Show off your wealth in a friendly rivalry, flaunting your gold, feasts, piety, and tournament as the King of your country.
Total Game Play: 20 minutes
Designer(s): Amabel Holland
Artist(s): Amabel Holland
Field of the cloth of gold is a two-player game that allows you to revel in the greatness of the kingdoms of England and France as their respective leaders. This game reflects the meeting in Balinghem in June 1520 where the ruler of each kingdom is trying to outshine each other while celebrating their friendship. It’s a healthy rivalry. Probably. Join the story of kings, castles, tournaments, and dragons to show off your ostentatious wealth!
This is a general overview to provide context for the review, not an in-depth how-to play. Some rules may be glossed over or missing.
Field of the Cloth of Gold is a two-player-only game. This game takes up minimal table space and has a medium number of components. Mainly cardboard chits that can be contained within a bag.
The core mechanics of the Field of the Cloth of Gold is set collection and action drafting. While the gameplay is relatively simple, there is so much to think about every turn, between what you have, actions you want to take, and actions you don’t want your opponent to take.
The game flows between player turns until the game ends. A big part of this game is making sure that there are no empty tile spaces on the board which is done as a Clean-up phase at the end of each player’s turn.
The setup for this game is very very simple. Set up the board (which is a lovely canvas fabric), place player tokens at zero, put out the dragon, put out tiles in their given spaces and draw two tiles into your hand. Okay, it doesn’t sound simple when you write it out in a long sentence, but it is. The board makes it very intuitive.
On each turn, a player will move one (of two) disks to an empty oval space. The player will then take the tile associated with that space and gift it to their opponent. The player then gets to take the action for that space.
There are seven potential actions that will be available at the beginning of the game.
The dragon space allows the active player to place out the Dragon which then blocks that spot from being used. The secrecy space allows players to gain tiles from the supply. The Gold space celebrates all the Gold the Kingdom has – revealing gold from your hand to your court and scoring if the active player has the most gold tiles.
The blue space is all about banquets and feasts, scoring blue tiles within your court by removing them. The white space shows the piety of the country, by scoring one point per white tile in your court before discarding them. The red space is a tournament between the kingdoms, a friendly match if you will, where the active player reveals red tokens and then both players score for the red tiles in their court before removing the tiles from the game. Then each player gets to draw a new tile into their hand. The last action is the purple space, which reveals all tiles in your hand scores based on the number of collections in the court.
Concept: Court vs. Hand
It’s important to keep your Court and your hand separates during the game but they are essentially two piles that you can work with. The biggest difference is that the court is a pile you control that is visible to your opponent while your hand is a pile you control that only you know. The secrecy of your hand is going to be extremely important in the game.
This game can end in one of two ways. The first way is when one player has reached 30 points, the second is when all tiles are gone from the supply. After the game ends, there is a final scoring based on the gold tiles among your hand and court so getting to 30 first does not always guarantee a win.
Who Will Like it?
This game is great for anyone who doesn’t want too many complicated rules but enjoy a depth of strategy in play. There is some luck of the draw involved when pulling tiles from the supply, but it can be mitigated by the tile gifts from the other players.
What I Think
Where do I start with this one? I wasn’t expecting to like this game as much as I did, and it has been on my mind because its design is absolutely fantastic. Yea, this part’s probably going to be biased. Or maybe this whole review is just biased 😀
What did I like?
One part of this game that is so intriguing to me is the action drafting mechanic of this game. After the first two rounds, each player will have both their disks out. This means that four out of the seven spaces will be filled. Or if someone decides to use the dragon, five out of the seven spaces will be filled. This means you only will have about two actions to choose from. And that feels tight but also insanely interesting. Because you’re controlling where your opponent goes as well! And since three out of the seven spots cause you to discard tiles from the game, you can force your opponent to get rid of tiles they may want. Or tiles they’re trying to collect. Ahhhhh, this game is so good.
What didn’t I like?
There isn’t much to dislike about this game. I could probably complain about the random luck of the draw that left me with only 3 gold tiles at the end of the first game while my opponent had close to 10 (this is an approximation – I don’t remember the real numbers). But that was also my fault for giving up gold tiles. One of the biggest limitations of this game is I expect it plays best when both players have the same skill level.
Ok. I love this game. It’s so simplistic and elegant in its design but each game holds its own excitement in the competition. The gifting of tiles is extremely clever because you can be in a position where you don’t want to give your rival the only tile options you have. Or you don’t want the actions available to you because you don’t want to give up your own tiles. There is so much fancy footwork around each action that it draws you in and I cannot get enough of it.
Rulebook/Learning the Game
This game is extremely easy to learn with a rule book that is only 3 pages. And honestly, it’s only really two pages because the last page is solely dedicated to the designer’s notes.
The first time I played this game, I had a lot of trouble understanding what I needed to do, and I thoroughly underestimated the power of gold tiles during the game.
With each subsequent play, I keep seeing more and more possibilities and strategy. Field of the Cloth of Gold is a gift that keeps on giving.
This game is pure gold. Pun intended. As you could probably tell throughout this review, I adore this game to a bit of an extreme extent because there is so much to delve into. The simplicity of the game is beautiful but it breaks my head and I just want to play more.
*See my rating scale Here