Thank you for checking review #39 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.
**Note: A copy of the prototype for this game went “on tour” and we were one of the spots on that tour. A free copy has not been sent in exchange for the review. The below opinions remain our own based upon our impressions and reactions to the game.
**Second note: I’m out of town for training and my current machine seems to have an issue trying to insert images, so images will be added on January 11th, when I am back home**
An Overview of Fields of Agincourt
Fields of Agincourt is a game published by Logos Games. The box states that it can play 2-5 players and has a 30-45 minute play time.
Description from the publisher:
October 25th, 1415 Artois, France
The woods were still and full of mist. Silent hills stood watch. A muddy field waited for the battle to begin. Near the small village of Agincourt, two armies faced each other in the chill of the early morning. Archers, Footmen, Scouts, and Cavalry ordered themselves for battle. The land was the prize that was sought. The cost must be paid in blood. Welcome to the Fields of Agincourt.
Agincourt is a combative tile-placement game for 2-5 players. The map will form as the game is played, with each player fighting for position for the final battle. The goal of the game is to defeat your enemies and claim the most victory points.
Playing Fields of Agincourt consists of two game stages:
Marshalling the Troops: Players take turns placing tiles, recruiting troops, and claiming Bastions. Once all the tiles are placed, the Final Battle will begin.
The Final Battle: Players are vying for superior battle positions within Bastions. Contested Bastions are resolved one at a time, with the winning player receiving victory points. The player with the most victory points will win the game.
Setup and gameplay for 2 Players
A smaller pool of tiles are used in a 2-player game. In the prototype, the tiles not used all had symbols on the backs of the tiles to indicate what player count to include them into the game (the final version may be different). Each player takes a player mat, places their meeple on the 2 spot of their recruitment board, and takes the eight tokens of their color. The stack of tiles are mixed up and each player gets three tiles.
At the start of a turn, four tiles from the stack are placed face-up. The first player takes one of those tiles and puts it into their hand and then plays one of their four tiles onto the table. The tile must be adjacent to another tile (except the first one), and cannot form a connection of 4+ forest, mountain, or kingdom tiles. If this is the third adjacent tile of one of those terrain types, they will get a free battle modifier token during that phase. They gain recruitment points equal to the number in the shield on the tile placed.
During the action phase, the player may move their cavalry (if recruited) for free as well as either recruit a new battle unit onto the tile placed or do a cavalry action. Either of those options will cost 2 recruitment points. Cavalry can move to any open plains tile on the board. Cavalry actions are to cure a plague cube from an adjacent tile (worth 2 points at the end of the game for scoring), insert a battle unit into an unoccupied adjacent tile of the appropriate type, or transport a unit from one terrain tile to a different one that remains adjacent to any plains tile. These are the only ways to get units onto a tile after it has been placed and to move a non-cavalry unit once it is place. Any modifiers on a tile remain behind when moving a unit.
The final phase is the battle modifier phase where a player can purchase a token for 2 recruitment points, as well as gain a free one if they completed a bastion during the tile phase. These are immediately placed face-down on a tile where a player has a unit and cannot be moved for the remainder of the game.
The second player does the same steps. Then, in reverse player order, the players place the remaining two tiles onto the map. These tiles do not score recruitment points and cannot gain units when placed, but they may place plague cubes on the board or activate the plague. Once each player has put the tiles out, the first player meeple passes and a new turn begins. Play continues until there are no tiles left in the stack or in either player’s hand.
Four graveyard cards are in the stack of tiles and, when placed, gain plague cubes. Once they have cubes on them, if a player places a tile with a plague activator (a cross) on them, the plague moves. Players alternate moving the cluster of cubes, leaving one behind one each tile except when moving it off the graveyard. The cubes reduce the shield value of the tile they are on (making it effectively a 0) and remove any battle modifier tokens on a tile.
Once all tiles are out, players flip their player board and score for the following:
Cavalry score points equal to the value of the terrain tile they are on.
Players score two points per plague cube cured during the game.
Other units score points if they control a bastion, regardless of its size (max 3). The value in points is the sum of the shields in the bastion, keeping in mind a plague cube makes it a 0. If two players both have units in the bastion, then a battle occurs. Add the value of the shield of the tile their unit is on, plus any battle modifiers on that tile. The higher value wins and scores the bastion. Ties are scored by both players.
Whoever has the highest score wins.
This game takes the fun of building a landscape with tiles, like Carcassonne, and ramps it up a few notches. The placement rules are simple, yet it provides a lot of strategy for placement because you want to get your units out, win bastions, and complete a 3-tile bastion. The best feeling is when you are sure you’ve accomplished all three of those with one turn.
Eight units sounded like hardly any. I thought there would be a ton of rounds where I didn’t get to play units. It turns out that I never have gotten all eight out (most has been 7) and usually those final few come in the last turns. There are so many useful things the cavalry can do with their actions that I usually find the middle of the game is spent moving them around and curing cubes when possible for points. I think it ends up being the perfect number of units, having two of each type, one cavalry, and a “wild” mercenary.
The plague is one of the coolest mechanisms in the game. You know it will be coming. You know where it will originate from once a graveyard is placed and you’ll know its range. In a 2-player game, you’ll get to choose half of its movement to help steer it where you want it to end up. Maximizing its benefit to you (to be cured with cavalry) while maximizing its harm to your opponent (canceling the value of tiles in a bastion they are like to win or eliminating their combat modifiers) is a key to success in the game.
The survey phase, where each player puts the remaining tiles onto the board for no benefit, is a great idea for a mechanic. This speeds up the game and helps prevent a player from running away with victory. You can complete a bastion to prevent your opponent from getting the free modifier, trigger a plague activation so that your turns can be spent earning recruitment points, or starting a new bastion to build into on your next turn. Placements in this phase are usually faster than in the player turns, but this is as critical in placement and decision-making as your turns will be.
The drafting aspect of the tiles is a really important and good mechanic. I love drafting games, and this one is key to think about what you need, what the opponent needs, and what you might want to still see in the survey phase. This leads to some nice, weighty decisions in the space of only four tiles. The fact that you also have a hand of three tiles means you can pick up a tile you don’t intend to play for several turns, letting you set up future combinations.
Oh those tower cards, how I love them. They stack up on existing tiles of that terrain type, making them stronger or weaker. And you can place more than one down there. Your opponent makes their forest go from a 2 to a 4 with a tower? Place your own tower on there to drop it to a 1 instead. This is a clever twist that makes your hand of tiles more valuable when you are holding towers to boost, or destroy, tiles later in the game.
This was to be a negative, but it moves up to a neutral thanks to the preview I saw of the Kickstarter for this game. The artwork on the prototype was very bland, with only the forest tiles having any colorful art on there. The tiles looks much better in the final version shown, but it still has that ancient map-like background that might turn some people off to the aesthetics. My wife wasn’t a fan at all of the look, in spite of enjoying the game play. The final version does look to be much more appealing visually, though!
The end game scoring… oh how I hate it. It is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but if you are the type of person who likes to know where they stand in a game then you are going to hate the uncertainty in this. I thought, in the last game we played, that I was doing pretty darn good. I lost every bastion battle, losing the game by 20 points overall because I drew 1’s and 2’s while she got almost all 3’s from the battle modifiers. This doesn’t make the game bad or unenjoyable, but it is worth noting that if that sounds like something you might not enjoy, you probably won’t like it when it happens.
Those battle modifiers are your real element of randomness, and when things go wrong they can really swing things in the wrong way. You can plan well, play well, and still lose because your opponent got the better “hidden information” tiles on their turns. Having an action available, or being able to use that mercenary tile, to “spy” and see a tile placed would go a long ways toward making this feel less impactful and random. I find the values to be just right – adding in a few higher numbers like a 5 could make it even swingier – but the inability to know where you stand can lead to some disappointing scoring.
I was initially interested in the game because of the name. I had just read books and played games revolving around the battle of Agincourt, so it was a right-timing sort of affair. I had high hopes for what could be yet another great game regarding this battle.
Unfortunately, this game doesn’t really feel like the battle of Agincourt. We Happy Few this is not. Both sides are equal in power and number. Rather, this is more of a tile-laying area control type of game. And there is nothing wrong with that. While it didn’t meet what I hoped the game would be, this turned out to be a really fun and interesting game. It takes the basic tile-laying of Carcassonne, a game many have played and loved, and ramps it up in several ways that makes it a better game overall. At least that is how I felt about it.
The restriction of 3 tiles in a bastion, and the reward for completing a bastion, was a nice touch. The plains, being the one area you can’t really fight over, are critical for movement of cavalry. They won’t score many points themselves, but they can clear plague cubes and move your troops into more favorable bastions later in the game. The limit on the actions you get each turn make it so you have a difficult choice on whether to use that cavalry or bring out a new troop. Getting all the troops out, or close to it, is important for maximizing your point potential.
Being able to stack tower cards onto existing tiles, to raise or lower its value, is another really nice touch. It doesn’t expand the map, but it allows you to affect the potential outcome of a battle. The plague is inevitable, and sometimes you really want it to happen so you can cure cubes and wipe your opponent’s modifiers. Not knowing what your opponent has for modifiers keeps things interesting and adds an element of the unknown to the end result.
All in all, if you like building landscape and a game with plenty of player interaction, this is an excellent choice of a game. It probably won’t fire Carcassonne from collections, but it is a nice alternative if you want something mechanically similar but far more interesting with two players. Adding more players to the game would make this even harder to predict the final scores. I would definitely recommend checking this game out, especially if you plan to be able to play it with more than two players from time to time. It is a solid 2-player experience, but it isn’t likely the ideal player count.
Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.