Agricola is a worker placement game where you gather resources, farm, build up your land and home, keep animals, and try to feed your family before you all starve. This always seemed a bit daunting to me and caused me more stress than enjoyment. Thankfully, Agricola All Creatures Big and Small alleviates all of that stress and just lets your focus on collecting animals.
In this version of Agricola, not only is it specifically made for 2-players, it also just focuses on animal husbandry. You don’t have to worry about farming, upgrading your stove, having kids, feeding everyone, etc., which I found very enjoyable in comparison to the regular version of Agricola. You’ll want to have at least 4 of each animal by the end of 8 rounds or you’ll lose points at the end when you calculate score totals. Collecting a minimum of 16 animals in pastures or buildings within 8 rounds is actually more difficult than you would think.
The rules were easy to learn and easy to explain to my wife since we have experience with work placement and resource gathering games. We kept the rulebook handy to reference the special building cards and uncommon actions that weren’t just collecting goods/animals and building fences.
Setup was fairly quick, but it took me a bit longer than most people because I like to keep pieces sorted by type in individual glass bowls. If you’re not going to worry about keeping the pieces organized, setup should take under a minute. To choose a first player (since the first player has a slight advantage), we chose to do a coin flip with the starting player marker. One side is a man and the other side is a woman, which worked out well in our case.
After you’ve both placed all of your workers and completed the corresponding actions, they come back home to you, and then it’s mating season for your animals if you have at least 2 of the same type. During our first play-through, I noticed that one of our sheep pieces came pre-slaughtered. Probably not worth contacting the company about, but it makes a good-sized sheep piece to play as a baby sheep for the mating round.
Overall, we really enjoy this game. It’s the same size box as Patchwork and is just as enjoyable if you like worker placement games. Setup is quick, gameplay is light and fun, and the tempo is fairly fast, as you only have to place 3 workers down per round. This one is definitely going to be a staple in our collection.