You may find within yourself the drive to cultivate crops, harvest them and turn them into food. There’s something infinitely satisfying about it that feels written into your nature. However, modern life makes it so you don’t have the time, expertise or land to make this dream bear fruit. Fortunately, farming board games let you experience an approximation of this process right on your tabletop.
Best farming board games
- La Granja
- Clans of Caledonia
- Heaven & Ale
- Fields of Green
- Three Sisters
It may not be quite as good as the real thing, but it is definitely cheaper, easier and less dirty. So, if you’re pining to return to simpler times, here’s a list of the best board games about farming to tide you over.
1. La Granja
Get your cards in the right places and your goods ready for market
As you might expect, La Granja puts you in charge of creating a thriving farm with crops, livestock and the expectation that you will send your goods off to market.
Every round begins with a farm phase where you will earn income, grow crops and play one card. Each card can be used as a field for growing crops, a market barrow for delivering goods to the market, a farm extension to increase your income or a special helper which will give you a unique ability throughout the game. Deciding which card to use for which purpose is a tough puzzle with many satisfying solutions.
You will also be drafting dice for actions, competing in the marketplace to control areas and kick out your opponents, and building craft buildings to unlock permanent bonuses.
There are many elements to keep track of in La Granja, but they all work together seamlessly to create a challenging and rewarding experience. That will keep you coming back to try new things and perform a bit better.
Tend your farm and feed your family
Agricola is a classic among farming board games, though it is not for the faint of heart.
Rather than building a farm for commercial use, Agricola presents the simple predicament of growing and caring for your family farm. You will start with two family members who will be sent out to various action spaces over the course of 14 rounds. Each action space can only accommodate one family member, but the number of available spaces increases every round. In addition to developing a bustling farm, you must also make sure that you end each harvest with enough food to feed your family or they will be forced to beg.
At the end of the game, victory will be decided based on the size and quality of your house, fields, livestock and family. To do well, you will need to race for the perfect spaces at the perfect times, and use your hand of cards in just the right order.
Carefully cultivate your crops in rotating fields
Hallertau is a game that will feel familiar if you are acquainted with Agricola, or any of designer Uwe Rosenburg’s board games about farming (of which there are many). However, it has some elements that make it stand out on its own, and this game is also especially enjoyable if you play the occasional solo board game.
Hallertau is a worker-placement game, where each action space can be occupied multiple times by an increasing number of workers. The game uses a novel field-rotation system that allows you to plant crops for large yields, with unused fields granting better yields in future rounds.
The most stand out element of Hallertau is the card play. There are several different types of cards you will earn throughout the game that can be played at any time (literally, any time), and offer all sorts of challenges and bonuses for playing them. Chaining the perfect combo of cards never gets old, and there’s plenty of good ole-fashioned farming fun to be had growing crops, raising sheep and improving your community centre.
4. Clans of Caledonia
Plot out your agricultural empire and manipulate the market
Clans of Caledonia, heavily inspired by Terra Mystica and Gaia Project, is a game about competing to complete contracts and build up your farming industry in Scotland.
Use your limited funds efficiently to set up an engine that will produce crops and refine them into valuable materials which you can use to complete contracts, or sell at the dynamic market. Place your industry near other players at opportune times for discounts, and spread your production far and wide to score big. The more you spend, the more you’ll produce, so spend wisely!
Additionally, each player will begin the farming board game with a unique clan that gives you a powerful ability that you’ll need to fully capitalize on.
5. Heaven & Ale
Craft the best brew under the heavens
As a monk, it is your duty to establish a great brewery in the cloister of your monastery. To do this, you’ll have to place crop tiles and your brethren carefully to make the highest-quality brew possible.
Heaven and Ale utilises a rondel that will make you decide between placing additional crops in your field, placing monks to tend to the crops, or activating certain crops or monks to harvest them and increase the quality of your ingredients. You must think very carefully about which crops you place where and consider when is the best time to activate your tiles for the best results. Wait too long though, and someone might take the tile or the activation opportunity you needed!
Paying close attention to the needs of other players and very careful planning are necessary to find success in the tough tile-placement game.
Turn a dingy, inherited vineyard into a thriving business
Viticulture puts you at the head of a small, new vineyard in Tuscany. In a race for 20 points, players will place workers to build up their vineyards, invite visitors and complete wine orders.
In order to make wine, you’ll need to plant vines of grapes, harvest them into your crush pad, and then turn them into wine in your cellar. Plant your fields carefully to fulfill wine orders as quickly as possible. You’ll also need to do some outmaneuvering to get your workers where you want them.
The process of maintaining and growing your vineyard, planning ahead and watching your grapes turn to wine is a very satisfying loop indeed.
7. Fields of Green
Flee big city life and retreat to the countryside
Fields of Green is perhaps the lightest of the farming board games on this list, so if you’re searching for something quick and simple, this may be the choice for you.
The game takes place over four rounds. In each round you will draft six cards and place them in a grid in front of you, with each new card placed adjacent to a card already on the table. You begin with a silo, housing some food and a water tower with some water. Each turn, you will either place one of the cards passed to you, or discard it to sell food or build more silos and water towers. During the harvest phase each round, you will need to spend water to activate cards, and have enough storage to hold the food produced.
You will need to place your cards efficiently and make sure you have just enough water and food storage to prove that you’re worthy of the farming life.
Raise your sheep and make sure your land doesn’t flood
Lowlands is, for the most part, a straightforward worker-placement board game about farming that has you raising buildings, fences and sheep. The most interesting element of Lowlands, though, is the dyke-building and flooding.
In addition to tending your own farm, players are collectively responsible for building the dyke and keeping flooding at bay. The flood waters will rise periodically and in semi-random amounts. If the flood waters overtake the dyke at the end of a round, your participation in the dyke becomes worth more points, and sheep become less valuable at the end of the game. If the dyke holds, the reverse happens.
You will have to balance self-interest and cooperation to ensure that you score higher than your fellow farmers.
Clear crocodiles and harvest crops to turn a swamp into an oasis
Pharaoh has assigned you the task of turning a swamp into well-maintained farmland. To do this, you will need to place workers, build workshops and create settlements. Before any of that, though, you’ll need to clear the swamp of crocodiles.
Faiyum features two prominent mechanics that make the game interesting. One is that everything placed on the main board is shared by all other players. You’ll need to serve your own interests without setting up your opponents for too much success.
The second is the flow of cards that control the flow of the game. You start with all your cards in your hand, but once played they can only be picked up by using your turn to do so. Even then, you only get to pick up the last three cards you played for free, then it will cost you. Also unique in Faiyum is the card market. Cards are numbered and placed in the market in ascending order. When a new card enters the market, it gets placed numerically rather than the market sliding to accommodate the new card. This unpredictability forces you to think creatively on the fly.
10. Three Sisters
Roll and write your way to a beautiful garden with goods ready for the farmer’s market
Three Sisters is a simple roll-and-write game where you build a farm right in your backyard.
Each round will have you rolling dice with players drafting them in turn order to take the corresponding action. These actions will allow you to plant and water crops, tend to your beehives, go to the farmer’s market, and get tools for your shed.
Once crops are planted, you’ll need to water them to make them grow. Only when they reach full maturity will they give you the points and bonuses offered. You’ll need to balance between your garden, your orchard and your shed to score as many points as possible, while taking advantage of the bonuses from selling to the market and tending to your bees.
The rules are simple and there’s enough here to put your green thumb to work many times.