Super Strict Farmer !

Posted by (twitter: @@benjamin_soule_)
May 5th, 2012 12:45 pm

I’m a bit late but here’s the Post Mortem for   Super Strict Farmer 

It tooks me some time to figure out what to do with the Tiny world theme. I was just thinking to a little piece of ground floating in the air. So I decided to adapt a famous boardgame ( my favorite ) named Agricola to a short and more accessible version .

I think I succeded in making it shorter ( boargame version play are 2h-3h long ) but the result is still very difficult to handle and not very intuitive.

You can play Super Strict Farmer  here !

The Timelapse is here



What went right :

– Preparation / Efficiency

On the week before LD23, I focus my attention to go to bed early and slept at least 9h-10h per night  ( that’s a lot for me ). It made my 48h very pleasant, I slept only 6h in one shot and had almost no focus problems. It didn’t help to take good decisions, but I had my head clear when I had to implement them :)

– Animation and arts :

I’m used to graphics gale and can work fast with it. I spend a few percent of my time on graphics and could focus on the core of the game. I just wish I had more time for particles and special effects

– Artificial Intelligence :

Well. I was thinking I wont have time for this in 48h. So I first decided to make the computer player play random move and balance difficulty with initial advantages ( more food, peoples or ressources ). I finally decided to give 2 hours for AI and I dont regret it. I mean, the result is not perfect but working on it was the most fun part of the project. Trying to give score for each possible action, made me think like a player ( not a game designer ) and it works like actually testing your game and detecting his weaknesses. At the end, I made the AI compute opponet best actions so it can try to steal them from you. It made the game more interesting and in my case very introversive, because I really had the feeling to play versus myself.

– Title

I had fun imagine it and draw it in 90’s super street fighter style. I was thinking that maybe, it could be the best title and then… I saw Copulous 😀

What went wrong :

– Simplification of the orginial Gameplay :

One of the bad points of Agricola is that you have to wait the end of the game to have a clear view of your score. It make it very obscure to new player, and I was thinking I could avoid it by creating ingame-actions that let the player trade ressources for victory points. I could not balance them in time, and was forced to add a final grain/sheep/cattle count. It ruined my original idea.

– Balancing :

Even if the result is playable, the game balance is unstable and took me most of my time. It’s difficult to estimate it, but it should be around 9-10h . I could have better intro screen and better ingame help if I didnt spent all this time on balancing.

– Boardgame :

Trying to adapt a boardgame to a short casaul game for LD is not the best choice I could make. This kind of boardgames are not very popular and I know that only few people enjoy their mathematics. I think I ended with a game too simple for boardgame veteran and too complicated for unitiated.

– Loneliness in a crowd :

One more time I had a chance to share this Ludum Dare with a lot of friends who was participating in the same place ( deepnight, 01101101, thotor , valandre ). And once again I stayed focus on my work not trying to go around and see what they were doing. But this time I have the solution : LD24 will be a jam entry for me :)




8 Responses to “Super Strict Farmer !”

  1. Pierrec says:

    I LOOOOVE Agricola! I have to test your game right now!

  2. realgenius says:

    Agricola is such an awesome game. Maybe you will release a post-compo “The Goodies” version too?

  3. JHarris says:

    There are some bugs in the game you should be aware of. I’m reporting them here because the idea is sound, and I think Super Strict Farmer has a lot of potential:
    – When Blue Player builds more than four fields, the additional ones appear in weird places. (I haven’t tried it out as Red.)
    – As a player builds additional houses, he seems to get more than the specified extra turns throughout the rest of the game.
    – If one player builds multiple buildings that add additional action spaces to the game, the game seems to forget about the earlier ones.
    – The Fireplace building works on Cows as well as Sheep, despite what the text says, and is actually indiscriminate about which of the two it uses. (It seems to go with the animal on the earliest-build field.) There are also priority issues when getting two kinds of animals from the Market when you only have room for one.

    I have written up a rulesheet for this game. I will submit it as another comment to follow this one.

  4. JHarris says:


    Found nowhere on the net, so I discovered them through hard experience and am putting them here.

    If you’ve played the board game Agricola before you’ll quickly understand the general flow of play, but there are substantial differences so I’d suggest reading these rules anyway.

    The object of the game is to earn Victory Points (VPs) over the course of 12 rounds. You get them through:
    Having resources in supply at the end of the game
    Having built certain buildings
    There are some actions you can take that score you points as a result of some trade

    At the top of the screen is your and your opponents supply; Blue’s is on the left, Red’s on the right. It lists how much Wood, Stone, Grain, Food and VPs (trophy symbols) you have. At the start of the game, the first player (chosen randomly) begins with four Food, and the second player begins with six. You also begin with two House buildings, and at the start of the game each House contains one worker, a little guy wearing a shirt of your player color.

    At the bottom of the screen are nine cards representing buildings. Five of them are the same every game, but the other four are randomly chosen from a set of possibilities at the start of the game. All are available, at lest initially, to either player. Once a building is built, it becomes unavailable to the other player; if you build a House, for instance, its card disappears and it’s thus denied to the other player, although he could build a different House if there’s still one left.

    Super Strict Farmer is what’s known as a worker placement game. You and your opponent each have a number of workers. Each turn, you place one of them a number of available spaces on the board. Once a worker is placed somewhere your worker occupies that spot and prevents the opponent from placing a worker there that round. Generally you place workers to gain resources, spend resources for advantages, create fields, invest resources in fields, and/or earn victory points. Your opponent is doing the same thing on his turns. When a player runs out workers he is done for the round, and his opponent can place his remaining workers without interference; when both players are out, the round is over.

    At the start of every round after the first (note: NOT only after Harvest phases as in Agricola!) every worker you have consumes one food from your supply. Here it comes, the WORDS OF DOOM: you must keep tabs on your worker’s food consumption. If you don’t have enough food to feed all your workers, they’ll eat grain instead. If you don’t have enough grain, they’ll eat Victory Points. If you don’t have enough VPs, unfed workers die. (Over succeeding rounds they’ll build back up, one per round, to the number of Houses you have.) In Agricola, unfed workers is frequently a dire situation as each food you’re short in that game is a three point deficit. Here it is occasionally possible to come back from it, but it’s still pretty dire.

    When it’s your turn, a number of places representing actions you can send a worker to will have flashing dots next to them. If you can get no possible benefit from a space at all the dot won’t appear, so spaces will become mysteriously unavailable from time to time. This is generally because you don’t have the necessary resources to use the space.

    There are a number of “community” spaces, available to whichever player chooses it first on a round, which make up most of the board. Most worker placements will be made to these spaces throughout the game. But there are also spaces you can build as buildings. Most of these become available for EITHER player to choose once built — as a benefit for building these, you usually receive the building’s benefit immediately upon constructing it. At least one of them (the Fireplace) only makes an option available to the player who builds it.

    The Fireplace states that, once built, it gives you an ability that you can take “at any time.” In terms of this game, this means you can click on the building and receive its benefit, and your worker will then return to his house to be placed again — but note that, unlike Agricola, your opponent will get to take an action before you get your next action.

    Here are the possible buildings available at the start of the game. There might be additions to this list that you can use later; those are listed under Buildings, below:

    FOREST (a bunch of trees)
    Gives you a quantity of wood. The wood on the Forest “builds” over time; it starts out with 2 Wood on it. If neither player takes it in the first round, the next round it will have 4 Wood. It continues to build like this, from round to round, until a player takes the Wood resting there, at which time it starts over on the next round with 2 Wood again. (For a strategy for getting extra Wood from here, see FLAG, below.) Many other spaces that supply resources build over time as well.

    QUARRY (a large mountain)
    Like the Forest, this space builds resources over time, Stone in this case. However, it only gains 1 Stone each round.

    PLOUGH (a plow)
    If you have an empty field and at least one Grain, this plants Grain into the empty fields. If you have no empty fields or Grain, this constructs a field on your side of the river.
    If you have more than one empty Field and more than one Grain, this action will plant them all. This is harder to do here than in Agricola, but can be potentially powerful, especially combined with the Bakery.
    When you build a field, it’s for your use alone; the other player gets no benefit from it. A field can either be used to plant Grain (by choosing the Plough action again on a later round) or to hold Sheep or Cattle (obtained by choosing the Market). Each field can hold up to four of only one kind of animal.
    If you’ve played Agricola, you should note that Fields here fulfill the role of both fields and pastures in that game.
    Note: you can have more than four fields, but a graphics glitch will cause Field above that to appear in weird places, including possibly in your opponent’s area. This is illusory; the game still knows it’s your Field.

    MARKET (a fenced area containing animals)
    Like the Forest and Quarry, this building builds resources throughout the game, in this case animals. The Market gains one animal every round, randomly either a Sheep or Cow. Cows are generally more valuable than Sheep. The player who takes the Market gets all of the animals waiting there, which are immediately stored in any empty fields. (Unlike grain, animals are never stored in your supply. You must always have available field space to have animals. If you don’t have room for them, gained animals are lost.) Important: if there are both Sheep and Cows waiting but only one empty field, priority seems to be given to the first animal that arrived of the current batch. If there’s one empty field, and one Sheep and four Cows in the Market that arrived in that order, it seems that you get the Sheep and the Cows go away. Cows are worth twice as many VPs as Sheep, so it’s important to keep this in mind! (It’s things like that that got me to write up this rulesheet in the first place.)
    If you don’t have an empty field you can still pick the Market, but its function changes. The space will instead give you two food. In this event, the animals remain on the space and will continue to build at the start of the next round. Note that this food award doesn’t build; it’s always two food.

    GRANARY (a grain silo)
    Another space that builds resources, this time 1 Grain every round. There is an interesting side-effect to this space: every time you take it, in addition to the grain, if you have at least two sheep or two cows, they will breed and you will get an additional animal of that type. It is possible to get both a sheep and cow at the same time this way, but you only receive the additional animal if you have room for it. (I don’t know, if both types breed but there’s only room for one new animal, what priority it’s given to.)

    WORKSHOP (a wide, flat building beneath the mountain)
    This building allows you to construct one of the buildings represented by the cards at the bottom of the screen. The building is only available if you have the resources to construct one of the available buildings. See BUILDINGS, below, for information on these. (Note: I have seen this building not be available even when there was no worker there, while I had the necessary resource to build something. This is probably a bug, maybe related to being given too many extra actions for building Houses.)

    FLAG (a flag, colored Blue or Red)
    At the start of the game, the color of the Flag matches that of the starting player. Every round, this player gets to place his worker first. The other player can change this, however, by placing one of his workers at the Flag. In that event, that player will become the new starting player, and at the start of subsequent rounds he’ll be the first to place a worker.
    If you are not the starting player and you find yourself with actions after the other player is out of workers, and you plan to choose, for one of your actions, a space that builds resources, you might consider choosing the Flag instead. That way you’ll become starting player and get to choose the resource space unopposed at the start of the next round, after it’s built up more resources.
    Even if you are already the starting player, you are still allowed to choose the Flag as your action; it provides no effect in this case except that it prevents the other player from choosing it. (This is usually a suboptimal move unless your plan for the next round relies on playing first.)

    FISH POND (a pond with a pier)
    The last space that builds resources. Every round the Fishing Pond gains 2 Food, which goes to the first player to collect it, returning the pond to 2 Food again at the start of the following round.

    SCHOOL (a long building, by a ladder leading off the board)
    This building gives you two food. Unlike the Fish Pond this award doesn’t build, it’s always two food. Note that the Fish Pond is nearly always a better choice, unless you plan on collecting additional food in the next round from the Pond’s resource building… which you can only relied upon if you’re starting player.
    The help text for this indicates that this building isn’t finished. Presumably the School is intended to provide an analogue for Agricola’s Occupations. Hopefully work on the game will continue and this building will become more useful. Note that the computer seems to have an aversion to picking the School, although this might just be because he’ll give preference to the Fish Pond.

    BRIDGE (a bridge crossing the river dividing the board)
    It doesn’t seem like it at first, but the Bridge is, itself, a building. It’s rarely seen in action because using it costs a grain, a sheep and a cow. In exchange, you get 4 VPs. This is a huge bonus in this game. But if either Cows or Sheep never appear in the Market, then no one can ever use the Bridge.

    WATERMILL (a building by the river with a waterwheel attached to it)
    Picking this building will exchange 1 Grain for 1 VP. This isn’t a bad exchange, although the fact that it costs a worker placement to use it hurts a bit. It’s probably better to try to get some use out of the grain otherwise if you can, such as baking it for 5 Food or planting it in a field, but it can make a difference in a close game.

    Buildings you can build:
    HOUSE, costing 3 Wood and 1 Grain (there are at least two of these, and possibly more)
    Increases your capacity for workers. Unlike building rooms in Agricola, you get the new worker automatically at the start of the next round — that is to say, there is no “Raise Family Member” space. Also unlike Agricola, it’s possible to starve a worker to death if you can’t feed him, in which case you’ll regain one deceased worker at the start of each Round thereafter until all your houses are full.
    FIREPLACE, costing 1 Stone (there is always at least one of these, and there might be a second)
    Gives you, and only you, an “at any time” action that converts 1 animal into 2 Food. This action is available only to the player who builds the Fireplace, but putting a worker there doesn’t consume your worker’s action, although it does give your opponent a chance to act after your turn. Warning: contrary to the space’s text, this building will happily and capriciously convert the much-more-valuable Cows into food instead of Sheep. There is no bonus for this. It appears to go by the order of the fields as they were built throughout the game — if there are Cows in Field #2 and Sheep in Field #3, it’ll be a Cow that gets converted. Beware of this.
    Unlike Agricola, if there are two Fireplaces in the game, there is nothing saying that you can’t build both of them. Since you get your worker back when you use a Fireplace, there is no reason to do this other than to deny it to your opponent.
    BAKERY, costing 3 Wood and 1 Stone, scores 1 VP (there is always one of these)
    Makes a new action available that allows converting 1 Grain into 5 Food. Either player can take this action, but you get one immediate use of it when you build it. (Note that, unlike similar Improvements in Agricola, this action is compulsory if you can use it.)
    CHURCH, costing 3 Stone and 1 Wood, scores 2 VP (there is always one of these)
    Makes a new action available that immediately earns 1 VP with no cost other than placing the worker. Either player can take this action, but the player who builds gets an immediate use. (So, the bonus for building it is effectively 3 VP.) Points are very valuable in this game, so think carefully before you decide to build this; if your opponent uses it three more times than you, it essentially offers no benefit. Conversely, take note if your opponent builds it; you might be able to take more advantage of it than he.
    WEAVER, costing 2 Wood and 1 Grain, scoring 1 VP
    When built, the player who built it immediately earns one point for every two sheep he has. It does nothing else.
    BOAT, costing 1 Wood
    This building gives the player who built it 1 extra Food every time he picks the Forest space.
    CRANE, costing 3 Wood
    This building provides an action only for the use of the player who built it. It lets you build a building without competing for the use of the Workshop. You should still use the Workshop if it’s available though, because it denies its use to your opponent.
    HEN HOUSE, costing 1 Wood and 1 Grain, scores 1 VP
    Awards one extra food every time the building player chooses the Granary.
    GROVE, costing 2 Wood
    Awards one extra Food every time the building player chooses the Forest.
    RESTAURANT, costing 3 Wood and 1 Grain, scores 1 VP
    Makes a new action available that converts 3 Food into 2 VP. This can be used by either player, but the builder gets an immediate use. Note that, since this benefit is compulsory if you can use it and costs Food, it is possible to be hurt by building this if you are unprepared.
    SLAUGHTERHOUSE, costing 2 Stone, 1 Wood and 1 Grain
    Makes a new action available that converts 1 Cow into 3 Food and 1 VP. It activates immediately when you build it like the other extra-action spaces.
    STATUE, costing 4 Stone, scores 4 VPs
    Other than the score award for building it, the Statue provides no function.

    After each round:
    First, Grain Fields are harvested; you receive one Grain for every Grain field you have, and those fields deplete by one-third. (Thus, over time each Grain planted becomes three.)
    Then, if the number of workers you have is less than the number of Houses, you gain one Worker.
    Finally, you pay one Food (or Grain, or Victory Point) for every worker you have at that time. Note that you can pay with Grain that came in off a Field that round. Also note, you don’t pay food after the end of Round 12 — you don’t have to worry about food after Round 11.

    End of game:
    After everyone has acted in Round 12, final scores are tallied. In addition to victory points earned throughout the game, players get extra victory points for having excess resources at the end of the game: 1 VP for every 4 Food, 3 Grain, 2 Sheep and every Cow. Scores tend to be in the range of 7 to 16 points. My highest score on Normal difficulty is 20 (from lots of Cows).

    Notes: I have observed that sometimes either you or your opponent will get extra actions at the end of a turn. I haven’t figured out what causes this, but it happens much more often when you have extra workers from Houses (the first time it happens to you tends to be the turn you build your first House). When it happens to you, the game will wait for you to make a move even though you have no one waiting at a House on your side of the board, and one of your worker guys will move from a place where he’s stationed to a different building. When this happens for a computer player, he’ll just take extra actions.
    Additionally I have observed that sometimes, when you build a lot of action buildings, the earlier ones seem like they are sometimes forgotten about, their action button not appearing like they’re supposed to.

    Strategy: Like Agricola, it’s very important to have extra workers. Without extra workers, you have only 24 moves in a game. Every time you build a House (assuming no one starves), that’s one extra action for every remaining round of the game. But unlike Agricola there are many fewer actions available in later rounds, so getting lots of extra workers isn’t the overpowering strategy that it is in the board game. And workers aren’t worth any points in themselves here.

    The computer has a highly optimized strategy for building Houses as soon as possible; he will tend to have his first House before you unless you go out of your way to challenge him on it. To build a House, he needs 3 Wood, 1 Grain and to take the Workshop action — you can potentially stymie him on any of those points. Another way to stop the computer player is to distract him — if you build a Church, he’ll very frequently waste actions earning single Victory Points there, when he could potentially be improving his state for greater VP rewards later. (He’ll often do this to himself, though since he gets 3 extra points for building the Church it’s a better strategy for him.)

  5. JHarris says:

    Also note: unlike Agricola, Grain in fields at the end of the game do *not* contribute to scoring.

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