It being the height of the summer holiday, there was a severe shortage of people about, so we started late with our Feature game, Agricola. This game is about farming in the middle ages and is a one we have played several times now. However, one of our regulars has somehow missed out and, as it is a game we know she would enjoy we decided that while it was quiet it was a good opportunity to play the “family game” again.
So we had a gentle run down of the rules before we started collecting wood and clay, fish and grain. Before long, Red had renovated her two room hut to brick and started ploughing fields while her farming couple lived on fish. Meanwhile, Blue was trying (and failing) to expand her wooden hut, plough fields and fence in some pasture so she could keep some sheep, all at the same time. Blue was the first to engage in a little “family growth” and had no qualms about sending her unfortunate offspring out to work the land at an early age. Red didn’t have enough clay to build an additional room, so had to wait until she had the option of sharing rooms. Despite Red picking up vegetables, cattle and pigs, at the end of the day, Blue’s experience (and larger family) meant she had an unassailable lead.
There was just time for a quick second game, so we decided to go with something we were familiar with, Forbidden Desert. This is clever little cooperative game that we’ve played a couple of times before. The idea is that players are members of a team of adventurers on a mission to excavate an ancient desert city and recover a legendary flying machine that’s rumoured to be powered by the sun. Moments before arriving at the destination, the helicopter crash lands, stranding the team in the vast desert,exposed to an unrelenting storm and extreme sun. The only hope for survival is to work together to excavate the city, find the parts of the flying machine and rebuild it to escape.
Players have particular areas of expertise: this time we had the “Archaeologist” and the “Meteorologist”, which meant we had one player who could clear sand more efficiently (twice as fast as normal) and another who could check what the storm was going to do next. We started well, making good use of the special abilities and taking advantage of the tunnels to hide from the sun. Without the “Water Carrier” we were really worried about dying of thirst, but we managed eke out our water supply and stayed on top of the problem by hiding as much as possible. We also managed to prevent too much sand build-up with occasional judicious use of the Duneblaster, but what we failed to keep an eye on was the sand-storm level and we were at level six with clues still to find. The storm was on its highest level when we finally managed to pick up the last clue, hop over the dunes with a jet pack, clear the launch pad and escape, but it was a very close-run thing!
Learning Outcome: There is a reason farming families are usually large.