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Yield Kickstarter Preview


So, the lovely people at BFF Games sent me a prototype for their currently running Kickstarter, Yield. I had seen some articles about it online and have seen their Facebook ads. It certainly looked like something several of my gaming groups would enjoy. Area control, fighting, hidden information and strategy. Yum yum!

From the same team that brought us Hidden Leaders and set 43 years after, Yield is a game where the emperor’s daughter is starting a rebellion against him and you must, as one of the most powerful houses of Oshra, battle to fill the power vacuum left by the civil war.

What this actually shakes out to be is a game where you control three armies, recruit units, conquer fortresses and battle your opponents to finish with the most victory points.

The Setup

The setup in Yield is very quick, for games of this ilk it was a breath of fresh air. Pick one of the four boards depending on player counts, give each player a character board, and a few pieces, place some fortresses, deal a few cards out and and you're off to the races.

The only real thing to get hung up on is which leader to pick and which of their asymmetric abilities you want to use.

The Gameplay

Yield is played over three rounds, or in a narrative sense, three years. At the end of these three battle-strewn years, whoever managed to hold their ground, or steal control from their opponents more efficiently will win.

Each player has three armies, these armies are represented on the board by a playing piece and their power is kept secret. I know, right? Secret! At the start of the game you have twelve units to distribute among your three armies and how you distribute them is totally up to you. Will you have three balanced armies with four units each or go glass cannon and have one ten unit army and two one unit armies? Who knows! You opponents certainly don’t, well, initially anyway.

Along with these armies with hidden strength you have a hand of battle cards which can be added in battle to hopefully destroy your opponents, but more on that later. All players start at opposite sides of the map and have one conquered fortress to defend. Yield is all about keeping your fortresses safe and trying to sneak others into your control.

Turn Structure

All players have a hand of six cards. These six cards have actions on them, you know the drill, move, fight, upgrade and all that jazz. Each player simultaneously picks a card and places it face down, you then in turn order, execute your chosen actions. With only six possible actions, Yield really cuts down on waiting for other players' turns and analysis paralysis. Turns are snappy, quick and watching players' well laid plans crumble is always amusing.

You can also play any of these cards face down as an action to draw extra battle cards, which I learned early on in my first game can be the difference between winning and losing. There are so few ways to draw more cards, using actions to draw them and at the correct time is a skill all in itself.

Once everyone has had four turns, which leaves two cards in your hand, you do some end of the round clean-up. Which I will get onto shortly. There’s certainly some mileage to be had in watching what your opponents are doing and trying to predict what actions they will take. Although, in practice, this sometimes bites you in the bottom!

Fortresses and Points

Here we go then, this is the main drive of Yield, the fortresses. All the fortresses on the map start out as a single wooden token. When you are assigned your starting fortress you place a token of your colour on top of it. Each time you take a fortress or upgrade one you place another token on the stack. The points you get from a fortress at the end of the game is how many tokens are in the stack, now you can see how controlling the most valuable fortresses in the game is paramount.

Due to you only having three armies and having to fight on several fronts, where to assign your units, choosing your battles wisely and playing your actions in the most beneficial order becomes a web of cause and consequence. Trying to protect your valuable fortresses and steal them off your opponents is a tricky task but more importantly, a fun one!

Swords, Spears and Cavalry

You three armies, which all look different but are essentially the same, are yours to command. How you bolster them, how you assign their units and where you place them will decide the outcome of the game. Battles occur at the end of every round when units are adjacent. Apart from one action card, which not only allows you to battle but gives the attacker an extra six units to attack with. Very juicy indeed!

When a battle takes place, it's a simple, trimmed down affair. In a game that’s quick and streamlined like this one, I really appreciated a simple combat system that’s not bogged down in any way. Firstly you place a marker on the battle track for all players involved in the fight. This value of this marker is comprised of all the units involved for that player. All players connected by a single path on the board get involved and the hidden values of the armies are added, plus any bonuses from the attack action card if played.

After this, the player who is behind in battle strength has a choice, play a battle card or yield. That’s where the name of the games comes from. Knowing when to yield or not is a vital part of your strategy. Each node on the board is one of three coloured suits, these correspond to your battle cards and if one matches the node your standing on you can play it and add the value to your battle strength. You can always play any battle card face down as a strength one card in any colour. Which can help in a pinch. Then the battle is re-evaluated and the person who has the less power then takes initiative and the same choice becomes theirs. Yield or play a battle card. If the values are ever tied then the player with initiative can call the battle a draw, everyone comes out unscathed and semi-pleased.

If someone yields, cannot play a battle card or does not want to then they lose the battle. They lose the amount of units in the battle totalling the difference in the leading player and their battle score and their defeated army must retreat, as long as they are still alive. The winning player can then chase them into the space they once occupied. This is great for making up ground and possibly getting into position to take over those sweet, sweet fortresses.

If you yield and the amount you lose by is more than your available units then your army is defeated. It gets removed from the board, albeit temporarily and its units it's reduced by half rounded down. Don’t fret too much though they will return in the recovery phase at the end of the current round. The winning player then gets to upgrade one fortress they control for every army defeated this way. A nice little bonus for pounding your friends into the dirt!

End of the Round, Conquer, Recruit and Recovery

At the end of every round everyone performs a few actions. Firstly, everyone who is on a fortress they do not control gets to conquer it. This player also gets to draw two cards for every fortress they conquered this way, then discard one for each too. After that a number of cards are drawn, depending on the round and players get to freely add these units to armies of their choice. More Juicy choices!

After that it's the recovery phase, this is where any armies that were defeated come back into play. Players place these on any of the fortresses they own and it's on to the next round.


Even though this is a prototype and some of the components are subject to change, I thought what was in the box was of a very high quality and functioned very well. Your army meeples and the various tokens in the game are made of thick wood, are very bright and well realized. The board is vibrant and looks good on the table. The artwork is superb too, really fitting the subject matter superbly. I also really thought the dials you had for each army that tracked their strength were fun, big chunky dials that face towards you, keeping the numbers secret from everyone and tracking your ups and downs accordingly. I have no qualms with the production whatsoever, it's well made, looks lovely and no components get in the way. Top notch.

In Conclusion

While Yield may not be my favorite game of this ilk. There are players and groups I would choose playing this with over other games like it. It's quicker to set up and play than most, is more streamlined and player friendly. It's a great game for teaching area control and skirmishing and the components, great production and art style really help propel it forward. While it may not be a game I drag out at every board game night, I can see myself, with the right players, playing this more in the future.

Right gamers, I am off to ruffle up some friends, take control of some fortresses and pummel my enemies into oblivion!