Farm Manager 2018 is a straightforward game firmly based on trying to create an authentic farm management experience. In service of its goal, FM 2018 boasts three game modes, a respectable amount of crops, livestock, buildings, and vehicles. Whether it’s strictly a ranch or a diversified industrial farm, FM 2018 allows a lot of player choice. And it’s that dedication to choice and sound UI design which make FM 2018 a decent Tycoon game. But the lack of polish and quick menu navigation keep FM 2018 from true management sim excellence.
Creating the Farm of Your Dreams
Farm Manager goes about landscaping and building in a traditional way. You have your basic tools for creating buildings, roads, and a dedicated tool for creating outdoor fields. It’s not just barns, chicken coops, and corn fields either.
You have access to a wide variety of industries. From beekeeping to rabbit breeding, wind farms, meat production, orchards, and more. It’s a good thing too, because the economy is based on a volatile market. You could sell a hundred eggs for 200 coins one day and the next, the price could take a nosedive. This necessitates diversification. Like in real life, if you have a farm which only produces a couple of products, you can be easily screwed by standard market fluctuation.
Whatever type of farm you choose, you can expect that it will be pretty stunning. FM 2018 is a good looking game. I was always impressed by the level of detail. Every cow, chicken, and goose is rendered and the fields of grass sway in the wind. If the idea of making an intricate, multi-faceted farm appeals to you, you’ve found your game.
As much variety as the game has, every farm has one consistent element and this is the farm owner’s house. It’s what gives you access to research to make your farm more efficient. Research can do things like boosting your worker’s stamina, allowing them to work more before they need to rest. It also opens up things like wind energy or more complex versions of certain buildings; like a large cowshed which holds double the amount of cattle from its budget variant or the refrigerated warehouse which keeps perishable goods fresh, longer. Every research task takes a set amount of time, more expensive tasks take longer typically.
The other constant is workers. You’ll be dealing with two types: permanent and seasonal workers. The difference is self-evident. Permanent workers are around year long, costing quite a bit to keep a large staff. The solution is seasonal workers who don’t take nearly as much cash to keep around and primarily work during the planting and harvesting seasons. Though it may seem, immediately, as though seasonal workers are the better choice, things aren’t so simple.
Training a Good Ranch Hand
Expensive as they may be, permanent workers – if you can afford them – are a real asset to the farm. Permanent staff each have one or two specialties out of a handful. Some excel at attending animals, other work well in production, or just have a lot of stamina. These are rated between one and five with the opportunity to train them further if you want. The effects of these skills are impactful.
Workers with the animal breeding skill maxed out take better care of your animals, making them breed more frequently. More frequent breeding means you can turn two cows into eight or ensure a reliable supply of livestock to butcher. I generally favored them over seasonal workers.
The Crop Cycle
Running a farm is not a cake walk and Farm Manager doesn’t shy away from that. It makes use of a sizeable amount of variables to keep the player’s attention. There are four seasons and in each you need to accomplish specific tasks to run an efficient operation.
When you’re raising crops, outdoors, you’ll need to carefully balance thoroughly preparing your fields for the planting season, and making sure your harvest beats the first frost of the season, sometime in late fall. At times it’s best to get the seeds in the ground so you have something to harvest rather than meticulously preparing the land.
I learned this the hard way when I lost a field of cabbages in the middle of fall. Also, I should mention, the game doesn’t have the most realistic crop cycles. Cabbages are snow-hardy, they wouldn’t have died because the temperature dipped a little. Trust me, I’m from the midwest.
Cabbages aside, in winter you can’t do anything to your fields, you are restricted to greenhouses and tending your livestock. It’s not necessarily true that you can’t grow outdoor crops during the winter in reality, so this was a disappointment.
The Circle of Life
I am a sucker for some farm animals and I was not let down by the variety. You can have cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, bees, and even rabbits. There are no dud animals. Each will pay for themselves if you make effective use of their byproducts. This is a strong point for me. Nothing annoys me more when there’s a type of building you can’t make money with when it comes to management sims. But you can definitely min/’max stuff. I’ll spoil it and say buy sheep if that’s your game.
But how do you make effective use of your animals? You have to breed them. Breeding is pretty simple when your animals are well cared for, a heart icon will pop up above their enclosure. If you click the call inseminator button, pretty soon you’ll have success. They’ll be opportunities to breed quite a bit once you get your animals happy enough but the road to that point isn’t immediate. You have to put in work.
Step 1 is to give your livestock good food. This isn’t a universal, “give all your animals fodder” thing. Each animal has a different diet and feeding them a variety of crops is the key to success. You can feed your cows all grass but they’ll benefit more if you throw some apples into the mix. This can all be controlled from your animal management tab. Step 2 is to make sure you call the vet when your livestock become ill – dead animals don’t breed.
Modes, Modes, Modes
Farm Manager has three modes: campaign, scenario, and free mode. Free mode and campaign are fairly self-explanatory. They play much like in other games. Scenario mode gives players a set of parameters to play by and goals to reach. Free mode and scenario mode are fun. They afford the player the freedom to play how they want.
For instance, in the Land of Milk and Honey scenario, you can build whatever you want, though the milk and honey industries are doing well. Free mode is a basic sandbox, my only disappointment is how few settings there are. You can only control the amount of money you start with and the amount things cost. You can’t change season length at all.
I didn’t spend much time with the campaign, I confess but, it behaves like a drawn-out tutorial. Even so, Farm Manager has more than enough scenarios and equipment to keep you busy for a long time.
Due Diligence and Nitpicking
I like to poke around the forums before I publish a review, and I noticed a lot of reports of horrible bugs.In the few weeks, it’s been out, the developers have put an alarming amount of patches but I, personally, had no issues. Still, buyer beware.
My reason for separating my nitpicking is, I’m sure this matters more to me than most. There are almost no macros for navigating to different menus. This means a lot of mousing and searching for icons and bad menu design. Macros make navigating a game smoothly, without them, I found navigating harder than it should have been. I’m being a real stickler here though. It’s not terrible.
And Should You Buy it?
I’m not entirely sold on Farm Manager 2018 but I also like it a lot. I’ve been playing it while I listen to podcasts and it’s been relaxing in this role. There’s no competitive factor or random elements. It’s very calm and mundane. It’s not going to get your heart pumping probably. Even for a management sim, it’s very chill. If that sounds nice to you, go for it. I suspect I’ll be fussing with it down the line.
Available from: Unfortunately between release and now the game has been taken off Steam.
Developers have posted the following message:
“We’ve got a lot questions about removing Farm Manager 2018 from the Steam Store page. At the moment I can’t say too much but this was due to fake DMCA Takedown. We are trying to clarify things right now.
To be clear: we are not removing the game, we are still working on it and we will be improving it so there will be new patches, fixes and features. You can still play it and you will receive new updates. We are working on restoring it on Steam Store asap.: