etc).

  • All the livestock go into a single bag. Treat like the goods.

  • All the food tokens and the "5x" chits go into a single bag. Again, just dump it out somewhere; most of the time you're just grabbing food and the other chits are larger, so we haven't found it to be a problem.

  • Separate the cards into minor improvements, occupations, and everything else. For "everything else", that's the major improvements (in order, so you can just deal them out), the 14 turn cards (we just shuffle them all together and then populate the board), the extra "board" cards for higher numbers of players (we just pick what we need there), begging cards (we ignore them unless needed), and the "cheat sheet" cards (deal out). You could put a "cheat sheet" card in with each bag of player pieces if you prefer; we've never bothered.

This distribution of stuff allows easy parallel processing during game setup. One person can deal out the board, turn, and major-improvement cards while somebody else (or multiple somebodies) dump out the three bags of tokens and somebody else (could be two somebodies) shuffles and deals occupation and minor-improvement cards.

We don't bother to sort out the occupations by number of players; after dealing, people check for invalid cards, return them, and get dealt replacements. Iterate until done.

When we play we use all of the series together; if you want to play with, e.g., only the K-cards, I suggest the same approach as for occupations.

I haven't timed our setup, but it's never triggered the "ugh, this is taking too long" reaction. I think our Agricola setup is comparable to our Puerto Rico setup, for what that's worth.

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A "Plano box" did it for me. You'll find these for general organization across a lot of specific disciplines, primarily arts and crafts but also fishing and home improvement. Any big-box department store should have a respectable selection.

I count 10 different resource types in the base game (including animals), but some are more plentiful than others, so either a box with movable dividers, or one with up to 16 fixed-size slots, should do the trick. It has to be relatively shallow in order to fit in the box without raising the lid, but it wasn't hard for me to find a box of this type that met that criteria. A box whose lid is designed to be easily removed is ideal.

The beauty is that the box can then be used in-game; yes, the back side of one of the player boards is supposed to be a "stockyard" for the varying resource types, but if you're playing with 5 players that's no longer an option, and why bother pouring out all the bits and stacking them in piles when you can just open up a lid ? Then, instead of bagging, simply drop the loose bits into their proper compartments, close the lid and the resource bits are packed. Bag the cards, the player-specific bits, the larger cardboard "chits" for tiles and larger resource counts (which I never use), and throw it all in the box on top of the player and main boards.

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As with most games, splitting the pieces into a decent number of small zip lock bags seems to make it work just fine.

I think my copy of Agricola actually came with plenty of bags, but they're really cheap if you need to buy some. (For example, searching for "small ziplock bags" on amazon I found packs of 100 or 1000 for under $10.) You can split it into a bag of animals, a bag of vegetables/grain, a bag for each player's pieces, and so on. The decks can be kept split up either rubber banded or in bags of their own.

If that's not fancy enough for you, you can certainly build yourself a divided box, or find something the right size (look at hobby/craft stores or at places like Target for jewelry storage and such), but I tend to think that's overkill. It takes some effort to make/find something exactly the right size without adding enough bulk that things don't fit as well in the box. (But it can be a fun project if you're into that sort of thing!)

As for fast setup/teardown, as long as everyone you're playing with is helpful, it goes pretty fast; I don't think you really need any special tricks as long as you haven't mixed all the pieces together.

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The box of Agricola I got came with about 10 bags which I've been able to use to seperate everything into. What I do, is that I only take things out of the bags when they need to be used, and then start piles of "discarded items" to be re-used during game play.

We also try to keep all the like items near each other so that during clean up it's pretty quick to put the stuff back into their respective bags. Some people get annoyed at me and ask for the bags to be dumped open so they don't have to try to take an item from the bag during game play (But hey that's more time to think!), but I find the easier setup and cleanup worth it.

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