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I'm in a group that regularly plays together. We love Agricola, but we tend to play the family version because we feel the minor improvements and occupations are a bit too unbalanced. Or sometimes one player gets great combinations and other players are left cold.

What options are there for distributing the minor improvements and occupations such that we can minimize that variation?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The back page of my set of rules has several systems to try to sort this out. Appendix 6 of the rules (from here) says:

3:1 Exchange

At any time, a player may discard any 3 cards from his hand and draw the face-down card at the top of either the Minor Improvements or the Occupations deck. This card is placed in the player’s hand.

10-3

Each player draws 10 Occupation and 10 Minor Improvement cards and discards 3 of each.

Mulligan

At the start of the game (and only at the start), a player may discard all 7 Occupations and/or Minor Improvements and draw 6 new cards of that type. (If the player is still unhappy, he can keep trying this, always drawing 1 card fewer than he discards).

Draft

Before the game starts, each player receives a hand of 7 Occupation cards as usual, then chooses one and passes the rest to her left-hand neighbor. Each player chooses one of the 6 new cards and passes on the remaining 5. This continues until each player has 7 cards. Repeat this process with the Minor Improvement cards. This variant allows players to create better combinations of cards than with a purely random distribution. We recommend that each player should have played Agricola at least 4-5 times before trying this variant.

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Drafting

Drafting is pretty popular at http://play-agricola.com It will take longer to get setup, but each player is more likely to have a set of cards that work together.

  • Each player draws or receives 8 occupations
  • Each player picks one occupation and passes the rest to the player to the right
  • Repeat until each player has 7 occupations
  • Do the same process with the Minor Improvements

Banning

You could also ban the worst of the cards. The following can currently be optionally banned for online play at play-agricola.com

  • E occ, Ratcatcher
  • G occ, Late Sleeper (banned Apr 21, 2011)
  • I minor, Wooden Hut Extension (banned April 20, 2010) (not banned May 6, 2010) (banned in 4-ERs Sept 17, 2010)
  • I occ, Taster
  • I occ, Chamberlain
  • (K minor, Broom) (not banned anymore Jan 1, 2010)
  • K minor, Reedhut (banned Sept 18, 2009)
  • K occ, Lover
  • K occ, Wetnurse
  • Z occ, Mail Coach Driver (banned Sept 18, 2009)
  • O minor, Guest Worker (banned Sept 18, 2009)

  • note: Z minor Maypole and Z occ Herald are always prevented.

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