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A (Humorous) Review of Agricola
Ed. Note: This review was written by James Webb 
So I was looking for a new game for my elderly uncle and aunt. They were coming to stay with me for a few weeks and they were keen boardgamers. Seeing as they were from farming stock I figured that Agricola, a game about European farming in the seventeenth century, would be worth a go. It was highly rated on BGG. The theme was a good fit. It looked perfect. So I duly placed an order for the most expensive game in history and waited.

Delivery was slow, and the game didn’t actually arrive until after my uncle and aunt had been staying for a few days. I was impressed by the weight of the box and the number of wooden components, and so were my relatives. We arranged to play the game for the first time that evening. I only had time to give the rulebook a cursory glance before we started.

At first things seemed to be going well. Although the game was fairly slow (I had to keep checking the rules as we went) it seemed easy to follow and my uncle and aunt seemed to be really appreciating the theme and seeing their farmyards grow. It was all going great until round seven, when my aunt (the starting player) flipped over the new action card for that round.

“Ooo. What’s that? Family Growth? That sounds good. I’ll take that. What does that do?” my aunt asked.

“Yes,” my uncle added, “What does the Family Growth action do?”

So I checked the rule book.

Hmmm…let’s see. Family Growth action…

“It sounds good. Family Growth action. I bet it’s good,” my aunt continued

“Probably,” my uncle chuckled, “because you’ve blocked me from taking it.”

Here we are…Family Growth…it means…hmmm…what?

“Yes,” my aunt chortled, “I’ve blocked you from Family Growth action.”

“That sounds like you!” my uncle responded, “You’re just the sort who would block me from Family Growth action.”

Sweet Jehosophat! That can’t be right! I thought that this was a family game! That’s…that’s...disgusting!

“If it’s good, I want to block you from taking it!” my aunt exclaimed.

“Huh! Sounds to me like you’re never going to let me have Family Growth action.”

How can they put this in a game that they claim is for the whole family? I can’t believe it…this is terrible!

“I want to do a Family Growth action, but I don’t want him to do it too!” said my aunt, pointing at me uncle.

“Looks like I’ll be going after the Sheep then!” my uncle added. At this point, I snapped. I stood up, throw a jug of water over my relatives and shouted.

STOP SAYING ‘FAMILY GROWTH ACTION’!

Needless to say, the game was abandoned shortly after this.

I feel that it’s my duty to point out to any potential buyers of this game that darkness lies within. Don’t let the apparently tame theme fool you. This is a game that allows you to choose…procreation…as a player action. Nay, not just ‘allows’ but ‘encourages’, because every time you take it then – provided you have enough room in your house – you get three victory points and an extra action. This is a game that rewards carnal knowledge! It’s Grand Theft Agricola!

As an aside, the whole ‘extra action’ consequence is also morally irresponsible. You are allowed to have a child and then send them out to work the next round. At first I wondered if this meant that each round was supposed to cover an extended period of time, say nine or ten years, but this clearly doesn’t work. This becomes obvious when you consider the placing of the Harvest spaces. If each round represented a lengthy space of time, then you would – for example – only be harvesting every twenty years. This is clearly nonsensical, meaning that the only possible interpretation is that the player is encouraged to have a child and then send him/her out to work when he/she is merely months old! Is there no limit to this game’s depravity?

Furthermore, I am no longer enamoured with the huge amount of wooden pieces. They come in a variety of different shapes and colours and this has led to me to discover that you can easily create pornographic totems with them. And I’m only talking about the base wooden pieces here – I’m not even going to touch the subject of the animeeples that some perverted individuals purchase purely for this ‘game’. I was, using only the pieces included in the base set, able to create over fifty disgusting models on our kitchen table. It would be an understatement to say that my wife was unimpressed. I took a photo in order to show concerned gamers my findings, but unfortunately the image was not passed by the Geek Mods. I don’t think that they appreciated my investigative zeal.

It shocks me that this game is not only easily accessible to children, but that the rules contain a ‘family game’ version – as if the designer intentionally wanted you to expose your children to this filth! For those who are wondering, the so-called ‘family game’ still includes the infamous Family Growth action!

In my investigations, I discovered that the designer of the game Uwe Rosenberg (if that's his real name) is actually German. That pretty much explains everything. After discovering this, I did a quick spot check of my games and discovered some disturbing trends.

In my other games, there are some common suggestive themes. In the Year of the Dragon and Condottiere are games that reward you for involving ‘Court Ladies’ and ‘Courtesans’. Citadels contains some dubious art work. In the Shadow of the Emperor is a game that has a ‘Descendents’ phase, which works like Agricola’s shame. Tribune demands that you ‘influence’ the Vestal Virgins. What do these games all have in common? That’s right – designed by Europeans.

In contrast, American born-and-bred Axis & Allies: Guadalcanal contains no casual nudity or suggestive themes. OK, so Zombies!!! has a couple of female figures on the cards, but they are few and far between and nowhere near as corrupting as the ‘Village Beauty’ card in Agricola!

In short, this game should not be bought but rather burnt. It’s a disgusting product, designed to corrupt our children by stealth. I expect that drawing your attention to this will make me some pretty powerful enemies – I might even find myself targeted by the Mafia (don’t they have a vested interest in this sort of thing?). That’s OK. I’m prepared to pay the ultimate price for this revelation. I will not be silenced! The truth must be shouted from the rooftops! This game must be banned!

In the meantime, if you’re interested, I’m currently working on a ‘Take A Cold Shower action’ variant. I’ll post it up when it’s finished.
 
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