As you may well have guessed by now I play a lot of online Agricola; here's a situation that comes up all the time.
If I'm the second player, and sheep come up as the round one action card, quite often my second action will be to take starting player, take 2 Clay at the beginning of round two, positioning myself to get an early Fireplace and score a sweet 6-8 Food in round four.
Obviously this is a powerful sequences of plays and if left unchecked sets you up quite nicely to expand without food worries in rounds five through seven. Nevertheless, I'm always quite surprised at the alacrity with which most of my opponents like to take the sheep in response to my building a Fireplace, obviously having to release all but one into the wild.
I feel like I'm continually soundly beating the players who "waste a turn" depriving me of sheep; obviously I'm not overjoyed to be losing a few "free" Food, but equally I'm delighted that my opponent has spent a crucial early turn doing virtually nothing except trying to annoy me.
My question is simply, have I miscalculated the value of the sheep-stealing move? If you are playing an opponent who aggressively takes 2 Clay and builds a Fireplace hoping to celebrate the first Harvest with an enormous sheep barbecue, would you spend an action taking sheep from under his nose and why? Can anyone effectively break down the pros and cons of such an action for me?