Fences, designed by Tim Forbis and Adam Collins with artwork by Andrew Sallwasser, is a deceptive game.
At first glance Fences looks like a simple kid’s game (and kids do love it!). But underneath the cool art, pigs, sheep and cows lurks a deeper strategy card game making us older kids love Fences also.
Setup of Fences is simple. Each person draws a random Farmer card, two Farm tiles and 5 Barns.
Farmer cards give each player two potential bonus conditions throughout the game.
Farm tiles are square scenes of farmland and possibly pictures of pigs, cows and sheep.
Also white fences divide up the Farm tiles.
One of the Barns is used on the scoreboard to track points. The other 4 Barns are used to claim Fields for a player.
Play is easy...deceptively easy.
A player connects one of his Farm tiles to an existing Farm tile on the table. Fence lines must connect logically.
If the new Farm tile completes a Field (an area is completely enclosed by Fences) then the Field is scored immediately.
If the new Farm tile has some unclaimed land then the player can chose to build a Barn on the unclaimed land.
Draw back to two Farm tiles.
Very fast turn play. Simple scoring. No dice to blame. Just logic and planning your strategy.
Fences takes about an hour to play. The map of connected Farm tiles can get large so Fences needs to be played where players can get up and move to look over the map. There are 84 Farm tiles.
Some things we learned the hard way!
Players can really mess with other players by either completing Fields quickly or playing Fences that make Fields run amok.
Don’t play all your Barns too soon (big disadvantage to not be able to claim land when an opportunity arises!)
Don’t play Barns too slowly (frustrating to have missed an opportunity!)
When a player gets into the lead the other players can sabotage the leader’s plans.
Don’t get so excited and distracted by building Barns and Fields that you forget about your Farmer card bonuses.
Fences ends when all Farm tiles have been played.
Player with the highest score wins.
We reviewed using a black and white Print and Play version. We colored in the pigs, sheep and cows. And we used coins for barns. We then got the color version in its full glory...beautifully done!
The most common thing heard after finishing a game of Fences - “Can we play again?”
The Good: Easy setup. Well balanced. Fun. Unique mechanics.
The Bad: Don’t let your Fields get too big and out of control...
The Dastardly: Quick to learn … long time to master.