How exciting! I was asked to run the Agricola Tournament at PAX Australia Jul 19-21, 2013. Agricola is my No.1 game, so I had no hesitation in saying yes. (I wish I has taken more photos but there wasn’t time – grabbed these from other streams)
The schedule had two qualifying rounds on Friday and again on Saturday with the Semi-Final and Final on Sunday. I followed the rules from World Boardgame Championships, http://www.boardgamers.org/#wbc, with a few tweaks that didn’t apply to our event. (about to head off for my 4th WBC this week, so excited!)
We had 5 brand new copies of the game donated and I had the pleasure of punchng and sorting all of them. I fixed the handful of typos and pulled the banned cards and bagged all the components. I was in heaven with the smell of fresh cardboard and nice slippery cards.:)
My original thoughts were that maybe a handful of attendees would sign up. I thought the PAX audience would be more interested in games with Fantasy/Sci-fi/Battle themes so I figured I might get maybe a 3 player game going for each session :-).
I was excited to have this many participants.
Qualifier A – 5 tables – 4 x 4, 1 x 5
Qualifier B – 3 tables – 3 x 4 (I played to make up the numbers)
Qualifier C – 2 tables – 1 x 4, 1 x 3
Qualifier D – 5 tables – 4 x 4, 1 x 3
Semi- Final – 20 invited, 3 tables – 3 x 4 participated.
Each table could decide which decks to use from E/I/K and whether to draught or not. Only a handful of games chose to draught.
At the registration desk, I encouraged people to sign up even if they had never played before, I gave them a run through of the game prior to starting the qualifier and sat with that table of newbies during the qualifier helping them learn the game.
Each qualifying session had a table of newbies. More Yay’s! 17 Newbies all together and of those I asked, they were going to buy the game. Yay!!!! 3 of those newbies made it to the semi final, and 2 to the grand final. Even more Yay’s. (‘Belle’ looking at camera made it to the semi final with a score of 40 on her first game)
Reasons people won’t enter a tournament
- Too scary
- I am not good enough
- I dont know how to play
- I dont want to look like an idiot with expert players
While this might be true in other tournaments eg sport, it is not so in board games
Reasons why you play in a board game tournament
- You like/love playing the game
- You want to play with others that like the game
- You want to test out your skills against other players
- You want to try out/learn the game
- Scheduled play instead of wandering around looking for a table
- Dont have anyone to play with
- Great way to meet people
- You are shy
Teaching Agricola to newbies
Let them know it will take a 2-3 hours. You don’t want people leaving half way through because of schedule commitments. A lot of people say its best to learn with the ‘family’ version of the game but with gamers I always start with the cards (E deck) and have not had any problems. (With non-gamers I start with the ‘family’ version.)
I show them a printed photo of the perfect farm (50 points without bonus points) and tell them it is not easy to achieve no matter how many times you have played.(I have never achieved it) also to study the score card and try and maximize points. When the game started I helped each player with their cards on what to concentrate on and then let them make their own decisions. Positive feedback from all newbies, they loved playing it and how fast the time went. More Yay’s.
The winner of each table plus one table had 3 players within a few points of each other all over 40 so they were invited to play in a 5 player Grand Final. We used the World Championship deck and each player chose a deck randomly, then discard down to 7.
There were 5 players in the Grand Final and 2 of them had not played Agricola before attending the PAX event. The 2 newbies came 2nd and 3rd – well done!
The final scores were 46, 31, 28, 25, 23. Congratulations Virginia Graham (wearing hat) on your win.
The winner played with Deck Upsilon and with a combo of Bargaining Baker/Kindling was able to buy Clay Oven/Stone Oven/Cooking Hearth quite early denying other players a food engine although could never get to bake.
Each player seemed to struggle for food each harvest relying on Day Laborer through out the game except for 2nd player who played a steady game and built a well balanced farm eating sheep with the fireplace.
Some other things I noticed – in the semi final there were 3 tables of 4 players. Seating was pick a card and go to the table with that card, therefore random. Each table was 1 female, 3 male.
2 females won their table.
I had a great time running this event. Great support from the Enforcers and all the Table Top crew. Thanks to Melissa Rogerson and Good Games for organising and supplying the 5 copies of Agricola and to Penny Arcade for bringing PAX to Australia and displaying board games to thousands and thousands of people. 17 new fans to Agricola and I mean Fans. My mission is successful. I want Agricola to be around as long as Monopoly.
Kerrin the Agricola Evangislist
PS Forgot to mention during the tournament, while I had a Agricola fan base, but anyone reading this, if you would like to play Agricola on iOS in real time while we are Google Hangouts, please join the community I have just started. Hopefully we can find others who only want to play in real time.