Full disclosure: A review copy of My Farm Shop was provided by Pegasus Spiele.
Pegasus Spiele is bringing their games directly to North America now, which is pretty exciting. I’ll be covering a handful of them in the coming weeks / months, so look forward to those. I’ve had experience with a variety of them over the years through other publishers, so excited to see how the direct experience will go. For no particular reason, the first game I’ll be checking out will be My Farm Shop! It really just happened to be at the top of the stack of games to play, and so it’s getting played. That’s the tried-and-true What’s Eric Playing? method, I guess. Let’s check it out!
In My Farm Shop, you’ve done it! Started your own farm, started making goods and selling them for profit. The dream. Your friends have done the same thing, so, time to make a little friendly competition of it all! The harvest season can benefit everyone, but how you develop your farm will really determine whose farm is ultimately the most successful. How will you make it happen? And whose farm will be the best?
First off, set the Market out in the center of the play area:
Then, shuffle the six Field Cards with a * on the back on the six spaces on the Market, face-up. Then, you’ll need to set up the remaining Field Cards, based on the numbers on the back and your player count:
- 2 players: 5 x 1, 5 x 2, 5 x 3, 3 x 4, 7 x 5, 2 x 6
- 3 players: 7 x 1, 5 x 2, 6 x 3, 3 x 4, 8 x 5, 3 x 6
- 4 players: 8 x 1, 6 x 2, 8 x 3, 4 x 4, 9 x 5, 4 x 6
Once you’ve done that, give each player a set of starting components. Each player gets a Farm Shop, to store goods:
Each player also gets a Coin Counter and a 50 / 100 token in the color of their choice:
They also receive a Farm:
Give each player a Good of each type:
And give each player two Burlap Bags.
Sunflowers can be set in their own supply:
Then, choose a player to start and give them the three dice.
They’ll be the start player. You’re ready to start!
Your goal is to make the most successful farm in town by improving your fields and selling goods out of your shop! Let’s talk about how to do that.
Generally speaking, a turn takes place over four main phases.
To start a turn, the active player will roll he three dice. After doing so, the active player will choose one die and assign it to the corresponding Market Stall, leaving the other two dice for the Activate Fields step. Players may spend a number of Burlap Bags to increase or decrease the die’s value by 1 per bag spent. Note that there’s no wraparound, so a 6 cannot become a 1 (or vice-versa). In this and the next step, the other players do nothing.
Now, the active player takes the Field card on the assigned Market Stall and adds it to one of the Farm spaces of their choice. If there’s already a Field card on that space, you can discard it and replace it with the new one.
Using the remaining two dice, all players activate the Farm space corresponding to the sum of the two dice. Like in the Roll Dice step, any player may use Burlap Bags from their supply to change the sum of the dice. Any player who does so does not modify the sum for other players, however.
Cards will generally give you goods, coins, Burlap Bags, or Sunflowers or let you spend goods to gain coins or other goods. Gaining Sunflowers is particularly interesting. Most spaces (except the 7) can hold one or two Sunflowers. When activating a space with a Sunflower on it, you may gain one extra Good / coin / Bag per Sunflower on that space, based on what the space yields normally. So if you were to get a Burlap Bag and a coin, you could either gain two Burlap Bags and a coin or a Burlap Bag and two coins. Your Farm Shop is limited to 16 Goods, so if you were to gain more past the sixteenth, you must return any extras to the supply.
Then, place a new card from the top of the Field card stack in the now-empty Market Stall space. Play then passes to the next player, who is the new active player.
End of Game
After the Field card stack runs out, each player may activate one of their Farm spaces one more time, spending Goods as normal. Then, total your coins, and the player with the most coins wins!
The Expansion Modules are three bonus sets of components and cards you can add to your game to increase its complexity. Generally, it’s recommended to not use them in your first game, but if you’re fairly experienced with this genre of game, you’re probably fine.
- Jump-Start: This module has players use the black-roofed side of their Farm and gives them some starting cards. This allows for some early strategizing and asymmetrical starting conditions.
- Goals: This expansion module adds in goals that players can race towards. The first player to complete a goal gets 6 coins, the second gets 3, and any after that get nothing. These goals challenge players to do various things in their Farm, Field, or Shop, adding some level of a racing element to the game itself.
- Farmer: This module adds Farmers and their Farmer Skills to the game, allowing players to gain Transport Tiles in lieu of Improving their Farms, and then use the corresponding Farmer Skills to gain a variety of effects. A useful module for adding in extra complexity for players!
Player Count Differences
Not a ton! So there’s essentially little-to-no player interaction outside of the Goals Module, which adds in some goals that players can race towards. Otherwise, the most that you can do is essentially use one die to change the sum that becomes available to all players, if you want to try and prevent players from using their more lucrative spaces. In all honestly, though, that’s not really a useful strategic move, since players can modify their effective results with burlap sacks. As a result, without getting too much into the Strategy section, it’s almost always better to just do what benefits you most, rather than bending yourself into a particular shape to mess with your opponents. I wouldn’t say, beyond that, there’s much in the way of distinct differences at particular player counts. I suppose that there are more players to take the cards that you might want from the market, but there are also additional cards in the market to compensate for that, somewhat. I’d say, as a result, gentle preference for lower player counts, but not much.
- An early sunflower can do a lot for your collection ability. Sunflowers are pretty good! They, as mentioned, allow you to essentially “+1” any single reward that you get from a card. More money for selling Goods? Possible. More resources from a roll? Totally fine. Getting one early really increases the utility of your cards over the course of the game, so naturally, getting more is a pretty decent goal. I tend to go for getting extra burlap bags, just because it’s nice to have some ability to control your dice rolls, but the flexibility that sunflowers provide really can’t be understated.
- Don’t necessarily avoid single-use cards! They can provide a lot of utility. Granted, they burn out immediately, and that’s a whole thing, so I wouldn’t invest in making all of your Field Cards single-use cards, but you can get a fair amount out of one or two, especially early in the game. Some folks will just shy away from them because they only get to get used once, which, yeah, but also, they make up for it with their effects.
- You should have a few cards that make it easy to get coins. If you don’t have a consistent way to get coins, you obviously can’t win (you need coins to win, explicitly), so try and make sure that you have SOME way to get them. Particularly, high-value trades are good, but later in the game, cards that just explicitly give you coins can be a helpful addition. Too little, too late may be a problem for you there, though.
- More generally, you need to build an engine. You need to generate resources and turn those resources into money, and you need to be able to do that consistently. Just being able to generate coins is good, but it’s not enough to win. You also need a way to get whatever you need to fund that coin-generating transaction. For me, sometimes it’s pairs of the same resource, sometimes it’s just milk, sometimes it’s multiple resources, but whatever the case, it’s critical to make sure you have not just an output system (something -> coins), but also an input system (a way to get whatever you need to get coins).
- Try to avoid running out of burlap bags. Being able to manage and manipulate your dice rolls is pretty helpful, as they can help you dictate which cards you get and what field you activate. Running out of them means that not only are you unable to fix some of the tougher rolls you get, but also enterprising opponents can then make choices that stick you with outcomes that you don’t particularly want.
- Arrows can be a pretty helpful way to direct certain rolls to other, more useful spots. I like the arrow cards a lot! They allow you to activate other fields when an arrow field is rolled, which can allow you to essentially consolidate rolls to a useful place. You can even chain arrows together, if you get enough, making your most-useful fields into highly-functional spots. This can also make your limited supply of sunflowers useful, since you’d be activating the same spot with increasing frequency.
- Also keep an eye out for upgrading your cards as the game progresses. Some are strictly better than the previous cards. Just a thing generally worth doing; as the game progresses you’ll see Field Cards that are just specifically better than their predecessors. You may either replace an existing Field Card with its better, or use the new Field Cards to hone and focus your engine. Both have their benefits.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I like how thoroughly the game allows players to design and construct their own engines. I feel like I have a lot of control with not just what I use to build my engine, but what I choose to focus on and how I go about executing my engine from turn to turn. I like that a lot. I think that it’s a nice way to overcome players’ limited ability to influence their engine (since they only have ten possible Field locations), and it gives players a lot of ownership over their actions during the game. That feels good, as a player.
- By the game’s very nature, there’s a lot to do, even when it’s not your turn. Everyone benefits, which is nice, when a roll happens. Granted, you only get to improve your engine on your turn, but you may still have some choices if you have arrow cards or you’re exchanging resources for coins.
- I like that you can roll three dice and choose one to spend and two for everyone else to get. That bit of choice makes turns more satisfying. It’s a small choice, but I still appreciate it. Aggressive players can use it to strategize against their hated rivals, I guess. Either way, it’s nice to have a variety of options that you can use to improve your field and getting to make that choice is satisfying.
- I really enjoy the arrow cards that allow you to change or redirect rolls to activate different fields. I just think that’s interesting in a dice-based engine-building game. Here, you’re essentially collapsing two probabilistic outcomes together into the same effective roll. You could use an 8 as a 3, which is interesting, or you could make any 8 into a 7 or a 9, which greatly increases the chance of either one occurring. Again, the ability to control and influence the outcomes of your engine is a good experience for players.
- The sunflowers are interesting too, since they also give you a bit of choice in how you collect resources. I think we’re kind of continuing to emphasize the same thing, but more specifically, I like that sunflowers allow you to choose which outcomes you want to increase, since they give you more flexibility in the moment. Do you want more eggs or more coins? You can pick. Flexibility is pretty critical in engine-building, and I appreciate that My Farm Shop has a variety of ways to build that in for players.
- It’s nice that the game comes with some built-in expansions of varying complexity. They all have their positives, but there are a variety of ways to mix in gameplay effects to make the game more complex, which is cool. The core game is relatively straightforward (great for players to learn about engine-building while still interesting for folks who have seen a few), and these expansion modules allow players to gradually add complexity to their level of comfort.
- The cover art is a bit odd, since it almost makes the game look like a board game version of a mobile farming game? Just an intriguing choice. I wonder if that helps or hurts the game? Could be neither. It definitely made me think it was a board game based on some mobile gaming property, but I don’t think so.
- As with many engine-building games, if you really fall behind, there’s not necessarily a lot of ways to compensate for that. That’s just kind of the genre. If your opponent(s) are able to rapidly outpace you on coins, you’re not going to be able to really recover without some major tectonic shift in your resource generation. That may be frustrating, though, which is why I generally recommend against playing engine-building games with players who already know the game well, if you’re new to the game.
- The sixteen-item limit on Goods is odd. Not bad, just odd.
- Setup is a bit annoying, just because there are seven different stacks of cards that need to get shuffled distinctly. I understand why this is like this, but boy howdy is it mildly annoying to shuffle a few small decks of cards to try and set a game up, especially the first time through.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, I think My Farm Shop is a solid game! I’ll admit, the cover made me maybe take the game a bit less seriously than I should, and that’s on me. Don’t judge a game by its cover and all that, right? Just gave me a Farmville-esque vibe. But what underlies the game is a very pleasant and fun dice-rolling, engine-building experience. I’d liken it pretty strongly to the Machi Koro set of games, but I think it has a bit of a different thing going on than Machi Koro. In Machi Koro, you’re kind of doing the best you can with a limited set of cards; here, you’ve got a limited set of spots that can be activated on a specific roll, and you’re taking a wide variety of cards and utilizing them to build the ideal field for resources and money. I particularly like that the cards develop over the course of the game; they get more complex and interesting as time passes, so that your engine genuinely develops in quality over time (as opposed to you getting more cards over the course of the game as a way to build up your engine). Plus, there are a few expansions that allow you to either vary your starting setup, add additional complexity to the game as you play, or add goals for players to race towards. Different things for different interests and folks. I liked that a lot about My Farm Shop, even if the setup was a bit irritating to get through with shuffling seven different sets of cards. But if you’re interested in a quick and simple engine-builder with the ability to fine-tune your farm, I think this is going to be right up your alley. If that sounds like you, or you just enjoy a farming game, I’d recommend checking My Farm Shop out! I found it pretty fun.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!