The first true worker placement game (as far as I’m concerned) was called “Agricola“. It remains a lovely little game that is appropriate to bust out for any given evening that involves somewhere around four people and that’s if you know for a fact that each person has played something at least as complicated as Monopoly before this particular evening and gone on to win using the knowledge they had.
Here’s the basic conceit: you and your wife are running a farm. You need to generate enough food for you and your family and anything extra translates to nutrition points. There are a handful of other things, of course, that can generate nutrition points but the *MAIN* thing that generates points is the whole “have kids” thing (they don’t pay off in turn 2, but they sure as heck pay off in turns 3-5!) and the various residual issues that revolve around deliberately not being as deliberately dumb as everyone else who happens to be playing with you.
There’s no dice rolling. After the initial setup (that does involve *SOME* chance, insofar as different people are dealt different abilities), the die is cast. What happens is based on the choices you make rather than on whether you rolled a 1 or a 6 or a 20.
There are a lot of various choices to make as well. Enough to make you freeze up and say “I don’t know what I should do!” and/or “augh! all of these choices are unpleasant!”
On top of that, each choice you make will prevent your co-players from making the same choice. So if you decide to go fishing, nobody else will be able to go fishing.
You’re not really messing with your co-players that much… unless you consider making a choice that prevents them from making a choice to be messing with them.
At the end of the game, various points are counted up and people compare themselves to each other and the person with the most points wins.
The only real problem with the game is that the setting is a hair dull. I mean, you’re running a farm with your wife. What a game like this would need is a more fantastic setting to really be awesome… but we’ll get to that next week.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))