Farmer Olaf – Farmer Olaf – Review

Theme and What is it?

I am a no table trading game that has been built to be able to enjoy gaming even when space is limited. Farming is my dream, and the better farmer I am, the better I will do in Farmer Olaf. It only makes sense in a farming game, that I will be farming quinoa.

Gameplay Mechanics

Grab a card. Look at cheat sheet for trade-able goods, and trade if you are able. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The rules, are overly complicated. The cheat sheet below was provided by the publisher. The order of the game is simple.

  1. Draw a card
  2. trade if you are able
  3. next person draws
  4. next person trades if able
  5. your turn again
  6. draw until no cards are left in draw deck
  7. count points

On the cheat sheet, on the left is what is required. On the right, is what you will get out of a trade. For example, the first trade says, if you use manure, with the sun, and a worker or tractor, you will reap a field that needs to be picked full of quinoa.

Initial Impressions

The game is just a pretty cool idea. What really interested me about this title at Essen Spiel was that it took up so LITTLE space, the designer had to be imaginative how to make a not table game take up a lot of space on a display table.

The original prototype was designed to work on a belt loop. The video for the game is crazy. Playing a board game on the beach. This is nutso, and awesome.

Game Build Quality

The game is a card game. The cards are decent, and is pocket-able if necessary.

The table-top mass produced version is simple and clean. There is nothing rocket science-y to this game, but it just works. I am curious if this game can make it to the mass market. If it could, the small form factor would obviously be a factor.

Artistic Direction

Marcin made the art as simple as possible so that the symbolism would just be easy to get. The farm and pig sty, are reusable in every instance, but do require to be “cleaned”. Each of the above will be flipped or tapped to signify their usage.

Simple art, for a deep experience. I’m in.

Fun Factor

I was a bit frustrated by trying to follow the rules initially. This apparently is a fault of the small size of the game and being multi-lingual. The designer is from Eastern Europe, and though speaks very good English, the rules could have used extensive native English editing. If you look at the game mechanics above, this is ALL you need to play this game, apart from the cleaning of farm and sty. Cleaning farm and sty is on the cheat sheet, but was not initially intuitive.

One issue is a drawing of a card with a plus symbol. This card is “draw again”. I could not find this in the rules, or I didn’t understand the rules well enough to “get” what they meant. This could partially be to small typeset in the rules, but that is also a design decision. If it is reprinted, I would hope that the rules are cleaned up, as this game is fun.

Age Range & Weight

10+. I think the game is simple enough that a younger player could play it. Once you understand that the entire game is a draw and trade, tit for tat kind of game, it is simple and enjoyable. My 6 year old daughter could easily understand the idea that you draw until you can trade something on the cards. Deeper strategy would happen later. Trading is easy.

Conclusions

Once you get past the rulebook, and play, the simplicity of Farmer Olaf is a joy. So many games are built with complexity in mind, and lose the fun factor due to over-thinking. Farmer Olaf was built with the simple in mind. Trading to continue to trade is a simple mechanic.

This game will make my shelf, partially due to size, and partially due to me just enjoying the game and the idea of the game. The joy of the game is that it’s nature allows it to be played nearly anywhere. How many games do you have that will do that?