Autumn colors are turning up everywhere and it’s time to bring the harvest in. But, if you aren’t a farmer, you might not have much reaping to do. Still, if you’re in the mood to sow and plant, here are three great games that not only center on agriculture, but are awesomely fun to play.
Of course. What list of farming games would be complete without Agricola? In this title, each player takes on a family struggling to plow fields, grow crops, raise livestock, and have children. What may at first seem like a mundane setting quickly grows interesting as the players compete for needed supplies.
Agricola is a worker placement game. So if someone else takes the Wood spot, you may not be getting any wood this turn. And that means no building fences for animal pens or adding to your wooden house.
But it’s not just other players that make the game an enjoyable challenge. You see, you get points for each category of good, but lose points if you’re missing something. You can’t just specialize in raising sheep or growing wheat; that’ll get you too many negatives. Plus, every few turns a harvest occurs where you need to have enough food to feed your family. So, in addition to being pulled ten different ways by the scoring system, the game layers on another challenge.
Agricola comes in family friendly and advanced versions that you can play with relatives at Thanksgiving or with hobbyists at game night. There’s even a new version with streamlined rules for family gamers.
At the Gates of Loyang
Not only do you grow crops on your own personal fields, but you then use them to stock your store and sell to the general public. In At the Gates of Loyang, you compete with the other players to grow and sell various vegetables.
Selling vegetables can be tricky. You see, there are two kinds of customers: regular and casual. A casual customer is someone who shows up and wants particular items. Sell to him or her and you get a one-time infusion of cash. But regular customers show up week after week. You need to give them the vegetables they want four turns in a row. But if you do, you can get much more steady income. If you don’t, they can get pretty angry.
The scoring system is also really interesting. It’s simply a numbered path and each turn you can go up one space for a single coin. If you want to go up more, you have to pay the number of the path. So if I’m on space three, I can go to four for one coin, but then it costs me five to go to five or six more to go to six. This has the intriguing effect of making points cheaper at the beginning of the game when money can be incredibly tight, but expensive near the end when you’re ready to convert to points.
At the Gates of Loyang is solid and may actually be one of the best gaming experiences for three players. It’s basically designed for three with special rules to accommodate two or four.
Ora et Labora
The players of Ora et Labora take on monks at a monastery who spend their time doing one of two things. If you set the game in France, they make wine. Set it in Ireland and they’ll make beer instead.
While the game sits firmly in the worker placement genre and even spices things up a bit on that side, the most unique aspect of this title is its resource wheel. You see, anyone can grab a resource if they have the relevant building on their personal board. Every turn, the resources accumulate. Once one player grabs something (say, wheat), that reduces the resource to zero again. You’ll have to be highly competitive and time your acquisitions just right so that you can get the amount of resources you’re looking for.
Ora et Labora is more than just harvesting, though. You constantly build out your monastery, which provides new abilities. And, as you build, you get points based on where you place constructs and in what combination. It creates an interesting spacial puzzle in addition to the numerous kinds of goods you can craft over and above simply wine and beer. If you’re a fan of Agricola, then a play of Ora et Labora should be on your to-do list.
What harvest games do you enjoy? Tell us about it in the comments.
[Editor’s Note: it should be known that if this were a list about video games, all spaces should be filled with titles in the Harvest Moon franchise or its spinoffs.]
Image Credits: Lookout Games, Hall Games, and Z-Man Games
Featured Image Credit: Homoludicus Games