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Subject: Solid combination of theme and mechanisms rss

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Rainer Ahlfors
United States
Provo
Utah
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Fields of Green
Players: 2-4
Ages: 12 and up
Time: 45 mins

Contents
33 field cards
33 livestock cards
33 construction cards
33 building cards
20 water tower cards
14 silo cards
4 player aid cards
1 general aid card
30 equipment tiles
61 money tokens
20 victory point tokens
44 wooden food tokens
32 wooden water tokens
4 card stack label tiles
1 first player token
1 year track

Object of the Game
The players are farm owners trying to expand their property and business by acquiring fields, properties, and livestock.

Initial Thoughts
At first, I was not sure what to expect. The game is a streamlined successor to the acclaimed Among the Stars (which I have not played). On the other hand, the theme is farming (which is not exactly a favorite of mine). However, the artwork is beautiful (I have loved Naomi Robinson's artwork for years) and Rahdo's runthrough was enough to convince me to give the game a fair chance.

I found the rules and mechanisms easy to understand and teach.

Game Play
At the beginning of every round (year) you will draw a combination of six cards from different piles representing fields, livestock, constructions, and buildings. In addition to the end-of-game victory points printed on each card, you will use fields and livestock to spend and generate resources which help form the economic engine that drives the game. Constructions can boost your overall economic engine with their abilities. Finally, buildings generate end-of-game victory points based on conditions unique to each card.

During the Action Phase, you expand and manage your farm by building new locations, constructing additional water towers or silos, selling at the market, or restoring previously abandoned locations.

When planning and expanding your farm, you must take care to ensure that optimal placement is achieved. Fields need to have access to nearby water towers. You need sufficient food to provide food for your livestock. Some locations benefit from being adjacent to certain types of other locations. Equipment tiles can further enhance your economic engine by providing interesting and thematic abilities.

During the Harvest Phase, you activate the locations in your farm in order to spend and generate resources (typically spending water to generate food, or spending food to generate money or victory points). While you can activate the locations in any order you choose, you must activate all of them. If you do not have sufficient resources to meet the requirements of a given location, it will become abandoned and be turned into an open area.

At the end of the fourth round (year), the players tally their victory points from buildings acquired during the game (not including any open areas), victory point tokens previously collected, left-over money and food, and for each empty water tower.

Opinion
Although I have not played the predecessor (Among the Stars) I can understand why that game is critically acclaimed. Fields of Green is a wonderful concoction of easy-to-understand rules and mechanisms, thematic abilities (though superficial), and tight game play.

There are numerous ways to construct and manage your farm. In the end, the best built engine will win.

The drafting mechanism coupled with allowing the players to choose which cards are initially drawn come together really well. While there is certainly room for "hate drafting" the better choice is often to pick a card that will actually be of benefit to you and your farm, and I like that.

The game plays quickly and flows very well. Despite the large number of card variations, it is easy to get a quick overview of your farm.

I have played the game several times with 2-4 players, and with players of all ages. My children did not have a problem understanding or playing the game, despite the seemingly complex array of choices available. While the 2-player drafting mechanism "works", I think it could have been handled better. Drafting works really well at 3 and 4 players, however.

Summary
I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised by this game, and I definitely was! This is not your average (dry) Euro farming game. Game play is intuitive and rewarding. The game is well balanced and provides for a smooth gaming experience.

I can recommend this game as a medium-weight card game suitable in the following categories:
- Family
- Seasoned Gamers
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Paul Faultner
United States
Bellevue
Washington
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Rainer,
thanks for the review. I'm curious if you played it with different player counts, and if it scaled well.
 
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Rainer Ahlfors
United States
Provo
Utah
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I have played with 2, 3, and 4. The game played very well with 3 and 4 players. The difference in player count is almost negligible.

While the game plays well at 2 players, I found the drafting mechanism at bit wonky.

To give a more detailed outline:

The main difference between 3 and 4 players is how quickly "your" cards come back to you again. If you pass up the opportunity to take a certain card, you will not see those cards again until 2 or 3 other people have had a chance to draft from those. On the other hand, at 4 players, there are more "new-to-you" cards in circulation, so that offsets any differences. In other words — both 3 and 4-player game play is great.

At 2 players you shuffle all the drafting cards together and take turns picking a card from 6 at a time. This might lead to your opponent being able to block you much more effectively, preventing you from getting a key card you need. However, I did not feel that this affected the outcome of the game. In other words — the game works well with 2 players, but I vastly prefer it with 3 or 4.
 
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