Game Length: 30 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 2 players up for a lighter version of Agricola without the pressure of feeding your family
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (or All Creatures for the rest of this summary) is a two player version of the popular game Agricola. Players are tasked with establishing a farm and populating it with animals, competing with each other for the limited spaces on the action board and trying to get the largest herds.
All Creatures takes some of the mechanics of Agricola while stripping out many others, leaving a game that is purely about gaining as many points as possible through accumulating animals, building structures and extending the size of your farm. The overwhelming drive to generate enough food for your family is gone, as is the need to grab a wide variety of resources to prevent loss of points in the closing turns. As a result, the game is quite a lot simpler than Agricola, with games taking around 30 minutes to complete, unlike the several hours that games of Agricola can take.
Like Agricola, All Creatures uses a Worker Placement and Resource Accumulation system, whereby any action taken by one player is unavailable to the other until the end of the round, and actions that are not taken for consecutive rounds will become more attractive over time. Players will use their workers to gather resources, use resources to construct facilities, and add animals to their farm. Without resources, they won’t be able to construct anything, and unless they construct, they won’t have anywhere to house any animals they claim. They’ll need to find the balance between resources, animals and structures, and with only three actions per turn, you’ll have some tough choices to make.
The animal meeples that come with the game are cute and functional, and by the end of the game you’ll have the satisfaction of having built a farm full of them. The game is less confrontational than other two player games; players will be competing over the various action spaces on the board but otherwise won’t be able to influence each others’ farms, leaving them to construct their personal bucolic paradise in peace.
All Creatures does have replayabiility issues. There are far fewer options available to the players than in Agricola, and no randomness in the available buildings or options. This can make the game repetitive, and after half a dozen plays the opening moves tend to be very similar. This is mitigated by the expansions, which add a variety of new random buildings to mix up the gameplay and make other avenues to victory viable, extending the life of the game – if you enjoy the base game, getting one or two of the expansions is definitely recommended.
Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small makes a refreshing change of pace from the original Agricola, and is well suited for two players. The pleasant theme and non-confrontational nature of the game make it an excellent game for couples, and the relaxed rules compared to Agricola also make it a good introductory game for newcomers to boardgaming. If you want a light two-player strategy game of building up a small farm, Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small comes highly recommended.