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Subject: My thoughts after one play of this EXCELLENT game rss

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Steve Lett
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I heard about Coldwater Crown a couple of months ago, and thought to myself... “this game looks interesting, but why have there no decent games about fishing?” My gut tells me it’s probably difficult to design an interesting game on a fishing theme. It’s also possible gamers aren’t drawn to the fishing theme when there are games about epic space battles and dangerous dungeon quests everywhere you turn. When many of us think about fishing, we probably think back to a time where we sat on a damp boat or a dock waiting for something to happen. If you’re like me, that lake monster you were hoping to catch more closely resembles a goldfish cracker than a kraken. I can see why this may not excite most gaming groups…

Theme-schmeme! Go ahead and take a look at your game collection and tell me how many have a theme you’d honestly like to take on in real life. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

I like Agricola, but you’re never going to find me behind a plow. I love The Manhattan Project, but I’m certainly not going to hoard a pile of uranium in my basement. You get the picture.

So, what is this game all about?
Fishing… yes, we’ve covered that. More specifically, Coldwater Crown simulates a fishing tournament in the North Atlantic. As such, the game captures the sense of the competition more than the actual act of fishing.

Gameplay

At its core, Coldwater Crown is a worker placement game. On your turn, you take your angler token and place it on an available space on either the Lake, the Shore, or the River. Each space has a different color that matches bait tokens on your player board. If you place on the red space, you might get to remove some red bait from a zone on your board. But, it doesn’t end there. After you place your angler, you get to remove a different one from a different location and take that action as well. This creates some interesting decisions in the timing of your placement. It also creates a massive about of tension as you watch what other players are picking up and laying down.

The really interesting part of the worker placement is that the workers are double-sided. If you place or remove a 1, you get to remove bait from a single zone on your player board. If you place or remove a 2, you get to remove that color bait from all zones. Every time you pick up an angler, you get to flip it, so do you grab that 1 now and save that 2 for next turn? Did the previous player drop a 2 down on the perfect spot for you?

So, what’s the deal with the bait? When you clear a zone on your board, you look at the last color bait removed and which region of the board that bait color represents (lake, shore, river). You also look at which zone that bait came from and which fish is in the matching zone in the respective habitat. This is all about timing. You really need to make sure you clear the right color from the right zone at the right time.
Scattered throughout the board are trophies. Lots and lots of shiny trophies, ready for the taking. You collect trophies for catching fish of a certain weight, catching your 8th fish species, catching all of the small species of fish, and more. You really need to try to focus on these, but also make sure you’re progressing to these objectives faster than your opponents. It gets pretty tense when someone is about to reel in the exact fish you were working towards.

There are a few other aspects to the game, such as sending your angler to the harbor for bait (this allows you to refill bait in your player board zones) or to collect master angler cards (these allow you to catch rare fish by accumulating specific types of bait). You also get special bonuses for clearing the larger zones on your board. This comes in the form of tackle tokens (special abilities) or a bit a flexibility in which fish you land.

Once someone has caught their 12th fish species, you compare the weight of the fish you’ve landed from each region. You can only submit one fish of each species to the tournament judges, so it’s generally good to diversify your haul. The most weight per region takes the top prize. Add to that the other trophies you’ve collected and a few more points for fish caught within certain parts of each region (think GPS coordinates). Winner-winner, salmon dinner!

Components and Artwork

I only played a prototype of this game, but the artwork was stellar! The final board is supposed to be larger than the prototype, so I’m excited to see this on a bigger scale. This should allow the art to breath beneath the graphic design.

…and the graphic design? It was spot-on for this game. Everything made perfect sense and it was very easy to understand what my options were from turn one. Apparently, they’re making some improvements in the final version, but it was excellent in its prototype form.

Most of the components were cards, trophy tokens, and the acrylic gems to represent bait. I can’t really comment on the quality since this was a non-final version, but I did really like the tactile feel of the bait gems.

Thoughts


Be honest… did you skip to this section?

These are my thoughts after only a single play of the prototype…

I’m always on the lookout for games that are easy to teach, fast to play, but provide enough depth to keep me interested through multiple plays. This is a game I can see myself playing with gamers and non-gamers alike. It will provide enough strategy to keep the gamer crowd interested and is easy enough to teach to engage the non-gamer. Think medium-light gateway game.

What’s to like?

Fast and tense gameplay with interesting decisions at every turn.
Fierce competition, where it matters what other players are doing and keeps you engaged the whole time.
Easy barrier to entry, but with enough depth keep things interesting.
Refreshing theme that captures the spirit of its real-life counterpart (but a lot more fun).
Great components and artwork.

What’s not to like?

I’m really having a hard time finding fault with this game. I guess if you are really turned off by the theme, that could be a problem, but I think you would be doing yourself a disservice by not giving it a try.

Final Thoughts

This was one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. It’s fast, fun, engaging, thematic, and hits the sweet-spot for balancing a streamlined design with depth of gameplay. If you like worker placement games with meaningful decisions, low downtime, and an exciting dose of tension, I would highly recommend giving Coldwater Crown a try.

At the time of writing this, the game’s Kickstarter campaign is winding down, so you might have missed the boat (pun intended). Regardless, keep this on your radar (or fish finder) and you won’t be disappointed.


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John Taber
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Looks really fun and 28 hours left in the KS! Thanks!
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PJ B
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artfuldodgr42 wrote:

Be honest… did you skip to this section?



You got me! Have some as a fine for my lazy ass!
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Adam Slape
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Collinsville
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I'm so glad this got funded so I can finally have my own copy! I keep going to conventions where Brian is doing demos, but feel like I shouldn't take up a seat because I wanted more people to play it!
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Steve Lett
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Ciaran wrote:
I'm so glad this got funded so I can finally have my own copy! I keep going to conventions where Brian is doing demos, but feel like I shouldn't take up a seat because I wanted more people to play it!
I had the same thought this past weekend. I wanted to squeeze in one more play, but I didn't want to take some else's chance to try it.
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MS-06 Zaku II
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Does it have more sense to have one big lake with three zones , rather than one lake zone, one river and one sea water shore?
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ozzy perez
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I got a feeling this game will be special. I backed it a while back myself and this review is making me anxious to play it.
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Steve Lett
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ah3Dog wrote:
Does it have more sense to have one big lake with three zones , rather than one lake zone, one river and one sea water shore?

Each of the 3 regions has its own set of species and its own scoring at the end of the game. I feel like the game would lose a lot of its depth if it was just a single lake.
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