Quick and Easy Online Guide on how to play Agricola Board Game
1 -5 players
30 – 150 mins
Age: 12 +
Table of Contents
We cover the essential instructions and gameplay to help you quickly learn how to play Agricola.
The game is based in Central Europe, around 1670AD. Europe has overcome the devastating Plague. People are rebuilding their lives. You and your spouse are farmers looking to establish your new farmland.
What is the goal of Agricola?
Players (you) start your farming family as a couple living in a simple two-roomed hut. As the game progresses, you will take various actions to improve your quality of life. The actions are:
- building up your home,
- improving your fields and
- breeding animals
What happens in each round of Agricola?
The game involves 14 rounds where in each round, each of your family members may take exactly one action. Actions include creating building resources such as Wood and Clay, growing and feeding your family.
In each round:
- each action can only be taken by one player
- You will miss out if an action has already been chosen by another player
- A new action becomes available in each round
You must also decide when to grow your family. The bigger your family, the more actions become available. However, if your family grows too fast, you might not have enough food to feed them.
How does Agricola end?
After 14 rounds, the winner is the one who has the MOST VICTORY POINTS and has established the best farmyard. You earn Victory points for the number of fields, pastures, stables, food and animals on your farmyard.
- Choose a colour and take the pieces
- Take 1 farmyard and place it in front
- Place a Wooden Room Hut Tile on each of the 2 building spaces on the farmyard
- Place your family member on each of these room tiles
- Place remaining pieces in a bag and put aside
- Place remaining house, hut tiles and rest of the game components beside the playing area
Sort cards based on their colour on the reverse side.
The different card types are:
- Green action cards. Cards used are based on the number of players
- Blue round cards
- Yellow Occupation cards
- Orange “Minor Improvement” Cards
- Red “Major Improvement’ Cards
- Grey Begging cards
- Summary cards
- Sort the blue Round cards according to the Stage of the game.
- Shuffle each small pile and place the piles on top of each other with the cards for Stage 6 at the bottom, Stage 5 on top of that, etc – finishing with the four cards for Stage 1 on the top. The Round cards make new actions available during the game.
- If you are playing with 3, 4 or 5 players, take the corresponding set of green Action cards and place them face-up on the spaces to the left of the first game board
- The order in which the cards are laid out does not matter
- In a 3-player game, there are 4 cards, in 4- and 5-player games there are 6 cards.
- In solo and 2-player games, no green Action cards are used
- The purple symbol on the left side of the yellow Occupation cards shows how many players the card is used for
- Cards that are not in use are removed from the game;
- The full deck of Occupation cards is only available in a 4- or 5-player game
- Shuffle the cards and deal each player a hand of 7 Occupation cards
- Players may look at the cards
- The remaining Occupation cards are put to one side
- Shuffle the cards and deal each player a hand of 7 Minor Improvement cards
- Players may look at their hand
- The remaining Minor Improvement cards are put to one side
- Place the 10 cards face-up on the Major Improvements board
- As soon as 9 Major Improvements have been bought, the board is turned over to show the scoring overview
- the remaining Major Improvement card is placed on the space on the reverse of the board.
Place the grey Begging cards face-up beside the playing area.
- Each player takes a card and places it in their playing area
- One side of the card gives an overview of the game phases;
- the other explains the scoring at the end of the game
Choose a starting player
- Choose a starting player who will get:
- the starting player marker
- 2 Food
- The other players get 3 Food
Agricola gameplay comprises the following phases:
The game has 6 stages, divided into 14 rounds. Each round has 4 phases. There is a Harvest at the end of each stage (after rounds 4, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 14)
- Phase 1: Start the round – draw a new round card
- Phase 2: Replenish – place new goods and animals
- Phase 3: Work Phase
- Phase 4: Return Home
- Turn over the top Round card and place it on the appropriate space on the board
- The action on this card is available to all players and can be used in this round and subsequent rounds
- Execute actions which occur at the beginning of a particular round or at the beginning of every round
- The text on some cards instructs players to place items on the Round card spaces
- If there are tiles, Food and/or other playing pieces on the space for the current round, these are distributed to the appropriate players (who earned them by playing an Occupation or Improvement)
- Place new goods and Food on any Action spaces on the board that require them (on the printed spaces as well as on Action and Round cards)
- These spaces are shown by an arrow. If goods or Food are already on a space, the new goods/Food are added to them
- 3 Wood means that 3 Wood tokens are placed on that space each round, 1 Cattle means that 1 Cattle token is placed on the space each round, etc.
- The Fishing and Traveling Players Action spaces receive 1 Food each round
- These goods and Food are taken from the general supply and can build up over several rounds – there is no upper limit
- In clockwise order, starting with the Starting player, players take turns doing the following:
- taking a single Family member from their farmyard, placing it on an unoccupied Action space
- taking that action’s space action
- Play continues until all Family members have been placed.
- You may only ever place one Family member at a time
- Each Action space can only be used by one Person in one round
- A Family member must always perform’s Action space’s action
- Some Action spaces offer players several choices of action or require a player to take one action before (optionally) taking a second action
- Whenever a player takes building resources, Grain, Vegetables or Food, the tokens are placed in a player’s personal supply in view of the other players
- Animals may not be placed in the supply; they must be placed directly into the farmyard
- Animals that cannot be placed into the farmyard must be:
- returned to the general supply or
- transformed into Food using an Improvement with the symbol
- A player who plays a card from their hand or buys a Major Improvement must read the text on the card aloud so that all the other players are aware of its effects
- Players are not allowed to hide their personal supply from other players or to completely cover cards that they have played.
- Remove your family members from the game board and return them to their home
You feed your family members during the Harvest. The Harvest consists of 3 phases:
- At the end of this phase, you must feed your family by paying 2 Food per Family member
- Pay 1 food for Offspring that were born during the current round (“Newborn offspring”, typically from a Family growth action), but will require 2 Food in future Harvests
- Each unprocessed Grain or Vegetable may be converted to 1 Food at any time. Fireplaces and Cooking Hearths, as well as other specific Occupations and Improvements, allow players to convert Vegetables at any time, at a better exchange rate
- Improvements with the symbol can be used to convert animals to Food at any time
- Improvements with the symbol can be used to Bake bread, but only when the player takes a Bake bread action during a round
- Unprocessed animals have no Food value.
- A player who cannot or does not wish to produce the required Food must take a Begging card for each missing Food
- Players may not give up members of their family to avoid the need to Feed them.
- At the end of the game, players lose 3 points for each Begging card
- Any player with at least 2 animals of the same type receives exactly one additional (baby) animal of that type – but only if the lamb, the shoat (piglet) or the calf can be accommodated in the farmyard (or on an appropriate Improvement card, for example, the “Animal Yard”, “Wildlife Reserve” or “Forest Pasture”)
- Baby animals and parent animals may not be converted into Food immediately after the birth (for example, if you only have room for two animals of that type); they simply run away if they cannot be accommodated
- The animals breed regardless of where the parent animals are placed – the parents may be in separate areas
Four main types of action can be taken to improve a your farmyard:
- Extend and renovate their Wooden huts
- An extended home enables the family to grow
- Fields can be Plowed and Sown
- Pastures can be fenced to hold animals
Action A – Extend or Renovate Wooden Hut
At the start of the game, you have a Wooden hut with two rooms.
Use the Build room(s) action to extend your hut.
- New rooms must be orthogonally (i.e. not diagonally) adjacent to the existing rooms
- There is no upper limit on the number of rooms that you may build
- New rooms are always made from the same material as the rest of the home (Wooden huts can only be extended with Wooden rooms; Clay huts only with Clay rooms; and Stone houses only with Stone rooms)
Costs of extension of your hut:
- Wooden hut costs 5 Wood and 2 Reed (for the roof),
- a Clay hut 5 Clay and 2 Reed, and
- a Stone house 5 Stone and 2 Reed
- A player who chooses the Build Room(s) action space on the left-hand board may choose to instead, or in addition, build up to 4 stables for 2 Wood each.
- Stables provide shelter for animals
Renovating your hut
- Wooden hut can be Renovated to a Clay hut and, later, a Stone house
- The first Renovation Action space becomes available during Stage 2 (rounds 5 to 7)
- You can only ever renovate a complete hut
- Rooms may never be renovated one at a time
- The Renovation action only allows a single renovation.
- A double renovation from Wooden hut to Stone house in one turn is not allowed
To renovate your Wooden hut to a Clay hut:
- you require 1 Clay token for each room in your Wooden hut, plus 1 Reed (for the roof).
- Turn the Wooden hut tiles over to show the Clay hut rooms
For the second renovation – from Clay hut to Stone house:
- you require 1 Stone token for each room in your Clay hut, plus 1 Reed (for the roof)
- Replace the Clay hut tiles with Stone house tiles
Additional Actions after a renovation
- The Renovation card for Stage 2 allows players to purchase a Major (or Minor) Improvement after performing the renovation – players may not, however, ignore the Renovation action and only play an Improvement
- A second Renovation card comes into play in the last round of the game. This allows players to Fence pastures after performing a renovation.
Action B – Family Growth
In Stage 2 (Rounds 5-7):
- the after Family growth and 1 Minor Improvement action becomes available
- you must have more rooms in your home than you have Family members before you can use this action
- After taking Family growth, you may choose to purchase a Minor Improvement.
The Family growth even without room in your home action card becomes available in Stage 5 (Round 12 or 13). With this action, you may grow your family regardless of the number of rooms in your home.
A player who chooses a Family growth action adds their newborn offspring to the Action space.
In the Return home phase, the new Family member is taken home and placed in its room. If it doesn’t have its own room, it shares a room with another Family member.
A Player who takes the Family growth action will have one additional (adult) Family member to use from the following round onwards.
The new Family member is not available for use in the round when it is produced – it must first grow up.
Families are limited to a maximum of 5 members.
A player who already has 5 Family members in play may not choose the Family growth action.
Action C – Plowing or Sowing Fields
If you choose the Plow 1 field action,
- takes a field tile and place it on an empty space in your farmyard
- If you already have fields, the new field must be placed orthogonally adjacent to an existing field
- You may use at most 1 Plow Improvement each time you select the Plow 1 field action
If you choose Take 1 Grain,
- takes one Grain marker and places it in your supply
The similar Take 1 Vegetable action becomes available in Stage 3 (Round 8 or 9)
The Sow action allows you to plant 1 or more empty fields:
- you take 1 Grain from your supply and place it on an empty field,
- then adds 2 Grain from the general supply to the field
- Instead of Grain, you may also Sow Vegetables by taking 1 Vegetable from your supply and placing it on the empty field. 1 Vegetable from the general supply is added to the field.
A newly planted Grain field holds 3 counters, a Vegetable field 2 counters. Grain and Vegetables are harvested during the Harvest. Grain and Vegetables that are in your personal supply may be converted to 1 Food at any time – or to more than 1 Food with an appropriate Improvement.
If a field is emptied, it can be replanted using the Sow action – a Harvested field does not need to be re-Plowed.
In Stage 5 (Round 12 or 13), a new action allows players to Plow a field and immediately Sow one or more empty fields.
Baking Bread – an additional action when plowing
If you choose the Sow and/or Bake bread Action space, you may choose what to do with any or all Grain counters in your supply:
- Grain may be sown in empty fields (see above),
- Baked into a loaf of bread and converted to Food or
- be left in the supply
Baking bread requires an appropriate Improvement with the
- A Fireplace allows one Grain to be converted to 2 Food,
- a Cooking Hearth converts it to 3 Food,
- A Stone Oven allows up to 2 Grain to be converted to 4 Food each and
- a Clay Oven allows at most 1 Grain to be converted to 5 Food
Action D: Raising Animals: Fence Pastures, Build Stables, Raise sheep, Wild boar and Cattle
Raising Animals: Fence Pastures
- You may raise exactly one animal as a pet in your home, regardless of the home’s size and type
- The pet does not take a room away from a Family member
To hold more animals, you must Fence pastures:
- Each pasture may only hold animals of one type – Sheep, Wild boar or Cattle
- Up to 2 animals may live on each square of the pasture
- You may rearrange your animals at any time, as long as these rules are followed.
- You may release some or all of your animals at any time, at will (for example, to make room for other animals in a farmyard space)
- Animals breed at the very end of the Harvest.
- The Fences action allows you to immediately Fence pastures at a cost of 1 Wood for each fence
- Fences border the pastures and are laid between the farmyard spaces; one fence may border more than one pasture.
- Pastures must be orthogonally adjacent
- Fences may only be built if they will create a fully enclosed pasture, with fences on all sides. The edge of the farmyard board, stables, fields and rooms do not count as fences.
- You may build at most 15 fences.
- Fields and rooms may not be completely surrounded with a fence
- Fences may not be demolished once they have been built
- If you have already built pastures, any new pastures must border the existing ones. You may subdivide an existing pasture by adding a fence or fences
- Enclosed farmyard spaces are considered ‘used’ during Scoring
- Placing a stable in a pasture doubles the capacity of the entire pasture
- Stables can be built at a cost of 2 Wood using the Build room(s) and/or Build stable(s) Action space
- They may be placed on any space in the farmyard that does not already contain a room or a field, and may not be removed
- Stables need not be fenced in: each unfenced stable may hold exactly 1 animal.
- Only 1 stable may be built in any farmyard space.
- You may fence the stable in later, in order to create a new pasture with doubled capacity.
Occupation and Improvement Cards
- You can use the 1 Occupation Action space(s) to play one of these cards face-up on the table
- On the 1 Occupation Action space that is printed on the left-hand game board, your first Occupation is free, and each additional Occupation costs 1 Food.
- In the 3–5 player game, a second Occupation space has varying costs depending on the number of players
- Occupation card effects apply as soon as they are played.
- Several cards are printed with a Claim symbol – if a player with one of these Occupations meets the stated condition, a Claim token is placed on the appropriate Action space with the arrow pointing towards the player with the claim.
In each game, different Minor Improvements will come into play, but the same Major Improvements are available in each game and may be used by anyone.
The 1 Major or Minor Improvement Action space allows a player to purchase either a Major or Minor Improvement – as does the Renovation space.
Minor Improvements may also be purchased – with other actions – on the Starting player and Family growth action spaces. Players may not choose the action After Family growth, also 1 Minor Improvement and only purchase an Improvement: This card only allows an Improvement after Family growth.
The upper-right corner of an Improvement card shows its cost: goods that a player must pay in order to play the card.
Grain and Vegetables that are paid must be taken from your supply and may not be taken directly from a field. Some Improvement cards (for example the Cooking Hearth) have a slash, showing that you may choose between 2 options to pay for the improvement.
Some Minor Improvements require the player to have a prerequisite – these are shown in the top left corner. In order to play these cards, the player must have the required goods, tiles or cards on the table in front of them.
Many Minor and all Major Improvements are worth Victory Points at the end of the game. These are shown by the symbol at the left beside the picture.
The Bonus Points symbol on some cards (bottom center) indicates that they also give variable Bonus points – these are described in the text on the card.
Some Minor Improvements (Traveling cards) are placed in the hand of the next player to the left after they are played and acted on. These are indicated by the brown arrows to either side of the illustration and the text on the card explains how they are used.
Some Minor Improvements are Upgrade cards. Playing these cards not only costs goods but also requires the player to return an existing played or acquired Improvement.
Upgraded Major Improvements are returned to the Major Improvements board and may be bought again by any player.
Upgraded Minor Improvements are removed from the game
How do you win?
- The game ends after the Harvest at the end of the 14th round (Stage 6)
- Scores are calculated
- There is a scoring overview on the back of the board for Major Improvements and on the back of the Summary card
- Tally each player’s Victory Points on the scoring sheet. The player with the most points is the winner. If there is a tie, the tied players share the victory (or can play another game of Agricola to break the tie)
- Fields: All field tiles that are on the player’s farmyard are scored, regardless of whether they are currently fallow or are sown. A player with 0 or 1 fields loses 1 point. Each field after the first scores 1 point, up to a maximum of 4 points for 5 or more fields. Players score -1/1/2/3/4 points for 0-1/2/3/4/5+ fields.
- Pastures: Points are awarded for fenced areas (“Pastures”), not for the number of farmyard spaces that are fenced in (“Pasture spaces”). The size of the individual pastures is irrelevant. A player with no pastures loses 1 point. Each pasture scores 1 point, up to a maximum of 4 points for 4 or more pastures. Players score -1/1/2/3/4 points for 0/1/2/3/4+ pastures.
- Grain and Vegetables: All of a player’s Grain and Vegetables are scored – whether it is in the fields or in the player’s supply. A player with no Grain loses 1 point. After that, players score 1/2/3/4 points for 1/4/6/8+ Grain. A player with no Vegetables loses 1 point. After that, players score 1 point per Vegetable up to a maximum of 4 points.
- Animals: A player loses a point for having no animals of a particular type. Players score -1/1/2/3/4 points for 0/1/4/6/8+ Sheep; -1/1/2/3/4 points for 0/1/3/5/7+ Wild boar; and -1/1/2/3/4 points for 0/1/2/4/6+ Cattle.
- Unused farmyard spaces: No additional points are awarded for using farmyard spaces, but players lose 1 point for each unused farmyard space. Farmyard spaces are counted as “used”, if they are fenced in or if they have a room tile, field tile or unfenced stable on them. In other words, “unused” farmyard spaces are empty and unfenced.
- Fenced Stables: Each fenced stable earns the player 1 point. No points are given for unfenced stables. Players do not lose points for not having any stables. An unfenced stable has the advantage that the player avoids losing a point for having unused farmyard spaces.
- Huts, Houses & Family Members: Players earn 1 point for each room in a Clay hut (so a player with 4 Clay rooms earns 4 points), and 2 points for each room in a Stone house (so a player with 4 rooms earns 8 points). Rooms in a Wooden hut do not earn any Victory Points.Players earn 3 points for each Family member, up to a maximum of 15 points (as the number of Family members cannot be greater than 5).
- Points for cards: A point value is shown in a yellow circle on the left of the Minor and Major Improvement cards. Players lose 3 points for each Begging Card that they hold at the end of the game
- Bonus points: The text on various Improvement and Occupation cards describes how Bonus points are awarded. Cards which earn Bonus points have a Bonus point symbol at the bottom.
In the simplified version of Agricola,
- the Occupation and Minor Improvement cards are not used – players do not have a hand of cards.
- The first game board is turned face-down, showing the “Agricola Family Game” side, and in a 3–5 player game only the “Family Game” Action cards are used.
- The Major or Minor Improvement action is restricted to Major Improvements.
- Otherwise, the rules are the same as for the full game.