If you’ve ever looked for a more aggressive, action-packed farming game, look no further. From up-and-coming game designer Grant Rodiek and 5th Street Games, Farmageddon is a fast-paced, action-packed, easy to learn card game… about farming. Farmageddon is nearing its conclusion on Kickstarter, and you still have a chance to get in on the action and help unlock the expansion pack stretch goal.
Hit the jump for a preview of the game and some exclusive images of the final cards! (Click on an image to view a larger version)
How it Works
The game starts with 3 Planting Fields in the center of the table. Players must plant crops, fertilize them, and then harvest them to score points. Of course, this isn’t so easy as it sounds – players also have action cards with which to destroy, sabotage, or even steal from each other.
Each turn, players drawn new Crop cards. They may plant them as Crops in an empty planting field, play Action cards, or play fertilizer on Crops (by playing Crop Cards face down). Once a crop has enough fertilizer, it can be harvested (as long as it’s not the same turn it was planted). Harvested crops are worth a value in cash, and are safe from action cards.
Action cards come in a wide variety and allow such actions as swapping Crops, stealing them from other players, destroying them, stealing cards from another player’s hand, stealing fertilizer, or even boosting the value (or penalizing it with Pesticides). You can only play 2 Action cards per turn, so you must choose carefully – but you start with 3 and you always draw 2 more at the end of your turn, so you’ll always have options.
The game ends when the Crop card deck runs out.
Farmageddon is frenetic, fast paced, and fun. The game moves really fast – you pretty much always have access to enough Crop cards to harvest a crop the turn after you plant it. But if you don’t, it will certainly get stolen or destroyed or attacked in some way – that’s the nature of the game, and it will happen even if you harvest as fast as possible. Fortunately, the fast-paced nature removes what could be frustration when your crops constantly get stolen or destroyed – you can easily plant new crops, or just steal and sabotage other player’s crops. You’re never out of the game, and the action cards are varied enough that you will be able to do something to help yourself or hurt others.
There isn’t a whole lot of depth here – but the game isn’t going for that. It’s best when played quickly – if you spend too much time plotting your strategy, you will likely get frustrated when it gets completely foiled. However it’s not a mindless game – you feel like your choices matter, and there are different ways to play cards depending on what you think might happen. Cards interact in zany ways that are funny and make the game spark with laughter a little.
There is definitely a lot of opportunity for spite here. Some cards definitely hurt everyone, but most target a single player – and it can be easy to really target someone, especially if you’re the leader. Of course, being the leader also makes you a target, so it goes both ways. As long as no one playing is too sensitive, all the attacking happens on equal, open ground.
If there’s one flaw in the game, it’s that it is vulnerable to outside conditions. Allow me to explain; in many board games, if one player is really bad (inexperience, lack of strategy, whatever), the poor experience is usually contained to that person. They may unknowingly give an advantage to another player or something like that, but otherwise it doesn’t necessarily skew the experience. But in Farmageddon if one player is bad, it can completely deride the experience. The balance rides on players continuing to do things that make sense – stealing other player’s crops and then harvesting them, destroying Crops to free up a planting field and then planting a crop in that field, etc. But I had a game where one player would just destroy all the crops with a dust bowl… and then pass his turn. Sure it freed up planting fields for the next player… but then that player couldn’t play any of his attack cards since there were no other crops out there. So he would plant his crops, then the next player would destroy or steal them, then the next player plants another crop, then back to that first player and… BAM! Another dust bowl. For several turns this happened and no one could harvest anything, and it wasn’t a winning strategy for the dust-bowler, by the way.
Another issue that arose from this is that, because we couldn’t play our action cards, our hands grew and grew while the action deck shrunk and shrunk. By the end of the game the action deck was so small, the 3 Dust Bowls just kept coming up over and over again. It made for a somewhat frustrating experience.
But still – that was due to player inexperience. One would hope that after a few players, everyone would learn the basic strategies and things would balance themselves out. When they are balanced, it’s quite a blast. [side note – shuffle your decks well. A poorly shuffled deck can also result in a similar effect at least for a while.]
When played the way it was meant to be played, Farmageddon is a hilarious, action-packed experience that is a whole lot of fun. Even when imbalances arise, the game only lasts about 30 minutes, so you can try again and hopefully everyone has learned from their mistakes. The art on the cards is brilliant and delightful. The theme is fun and well-implemented. The final game will even include special “Franken-crops” that have special abilities – the version I played did not have these cards, just the basic crops, and I think that the Franken-Crops will add a lot to the game. I’m really hoping for the Livestocked and Loded expansion pack goal to be reached as well, but to do that, they’ll need your help.
Visit their page on kickstarter to kick in some cash. It’s only $12 to get a copy of the game!
iSlaytheDragon was provided a preview copy of Farmegeddon by Grant Rodiek.