Sue had played Agricola only twice before and wanted to try it again, so we played the family version (without occupations or minor improvements). Sue outscored both of us on major improvements with the well, the pottery, and a cooking hearth, and Kathy got her farm running strong on grain and vegetable fields, but I was the only one to renovate to a stone house, which proved to be the difference in my very close win.
One reviewer expressed frustration at having to discard route cards frequently in order to find profitable assignments, but we didn't find that true in our session at all. Admittedly, there were a number of times early in the game where it was necessary to spend more money building rail lines than would be collected in the final shipment, but I considered those costs to be an investment in infrastructure. Many of the rail lines built early in the game turned out to be useful for multiple subsequent shipments, as well as the basis for a more extensive network later in the game. Seldom did any of us discard route cards (if at all) in our session.
In the end, I got to the point where I had enough surplus cash to extend my network to satisfy the victory condition of being connected to seven of the eight major cities. After that, it was just necessary to complete several major shipments to reach a cash balance of 250 gold pieces to win the game. All in all, I would say that it is a fun game, despite being a bit idiosyncratic in its design and execution.
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