Topic of the Uweek: It's Rosenweek

I’ve only played Agricola, Caverna and A Feast for Odin once each. Everyone was fine and didn’t necessarily have a bad time but at no point did I feel gripped and have never been tempted to get any of his games as a result. Even less so now as I’m really not fussed on worker placement as a mechanic anymore. I think @pillbox 's description earlier in this thread of his issues with Agricola are similar to my feelings but on the mechanic in general rather than game specific. I use words like petty and passive aggressive but that does come with an acceptance of the subjective nature of enjoying games.

That being said this thread and specifically @Acacia have got me tempted by Fields of Arle, the words sandbox have me tempted and there was always something about it which had me somehow tempted. I doubt I’ll buy it due to life changes but it is further up the possible on rough brain musings.

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I only have three Uwe’s (details below) so have only really dipped my toe into his range, and to be fair those three are pretty similar:

Nusfjord was my first Uwe game, my favourite of those I own, the most played and the one most likely to get the most future replays. Its relative simplicity (fewest resources, smaller ruleset) and shorter game length (especially solo) means that it is almost always the Uwe I will pull off the shelves first to play alone, or to consider teaching to others when the time comes.

Le Harve was my second Uwe purchase. It’s a close second favourite to Nusfjord for me as I love the solo challenge more but the increased playing time (including setup/teardown) means that I am less able or motivated in getting it to the table.

Caverna: Cave vs Cave is my newest Uwe game but I have only played twice, I think. I had thought it might be a quicker solo game which would lead me to consider buying full Caverna or Agricola, but it hasn’t grabbed me in the same way that Nusfjord and Le Harve did, so may well end up being sold later this year.

I can’t see myself getting many more of Uwe’s titles in future, mostly for the perceived complexity or playing time of his other greatest hits. The one that intrigues me the most is At the Gates of Loyang although that is mainly down to its theme.

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I’ve pretty much listed my Rosenberg Hotlist here.

He’s my second most owned designer after Knizia. It has to do with both of them being so prolific of course.

I do not feel like any of the worker placement games I have played are interactive much. Caveat: see “I have played”. And most of them I have barely played multiplayer because they are excellent solos.

Worker placement:

  • Nusfjord is like comfort food.
  • I like AffO less than Nusfjord, there is a bit too much going on. I only played with Norwegians once and never multiplayer. I think the game is far better with the expansion. What is great about AffO is the variety of stuff to do. What is bad is that sometimes you flounder aimlessly because there is too much to do. I like the combination of spatial element and worker placement. I am sad that breeding does not feel like a strategy I can pull off…
  • Arle. It’s been too long really. At the time I felt it was the better Agricola however… it’s been more than a decade for both of them. I have yet to play with the expansion (but I have it of course)
  • Hallertau–I wish I had more fun with that one. I like the action selection and the decks a lot. But the pressure to upgrade your house was … weird. It wasn’t as tough as Agricola felt originally (I doubt it would give me the same amount of trouble these days). And the only thing multiplying by Uwe-breeding was a few sheep. Overall… this should have been better. Having bought a folded space insert in my initial enthusiasm feels like I am committed to keeping it.
  • I wish I had Glass Road. I only once played half a game at SPIEL–maybe Oranienburger Kanal can stand in for some of its elements.
  • I wish I had understood what makes Le Havre tick from the app. I didn’t and don’t know anyone that owns it.
  • I think not having played Caverna is something that needs fixing–when I have the brainspace for it
  • I like 2-player Agricola. Gave a copy to my sister many many years ago. Played it there a couple of times.
  • Oranienburger Kanal is a great game that is too new to have gotten the appreciation it deserves. Also the small initial Spielworxx printrun hasn’t helped. There are some typical Uwe spatial elements combined with tight worker placement and his beloved variable decks of cards… and NONE of the fiddlyness of some of the other games. The resource wheel is very good, it might be similar to Glassroad for all I remember?

Arle and Oranienburger Kanal show Uwe’s true colors with his worker placement. Those are first solo-games and then maybe maybe 2 player. But why would you want that? Worker placement is tight without anyone else to interfere. Sometimes I think Uwe is to blame for all the multiplayer solitaire but the trend started well before he made Agricola. (Princes of Florence anyone?)

For some obscure reason Patchwork is not the game I think of first with the polyominoes games. It’s Cottage Garden and its siblings. I prefer those a lot. All kinds of tile placement goodness…

Sagani is a totally different puzzly style of tile laying. I know there are others of his in that genre (Nova Luna?) But I haven’t played any.

The only Uwe game I have played that is not “best at 1” is Bohnanza. And for me it’s a legendary game. It carries memories and I still like to get it out every once in a while. I think I prefer the original art to any newish releases however much I adore Beth Sobel’s art. I also think the 2 player mode is a very good negotiation game in its own right.

As an aside because @pillbox mentioned Stefan Feld in the same sentence… they got big around the same time. And I knew some people who were very excited about “the new Feld” every SPIEL and for a while I checked them out as well. But except for Castles of Burgundy I never got along with any of the ones I tried. Coming from Uwe games this may be a weird statement but I found Feld games “too dry” .

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Two closing thoughts and I think I’ll have said all I have to say:

On teeth vs. training wheels: I had a guess about what direction you were going to go and it is similar. But here is where we diverge. I think the pressure/teeth of games like Age of Steam or 18xx isn’t necessarily the risk of someone doing something bastardly. Beneath that there is the risk of bankruptcy. Steam lacks that as you can always increase your income. Balancing income, debt, and points is still a tight and interesting puzzle, but there is no fail-state. Only an I-didn’t-win state.

And that is why Agricola feels the same. You are trying to play the game, but at the same time there is this drum beating, this (dare I say it) train coming down the tracks at you and you have to get off the rails before it gets there. The fail state makes the game matter in a way that other games don’t (and to emphasize, that can be a good thing because I don’t always want to be dealing with high pressure environments). AoS, 18xx, Agricola, Nations, Polis, Splotter… these are all games you can really LOSE and so they are games you can really win. And I do think they go hand in hand with each other.

Definitely a situation where it is fine to disagree, though. This isn’t right and wrong.

On worker placement:
It’s been done bad too many times. Viticulture immediately pops to mind. Bad worker placement is where everyone is competing for a shared path but only one person can do it, so you are getting blocked and frustrated. Someone somewhere articulated that that is what Viticulture is, everyone needs to do the same things in the same order and not everyone can, so people are pushed onto crappy pathways or delayed execution. And then you have to fill the game with all sorts of workarounds - grande workers, shared spaces, action cards that duplicate action spaces, etc.

Worker placement done well is about shifting opportunity space. You’ve got a dozen pathways to follow, each opposing move closes or opens an opportunity for you - maybe you can’t do that thing now. Maybe now THEY can’t do that thing because they didn’t claim a pre-requisite good, so now you can delay your own actions and focus elswhere, where a fuse is still burning. Good worker placement is like a dance. You need divergent pathways. You need multiple irons in the fire. In good WP there is rarely denial only detour.

That’s an attempt to articulate why I like it.

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Glass Road is one that I keep being tempted by. But I have Nusfjord, and I have Fields of Arle, and logically that’s all the ‘remove some trees/dig up some peat so you can build a building there’ games I really need.

And people on here keep saying things that remind me how very good Agricola is, which isn’t helping me keep my resolve when it comes to selling it…!

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Glass Road is Rosenberg’s Broom Service with the resource generation rondel thing and personal player board tile placement from Ora et Labora.

It’s good, but it’s really the card play element that sets it apart from the other Rosenberg games.

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Obviously I love Agricola, I’m not going to repeat that again. Although I am going to say I’d love to play a civ game which was a mashup of Agricola’s mechanics and Dominan Species board. Agricola’s got lots of analogous parts: occupations are great people, minor improvements are tecch advances, major improvements are wonders, stages are ages etc, and the requirement to be able to feed your people.

Of the others, I’d probably place them in this order:

All Creatures Great and Small if I played more 2 player games his would be it, as it’s just mini agricola.

Glass Road Excellent 3 player game. Wouldn’t play it at 4, it’s incredibly brutal for the start player at that point. Some absurd card synergy shenanigans (which I think are banned, but this is a proper under the radar gme so banlists aren’t announced like Agricola).

Le Havre If it weren’t for steel production and shipping being the ultimate points giver this would easily be higher. As it is, I know what my strategy is from the moment I sit at the table. Take loans and buy buildings, building the wharf (manipulating build order if needed), and then a wooden ship. Then focus on making steel, ship it to sell off your loans, and build a couple of extra ships with it. Win.

Feast for Odin Very open, to the extent feeding feels like a vestigal limb someone couldn’t bring themself to amputate. I’ve never gone out of my way to feed people and never starved. Getting islands is almost too important, even with Norwegians. Hate the cards in this- they’re so underwhelming they feel pointless. Hence me placing it relativelty lowly.

Ora et Labora I’ve only played this twice, but both times it felt a bit too much multiplayer solitaire. Yes you can use other people’s spaces, but generally that was only for the big points giving cards. All my buildings flowed into each other so I never did.

Caverna I’m at the stage where I just consider this a worse Agricola. I do like the dwarf missions being an alternative route, and rubies being super powerful, but I’d never choose this over Agricola. Also I find each animal having its own placement rules a bit needless.

Nusford Forgot about this one, should probably be higher, although maybe not if I forget about it. Very light and passive, but loads of fish which is fun. Unremarkable on the whole.

Spring Meadow My favourite of the polygon placing games. A gentle tetris for up to 4 players. Plays quickly and nicely without hanging about with some good choices. A fun filler.

Patchwork and Bohanza I don’t like these.

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I am in the church of Uwe as a friend has bought half his games, and we play a lot.

I like A Feast for Odin most as there’s so many routes to gain stuff, but it took a very long time to get the hang of taking extra islands or villages without losing points.

I learned on Agricola, the learning curve from the box is probably the steepest of any game I’d ever played to that point but it was fun. We play without banlists, occasionally somebody surprises you by finding a synergy you’d never seen come up before.

Caverna - can’t really remember much about this as it’s been years, but I remember finding it more to my style of play than Agricola.

Gates of Loyang - fun, but annoying in that you have to recklessly gamble if you want to get a lead over the other players. People tend to pick up the same points most rounds, and you can’t hit the top of the scoring track without getting lucky on a lot of gambles.

Le Havre - I never come above last place on this game, and I’d still happily play it.

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