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Raiders of the North Sea» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Raiders of the North Sea - a new type of Worker Placement? rss

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Ken Savage
Austria
Vienna
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We picked this up from Kickstarter and have gotten through lots of games of it now, so time for a review.

Visually, it is great. The box is perfect size with the components, as well as being sturdy, and the outside art is well done. Inside, the board is great. Nice quality and more great art. The ingame cards are of nice quality and, once again, the artwork is excellent. The box is of a nice "normal" size, so doesn't require any trickery to fit on our gaming shelf. So very impressed with the production quality.

The pieces are very well done as well. The green/brown player colours are different enough not to be an issue for most colour blind players (not that these pieces would cause much of a problem with play). The resource pieces are quite distinctive too. We got the metal coins with the set, which are fantastic.

The game has the basic idea of worker placement and resource gathering. It has a great mechanic of place a worker/take a worker. So you can't really be locked out of a resource tile in the starter village. This is a big plus for me, there's nothing worse than being locked out of the "best" tiles in a game as the last player. There is still a lot of strategy involved, where you can leave a worker on a zone so the next player must do it as his last action - you can also leave a level of worker that he does not want to annoy him too.

Gameplay is relatively simple once you understand what the icons on the board mean. Essentially, you use your workers to build resources and a crew - then use them to go and raid increasingly difficult targets. You will lose crew, but they die gloriously in battle - which gives you bonus points at the end of the game, though you do get setback a little early. Your crew will all bring various benefits. Crafting crew bring bonuses in resource terms, but have no strength and are less useful when attacking later. Warriors bring plenty of fighting strength, but provide little economic benefits. All in all, their abilities do seem decently balanced.

Crew cards can also be played as an event. This either brings an immediate benefit directly, or can provide a hindrance to one or more opponents. This can provide a useful balancing effect when one player starts to move into a lead.

So far - it's all good. However, there are issues with this game. The main one for me is that, despite the ability to use crew cards to hinder your opponents, there is often little interaction with other players in the game. In a 4 player game, once you have your turn there is very little reason to pay attention until the player preceeding you is taking their turn. You cannot really plan too far in advance, because what you will do often depends on the last action he does in his turn. The game can also suffer from balance issues at the start too. If you get a good initial hand of crew members - you can get an explosive start compared to someone who gets unlucky. So pulling any of the Jewelcrafter (+1 coin from silversmith), Recruiter (-1 cost for crew members) or especially Forager (+1 provision when going to mill) will give a superb early game. Choosing 3 from an initial 5 cards gives some insulation from bad luck. But, from experience, I see that getting early luck with your crew can roll into an easy game. Perhaps some kind of draft for early cards might have been useful? Because of the lack of interaction and the inability to plan far in advance, the game can seem to go on a bit. This is because, as the games goes on, people need a little longer to think out their turn. As they cannot really start thinking until it is literally their turn, a 4 player game can be quite some time between when you need to be involved in the game.

The little annoyances above aside, this is a fun worker placement game with interesting mechanics. It is one that I'd certainly play from time to time. However, it's a "decent" game and not a "great" game, which allows players to just ignore the game for a while until it comes around to their turn.

By BGG rankings, it fits into "Ok - will play if in the mood." for me, so it's a 6/10
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Pat Nas
Netherlands
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Spot on!

I had high hopes for this game, but folowing the geek rating I would even have to give it a 5 (Mediocre, take it or leave it).

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