Review: Farmageddon – Light, Short, and Fun
Who knew farming could be such a cutthroat business? In Farmageddon, the players compete to grow some interesting varieties of vegetables. I’m not usually a fan of vegetables, but I do enjoy Farmageddon.
The Basics. A player draws from two different decks, the crop cards (featuring everything from Sassy Wheat to Wary Squash) and the action cards. On a turn, a player draws two crop cards, then may plant, fertilize, harvest, or play action cards in any order. Then they draw two action cards at the end of the turn.
Strangely, you can only play two action cards on a turn and there are turns when you don’t want to play the particular action cards in your hand. As a result, over the course of the game the players will have larger and larger hands of action cards. A bit odd.
However, there are generally only three planting fields available. If one player plants them all, or if they are otherwise unavailable, then there are no spaces to plant new crops. Once planted, any crop card can be played face down as fertilizer. Once it reaches the proper amount of fertilizer, it can be harvested for points.
The only other major rule is that a crop cannot be harvested the same turn it was planted. Every crop must experience at least one round out there to give the other players a chance to destroy it. The player with the most money from harvested crops at the end wins.
The Feel. Just the crop building part is rather pedestrian. What really makes the game enjoyable are the action cards. Dust Bowl, Thresher, and others completely destroy crops from other players. Other action cards spitefully lower the value of harvested crops or protect your own.
And that’s really the crux of the game. Well, that and being able to say “I plant Sluggo Corn.” Sluggo is just a fun word to say. And it’s all about planting big crops and trying to get them quickly harvested.
Initially, with only three planting fields, I was afraid that the game would have an immense first-player advantage; simply plant all the fields and restrict the other players from planting. Fortunately, while the advantage remains, it is very much muted by the action cards, especially with three or four players. Still, a quick dustbowl is often followed by planting all three fields in order to deprive the other players of planting opportunities.
There are numerous action cards which destroy crops, hurt them, or otherwise mitigate the effects of planting. There are even “Rented Land” cards which provide an additional space for planting. And, with a full compliment of four players, more of those cards are available to be played.
And, perhaps the single greatest factor ensuring that Farmageddon is fun is that it has a timely end. Farmageddon is no great brain burner, it’s not especially deep or complex. No, it’s very much a light game that provides some good entertainment and passes the time before getting to meatier fare. And it ends well before the game grows stale. It’s a fine twenty minute romp.
Components: 4 of 5. The game is entirely cards. They are on thick stock and a good size for shuffling. The artwork is pretty fun as well, and definitely conveys the idea of a crazy field in a chaotic environment.
Strategy/Luck Balance: 2 of 5. The game is much more tactical than strategic, but it isn’t without interesting decisions. Who to attack, how to prevent attacks on yourself, and which crops to plant and fertilize. Luck, though, will play a prominent role.
Mechanics: 3.5 of 5. The game works well and the rules are very straightforward. It’s simplicity is part of Farmageddon’s charm. The only negative is that some of cards lead to ambiguities. A visit to the official FAQ largely clears it up, though. Also, I’m not sure that having only three planting fields adds that much to the game. It’s a twist, but I think it unnecessarily adds a first player advantage problem. After all, if the other players don’t happen to draw Thresher or Dust Bowl, then it could be an early harvest for player one.
Replayability: 3 of 5. Farmageddon’s joy is partly from its simplicity. But that same simplicity also hurts the replay value. Now, this is a game I anticipate returning to many times over the years when the occasion strikes, but it isn’t something that would support weekly play. At least not with my usual gaming groups. Perhaps with younger folks.
Spite: 5 of 5. Farmageddon is as much about interrupting the crops of others as it is about building your own. Prepare to see your crops laid waste, and to seek vengeance by coating your opponents’ crops in pesticides. There is a lot of light hearted “take that” in this game.
Overall: 3 of 5. Farmageddon is an enjoyable, light game that will find favor among family and friends. While it isn’t a deep brain-burner in the least, it hits just the right notes for a fun, light, filler style game. And the quick play time ensures that it stays enjoyable. It won’t turn into a long slog that goes on forever. Definitely worth checking out.
(A special thanks to 5th Street Games for providing a review copy of Farmageddon)