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Yesterday evening, my SO had an office party, so I invited a friend to come over and play some games. She insisted on playing some Essen games. This was the first we tried (because it was high on my wishlist too).

You want to know how it plays? I'll tell you! It runs smooth like a tractor I tell you!
I have Among the Stars in my collection, but I haven't played that yet (shame on me). So this is my first real life experience with that sort of game.

So what's it about?
It is a drafting game, where you draft cards that represent fields (with all sorts of things, like fruit, vegetables, cereal, etc.), livestock, buildings and constructions. The cards you draft form a tableau (which gets rather big, I don't see how you can play this comfortably with 4 on "just a normal dinner table for 6" :-)). Like you have to make sure some cards in Among the Stars need access to power, in this game, some cards (the fields) need access to water.
And it feels great to puzzle your way to your most efficient farm: most cards give you an extra benefit if you manage to place it in a certain way (for instance close to a certain type of field or livestock, or with a certain number of specific cards closeby). In our play yesterday we both had some moments we shouted "Shoot! I should have paid more attention and placed this field over there, now it is kinda wasted!" It requires more thinking from the players than just placing your cards randomly on the table.

The points in which this is different from Among the Stars (mind you: I can only compare from reading the rules and having watched videos!):
- theme: a 20th century farming theme instead of a futuristic space station
- the harvest in Fields of Green. After the drafting and building phase, you have to harvest all those goodies your farm brings. But harvesting isn't free: it requires water and grain, so you have to make sure to have enough of either
- there are equipments that you can use in specific situations that give you an edge (for instance: you can harvest the card it's on for free)
- The cards are split out over 4 categories: fields, livestock, constructions and buildings, and every round each player gets to decide for themselves how to make up his hand of 6 cards: do I go heavy in fields, or do I want to invest in some buildings? I suppose this makes setup less fiddly than Among the Stars appears to be...

And a word about drafting...
Generally, drafting games are more interesting with more players. For Among the Stars the designers worked hard to come up with special rules to make the draft work in 2 player games, be it with a dummy player or a varient from a BGG user where you both pick a card and discard a card. For Among the Stars: Revival a new drafting system was created, and this system is (apparently) the one implemented in this game.
I'm not sure if this is the best drafting system for 2. The way it works is that each player draws a hand of 6 six cards, these 12 cards are shuffled together to form the draw pile. 6 cards are revealed. First player picks a card and does with it whatever they wish to do, than the second player picks a card. Then the next 2 cards are drawn so that the first player has yet again 6 cards to pick from. And so on until all the cards are drafted.
It felt kinda "off" to me. Because with this system the first player has the best picks: he gets first pick out of six, and again first pick out of the 2 newly revealed cards.
I kinda have the feeling that a lot of games compensate that first player advantage by having the second player having two picks in a row. so in this case: 2nd player drafts his first card, reveals 2 new cards and gets to pick a new card immediately.
Maybe we'll try it that way, just to see. And I would also like to see how the other drafting variant from Among the Stars (the one with the picking and discarding a card) works in this game.
Edit: the fact that player order changes each turn, the first picking advantage balances out. And of course the second player can determine what type of cards are added to the mix, since they see what combination of different types the first player picks and can react to that.

That's all jolly good, but how did you like it?
Well, we really liked it. It didn't blow us away, but it was fun to play. And it feels good to contemplate your farm at the end of the game, and compare it to the other player's farm "Oh, you went more for buildings and constructions, I got stuck too long in fields and livestock." "Yeah, but I would have liked to have had more fields at some point." etc.
I also like how you can try out different strategies. There are cards that force you to focus more on fields and livestock, and then there are buildings that give you extra points for certain conditions, so you will want to try to meet those objectives to get those extra points.
I'm also fond of the puzzly aspect of piecing your farm together, making the most of every card.
Our scores were close together: 40 - 37 (I lost ;-)) And all through the game you have no idea who is winning :-) I like that.



I look forward to playing this again, with 2 and with more!
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