This game has been on my Most Wanted List for quite a while. I finally just picked it up last weekend, and I have to say that it is truly a fantastic game.
In Agricola (Latin for "farmer"), you're a farmer in a wooden shack with your spouse and little else. On a turn, you get to take only two actions, one for you and one for the spouse, from all the possibilities you'll find on a farm: collecting clay, wood or stone; building fences; and so on. You might think about having kids in order to get more work accomplished, but first you need to expand your house. And what are you going to feed all the little rugrats?
Agricola is a turn-based game. There are 14 game turns plus 6 harvest phases (after turn 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 14). Each player starts with two playing tokens (farmer and wife) and thus can take two actions per turn. There are multiple options, and while the game progresses, you'll have more and more: first thing in a turn, a new action card is flipped over.
Problem: Each action can be taken just once per turn, so it's important to do some things with high preference. Each player also starts with a hand of 7 Occupation cards (of more than 160 total) and 7 Minor Improvement cards (of more than 140 total) that he may use during the game if they fit in his/her strategy. This amounts to countless strategies, some depending on your card hand. Sometimes it's a good choice to stay on course, sometimes you better react on what your opponents do.
Basically, Agricola is a resource management strategy game. At the end of the last turn you tally up your victory points. Victory point can be obtained via Major Improvements, Minor Improvements, Occupations, resources, type of home you have constructed, and a few others.
The game rewards a diverse play style, and it punishes you for focusing on any one or two resources. You are never beat out of the game, and thus keeps everyone playing through until the final harvest. On our first play through it took about three hours with three people, but I'd say about 45 minutes per player would be more accurate play time once everyone is familiar with the game.
The game retails at $70.00, but if you dig you should be able to find it for under $50.00 before shipping. I am grossly impatient and feed off of instant gratification, so, naturally, I purchased at my newly discovered local ma and pa shop for full retail.
I would consider this a "must play" game for any board game player.