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Subject: Operation Truth and Consequence rss

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Mike Perna

New Jersey
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The Agency has been disbanded. Agents, sprinkled throughout the world, are now without jobs, without allegiances, but not without valuable intel. You see the vacuum in leadership less like a devastating blow to the world of intelligence and more like an opportunity. If you can recruit a collection of wayward agents to your faction, you will be able to build a new agency that will rival anything that came before. The problem is that you aren’t the only one who realizes this. Other would-be faction leaders have set up their own safe houses around town, and the battle for intel has begun.

The Agents is an independently published card game designed by Shaar Shai and featuring artwork by Dan Morison. It made a huge splash with its first kickstarter and, at time of posting, recently started a second project to expand and correct the first printing.

Players will be placing their agents in factions to their left and right that are shared with the players on either side of them. Actually, it would be incorrect to say that these agents are shared between the players, but it is hard to explain the mechanic without using that word. Each time an agent is played, the two players involved will both have something to gain – but exactly what will be gained is up to the one who played the agent.

This is the double edged nature of the card, because the agent cards in the base set have both an action that must be performed or intel points to be given, but they are given to or performed by the player that is facing that option. If a person were to play the card with the action facing themselves, they must perform it. These include options like returning agents to the player’s hand, killing agents, recruiting new agents from the draw pile, etc. However, this also means that the player just handed their opponent the much needed points that could lose him the game. Likewise, if the player decides to play an agent and gather their intel for points, they may have just virtually put the gun in their opponents hand that will be used to kill the player’s chances of victory.

This, to me, is the sticking point that makes the agents fun and interesting. From the moment I started playing, we saw that there is no such thing as an action done in the void. Every action has consequence. There’s an agent whose ability is being rather annoying, so I use one of my agents to flip them. Now the flipped agent works for me, and next turn I’ll be the one pulling the strings. Yet now I’ve not only lost some of my incoming points – they’re going to the other player. Fifty points may seem like quite a bit, but it does not take long for all those two and three point cards to pile up.

We make decisions daily. If we’re honest with ourselves, a good portion of them are made the lens of ‘what is best for me in this situation.’ There are things that we need, or at least perceive as needing, in order to go about life in the manner we have become accustomed to living. But how often do we consider the consequences of those choices? How much thought goes into what will happen because of them?

Now, it is hard to believe that every decision made in the course of a day has weighty influence on the course of others. Whether you chose to put ketchup or mustard on your hot dog will do little in the grand scope of the universe. But just like the points in The Agents, little decisions have a way of piling up. Gamers will talk of the disappearance of the friendly local gaming store, but cannot recall the last time they actually purchased a game at one. It’s easy to go on a forum or complain to friends about the new sequel to the bad adaptation of classic fandom, but they keep being made because people choose to line the block in order to see them.

Want something more profound? How many times in the next month will you go to your coffee shop of choice for your preferred delicious hot or cold beverage? Add the total you might spend that way. You may assume to know where I am going with this, but I assure you I have no love for the guilt trip. Instead, simply keep that number in your mind and know that there is no situation in which coffee beverages (no matter how wonderful) are an actual need. You are choosing to enjoy them.

Not a coffee drinker? Not a problem. Great at keeping a budget, so you take care of yourself, your family, and donate to various charities without difficulty? Don’t worry. You too will make choices to do or withhold something on the daily in one way over another. These decisions will add up and form your day. Every decision you make, there will be a consequence.

Not necessarily bad.
Not necessarily good.
Just a consequence.
Because no decision is made in a void.
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