Thank you for checking out my ninth review. 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.
Because this is a print & play game that is not formally published, I’ll briefly cover more of the rules than I typically do in my reviews.
An Overview of Yeomen: The 9 Card Agincourt Game
Yeomen: The 9 Card Agincourt Game is a game designed by Chris Hansen and is web published, meaning it is a free print and play game. The game is designed to play 1 player and has a 15-20 minute play time.
Yeomen: The 9 Card Agincourt Game is a solitaire micro card driven game. In the game, you control the French forces and must try to defeat the invading English forces in the Battle of Agincourt, which was fought on October 25, 1415. Your forces are represented by cubes and strength dice. You must move your cubes along a simple point-to-point map, but your movement will be hindered ever step of the way by English arrow fire. Your goal is to move two of your cubes into the English line, which will disrupt it and allow you to capture Henry V.
Setup and gameplay for 1 Player
The setup is simple: take the map card and place one red cube on each of the edge boxes in the second row up. The other boxes on the second row gets blue cubes. The bottom row gets one yellow cube, placed on either edge, and a pair of blue cubes goes in the remaining boxes in the bottom row. Pull out a blue die and a red die and set them both on ‘4’, and then grab a differently-colored pair of dice. Shuffle the 8 cards and draw three, leaving the remaining cards face-down as a draw pile.
Correction by Chris Hansen: One correction here is that the Hammer and Axe attacks don’t begin until the third turn of the game. So you’ll play through the first two turns with only Infantry and Cavalry attacks for each card. Then, on the third turn, you’re subject to Hammer and Axe attacks for each card played (assuming a unit is in the Combat Area).
Movement is accomplished by choosing the unit you want to move (left cavalry, right cavalry, all front infantry, or all rear infantry) and then drawing the top card of the deck, resolving its middle text effect. After that, you roll 1d6 and add that to the number shown on the corresponding colored die. If that value is greater than 7, the unit(s) successfully move forward. If not, nothing happens.
The strength of your units can never be lower than 2 nor higher than 5. The strength can increase through the effect of some cards, and a successful rear infantry move increases the infantry strength. Cards can lower the strength of a unit, as can rolling doubles during the English archer phase or a successful English Hammer & Axe attack or a collision during a unit retreat. In general, the strength will drop far more often than it will increase.
The English Archers have two dice rolled during their attacks, and depending on the results shown either hit or miss. If doubles are rolled, the targeted units lose 1 strength in addition to a retreat. As an example, when firing at the Cavalry if both dice show a 1, 2, or a 3 then the left cavalry is hit and must retreat one space. If both have a 4, 5, or a 6 then the right cavalry retreats. But if the dice showed a 3 and a 4, it would be a miss.
Combat is the most complex of the phases because of a few modifiers. First you flip the top card and apply the bottom effect listed if possible. Then you roll 1d6 and add that to the strength of all units in the combat area. Depending on the makeup of your units in the combat area, you may have a modifier to your roll so having both types of units (cavalry and infantry) is the ideal goal. If your total result is under 9, you lose 1 strength on your unit which has the highest strength (so long as at least 1 of those units is in the combat area. Cavalry lose a strength in a tie). If your result is 15 or higher, one of your units breaks through the line (infantry is used if possible). If you manage to get two units to break through before the end, you win the game.
This game is hard. So very hard. I still haven’t beat the game, although I have always managed to get one unit to break through the line. Sometimes that happens on the final turn. Once it happened at the end of the second round and it still didn’t matter. The dice can hurt you, and the cards almost certainly will. So if you enjoy a game experience where you are not guaranteed victory, this will be a game you will like. I get the same feeling while playing this as I do when playing Space Hulk: Death Angel. I am not necessarily expecting to win, but to have fun getting as close to that victory as I possibly can.
Nine cards, a few cubes, and some dice. That is all you need to have a full, fun experience with this game. It was my second ever print & play, and it was fun enough for me to go buy cardstock to reprint this, along with his new 9 card came: 9 Card Siege. It is a game with a small footprint and almost no work to go from print to play, which makes this a perfect game to add to a collection.
This game plays really close to that 15 minute advertised window. I didn’t believe that after my first play, but that was partially because I was logging each step of the play for a Sessions report and partially because I needed to stop and look back in the rulebook to try and play accurately. Each play gets a little faster and there is a great 2-card reference that can be printed as well. That doesn’t have everything I’ve needed, but it contains the major things. I plan to write anything it is missing that I need to look up on the back of those.
This game, somehow, evokes a very strong theme. Not due to any artwork, but rather through the historical flavor on the cards and how incredibly difficult it is to overcome those Archers. There is a reason why those archers were feared by the French, and this game helps to demonstrate why in a very short, tight experience.
The cards all have four (technically five) uses: discard for movement points, use the event ability, movement draw, combat draw, and you *can* discard a card during combat for an added +1 to your combat strength. This is how the game can be a 9-card game, and it works really well. A wise, experienced player can know before a flip what cards they will not encounter based on their hand and/or what has already been seen so far and can use that to their advantage. Odds are, it still won’t help but at least you’ll feel like you can play the game rather than have it play you!
Did I mention this game is hard? The game rewards you for moving both cavalry and infantry into the combat zone, yet accomplishing that isn’t easy. The rows bottleneck toward the top, meaning that cavalry either blocks the infantry or the infantry blocks the cavalry. And you don’t want to have the units collide. Nor do you want to end a turn with only one unit in the combat area because it would be very likely they will not hit 9+ for the combat roll. You almost need a perfect series of events to occur to set you up for your units to rush into the combat area. This is both great and frustrating at the same time.
This is a solo experience that every solo gamer, and every wargamer, should experience at least once. There are so many moments where your best-formed plans blow up in your face and it is still fun to play. Cards that seem like they help you can serve to cause you more harm than you expect. I play the game, lose, and immediately want to set it up and play again. Or, if I can’t do that, I spend time wondering how I could approach things differently. For a game with such few pieces, on a small footprint, and with a short play time, that is incredible. Don’t have cubes? Print some and cut them out! The investment, if you leave the rules unprinted, is 1-3 pages. You could even print it all in black & white to save colored ink and take a crayon to the cubes. You can read the rules, print & cut the game, and play it all in under an hour. This game is worth at least an hour of your time, and arguably you will end up giving it much more than that over multiple plays.
I know a fan made the reference cards, but I really would have liked the last page in the rulebook to have a sort of summary of those key rules. It would have saved a ton of time, and there is plenty of space for a single sheet of paper to be out next to this game. Hopefully this is something that might appear in a revised version of the rulebook, or at the very least something to make its way into the 9 Card Siege rulebook as that develops.
The artwork isn’t bad, but it isn’t memorable. I now have the backs printed on my cards, but they don’t really add much. I am not complaining, as it isn’t important to me, but some people may find it hard to get past the art in this game. We’re too spoiled by modern board games and want to have things pretty and elegant and with miniatures, which is no fault of the designer’s in this case. So if you need a pretty game with pretty pieces, you’ll be disappointed. Which is really a sad thing, because this game is a fun experience.
My biggest complaint? I still haven’t figured out what use the crossbowman serves. I understand it can shoot into the English line for a combat bonus. I just can’t seem to ever get it close enough to accomplish this! It also isn’t completely clear at first how it moves. The assumption is with rear infantry and, after several times looking, I believe I’m playing that correctly. Like the historical battle, I just don’t have the ability to gain any benefit from its presence.
There is a lot more I could say about this game. It is wonderful fun, and was a perfect print & play experience that has left me very eager to find more print & play solo games for future plays and reviews. It made me a fan of this designer, and he deserved the awards this game won from the 2016 nanogame print & play design contest:
Best Thematic Game – 1st Place
Best Wargame – 1st Place
Best Written Rules – 2nd Place
Most Innovative Mechanic – 2nd Place
Best Solitaire Game – 1st Place
Best Overall Game – 1st Place
It is worthy of every one of those awards. This game deserves to be played. It deserves to be talked about and reviewed. It scratches every solo itch I could ask and delivers a great historical theme in the process. The rulebook has several pages just dedicated to historical background about the battle of Agincourt, which is outstanding and wasn’t necessary.
Seriously, stop reading this and go print it out right now. You can come back and thank me later. I am confident you won’t regret it if you enjoy challenging solo games and/or wargames.
Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.