Being a Geek is a sure sign of a sound mind, cause it means you think that life as it is is dull and should be more interesting. Which it is.
At the time I backed the first KS for the agents, I made a small pre-review based on the free PnP that Saar Shaï introduced to advertise his game.
I now think that it’s time to review the game AND all the expansions.
Two things as an introduction: I have only played The Agents as a two player game and I never enter into details regarding the rules of a game once they’ve been extensively published online.
I’d hate to review the base game alone cause it would make me sound as a fan-boy of the worst kind. The base game allows for excellent gaming and an easy introduction to an otherwise quite complicated game.
Mind you, the rules of The Agents are not complicated. You learn the game in the course of a single game. BUT the better you know it the deepest it appears. Think: steep learning curve.
To “summarize” the gameplay I’d use the words: puzzle-creating and solving with an innovative game mechanism that is based on the orientation of the cards, leading to lots of relevant choices between what possibilities you give yourself and those you inevitably offer your opponent.
You win by getting 50 IP points (victory points) these are also your currency to recruit agents and get new missions. There are many ways to get IP points, including how the agents are potitionned and fulfilling missions.
When it comes to the impression of creating a puzzle I could compare the FEELING (not the mechanics) to dear Michal Oracz’s Neuroshima Hex (my favourite game of all times), his Theseus or Vlaada Chvatil’s Tash Kalar (though that last comparison maybe applies a bit less since The Agents doesn’t convey the impression of an abstract game)
(NDA: I too designed a new game mechanic called the DCPS based on card orientation, for my game Marches of Mists. My mechanic was designed far before I even heard of The Agents and… Has very little or no similarities with it. The only effect this coincidence had was to allow me to have nice chats with Saar Shaï on KS.)
Base game + extra agents + extra missions:
At some point, mixing the extra agents and the extra missions will feel just… Like you got the complete game and the base game was an initiation.
BUT you COULD have extremely good fun just playing the base game.
It’s just that adding the extra agents and missions will add variety.
At this point (base game plus extra agents) you could stop right there and you’d have a perfectly good game of the kind that could last you a couple thousand games easy peasy. But you, like me, my fellow gamer are a completionist.
Agents are the buffs/debuffs of your normal agents. They add a layer (both literally on the table and figuratively) of strategy that will make the Agents more complicated.
But if you’re still here I surmise you like your games deep and meaty. So… Use the partners: they’re good.
They are missions that don’t act as normal missions but create drastic events that have to be done by all players. They can be game changing, they add some complexity. I’d advise not mix these with all other expansions, but maybe that’s just me.
Break the rules:
As the name implies these offer a special set of broken rules that will change each game.
People who like extreme variety should always use these. But, of course, they do make the game a bit more… well you now
They all give you a special power that… Okay: that changes the rules
I love those chaps: once you’ve played one, they are free to be played by everyone all the time.
They can be quite game-changing too.
Replace your basic/boring safe house with a site with a power.
A gamut of effects that you can use straight away or put on an agent to get a bonus if an effect of that kind is played on that agent.
I’d strongly advise three things:
-Play The Agents: it’ a really good game. And with few expansions it’s pure microgaming at its very best (think yeah: it really fits this pocket)
-Be a completionist get all of it or you’ll regret it once you love the game. All is good, get it all.
-Do not mix all expansions at once. At least not all the time. The game can become… strange if you really mix it all. It can start to have strange effects like starting to drag too long etc. Use a new expansion, then another one etc until you know what’s good for you.
Anyway: play The Agents: you won’t regret it!