Agriculture Sans Sissies: Pyg Farmer
The other day (okay, it was really sometime back in December), I had the opportunity to sit down with Rich Nelson, the owner, lead designer, and all-around hot topic of Giant Goblin Games, not to mention the proprietor of last year’s successful Kickstarter campaign for Storm the Castle! In the midst of a bustling board game store, we met up to give his newest prototype a whirl. Which now that it’s mid-April, is up on Kickstarter.
Pyg Farmer is all about raising pigs — sorry, pygs, however those are distinct from their i-spelt brethren — and upon first hearing that, I could not have been less enthused. Mostly because I think board games are at their best when they contain warring monsters or friendship-ending cruelty, and at their soul-crushing worst when they’re about farming or trains. I mean, when I’m not writing Space-Biff!, I moonlight as an alfalfa husker on a Medicago sativa plantation, so give me a break, guys. This is my work, not my play.
However, it turns out that Pyg Farmer is more about my beloved war, monsters, and cruelty than any actual farming. See, it casts its players as orcish farmers doing everything in their power to raise a healthy drove of pygs, which, naturally, includes lots of breeding, seasonal competitions and opportunities, market manipulation, sniper towers, invading farmers with hordes of mutated pygs at their backs, and probably more sausage jokes than you’ve heard since the fifth grade.
There were two things that stood out to me about Pyg Famer during the short time I spent with it.
First, it’s a lot meaner than it looks. There are loads of ways to nettle your opponents, whether murdering their pygs, bullying the market, trashing the victory cards they’re after, or just being a jerk and invading their farm outright. The placeholder art and components make it look almost cutesy, but in practice, it’s cutthroat.
Second, the entire thing struck me as a sort of Chvátil-esque experience, and not only because Vlaada Chvátil did the monster-farming thing a couple years back. Rather, this is a game with a whole lot going on. Between the pyg mutations, farm upgrades, board positioning, and market bullying, there were a lot of intersecting parts to keep track of. After only playing the game a couple times, I wasn’t entirely sure whether everything meshed well, and Rich and one of his playtesters mentioned they were still ironing out some details — but even with that in mind, my intern and I had a great time battling our pygs, expanding our farms, and telling dumb jokes.
Here’s an interview we did with Rich to give you some sense of what he’s going for with his latest project:
Pyg Farmer is on Kickstarter as of today, so if it sounds like your pail of slop, take a look!