Prototypes of up and come Kickstarter projects
Everybody likes to build things. And in my case, it's a beautiful garden. Whether it be a game like Agricola, where you are building up a family farm, or a game like Cottage Garden where planting flower beds is the name of the game (and having pesky cats help you out). Even planting flower beds in Queenz, to attract those wonderfully pollinating bees. We all love this wonderful building feeling and profiting off our hard work. Autofarmer does a little bit of the reverse, where you start with a nice garden and you need to protect it and keep it in pristine condition allowing you a profitable harvest at the end of the game.
Autofarmer is not about growing your usual plants. This is a game about growing cannabis, marijuana, ganja, whatever you want to call it. And why are you growing it? Well apparently you're interested in using it to create cosmetics or food crops. You can even have it transmuted into a natural plastic from it's vegetable fibres to be used in furniture, cars and boats. Yes, this is an organic product that has some Environmental benefits. And that is why you're growing it.
The game is for two to four players and involves playing cards, dice and large amounts of sabotaging of your opponents gardens. It has already been published in the Czech Republic for a few years now, and now it’s coming to Kickstarter so it can hit the global market. The link to the Kickstarter is just below here.
So how does it play? Depending on the number of players will determine the number of rounds that are played. So with a four-player game, 4 rounds are played and at the end of each round players will record their scores from their remaining crops. Each round is broken down into three phases. The sprouting phase, the flowering phase, and the harvest phase. After a start player has been chosen, they will roll a pair of dice 2 times, remembering their results. The highest result will allow them to collect that number of seed cards while the lower value they scored would tell them how many of those seeds have actually started to grow. So a very simple case of taking “X” amounts of cards and only revealing “Y” amounts of cards. In turn order each player will do the same. Some players may end up having more cards than others while other players may have more seeds then plants. This is the start of the deliberations and Alliances that will be formed over the game.
Every grown plant has a weight of 40 grams. What you want to do is to try and keep these plants at that weight or higher by the end of the round. As their weight is your score. Things will be happening to those plans during the course of the game. They may get Mites that will eat them, or molds that will destroy them. But you will have the chance to protect them with some products that you can spray to remove these diseases, as well as the opportunity to do a little harvesting before the harvest phase. Which would be kind of like banking some of your hard-earned money without killing your plants. And that's the basis of the game. Protect your garden to gain the maximum amount of weight at the harvest phase while spreading diseases amongst your opponent's or stealing their healthy plants.
The start player will have the 3 phase cards in front of them. Every time it comes to their turn they reveal the next card. Each card symbolises the three different phases, sprouting, flowering, and harvest. In every phase the players who perform the same actions in turn order. 1) Draw 3 cards. 2) Possibly exchange some cards. 3) Play cards. 4) Spread any diseases, before ending their turn and allowing the next player to do the same.
So step one requires the player to draw from a deck of 63 playing cards, which contains 13 different types of card. Some more common than others. After drawing 3 cards, you will have the chance to discard either one, two or three of those cards and replace them with however many you discarded. This is done only once before you have to start playing cards. Some of these cards are harmful to the plants while others are helpful. Some cards are one-shot only and will be discarded immediately after being played, while others will stick to the flower pot that they are attached to. The icons on the top right hand corner clearly indicate which does which. As well as the icons on the bottom of each card which inform on which phase they can be played. So remembering which phase it is when you draw your cards at the beginning of your turn is an important thing. Nothing worse than holding a card that you can't play due to the fact that it can not be played in that phase.
The game is relatively simple to play and you will not spend a lot of time thinking about what you are going to do with the cards that you have in your hand. It is a simple case of sabotaging your opponent's and maybe saving some good cards for yourself, for when your opponents try to sabotage you. Every round teams will form depending on who has the most points on the last round or who has the most current points on the table. Players will gang up and trample over the player they believe is going to win, without trying to make themselves their next target.
You are not obliged to play all your cards on your turn. And therefore it is possible that you can build up a reserve of cards right up until the harvest phase. And then devastate your opponent as long as the card can be played in that phase. But at the end of every turn, when you have finished playing cards, diseases on your plants will activate in the order of their ferocity.
Mold has the highest danger level and therefore will activate first. It destroys immediately that plant that is attached to it and then it will move on to the healthiest plant in that garden. Healthiest as in the highest weight in grams. Whereas the Mites will remove 20 grams from a plant and at the end of your turn they too will move on to your next healthiest plant. They're a bunch of tokens, negative and positive that you will be constantly placing on your plans as they get either munched on by the mites or possibly boosted by sunlight or special fertilizer. But any Mold or Mite that remains on any plants at the end of a round will score you nothing. This is when you total up the weight of all your remaining plants and any grams that you have already harvested with the sickle card. Everybody writes down their score before beginning the next round. All cards are collected and reshuffled before you start again by rolling the dice and seeing how many seeds you collect and how many plants grow. At the end of a number of rounds, whoever has the highest score wins.
The game comes with a mini expansion called “Strains”, which gives each player random different plants to add to their garden. These strains of plants have different weight values compared to the base game. Dropping as low as 20 grams or climbing as high as 80 grams, each also has a special power connected to it. Some are disease resistant while others automatically harvest on a player's turn. There are male and female plants which have different effects on the garden and there are plants that cannot be harvested by the sickle, so keeping them healthy until the harvest phase will be a battle.
As you can see, this is a pretty light game with very little strategy but lots of interaction from the players. A player's turn can be pretty quick depending on the negotiation that happens between everybody. And you won't be stuck wondering what to do with the cards in your hand as they are pretty self-explanatory and pretty brutal. Yes, I'm going to steal your healthy plant then I'm going to spray my “Final S” to boost the weight of all my plants. There is a lot of slapping in the face with this game.
I feel there are a few missed opportunities in regards to not having different types of diseases that act in different ways. Also a little disappointed that you don't keep your garden from round to round. And it may have been nice to have some kind of strategy in the layout of your garden. But the game is clean and clear. The rules are simple to follow and the icons on the cards and little descriptions are all easy to read and comprehend. Some players were a little off-put by the artwork but maybe that's something that will change with the final Kickstarter. Not advisable for two players but definitely the more than merrier. If you've played games like Munchkin or Baby Blues and you like that style of game, then this is for you.
Me, of course!