Children and Agricola
In November I played a few games of Agricola with my children, Shee Yun, 7, and Chen Rui, then 5. They enjoyed doing "farm things", but the strategies eluded them. They didn't know how to plan ahead. The stack of food tokens on the Fishing space always tempted them. They lived for the next round of feeding (harvest), and didn't properly develop their crop farming or animal husbandry. I guess they were not quite ready for Agricola yet. Only a crazy gamer dad would ask his children at such ages to play Agricola. However the girls did enjoy the games, just that I had to guide them now and then. Chen Rui bluntly said to me: I don't know what I want to do. Indeed there are so many different actions to pick from in Agricola. No wonder she felt overwhelmed. Surprisingly the children sat through our 1.5-hour 3-player game with no problem at all. I think it is because they felt engaged all the time.
I tried to help them survive by avoiding actions that I think were urgent to them. I tried to point out strategies when I saw them getting into trouble. Unfortunately Chen Rui still ended up with one begging card. But maybe I should be thankful that it was only one.
There is definitely a charm in Agricola, despite the constant pressure to feed your family. The children didn't "get" the game, but they enjoyed it.
Examples in rulebooks
Do you read them? I'm usually too lazy to read them, but they can be quite useful in illustrating concepts that are difficult to explain in words only. I tend to feel that the main text should already cover every rule, so examples are just extra / optional material. I guess I do sometimes read them when I don't understand what the main text is saying, but more often than not I skip them. The result is sometimes I misinterpret some rules. Having played so many different games, it is easy to slip into a smart Alec mode and think that you know it all.
The iOS version of Cafe International seems to be a mix of Cafe International the board game and Cafe International the card game. When tables get filled up, the table and guests are removed and a new table is drawn. I still think Cafe International is a clever and fun game. Playing it is like catching up with an old friend.