Farmageddon: Review

What could possibly go wrong if Fairway’s put in charge of a farm?  Well, it turns out a lot, unless it’s in Stardew Valley (which is a fantastic video game, by the way).  For you see, in today’s review, Fairway picks up Farmageddon, an unabashed take-that card game by Grant Rodiek. 

Farmageddon is a two- to four- player take-that card game in which players are competing farmers. I picked this game up directly from Hyperbole Games’s website.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. As the title implies, this game is not a quaint farming simulation game. There is a high amount of take-that which disrupts even some of the best laid plans.
  2. The game plays quickly enough, even at higher player counts.
  3. The art is on the creepy side, rather than the Plants-v.-Zombies-cute side, of the spectrum.

Game play ^

In Farmageddon, players attempt to plant then harvest crops in order to score the most points.

The game consists of two different decks: a crops deck and a farmer deck.  The crops deck includes all of the plantable crops. In addition to a name and picture, each crop card has value and a fertilizer requirement. Some plants may also have a bonus when played.

The Farmer deck consists of cards that include special actions and abilities including the ability to insure plants, destroy crops, boost crops, and so on.

To start, players are dealt an initial hand of three Crop cards and two Farmer cards.  Then, starting with the first player, and proceeding clockwise, players take turns.  During your turn, you first draw two crop cards, and then play as many crop cards as you want and up to two farmer cards. At the end of the turn, the player will draw one farmer card and play passes to the next player.

In Farmageddon, you play crops one of two ways: either as the crop itself or as fertilizer for a crop. When played as a crop, the card indicates a value its worth when harvested and it’s fertilizer requirement. In order to harvest the crop, you play the indicated number of crops as fertilizer on top of the card and wait one full turn.

During your turn, you can also play up to two Farmer cards. These Farmer cards are essentially special action cards–the can provide perks or penalties to crops, they can affect your crops or another player’s crops, they can destroy plants.

Once you have played all the cards you can (or want), you can harvest any crops you played the previous round.  Harvested crops are stored next to you and are worth the value on the crop card in points at the end of the game. Any fertilizer or farmer cards played on the card are discarded.  After harvesting crops, you draw a Farmer card and play passes to the next player.

The game continues this way until all of the crop cards have been drawn.  The game ends and players sum up the scores. The player with the most valuable harvest wins.

On the green ^

Teachable, light, quick.  The game was very quick to learn. Everyone picks up on the basic game mechanics of planting and fertilizing crops.  Most of our games were in around the twenty minute mark.  Once players got the handle on which plants they plant and which they use for fertilizer, it kept pace pretty quickly.

Balanced and intuitive.  Despite the things I note below, most of our games are very close with the winner decided by only like a crop or two. The game has a very strong game design sense too which helps make some of the non-traditional mechanics also feel intuitive.

Nice production.  Overall, the cards have a nice feel and the graphic design and production value are top notch.

Where it comes up short ^

It’s hard to fault a game that knows exactly what it is. There’s definitely a strong sense that the designer made the game he wanted. But with that said, it’s definitely worth mentioning:

Take That. Let’s just say, this is not for the faint of heart. It is no Stardew Valley. The amount of pretty vicious, sometimes petty, Take That in the game is over the top. There are more than a few Farmer cards in the deck that have the consequence of wiping out unprotected crops. I’m not a destructive gamer. I don’t really take pleasure in playing cards that I know my friends and family just invested in. And, conversely, nothing’s quite as disappointing as having a Dust Bowl or Thrasher card played on your crops denying you the ability to harvest them.

In some ways, how Farmageddon implements this is even more negative than other Take That games. First, the pay-off for planting the crops is delayed. Even if you fertilize a plant completely on your turn, you have to wait a full cycle before you’re able to harvest. And that frequently means another player will destroy your harvest before you get the rush of harvesting it, even if it would have only been fleeting.

Second, most crops have an opportunity cost that exceed just the one card: the card, the cards used for fertilizer, any farmer cards played on it. Unless you’re lucky enough to get a protection card, it’s not like there’s much choice but to risk it. This heightens the disappointment.

As if to exemplify this feature of the game, most of the time, players only got to harvest like 3 to 5 plants.  That seems like so little pay off.

The Crops.  How we wished the crops were more Plants v. Zombies than whatever it is they are right now. I’m sure they might appeal to someone, but they weren’t pleasant to look at. And the art turned off my wife from the game.

In the hole ^

Farmageddon is a light, quick card game that knows what it is: a terrorizing, take that game. Players who are looking for a light farming simulation are going to be disappointed. No one gets to harvest their crops in peace. The game pits players in an all out farming war. If you’re a fan of Take That games and are looking for a light, quick game, you’ll find a lot of joy in Farmageddon.

Farmageddon is in the hole for a Par. ^

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