Daily iPad App: Agricola is Playdek's great adaptation of the board game
Agricola is one of the most popular board games around these days -- it's sort of a farming simulation game, where you can take two turns every round, and then periodically get rewards paid off in a harvest. Playdek is an up-and-coming iOS developer that's mostly done card games so far -- they're behind the Penny Arcade card game, as well as the excellent Ascension and a more complicated one I really like called Nightfall. Now, Playdek has teamed up with the creators of Agricola and Lookout Games to produce this iOS adaptation, available right now on the App Store for US$6.99.
The way the game works is that every round, you send out a family member to perform some task for you, including growing crops, bringing in resources or building fences for animals. During the game, you can add more members to your family, which means you'll have more chances to bring in resources, but you'll also have more people to feed when the harvest comes around. The game is complex, but the core idea (of building up your farm bit by bit) is strong, so after playing through the tutorial and seeing the process for a while, it's easy to start building your own strategies and plans.
Just as with the rest of their titles, Playdek has done a great job here in the presentation -- the game's stark but beautiful music goes well with the theme of fighting just to have enough, and all of the title's various processes and features are clearly displayed with charming and iconic touches. The game uses a top-down 2D drawn style, which might not have been quite as impressive as a full 3D farm environment, but works very well in getting all of the information you need across clearly. Plus, in addition to four gameplay modes, there's online or offline multiplayer, including a pass-and-play mode which is always a nice. Playdek knows well how to translate card games over to iOS, and this title proves they've been able to bring that expertise to board games as well. Agricola might be a bit pricey for those unfamiliar (or uninterested) in the original, but if you're looking for a full-featured, well-made adaptation of the popular board game, this is definitely it.
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