Fields of Arle is a complex worker placement game for 1-2 players by Uwe Rosenberg and Feuerland Spiele. Its setting is farming in the small East Frisian town Arle where Uwe’s father grew up.
In Fields of Arle 1-2 players build their farm and expand their territory by cutting peat and building dikes. The worker spots are split into summer and winter so they can be used only every second round. Furthermore, some spots can be enhanced by upgrades so the respective player gains more benefits if they use it. Other than that the game is not breaking any new ground. It is again a very thematic and complex worker placement game by Uwe Rosenberg that certainly resembles Agricola and Caverna.
The game has no luck factor at all, something I really like in complex games. Many people dislike that the game is only up for 2 players. I personally think this is great because the game is fairly complex and there is so much material that I can’t imagine what kind of table one would need to host a session with 4 players. Furthermore, I personally prefer worker placement games at 2 players because the dynamic does not become a lot more interesting with more players and it just results in more downtime.
Like in other games by Uwe Rosenberg like Agricola and Le Havre I highly respect the thematic detail and precision. One can really learn something about the farming in East Frisia around 1800. It is really amazing how well the game mechanics reflect the theme. Also the material is very good and there is plenty of it.
I like its gameplay better than Agricola’s and less than Glass Road’s. I like that the actions themselves are simple and elegant like in Glass Road and not as fiddly as the cards in Agricola. What I dislike is the sheer number of possible actions. For me it is just too much, I’d prefer the game to be more streamlined. I wouldn’t miss the traveling for instance. Another thing I dislike is that the high replayability rather stems from the sheer number of options that take many plays to explore rather than variety. Most buildings you can build are the same in every game. This is what I like about Glass Road a lot more: there are less options but these options vary a lot from game to game. Another thing I dislike is that once a round a player can copy any spot even if already taken. This almost kills competitive aggresion that otherwise could easily occur in a 2 player game. Thus, the 2 player game does not feel that much different than a solo game, the interaction is fairly low.
Now this might sound as if I don’t like the game, I actually do like it. However, I respect it more for its thematic simulation rather than for its pure gameplay that is a bit too complex and solitaire for my liking.
Conclusion: While my brain certainly approves the game my heart doesn’t fully fall in love with it. However, gamers who like games like Agricola, Caverna and Le Havre will most probably enjoy Fields of Arle!