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Subject: A Fields of Green Review rss

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David Flores
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Overview

Fields of Green is a 2-4 players card-drafting game with an engine building element, where players take the role of farmers trying to expand their lands and properties, planning the location of each building to maximize the production of their fields and livestocks. The game takes the concept and basic rules from Among the Stars, adds an extra resource to manage (wheat), and introduces an additional scoring phase between rounds (harvest). At the end of the game, the player with the most VPs win.

Gameplay

Before setup, each type of card is separated and shuffled to form 4 piles of cards and each player receives a starting Silo and Water Tower. Then, at the beginning of each of the 4 rounds, each player draws a total of 6 cards from those 4 decks and a common draft sequence begins, with each player choosing one card and either building that structure or discarding the card and replace it for one of the basic cards or some money.

Once each player has taken an action, the hands are rotated and the drafting continues until all cards have been exhausted. Then, the end of round scoring (harvest) takes place, and each player must pay the harvest cost for the harvest buildings and claim the rewards, or turn into any building whose cost was not paid into an Open Area. This process repeats for the subsequent rounds, and after the 4th harvest, the end game scoring takes place.

However, during a 2-player game, the common drafting is replaced and instead, both players’ hands are shuffled together, 6 of the cards are put for display and players take turns picking one from the set, then 2 more cards are revealed and the process continues until the 12 cards are used.

During the game, you soon discover you will need more fields to feed your livestock, but then you need more water towers to water your fields, and you have to keep building more water towers to get more fresh water, and more silos to hold the food, and more construction to get some bonus, and more buildings to get scoring options, but they ask for more fields, so you go buy more fields but the 4th year has passed and you look at your huge randomly-organized farmland. You then reshuffle all decks and start again trying to do everything better this time.

Components

Fields of Green (Artipia Games, 2016) includes 33 cards for each of the four types (Field, Livestock, Construction and Buildings), 14 silos, 20 water towers, 4 player aids and 1 scoring card. This gives a total of 171 cards. The size of the cards is 70x70mm and sleeves can be found easily, either from Artipia Games or from any other major brand.

It also includes a set of cardboard tokens for the coins and victory points, starting player marker, a round marker and a scoring pad. The best part of the components are the custom shaped tokens for the wheat and for the water.

At first glance it seems like a small footprint game, but as the game progresses, the farms grow in size a lot so it is recommended to have around 60x40 cm of table space for each player, plus a similar space for the supply. In the end, a standard 90x90 cm table can provide enough space for a 2-player game. If space is a problem, I would suggest a house-rule to limit the amount of cards you can place in each direction so that players can plan accordingly.

The Review

Times played: 3 (2-Players)

I will begin with probably the least important subject, the components. The cards are of good quality, I would prefer if they were slightly smaller to save on table space, but I can live with the size. The wooden tokens are great and are not too fiddly. The cardboard coins will soon be replaced for my almighty poker chips because I don’t like handling different sized coins. What I like the most about the components is the art. I like the style and the color palettes used. I think it fits quite nice with the farmland theme of the game.

Now for the important part, let me begin by saying that my only previous experience with card drafting games comes from 7 Wonders and Imperial Settlers so these will be my reference.

The card drafting is just standard drafting but I prefer the rules in 7 wonders where the last card gets discarded because you have a little more options (and thus control) in the round and you are not forced to do something with the last card. Of course you can always trade that card for a Water Tower or a Silo, but they are only needed at specific times so you might still feel like you wasted a turn with a subpar card.

The engine building is there and I enjoy it quite a bit. It will be confusing for new players because you will get either too many fields and not enough livestock to benefit from all the food, or too many livestock and not enough fields to feed them, or too few Water Towers and not enough water to (duh) water your fields… There is often a delicate balance to be found and it will be a challenge, especially because with 2 players you are looking at 48 out of the 132 cards in the game. Odds are that what worked for you before won’t show up again. If you like the random setups, you will probably like dealing with the first hand here, but if you prefer perfect information from the get go, 7 Wonders would be better.

I remember Imperial Settlers was demoralizing for first time players because they would have a weak engine and they would be forced to pass early while the rest of the players kept going and going and going. This is not a problem here because everyone has a set number of turns, and even a farm with no harvest abilities feels good to look at. Also, the engine part is much easier in Fields of Green than in Imperial Settlers. While in imperial settlers you have to manage food, workers, swords, stone, wood and the cards in your hand, in Fields of Green all you have to manage is Silo space, water consumption, wheat consumption, and card placement.

The engine in Imperial Settlers feels more engine-ish than in Fields of Green, but I enjoy both of them for different reasons. I like that Fields of Green plays fast regardless of the engine size because the last round of Imperial Settlers often feels too long for me, however, a good engine in Imperial Settlers feels more rewarding because there are just too many resources to juggle.

There is no player interaction at all. The only interaction comes from looking at your hand and deciding if taking the card that works for you and scores you a couple points is better than taking the card that would score the opponent a couple points. That’s it. There are no cards that affect other players, and there is not even the war points comparison that 7 Wonders have. The 2-player game is a bit more interactive in this same way because of the 2-player rules where all cards are available to you in a given turn, so you can steal a card right after you see your opponent taking part of the combo.

Speaking of which, the 2-player rules add a nice change of pace, but it felt somewhat imbalanced because the new cards are revealed after the second player’s turn, so the first player has the advantage of always being able to grab the new cards before the opponent. This is something I really disliked about the rules and I am still trying to house rule something to fix this.

I have some mixed feeling about the randomness of the game. I like random, or at least some of it. I like the random setup in Dominion mixed with the random hands after every shuffle, or Agricola’s hand mixed with the new activities coming at slightly variable order. In this case, the initial hand gives me a little of that feeling because you start planning what you can do with those cards and thinking ahead what other cards you might need in future rounds. My problem comes after the second round because by that time you know exactly what card you want, so you draw 4 cards from the livestock deck hoping those Rabbits will show up, or preferably two Rabbits because you are last player and your opponent will steal the rabbits before you have a chance to act. I would say the randomness in Fields of Green feel very similar to the randomness in Imperial Settlers without any card drawing bonus, or to the randomness in Race for the Galaxy without access to the explore action.

TLDR:

The Good
Replayability - With the random cards, the game offers huge replayability, at least at low player counts.
Fast - It is a fast playing game once you know what the cards do.
Tense - There are times where you really want that card, but grabbing that could mean your opponent grabs something else you need and you end the round with not enough resources to pay for the harvest cost.
Math-y - It is a game of efficiency, about how can you maximize the points that each card will give you and when in the game it will be best to build it. Grabbing the Rabbits in the last turn might give you a lot of food, but you might be better off getting the Oranges and scoring the 2 points without spending as much.
Artwork & Theme - I really like the art style, and the theme is one of my favourites since my SNES days of Harvest Moon.

The Bad
2-player rules - I usually game with my GF so 2-player rules are important to us. I feel this game could be improved by adding some sort of dummy player that randomly steals a card every turn, or by each player looking at their hand, drawing 6 more cards per round, shuffling and discarding 6 at random to simulate that extra player. Of course, card-drafting games are usually not good at 2 players, and it is probably the best of the three games I have experienced with this player count.
No interaction - I don’t mind some conflict in my games, but I do like interaction. It would be interesting if there were some cards that gave a bonus for all cards in game, similar to Suburbia’s Airports.
Slow with new players - There are too many different cards and too many things to read for a new player, so it will certainly slow the game down quite a bit.
Math-y - It is a game of efficiency and all the maths behind it can turn it into an AP fest if everyone stops to do all the math for each of the cards they received.

The Score: 3/5 - I like it, will play it again.
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James Derbyshire
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Norton Mandeville
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stephenrowlands2 wrote:

It would be inteesting to know if they have inspired anyone to buy the game (assuming the retail version is out by now).


I'm sure it has since invariably all the reviews are from people wanting a promo, who are going to be those who enjoy the game and hence reviews are positive.

Those of us who don't rate the game highly, don't have a need for more cards and thus can't be bothered to write a review!!

I don't think I've seen a single negative review?

Quite clever really!
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Wim Leenaerts
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How is this a review? This is just a condensed rules explanation. No opinion, no positive or negative aspects thus not a review.
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Garry Rice
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Norbert666 wrote:
stephenrowlands2 wrote:

It would be inteesting to know if they have inspired anyone to buy the game (assuming the retail version is out by now).


I'm sure it has since invariably all the reviews are from people wanting a promo, who are going to be those who enjoy the game and hence reviews are positive.

Those of us who don't rate the game highly, don't have a need for more cards and thus can't be bothered to write a review!!

I don't think I've seen a single negative review?

Quite clever really!


You are probably correct that the likelihood of someone who doesn't like the game will post a review is small, but in Artipia's defense they did state that any review, positive or negative, would earn the promo cards.

While the reviews have been positive, a number of them have listed some negatives about the components or aspects of the game they do not like as much.
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Joel Berg von Linde
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I think you forgot to add the 'review' part of the review?
 
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David Flores
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The Iced One wrote:
How is this a review? This is just a condensed rules explanation. No opinion, no positive or negative aspects thus not a review.


joelpetersen wrote:
I think you forgot to add the 'review' part of the review?


My apologies, it was my first submission to the BGG forums and was planning to edit it afterwards. Was not expecting the submission process to take this long. I have added the review now.
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David Flores
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stephenrowlands2 wrote:
Yipeee...another cabbage "review" or rules summary for a cabbage patch promo card.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/241478362/fields-of-green/posts...

I still haven't played my kickstarter version and sadly(?) all these reviews have not inspired me to do so.

It would be interesting to know if they have inspired anyone to buy the game (assuming the retail version is out by now).


Looking at your User Ratings, If you enjoy 7 Wonders and Imperial settlers, you could give it a shot. I've updated the post with the real review and I compare a few aspects to both those games.
 
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Tanner Martin
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Norbert666 wrote:
Those of us who don't rate the game highly, don't have a need for more cards and thus can't be bothered to write a review!!

I don't think I've seen a single negative review?


If people don't dislike the game enough to write a negative review... doesn't that in itself speak favorably about the game to some extent? It can't be THAT bad, at least.

I'm all for negative reviews, as they offer a nice balancing perspective when you're researching to buy a game. They're usually more helpful than the positive reviews. I tried to be critical in my components review; but how can I trash a game that I genuinely enjoy, in spite of a few flaws? At some point I'll probably write a second review with a critical analysis of the rules/gameplay; but still, I like the game and that's going to come through even in my review.

But I would highly recommend that someone who *doesn't* like the game write a negative review, as it would lead to some good discussion and help give a more balanced picture of FoG.
 
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Tanner Martin
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MxGamma wrote:

No interaction - I don’t mind some conflict in my games, but I do like interaction. It would be interesting if there were some cards that gave a bonus for all cards in game, similar to Suburbia’s Airports.
Slow with new players - There are too many different cards and too many things to read for a new player, so it will certainly slow the game down quite a bit.
Math-y - It is a game of efficiency and all the maths behind it can turn it into an AP fest if everyone stops to do all the math for each of the cards they received.


Speaking of negatives, I think you've pretty well covered the main criticisms I have of the game. Honestly, I don't mind the lack of player interaction much, since I actually enjoy simply doing the best I can with the cards I am given. I'm basically playing against myself, and that's kind of relaxing. It makes the game very casual and laid-back, and you kind of feel like a lone farmer out in the middle of the vast fields of the midwest. I like that; but if you prefer a more competitive game you're going to feel pretty lonely in FoG. I would certainly be interested in expansions that allowed for more player interaction.

The first time I taught this game, the players caught on super fast. But the second group I taught suffered from a lot of analysis paralysis, and the game dragged out: We only got through 2.5 rounds in about an hour, and had to quit without finishing. Some people do seem to have hard time with all the decisions this game requires.

Out of the 12-15 people I've introduced to the game, most caught on very quickly and loved it. Several are even planning to buy the game for themselves. It's not for everybody, but we're having a blast with it.

Thanks for the review!
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