Thank you for checking review #21 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.
An Overview of Fields of Green
Fields of Green is a game designed by Vangelis Bagiartakis and is published by Stronghold Games and Artipia Games. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 45 minute play time on the box.
In Fields of Green, players take the role of farm owners trying to expand their property and business. By adding fields, livestock and facilities, they build an economic engine that will bring them closer to victory.
Setup and gameplay for 2 Players
Fields of Green is played over four rounds (years) during which players draft cards and add them to their ever-expanding farms. At the end of each year comes the harvest season when they must water their fields, feed their livestock, and pay maintenance costs in order to receive valuable resources that will allow them to further expand in the next year.
Since this is a card drafting game, there is a variant for playing with two players. Rather than drafting a six-card hand and then taking one at a time, passing the hand, you both draft a six-card hand and mix the twelve together. You will then flip six cards face-up on the table and the first player will take one and build it, then the second player will do the same. Two more cards will get flipped face-up, and this cycle is repeated until all twelve cards have been selected and played.
We do a very, very slight modification on this. Rather than flip them face-up and play them as they are selected, the first player takes the six cards and chooses one, passing the remaining five. The next player takes a card from those five and both players put their cards into play. Then two cards are added to the four, bringing the total back to six. So instead of face-up, the same pattern is followed but with the cards being held in-hand to make it easier to read what they are.
The spatial element to this game sets it a notch above the card drafting games out there. You aren’t just looking at the powers and the costs on the cards coming at you – you also need to consider how that card will, or will not, function with what is currently in your farm. This gives great balance to the cards, because there is no single card that is necessarily stronger than another. It is all situational based around what you’ve built so far and the cards you place into the farm going forward.
Another stroke of brilliance is the fact that many look at cards that are 2-3 spaces away rather than in your entire farm. The building cards have fewer restrictions on space but are offset with high costs. your water towers are critical elements of the farm, but they can only reach two spaces away and you get a limited amount of water each year. The restrictions on the spatial aspect of the game is what makes this one shine more than anything.
The drafting system is great at all player counts. Each player gets to take any six cards they want so long as the cards come from at least three of the four decks. Want to get an early building to focus around? You can do that. Need a late-game field? You can try to do that. You can increase the odds of getting a card you need through what you draw, yet you’re also limited in the number of those cards that you’ll get a chance to buy (2 cards in a 3-4 player game).
The two-player variant for the drafting is excellent. Mixing the twelve cards together and having a few revealed at a time gives the same limits as you’d get with more players while also allowing you to try and plan long-term. Getting the first pick at a card is huge, and both players will get that chance twice over the course of a game. It feels like you have more control because you’ll see a decent number of those cards again so you can try and set-up for the card to go in the right spot at the right time. Yet at the same time there is a good chance your opponent will take the card you were hoping to buy next.
The harvest phase is important. Not only does this allow you to earn food and/or coins, but it is also the way to keep your farm intact. I really love that you get punished if you cannot pay a harvest cost, forcing your card to flip and be treated as an empty space until you repurchase it on a later turn. I also like that you get to pick and choose the order in which you harvest. You need to be aware of that order, so that you can maximize your gain over the course of the harvest. Some may feel this part of the game is fiddly, but it is an important mechanic where the order really does matter.
Equipment is a nice addition as well. They can add one-time powers, recurring powers/benefits, or end game scoring opportunities. Being able to add two on a card is great, and their scarcity (most games) makes them potential game-changers. Going heavy on equipment doesn’t secure a win, and ignoring them doesn’t guarantee a loss in the game. Yet they can really alter how your own farm functions and what you need.
There is a feel of variety in the large decks, yet there are a lot of repeated cards in there. This is both good and bad. More unique cards would be great because everyone loves variety, yet sometimes multiple copies of the same card can combo together well and if you need a certain card there is a better chance of finding it. The decks and equipment stack make it look like you have a ton of choices, yet you’ll see a lot of the same cards.
There is a ton of empty space in the box. This is one of the few games that we own with the insert in there still, which essentially covers 2/3 of the space in the box. Which means this game could fit in the box of, say, Battle Line. Unless there are a ton of expansions planned, and Among the Stars would indicate there is a chance of expansions, this box is full of air.
The scoring system is great and intuitive. There are a lot of ways to score points, and there are diminishing returns on some of the ways to score (1 point per 3 coins, for instance). The cards themselves have some good point values. Yet there are some buildings that can become overpowered in a farm. Nothing is worse than seeing your lead in points get blown away by the other player netting 30 points on their six building cards.
It should be enough that I went to a demo day of the game and walked away paying the MSRP for a copy of it. The game hooked me from the first play, and hasn’t let me down yet. I’ve played at 2, 3, and 4 players and find I enjoy them all. There are certainly different viable strategies to the drafting depending on the player count. Much like 7 Wonders, this drafting game doesn’t really increase in length as you add in players unless they are all new players.
I’ve never played Among the Stars, but if this is the system that game uses then I would love to get a chance to play it. I love Sci-Fi theme, but the 20th Century Farming in this one is very fun and well-integrated. It is easily my favorite card drafting game to date, and I love how you build your own engine as you are placing the cards. So many elements work well together in this game, providing an experience that doesn’t overstay its welcome at the table.
Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.