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Subject: Story Board's hot take on A Feast for Odin rss

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Originally published here, do not replicate without permission or attribution: http://storyboardwebseries.tumblr.com/post/153744268997/feas...

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Synopsis: You are a Viking village, and you will hunt and gather, refine your various materials, cultivate buildings for production, create ships, and raid settlements. You will charter the fate of your Viking village over the course of a number of years, leading yours to the greatest prowess.

A Feast for Odin is a points-driven game, with plethora of pathways to victory, with a range of risk balanced against reward. A significant portion of this is your central hall, which has a whopping -86 points of squares and a major part of your game is attempting to cover these up with various tiles. Likewise, long halls and island colonies can also offer large rewards, but they will have penalties of their own.

There is too much going on this game to cover everything, but each year follows a familiar pattern of preparation, worker placement, and then meeting the requirements of your feast. The main phase of each year is a worker placement affair. You start with a selection of Vikings, and a large action board with a whopping 61 different options to choose from. Each of these will be arranged from left to right in one of four columns. Each column requires an additional Viking to activate, but they are proportionally more powerful.

At the end of each round, you will need to fill a feast table with food, alternating between plants and vegetable matter. You will also have a chance to lay the valuable green and blue tiles into your main hall. The configuration of these tiles must follow certain requirements, but your main goal is to both cover up a line of coin icons to increase your income, while otherwise encircling certain printed icons to generate those.

You will build your engine over time, following an alternating pattern of outward expansion and hunting against development and cultivation. It all comes down to how much you’re willing to take on at any one time, and what risks you’re willing to set yourself up with for their rewards.

Commentary: If you were to look at the box for this game you would probably be have the impression that this game is far more daunting than it really is. However, like most of Rosenberg’s games, while there is a lot of detail on the board and all the various little particulars need attention, all the imagery and iconography was easily understood and the overarching flow of the game is incredibly intuitive.

As the learning process unfolded, I was not struck with a single concern over an element seeming needlessly fiddly. I am left with the impression this game has been designed and refined over again. There is a masterful engine under the hood of this game and yet it is much more accessible than I was expecting. This is a game where you can step yourself through to learn it, following the flow of a single round as a learning process.

What’s better, the game naturally escalates at a pace which follows a capacity to match it. All of the risks and demands of the game are balanced out by rewards and offerings. This means you can comfortably follow different courses of actions, and adapt your strategy as need be.

One thing I have notices, and seems to be reflected in the recommended player count though, is the game breathes better at lower player counts. While the range of board actions is immense, they are finite. Therefore the more players in the game, the more crowded the action board will become, particularly towards the end game. This doesn’t make the game bad, but it will make the competition for those spaces far less flexible and demanding.

This is possibly Rosenberg’s masterpiece to date, and while I have a tendency to joke Rosenberg really only creates the same game over and over again, refining the same core mechanisms, he has certainly hit a reasonably winning formula culminating in this game.

Verdict: I am floored by this game. There is so much going on but I barely notice the time go by. This is a masterful game for those wanting something hardy to play.
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