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After playing several games of Agricola in the family friendly mode, I played a couple of games of the full version with a friend.

What we've found is that adding the additional occupations and minor improvements:

  1. Adds a lot more time to each person's turn as they consider their strategy for utilising their improvements/occupations.

  2. Adds overwhelming complexity to decision making, to the point that the game is simply not fun.

I'm wondering if we're playing it wrong.

What we're doing is we're somehow selecting seven minor improvements and seven occupations to start with. See this thread for more details.

The player then can look at his two hands at anytime. This is where the additional time comes in, as each player turn the player is considering how they'll use their cards.

Is this how the game is meant to be played, or have I misinterpreted a rule somewhere?

If this is how the game is supposed to be played, are there some good house rules that will reduce the complexity of the game?

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    I feel like you have a false dichotomy here: either there's a rule you've missed, or the game is fundamentally slow and you need house rules. What about the third possibility, you have the rules right and you're just spending more time analyzing and optimizing instead of just accepting that not every move will be perfect? – Cascabel Apr 8 '16 at 0:53
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    Keep in mind that like most games with cards, the more you play, the faster you'll get at evaluating them. Starting with a smaller set of cards will help with this too. – bwarner Apr 8 '16 at 13:52
  • I also feel like the two-player game is more intense and less forgiving of mistakes than any other player number. If you're playing it like a chess match, then factoring in a handful of unfamiliar cards is going to be a bit of a brain-burner. So I'm basically just reaffirming the previous comments. 1)Play with more people and don't worry about fully optimizing every move. 2)You will get faster as you become familiar with the cards. Each card is only relevant at particular points of the game. Once you stop thinking about every card at every decision, things will speed up. – Solocutor Apr 11 '16 at 15:26
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    The same thing happened to my group when first introducing the Occupations and Minor Improvements. Trying to incorporate 14 different cards into a good strategy is HARD early, and it takes time. You will get more familiar with the cards as time goes by. I also like pat's answer. My group just picked 7 of each type (Using the Easy deck), picked the 3 or 4 of each type we liked best, and played with those. Cut down on the time and stress a lot. – Jeff.Clark Apr 19 '16 at 19:34
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Not everyone feels the way you do. Agricola is rated #7 on BoardGameGeek seven years after it was released. Agricola is rated as "Medium-Heavy" on BGG with a 3.6 rating out of 5 which means that most people see it as among the more complex games they've played.

If you enjoy the family game, there's nothing wrong with just playing that. Without knowing other games that you enjoy, it's hard for me to say whether Agricola is the right game for you, it's one of my favorites.

Play with the E deck only!

The base game comes with three decks, each with a different purpose. Make sure you are only using the E deck for your first few games to limit the complexity.

The decks are:

  • E - Everyone
  • I - Interactive
  • K - Complex

If you've been playing with just the E deck already, there are a couple ways to ease into the full game.

  1. Play solo - this will let you play at your own pace and get some familiarity with the cards. Despite the large number of cards, many of them are quite similar, or just deal with difference resources in the same way.
  2. Draft - Each player draws their cards, picks one of each and hands their cards to the next player. Repeat until all cards are taken. This takes a long time to go thru the first couple times. But it allows everyone to take cards they like. In most cases, the last few cards you get can be ignored. Not all 7 are winners :)
  3. Draw 7, discard 3. As I said above, not all 7 are winners. Force everyone to make the choice up front and they'll be quicker during the game

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