Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Agents Review by the Minister of Board Games

“Good morning (at least it is somewhere in the world) and thank you for joining me here at our top secret bunker in the heart of MI5. I trust you found the instructions on how to find us easy to follow? You will notice, if you look around the room, that you are all from very different walks of life. Some of you work in IT, some have active social lives, but you are all special. You have been selected by the Ministry of Board Games to become an Agent…”


What is Agents about?

Agents is a 2-5 player card game that lasts 20-40 minutes. In it you take on the role of a high ranking spymaster working with groups of secret agents who have found themselves without an organisation to work for. In this world of spies, subterfuge and sabotage you must manipulate every situation to gain the most Intel and win the game.

How does it work?

Between each player (one to your left and one to your right) are Safe Houses, these are where teams of agents are built. You can place a card from your hand into either of the two Safe Houses you have access to. Basically, you place cards to gain Intel or to allow you to take actions like moving, killing or manipulating Agents. Intel is what you need to win, but you also need to spend it to gain more cards. Actions mess with the current game layout in one way or another. Sounds simple right?

STOP, come back, I’m not finished… This game has an innovative twist up its sleeve, which takes it to a whole new level. The real elegance, depth and intrigue of this game comes from its Double-edged cards.

The reason the Safe Houses are between two players is that you share the agents in that safe house with the player on the other side of it. Each card has two effects, the side that is facing you is the one you get and the other side is what the opponent sat next to you on that side gets. Cards give points and allow actions to be preformed, but you can only have one side facing you! Every choice in this game has two consequences (at least) and I’m not even going to go into detail about the fact that how the Agents are facing and how they match up effects how much Intel you get at the end of your turn.

You use the Hacker to Turn the Assassin around so that she is now giving you Inter, but that allows Lewis (you know; the guy who you screwed over last turn) to use the Assassin to kill any agent in that faction. It’s a mine field of interesting choices. I have not talked about Missions or Free Agents, but they add even more to this game.

Components

This game comes with cards, quite a lot of cards, and I really like the way they are finished. The cards are not made of massively heavy card stock, but they are laminated (so no need to sleeve) which gives them a really nice feel. Some people will find them a bit slippery, but they are the ones who sweat a lot :0). I like to swap the scoring cards for poker chips but that is just a preference because the cards are fine.

Concussion

If you like tactical games and meaningful choices that are not easy to make (double edged) you need to check this out. Be warned, this game had quite a bit of manipulation & conflict so if your group only likes six hour Euro games, that you might as well play solo cause interaction is not a factor, you might want to (change your group) pass on this one.

I missed the first Kickstarter campaign, but luckily a friend of mine did not. Once I played Agents I knew it was a game I wanted to have and keep! Don’t miss this chance to pick up Agents.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/673576049/the-agents-return-the-double-edged-cards-game-is-b

but don’t just take my word for it:

"The Agents is one of the most brilliant yet simple ideas I've seen in a card game. It's amazing just how much of a deep game is inside a deck of cards!" Tom Vasel, The Dice Tower

"What makes The Agents such a joy for me is how small it is and yet how very large and complex it feels when playing it. A very interesting and engaging game that grabbed me by the nose and hasn’t let go. Simply excellent. 5/5" Father Geek

"Highly tense, very action filled... there is a lot to this little card game and a real joy to put it through its paces." Crits Happen

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