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Subject: A far away country of which we know little ... rss

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Alan Paull
United Kingdom
HUNTINGDON
Cambridgeshire
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Designed by Vlaada Chvatil and published by the Czech Board Games company, Graenaland is a serious board game from the Czech Republic. The CBG company was a first timer at the Essen Spiel fair, but their previous successful game Prophecy ensured that their new offerings would be very much sought after. Graenaland quickly sold out, but is very likely to be picked up by a major manufacturer.

Graenaland has a Viking theme (no kidding?!). A small number of attractive landscape tiles form the playing area, whose size depends on the number of players. Each tile illustrates a terrain type, mountains, hills, plains and forests, which generate grain, livestock, wood, ore and gold, represented by Resource Cards, in proportions dependent on the terrain type. Players are Viking families or groups, who settle in Greenland by placing wooden markers on the landscape tiles. A novel feature of the game is that resources do not necessarily increase if the number of settlements increases. Rather settlements bestow votes, and players make proposals about how resources should be divided up, with the votes deciding. If a proposal doesn't pass a vote, the Resource Cards are not distributed at all, so resources in the area will increase, making that area more valuable for a short time.

You will also control a set of Heroes, as befits Vikings, including a Warrior, a Priest and a Skald (or bard), with either of the last two appearing only if you construct a Building (with a capital B). While your settlements are fixed, you can move one of your Heroes each round to a neighbouring territory, or two along the coast. You cannot put more than one of your Heroes in a single territory. The Heroes have special abilities that interfere with each other in an interlocking fashion, so that Warriors gain extra votes from armies, but are neutralised by Priests, while Skalds gain votes from all other Heroes in the area.

The game hinges on how you deploy your Heroes, with respect to the available resources and the sneaky moves of the opposition. You win by achieving three of five goals, which relate to the number of settlements, how spread out they are, the number of Buildings you have and the size of your army.

After a couple of plays, I found Graenaland to be a highly playable, interesting and thought-provoking resource management game, with a novel take on player interaction. I particularly like the rules preventing negotiation about details of how resources should be divided, while permitting discussion of how players might vote, which helps to limit the ‘analysis paralysis’ that afflicts some resource management games. Time is not lost on the diplomacy-style 'if you do this, then I'll do that' type of discussion; your thoughts are more concentrated on practical division of resources in relation to your own perceptions of strength on the board. As the game blurb suggests, the flavour of the game will depend on whether you are playing in a cut-throat or co-operative group. At times the 3-player game may be a little deterministic, and I suspect that the design of Graenaland is mainly aimed at the 4 or 5 player versions. Nevertheless this is a highly recommended game.
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Richard Dewsbery
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so little, in fact, that the name isn't spelled correctly (at least, according to one modern Viking who is part of the boardgaming community).

"Greenland" in English; "Grønland" in Danish. "Groenland" if you want to avoid special characters.
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Martin Kucera
Czech Republic
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I think Grænaland is one of ancient spellings - see http://www.heimskringla.no/dansk/finnurjonsson/islendingabok...
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