Ginger Games are a new Online Boardgame Shop based in Northern Ireland started fairly recently by husband and wife team Alan and Lindsay. I’ve been chatting to them a little over the last while and they’re certainly big boardgame fans. I’m hoping to get them down for the next Knavecon either in a professional or playing capacity (or a bit of both like most traders that come).
In my chats with them they revealed their love for amongst other things for Worker Placement and 2 player games. Lindsay was good enough to do a guest review for me of Fields of Arle. A game I have to admit I knew nothing about. Here’s that she had to say…
Like all Uwe Rosenburg fans I was excited by the upcoming Essen release of Fields of Arle (and the upcoming Patchwork). Would there be room for yet another Uwe Rosenburg game in my collection? Would it be as good or differ enough from Agricola or Caverna? Would it be too similar? I was hoping that it would live up to my expectations.
As most of our game time is spent as a couple I was interested in picking up this 2-player only game. The rule book clearly defines this game as being autobiographical and is set in Uwe’s home region of East Frisia. The game is a very typical worker placement style game played over nine and a half rounds each representing a year with alternating summer and winter seasons. Each season allows specific actions that are relevant to the season meaning you can only fish in the summer and shear sheep after the winter. Along with the usual worker placement spots with gain you resources there is also an interesting simplified tech tree where you can increase your ability to gain specific resources. Additionally there is an element of trading to neighbouring towns and villages to gain food or convert resources needed to build or expand.
As with all first plays the game ran longer than the 120 minutes on the box cover. On first impressions the amount of available actions are overwhelming but with playtime the strategies begun to emerge. While the farming theme is a well-trodden path with Agricola and Caverna this is a vastly different game. In Agricola you are confined to one main path to victory but Arle has various paths to victory. Caverna has more flexibility in the route to victory and Arle expands on this by introducing vehicles, trading and tech trees.
It is true there are influences from Agricola, Caverna, Ora et Labora and Glass Road but Arle has refined these mechanics further. In my head it is a completely different enjoyable puzzle than its predecessors.
Those looking for high player interaction should probably avoid this one as it is pretty much zero, there is even a space to mimic blocked actions. Arle is a big physical game but it doesn’t feel that much larger than Caverna it just has a different layout.
So if you like your heavy worker placement games and play mostly two player games you will get plenty of hours of enjoyment out of Arle.