Agricola Expansion: Belgium Deck

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Agricola_belgiumDo you want to add to your Agricola deck collection? If you want cards that are specialized and good for advanced play, look to the World Championship deck. If you want cards that are fun, have great artwork, and are sometimes more playful than useful, check out the NL Deck or Belgium. Similar to the NL deck, the Belgium cards have attractive artwork and a wide variety of abilities.  The cards are divided into 2 sections for the 2 regions of Belgium – Flanders, the Dutch speaking region in the south; and Wallonia, the French-speaking region in the south. The cards are labeled for which of the two regions they denote. The artwork or person on the card is true to that region. Yet there seems to be no difference between the cards’ abilities of the two regions. I don’t really understand why it was important to show the two regions when there is no difference in the ways the 2 regions’ cards are played. It seems more important to label the cards with a Belgium symbol, so that people will remember they are from Belgium. But I’m not from Belgium, maybe it is important to them to have the 2 regions differentiated. I just have relatives from Holland.

Anyways, like in the NL deck, the cards in the Belgium deck have a wide variety of abilities. There aren’t any cards that seem disproportionately strong, like the Backyard in the NL deck, but they still vary a lot in strength. I find their abilities fun but some people get annoyed with their impracticality.

A few of my favorite cards:

Belgium - Master Detective

Master Detective: Reveal the Round card that would enter play 3 Rounds after the current Round. Immediately move the person used to play this occupation onto the revealed space and take the action if possible. During the Returning home phase, hide the Round card again.

I love this card so much. I try to time it so that I can reveal a Stage 2 round card, and possibly get Family Growth early, or reveal a Stage V round card, so possibly get Family Growth without Room early. Even if I don’t get either of those options, this card still gives me an extra action. I can get stone early or a number of other things. When I’m having bad luck, I end up on a space that I can’t use, like Renovation, when I don’t yet have the resources for it. But still, a great card.

Belgium - No Potato

No Potato (requires 5 cards played): Until the end of the game, Vegetables give you 1 food less.  For every harvest remaining, you receive 1 bonus point.  (*Begging cards count as played cards.)

I don’t really understand why this card is called No Potato?  Well, this card is random but easy to play.  Play some other cards down early so that you will have 5 cards down, and then you can play this card.  Don’t use vegetables as food.  Play this early so that you can get the most bonus points possible.  It’s such a cheap card, and can give you up to 5 bonus points.  Great card.

 

Belgium - Rubenesque WomanRubenesque Woman:  In the Feeding phase of each Harvest, you must pay 1 additional Food.  Whenever you use an Accumulation space with your second person in a round, you receive 1 additional good of the accumulating type.

I love Rubens.  Do you appreciate the nude voluptuous women painted on this card?  I think the painting is beautiful.  I don’t quite understand the theme of this improvement – I guess you have a woman in your family who eats a lot of food?  But she is resourceful and can get you extra resources?

Whatever this card is supposed to signify, I enjoy it a lot.  As long as I have the extra food, getting an extra resource most turns is a great benefit.  It is easy to play well.

Belgium - Surrealist

Surrealist:  Reed and Food count as 1 build point each, Wood as 2, Clay as 3 and Stone as 4. Whenever you use a “Major Improvement” Action, you may build a Major Improvement from the bottom row (Clay oven to Basketmaker’s Workshop) by spending goods with at least 9 build points instead of the regular cost.

I love this card.  It’s so fun.  It seems entirely appropriate for the theme “Surrealist.”  It’s great to be able to use different types of resources to pay for these valuable improvements.  I think it’s especially nice since stone comes out late, and is so valuable.  You can get a clay or stone oven for only 3 clay, without needing any stone.   Actually 3 clay can buy any of those improvements.  Great card that is good to get down early so you can get its benefits.

A few of the silly and mostly useless cards:

Belgium - Begging Letter

Begging Letter: Each of your opponents must give you 1 Minor Improvement card from their hand. Choose 1 of those cards and take it into your hand. Then shuffle the remaining cards and the Begging Letter and deal 1 card at random to each of your opponents, Immediately afterwards, you receive an additional “Minor Improvement” action.

What a silly card.  I don’t understand why you would want a pick of your opponents’ worst improvements.  And you might even help an opponent accidentally by giving them a useful improvement.  At least you can play a second improvement afterwards, so if this is a dud then you can play a better improvement, or maybe an improvement you just received from an opponent.  And then the letter cycles through your opponents’ hands.  If it’s a begging letter, shouldn’t it give you food?

Belgium - Ideal LandscapeIdeal Landscape (requires 8 empty farm spaces): At the end of the game, if your farm contains exactly 4 pastures (totaling 6 pasture spaces), 5 fields and 4 rooms, you receive 4 bonus points.

I like the theme of this card – you are to create an ideal landscape, as pictured in the painting. But it seems like a terribly impractical card that usually isn’t a good idea to play. It has a base value of -1 victory points. You have to play the card early, when you have 8 open farm spaces.  Early in the game, it’s hard to know how many farms and pastures you will be able to create, and even how many rooms. Playing this card might make you work too hard to complete the requirements of the card, and not play as good of a game as you should. Is all that work worth 3 victory points? I don’t think so.

Belgium - Fry Cook

Fry Cook: In the Feeding phase of each Harvest, 2 of your adults eat 1 Food less and all of your other adults eat 1 Food more.

I don’t see any reason why you would play this card. If you are planning on not having children, it could be useful, but if you want to win the game, I would recommend that you start hitting up Family Growth as early as possible. My advice:  don’t play this card. Spend your turns more productively.

 

Review:

The Agricola Expansion: Belgium deck is a mixed bag. Although they are similar in style and abilities to the NL deck, I think I enjoy the NL cards a little more – overall I feel like the NL cards have less random abilities, and there are more cards that I like and fewer that are useless.  I would recommending buying the NL deck first, and then, if you like those cards and want more cards in the same vein, buying the Belgium deck.  Like the NL deck, the Belgium cards have unique themes, cool artwork, and fun abilities. Some cards are much stronger than others. Overall, the Belgium cards force you to think more creatively to integrate them into your deck and gameplay. I enjoy the Belgium deck a lot and hope you do too.

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