Ring Side Report- Card Game Review of The Agents

Product-The Agents

Producer: Saar Shai via Kickstarter

Set-up/Play/Clean-up-45 minutes

Price: ~$30 or free via print-n-play

TL;DR– Not perfect, but an awesome, smart card game 85%

 

Basics: Time to cross and double cross your friends in The Agents.  The Agents is a quick card game focusing on making hard choices.  Each turn you must take two actions: buy more cards to play, play agents, or activate agent abilities.  When you buy cards, you purchase either more agents to play or missions by spending victory points.  Missions are cards played at the end of your turn that stay in play and give you points each turn when the requirements are met.  Agents have colored arrows or points and abilities.  When you play an agent, you either pay it to your right or your left between you and another player.  Here is where the hard choices come into play.  When you play an agent, if the points or arrow face you, you will get points, BUT your opponent gets to use the agent’s ability.  However, the exact reverse is true.  Points and powers occur instantly, while arrows must be part of completed arrows for you to get points at the end of your turn.  Therefore, the game becomes a balancing act of abilities vs. payoff.  Your final action is to use a power on a card facing you.  The powers on cards may move agents, kill agents, flip agents, or other crazy events.  At the end of your turn, you may play missions on your agent groups to get point then score completed arrows that face you.  Game play continues until someone gets 40 points, then all other players get one more round.  Person with the most points wins.

 

Mechanics:  This game is MUCH harder than it looks!  Any action you take to help you will almost always help you opponents.  You WILL agonize over small choices because they might help you pull off amazing combos, but give your enemies a leg up in the process and cost you the game.  The game is simple, but the strategy is amazingly complex, so for a $20 kickstarter game, this is worth it!  5/5

 

Theme:  Since the game has the double edged sword card mechanics, I did feel like I was in a game a spies.  It might not have been perfect since you don’t get to recruit specific agents, but have a random draw.  Also fun, the game has lots of stretch goals that added specific spies from popular media.  I’m not sure how these guys didn’t get sued into oblivion, since they have Austin Powers and other named characters. 4/5

 

Instructions:  Here the game suffers.  The rules are short, but they don’t explain enough.  I hate when I have to run to Board Game Geek to understand a major rule even before I play my first card.  The games “playable” out of the box, but I promise you will be combing the BBG forums before your first game is out.  3.5/5

 

Art/Execution:  This game uses a strange plastic for its cards.  Its not bad, and they cards are pretty hardy compared to standard playing cards.  They feel strange, but that’s not bad.  I kind of wish more people used this stuff.  The art is similar to old Hellboy comics.  I like the Hellboy art style, so I liked what I saw.  It does make it hard to figure out who is a man or a woman for some card effects though. 4.5/5

 

Summary:  This is a fun game.  It will burn your brain in a short amount of time though, in a good way.  And for $20 bucks or FREE (with a printer), the game is well worth it.  These guys need to get some more print runs going as I can’t find this game anywhere right now.  85%

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