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I had never even heard of Coldwater Crown until an American friend posted up a blog about it and as I used to love fishing as youngster I just had to try it out.
The theme will be one that people will either connect with or dismiss straight off so I was keen to see if this game had enough about itself to make non-fisherman gamers at least try it.
I took it along to my local gaming group and cracked open the box. ‘Is it a game about getting your line tangled’ and ‘can you lie how big the fish you caught is’ were some of the first comments from the group. I persisted and set up the game.
Coldwater Crown - The Components
The Coldwater Crown box consists of a fair few components and they are all of excellent quality, apart from the wooden angler tokens that come with stickers to jazz them up. It’s no deal breaker but these could have been fish shaped or something else thematic in my opinion.
The list of components are:
A game board.
4 player boards.
60 fish cards.
30 master angler cards.
97 plastic bait tokens of various colours.
35 trophy tiles.
15 tackle pieces.
7 wooden angler tokens with stickers.
5 tag tiles.
The rule book.
Coldwater Crown - The Game
The idea of the game is you have been invited to a world renowned fishing competition and you, along with the other players, will compete by catching different varieties of fish to earn victory points.
To set up the game is relatively quick and easy, after laying out the board and giving players their player boards you need to:
Shuffle all shore fish, followed by river fish, and finally lake fish and place them in their retrospective locations.
Draw four cards from these decks to ‘stock the location with fish’ and place them in the correct places.
Shuffle and pick a random Tag tile, this is a coloured tile, and when fish of this colour are caught you score bonus points.
Shuffle the Master angler cards and place alongside the board.
Set up the trophies according to the contests they represent.
Place all tackle pieces face down and give randomly one to each player.
Place angler tokens on their designated spots on the board.
Place all the bait into the bag and give it a shake.
Coldwater Crown - The Gameplay
Once all the above is done player one chooses a location and places his angler token there, before taking the action associated with that space. This can range from casting bait to collecting master angler cards.
The idea is that you use your tokens like you would a worker placement game to gain benefits that will aid you in scoring as many victory points as possible. To catch a fish, you simply remove all the bait form your player board and once you have done this you catch the fish from the same board space and colour that your board and bait represented.
You also have contests where you can score bonus points and the varied type of fish always give you something to think of and aim towards. The game ends when a player catches his 12th fish or a fishing location cannot be restocked.
Coldwater Crown - Final Thoughts
I thoroughly enjoyed Coldwater Crown and really got into the theme. The set collection and worker placement elements really work well together and the game is a challenge. The quality of the game is very good and I could easily get lost within it and spend hours playing.
The other non-fish friendly folk of the group really enjoyed the game and got in to the mechanics of the gameplay. The theme neither overjoyed or excited them but the game is that well-developed that you can simply look past that and just enjoy it.
The game flows at a nice speed and with little downtime you always feel involved. If your group likes worker placement and set collection you will enjoy this regardless of the theme. We would all happily play it again and even if the theme does not suit the game is that well developed that you can still enjoy it.
Excellent review, thanks for sharing. I think that this game deserves a much larger audience. It is excellent mechanically, it has a different and refreshing Theme and although the worker placement part is largely abstracted, the graphic design and artwork definitely draw you into the subject matter. I have really enjoyed this game with 2p and would love to play with a higher count sometime. I think it also works great as a gateway to draw noobs into this thing. The beauty of it is also that it works great for experienced gamers cause it has meaningful decisions and some strategy to be found. I personally also enjoy the random elements like pulling out of the bag and catching the fish. The tag mechanism is also very cool because it creates tension when turning in the fish at the end because you get that vp per every fishy that matches the tag color. The components are top tier, the graphic design is the best I have ever seen on a board and it plays fast. More people should check out this gem.