Agricola Single-Player Game Strategies and Tips

Playing Agricola single-player can be a great way to learn how to play and get a feel for the board game’s rhythm and tempo. This is relevant when you’re learning how to deal with Agricola’s resource constraints. So whether you’re learning the Agricola single player game online or on the table, you’ll be wracking your brain to figure out how to do well and build as robust a farm as possible without starving. And if you’re looking how to play Agricola multiplayer, you can look at this guide.

Building a kickass farm in Agricola in the best of times is already a challenge. Playing Agricola as a single player game with its own set of quirks. You start out with no food. Each turn, fewer resources come out on the board than in the normal game. And the biggest gut punch? Your people are hungrier. Instead of needing 2 food per person at the end of a harvest, they need 3 food. It doesn’t seem like much until you realize that it comes out to a 50% bump, which is like me eating 15 chicken wings instead of 10 in one sitting. 

Luckily, once you understand how to approach it, the Agricola single-player game is beatable. So follow this framework, and you’ll forestall having to buy the proverbial misery farm. Here’s how you do it.

Break down Agricola Single-Player into distinct phases

When thinking about how to pace yourself in the Agricola single-player game, divide the game into 5 distinct phases. In each phase, you will focus on accomplishing certain goals. Some of the later ones intermingle a bit, but in general, succeeding in one phase puts you in a good position for the next phase.

Phase 1: Get a job! Or better yet, 3.

Occupations are your primary focus in the early game. They help you by:

  1. Making future actions more efficient
  2. Helping you save on resources
  3. And allowing you to play minor improvements later (many require you to have occupations to be able to play)

Not all occupations are created equal. Some are strong and useful all game or are especially viable in the early game. These are the ones you should prioritize at this stage. Count yourself lucky if you drew occupations that strengthen existing actions like Field Watchman or Seasonal Worker, provide food (directly or indirectly), provide resources or resource discounts like the Woodcutter, or some combination of those. In general, those will help you to be super efficient.

So with that in mind, here’s what you’ll be doing for the first 3 turns of the game. On round 1, you take Day Laborer and then play an occupation. Then on round 2, you do the same thing! And then on round 3, you do that same thing again! See how easy this is? Now you’re ready for Phase 2 and ready to wrap up the first harvest.

Phase 2: Make babies

All this time, resources should be piled up since all you’ve been doing was hitting Day Laborer and playing occupations. Now that round 4 has come around, you’ll want to start expanding your house. Start by grabbing 4 reed and then going to Day Laborer to get 6 food total. Feed your family and get ready to expand your house and grow your family.

To grow your family, get the 10 wood that has piled up on Round 5, and together with the 4 reed, you’re ready to add two rooms to your house, crank out those babies, and get them working! More workers equals more action *wink wink nudge nudge* and more actions means an easier time filling out that farm. Wait for the family growth space to come out. Once it does, it’s two straight turns of babymaking.

At this point, you might freak out over how you’ll feed all of these family members. By the next harvest, you might have to shell out for 7 or even 12 food. How on earth are you going to be able to fulfill all that food demand? 

Remember how resources have been accumulating all this time? You already have two sources you can rely upon. The first is the fishing spot, which has been accumulating boatloads of food. And then there are sheep which can trivially be turned into two food each once you use two clay to build a fireplace. Grab those sheep and a food windfall is yours. Congratulations, you’ve survived the first two harvests. Now on to…

Phase 3: Building your food engine

A showering of sheepy sustenance and fishy filets aren’t suitable for sustainability. Its windfall packs a wallop, but it happens only once and doesn’t accumulate quickly enough until more animals enter the picture. You’ll have to find a way to set up food sources you can rely upon to feed.

Finding some way to be self-sufficient on food will give you a leg up on future rounds. Instead of scrambling to get food and keeping your family fed during the increasingly shorter harvest rounds, you can use your family actions to fill up the holes on your farm and get past that 50-point goal. 

Which leads to the question of which food options to consider. Food choices will ultimately depend on which occupations and improvements you have at your disposal. And personally, I would use a combination of options rather than rely upon a single source. Somewhere around 2-3 food sources are sufficient to fulfill my family food needs.

  • Fishing: Fish gives you a quick infusion of food. Maybe you had to use it when you grew your family in Phase 2, but if you didn’t, it might have 8 or even 9 food! It’s still a one-shot windfall, but it helps to relieve the food pressure for one harvest while giving you room to build something better.
  • Animals + Fireplace: As you saw from the sheepish sacrifice, animals are like fishing: they’re only good for a one-shot dose of food. But unlike fishing, there are 3 different animals, which means they’ll accumulate enough that you can rely on them for food. Build a cooking implement like a fireplace and you can instantaneously turn animals into food. Turn that fireplace into a cooking hearth and its improved culinary capabilities can be clutch.

    Still, I’d caution you about leaning too hard on eating animals. An animal eaten today means an animal that won’t score points tomorrow. You’ll still want animals to build up so you can grab them later to get a good score. If you must eat them, start with sheep before moving on to boar. And try not to eat too much cattle since those are already hard enough to obtain.

    If you’re able to build pastures early, partaking of livestock becomes more palatable.  In that case, try to get 3 of an animal, throw them into a pasture, and they’ll become a reliable food source. During the harvest, you’ll eat one animal, the other two animals will breed, and you get that animal back, making it a far more sustainable practice.
  • Grain or Vegetables: You can also use grain and vegetables to sustain yourself, but of the options, this one is least efficient because it requires a lot of steps to set up. But if you are able to plow fields, sow them, and use a cooking implement like an oven to get a lot of food, it can be a great way to sustain your family.
  • Use improvements:
    • One improvement that I almost always advise you get is the well. Not only does it provide you with points, it’s also an invaluable source of 5 food spread out over 5 rounds. Obtaining it is simple: make sure you have enough clay to renovate your house and then make sure you have some wood and 3 stone. Take the Renovation space to turn your wooden rooms to clay rooms and use the Major/Minor improvement add-on ability to get the well. If you’ve been doing what I’m telling you to do, this play should have gotten you 8 points.  
    • In addition to the well, if you have minor improvements like the goose pond, those can also be good sources of food.  Playing them should also be pretty easy: you could have done that during the Family Growth actions by using the minor improvement add-on. And meeting the requirements shouldn’t be hard since you’ll have met the occupations requirement during Stage 1.
    • Finally, you can’t go wrong with the major improvements that convert building resources into food. While I avoid the joinery because wood is perpetually useful, the Pottery, which uses clay, is solid. First of all, it provides you with 2 points and 2 food during each harvest round when you spend a clay! Aside from the occasional improvement or renovation, clay isn’t useful and can be fodder for the pottery to convert to food. The Basketmakers Workshop is also good, providing 3 food per harvest when you spend a reed. Like Clay, Reed have limited usefulness once you’ve extended your house and renovated. You can spend them without it hurting your score in the endgame.

As I mentioned earlier, acquire food from a combination of those options. In my last game, I used improvements and supplemented with animals and some fishing when necessary. In another game, I had an occupation that allowed me to get grain and vegetables easily. Baking grain and vegetables became my primary food source and I used resource-consumption improvements like the Pottery and Basketmaker’s Workshop to take care of the rest. 

So do what you have to do to get yourself a working food engine. Making food less of a worry means you can start focusing on Phase 4.

Phase 4: Fill in the holes.

Once you have that food engine running sustainably, it’s time to fill in the holes in your farm. This phase typically starts around Round 10. While there are literal holes like where your pastures and fields ought to go, don’t limit yourself to those two things. Rather, you should think of this exercise as looking at the score sheet, seeing what items you don’t have, and making sure you check off as many as you can before you hit the endgame.

So in practice you would:

  • Build up your pastures. Wait until you have 10-14 wood in your inventory before you fence up those pastures so that way, you can do it in one fell swoop. And once you’ve built what you need, start populating them with animals.
  • Plow those fields. After your first field, each field gives you 2 points: 1 point from erasing the empty field space and 1 point for having a field until you have 5 fields total. You don’t necessarily need to sow grain or vegetables unless they’re part of your food plans, but if you have the bandwidth, consider doing so you can then resow them later. At the very least, have them in your inventory ready for the endgame.
  • Using stone to snap up another improvement or two or plan to renovate to stone.

Phase 5: The Agricola Single-Player Endgame.

The Endgame officially starts during Stage 5, conveniently enough, when Family Growth Without Room and Plow and/or Sow enter play. At this point, your goal should be to get your 5th family member using the family growth without room. And then the plow and sow option can help close holes in your farm space and utilize the remaining grain/vegetables sitting in storage. Just be prepared for back to back harvests.

When you reach the last turn, use the Renovation and Fence actions if you don’t have stone rooms and some spare wood available to turn into pastures. After that, it’s time to maximize your score. Aim to score two points from every action you take. For example, if you have no sheep and there’s one sheep sitting on the sheep card, that’s 2 points. Plowing and sowing can potentially be worth more than 2 points. Getting a major improvement like the Basketmaker’s Workshop is 2 points, possibly more if you have spare reed. Optimize as best you can.

After that, it’s a matter of surviving the last feeding phase, seeing your animals breed, and then, tallying up the score. If you’ve followed everything I said, you should be able to score those 50 points needed to beat Agricola’s solo mode.

Hopefully this was helpful to you. Drop a comment if you have other suggestions that I didn’t cover. I’ll see you on the winning side.

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