BOARD GAME RUMBLE with James and Mike
In this review James and Mike discuss Raiders of the North Sea.
James: I just received an email that my expansion for Raiders of the North Sea is on the way!
Mike: Nothing better than a shipping notification email.
J: That email prompted me to pull out the base game for one last sober game before the expansion comes.
M: The expansion you ordered adds beer right?
J: Yeah, why?
J: The components are top notch. Viking shaped meeples, nice wooden resources…
M: AND METAL COINS!
J: Cool metal coins, and the board…
M: Having metal coins makes a huge difference! Especially considering how often you handle them in this game. It just feels so good to go to the Silversmith and leave with a handful of heavy, beautiful coins.
J: Speaking of beautiful, as I was saying the board looks really great and the art on the cards is incredible. It’s one of those games where the first few plays you’re excited to pick up cards just to admire the illustrations on them.
M: It’s like by adding the metal coins, Shem (the designer) is saying, “you know what, I know I don’t have to do this, but I will. Because I care about you and I want you to enjoy playing this game as much as possible.”
J: The box is also smaller than normal. This is great for saving shelf space and fitting more nicely into your travel bag.
J: You are a viking warrior out to impress the Chieftain primarily through raiding (obviously).
M: The viking theme really comes alive here. You spend a bit of time in the village getting provisions and assembling a crew and then BAM! you raid an unsuspecting monastery and take all their gold and livestock!
J: And thanks to Valkyrie, one of the monks fought back and sent one of your crew members to a glorious death.
M: Which gives me points so it’s okay. I love when you hire someone to your crew solely for the purpose of losing them in battle to get you points. I just imagine standing in front of a group of gigantic bearded warriors snapping tree trunks in half and then there’s this skinny little man who can’t lift his axe. “Yeah, I’ll uh take the guy with the axe.”
J: Losing your crew can be painful though too. By the end of the game I genuinely feel attached to those that have been a part of my crew from the beginning.
M: So we agree. The theme really shines and makes the gameplay experience that much more enjoyable.
J: It feels thematic and looks great, but what about the gameplay?
M: It has a really cool twist on worker placement. Place a worker to do one action and then pick up a different worker to do a different action.
J: I agree it feels really fresh. It’s cool because you can’t always get two actions that you want, but you can always do at least one thing that you want to do.
M: But you also have to weigh what you want to do versus what you want to make available for your opponents. When you add in the fact that you need different coloured workers to do different actions, or to make actions more powerful, there are some really interesting decisions to make. However, some people who have played it have complained that you’re kind of just doing the same thing over and over. Get provisions, hire crew, raid, repeat.
J: While that describes the flow of the game in a basic sense, there’s a lot more to it than that. In addition to what we already talked about, you also need to make decisions on your crew, as who you hire will often guide your strategy. You need to choose where and when to raid to maximize points and plunder. You need to decide which plunder to keep for yourself and what you can afford to sacrifice to the chieftain. And above all, it’s just fun doing all that stuff!
M: I had a lot of fun with this game, but I’m definitely ready to add an expansion to spice things up a bit. I often play with people who can be a bit sensitive and was a bit concerned about there being a “take that” element in this game. I found in our games that this wasn’t an issue though.
J: Not at all. There’s not that many cards that negatively affect your opponents. To be honest, I never use them because I always seem to have a better option. Fear of “meanness” really shouldn’t hold people back from getting this game.
J: The game scales really well. Two player games are a lot of fun because you get to raid a lot of the settlements, but turns go quickly so higher player counts are great too.
M: I agree, but I’d say 3 hits the sweet spot of game speed and competition.
J: I can totally see why this game was nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres. Clever mechanisms, interesting decisions and awesome artwork all wrapped in an engaging theme. I can’t wait for the expansions!
M: I will admit that the fun factor has slightly faded for me after the first few plays, but I will always keep this game in my collection. This is a game I can bring out for both gamers and even most non-gamers and I know they’ll love it for all the reasons you stated above. Although I still enjoy my plays, I too am excited to see what happens when my crew discovers beer and starts embarking on drunken quests.
Update: You can see our review of the Hall of Heroes Expansion here.
- Last edited Tue Jan 16, 2018 5:42 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sat Jan 6, 2018 7:05 pm
We're pretty new to this whole review thing, but have benefited immensely in the past from others who take the time to write reviews on here and felt it was time to contribute. Any comments or suggestions are very much appreciated. Thanks!
I protect the sheep in our society from the wolves.
Good review of the game. We have played it about 4 or 5 times with both 2 and 3 players and think that it plays just fine with both player counts. I really like the board and components. I agree that the metal coins and the whimsical card art is a nice touch. One of the things that I really like is how quick this game is to learn and to teach others and the fact that most games finish in under an hour. I am anxious to try the other 2 games in the series, Shipwrights of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea as well as the expansions for this game.
Good review of the game. We have played it about 4 or 5 times with both 2 and 3 players and think that it plays just fine with both player counts. I really like the board and components. I agree that the metal coins and the whimsical card art is a nice touch. One of the things that I really like is how quick this game is to learn and to teach others and the fact that most games finish in under an hour. I am anxious to try the other 2 games in the series, Shipwrights of the North Sea
and Explorers of the North Sea
as well as the expansions for this game.
Thank you. I'm interested in Shipwrights and Explorers too. We just received the Hall of Heroes expansion yesterday and played our first game with it last night. First impression was fantastic.
Really like your reviews with the back and forth discussion, it's pleasant to read!
For Raiders of the North Sea in particular, I think you nailed the important points about the game. I really love the simplicity, the theme, the flow of the game and especially the artwork in general.
The thing that keeps me from buying this game is the kind of repetitive actions in the village to prepare a raid and the fact that even if you collect a fair amount of points going in the fortress in the end, I don't have the impression of achieving something really great (like collecting a big treasury with a lot of stuff, going in an epic final battle or something like that).