TGN Review: The Agents
Double-Edged Games’ The Agents is a strategic card game where you must weigh the risks of every play. With each card, you’re giving your opponent the tools necessary to win. But will you be able to win first? Will your agents be loyal or will they jump ship to the other side? Only time will tell.
Double-Edged Games has just launched their 2nd Kickstarter campaign The Agents.
The fellas over there sent me a copy of the game, along with some expansions to check out.
So grab your covert gear, get your team prepped and get set for another TGN Review. This time, it’s The Agents.
The Agents is a strategic card game where every play brings both you and your opponent closer to victory. It’s only through managing your resources properly and thinking several steps ahead that you’ll be able to win.
The game consists of several decks of cards. You’ve got your Missions, the Agents themselves, Safe Houses and the Points cards. The cards aren’t actually paper. They’re plastic. For those that have picked up the premium Malifaux decks, these are much the same. They’re lightly textured, so there is some grip, put they can be a bit slippery when shuffling. They are, however, very tear-resistant and obviously impervious to water.
There is one thing about the cards, though. When they were cut out, they left this one miniscule burr on one side of the cards. You know, I’ve never come across a card game that had flash before. It takes almost nothing to just sand it off, but with the number of cards in the deck, it can take a lot of time, over all, to remove them. All the decks in the main box as well as the expansions had them.
This is something they’ve apparently addressed in their latest Kickstarter campaign and so newer editions of the game won’t have that problem.
As for the artwork on the cards, it sort of reminds me of old Hellboy comics. It’s a rather stylized art style, sometimes bordering on anime. There’s heavy use of shading and very dark areas on the cards. I really like it, actually.
At the start of the game, place a Safe Card between you and the other players adjacent to you. In the case of a 2-player game, place two Save Houses between you. Orient the cards so you’ve got one set of white and one set of black arrows pointed back at you. Deal out 3 Agents to each player and 1 Mission. The First Player then gets 1 IP point. The Second Player gets 2 IP points and so forth.
During your turn, you can take 2 actions. Actions include: playing an agent from your hand, reactive an order on an already-played agent, buy agents and missions or trade in agents and missions.
To play an agent, simply take it from your hand and play it on the table. There are two types of agents in the game: Faction Agents and Free Agents. Faction Agents have half an arrow at the top of their card and play off of other agents or the Safe House. These chains of agents are called the Faction. Free Agents have an IP number at the top of their card. These play between two players, but not specifically on the Faction.
When you play an Agent, you can choose to either have it face you or face your opponent. If it faces you, then you immediately can activate their ability, following whatever instructions it has on it. If it faces your opponent, then they are able to do that instead. So why play an agent facing your opponent? Well, because the other side is where you score points. In the case of Faction agents, at the end of your turn you collect points for all completed arrows facing inward toward you. If the arrows are solid black or white, you score two IP. If they’re mixed, you score 1 IP. In the case of Free agents, you get whatever IP is listed on the card. But beware, if your agents are facing you, then the points are flowing out to your opponents.
Most of the card abilities revolve around moving or reorienting agents already in play. Some let you pull an agent back up into your hand, or let you rearrange how agents are in a faction.
The Mission cards give you more ways to earn IPs. You can have up to one mission on each of your factions. They give you bonus IPs at the end of your turn for meeting the criteria on the mission. This can include things like having a pair of identical agents in your faction, or having all the agents in a faction facing you.
The first player to collect 50 IPs is the winner.
The expansions that I was sent all slightly modify the game in some form. All of them are optional. If you get some of them, I’d suggest playing the base game a few times to get the mechanics down and then adding them in.
I got the Commanders, Spoofs, Mission: Critical, Secret Agents and Partners.
Commanders fundamentally change part of the game for every player. For example, one allows you to look at the top 3 cards of the Agent or Mission deck when you purchase from them and pick which card you want. Another gives you extra IPs for completed data tokens (the completed arrows).
Spoofs are cards representing some famous secret agents from pop culture including Agents 86 and 99, Inspector Gadget and Archer.
Mission: Critical expands the Mission deck with more possible missions… pretty self-explanatory that one.
Secret Agents expands the Agents deck, but many of the agents there are meant to be kept in your hand. Then, at the end of the game, if you’ve accomplished certain criteria, they give you bonus IP. If your IP total beats out the person who first got to 50, then you win.
Partners lets you know it’s always best to bring along a buddy. Many of these Agents play on other agents, giving them some sort of extra bonus or keeping them from being manipulated by your opponents.
Every play in The Agents is important because you’re always giving some sort of bonus to your opponent. Either you’re giving them IPs in the form of completed Data Tokens or you’re letting them manipulate the board in some form with a command. The trick is to make sure whatever bonus you’re giving yourself outweighs that going to your opponent. Either you’re playing an agent so it doesn’t complete a Data Token or the Command they get to perform is no major benefit. You really do have to think ahead with your plays in the game.
As I mentioned, they have a Kickstarter going on right now for The Agents Return. It’s just started today and already has over 600 backers. Go and check it out here.