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Board Game: Greenland (Third Edition)
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Subject: Let's Talk About Greenland rss

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Jeremy Sherwood
Canada
Three Hills
Alberta
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Basic Overview: In Greenland each player controls one of the tribes/cultures present in Greenland from the 11th to 15th centuries, trying to survive and come out on top in an increasingly harsh climate. This is primarily a worker placement game with dice rolling. At the start of each round an event card is revealed, with various—usually negative—results, and perhaps an imported item which players may bid on to take into their tableau. Then each player, in turn, will assign tribesmen as elders (for special abilities) or hunters (to collect resources). Two rows of cards represent hunting opportunities in north and south Greenland, respectively. When two or more players assign hunters to the same location they will have to negotiate a deal so that only one side remains, or else attack each other. Once that's settled, players will roll dice to see if their hunts are successful. Dice rolls may be modified by daughters/wives, elders, domesticated animals, and inventions, allowing for re-rolls of certain numbers or counting certain numbers as a 1 (success). Additionally, each player has one Alpha hunter who auto-rolls success. After all hunt rolls are completed and the results accounted for, players will next benefit from any domesticated animals they have, feeding them if necessary. Lastly, they may take elder actions, such as domesticating an animal, crafting a tool/invention, or converting to monotheism. Then the next round begins, repeating the process until the event deck is depleted and all ten rounds have been completed. Players who survive to the end will score points for population, and either trophies (for polytheists) or resources (for monotheists).

To break this down I'll use the “TARGET” system that I've appreciated in Zee Garcia's reviews.

Thematic Ties: Excellent. This is why I love the game. It is deeply thematic, and the theme and mechanisms are well integrated. Just like the real Greenlanders, players face challenging and unforeseen events, tough choices about what to do with limited resources, hunts that don't always go as planned, and maybe even aggressive/proselytizing neighbours. Each card in the game has a full paragraph of educational flavour text, and there is even more information included in footnotes in the rulebook. This game has taught me much about the peoples, animals, climate, and history of Greenland, and for that I am grateful.

Aesthetics: Really nice. The artwork is simple and clean, and the components are high quality. I have not owned previous editions, but from what I understand, this third edition is “deluxe” in regard to the components. I can't imagine liking the game as much as I do if it had the old cubes for hunters instead of meeples. The meeples are even uniquely shaped for each culture! Resource disks are thick and have textured patterns appropriate to each type. The dice (which are small) are clear blue and look like little ice cubes. The cards feel to be of good quality.

Replayability: High. The game is highly variable, as you will only see ten out of seventeen event cards per game, and maybe half the biome (hunting ground) cards, in different combinations from game to game. There are different strategies to try, and the game may have a very different feel depending on who you play with and their style of play.

Game Length: Appropriate. It feels like a good length, in that 1-2 hour range. It gives enough time for the scope of the theme, without overstaying its welcome.

Ease of Play: Hard to learn at first, but fairly easy after that. Working through the first play with the rulebook as guide was the real survival game. We survived, and once we understood all the basic rules the game has a straightforward feel. However, there are many little rules to remember and the rulebook is always kept handy and often referenced.

Tactics/Strategy: Plenty to think about. Where to use the Alpha is one of the most interesting decisions on any turn, as he is a rare source of certainty in an uncertain game. You have to always be assessing priorities and probabilities (e.g. Is it more important right now to restock my energy supply or go for that trophy? Do I spread my hunters across multiple cards for the highest potential returns, or lump them together for the best odds of success?) For a game with so much luck—random events, dice rolling—it definitely rewards good planning. My wife and I have seen our scores increase from game to game as we learn better strategies.

Final Thoughts: This is a great game. 9/10 rating from me. The only other thing I want to mention is player conflict: there can be a lot of it if any player wants it. My wife and I play this in a very non-confrontational way, without attacking, raiding, or proselytizing each other's tribes at all. I like it that way; not sure how it would be as a more cutthroat experience.

Congratulations and thanks to Phil Eklund and Sierra Madre games for putting together an excellent game, one of my favourites!
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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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“I can't imagine liking the game as much as I do if it had the old cubes for hunters instead of meeples.”

Really??

Wow.
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mi_de wrote:
“I can't imagine liking the game as much as I do if it had the old cubes for hunters instead of meeples.”

Really??

Wow.
Yeah, I much prefer cubes. I find meeples to be too "cutesy" and add nothing to the gameplay. In fact, if I buy a game with meeple the first thing I do is sub cubes or pawns.

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Jeremy Sherwood
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Yes, I like the meeples. I'm sure I would still enjoy the game with cubes, just a little less. meeple
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Jesse
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Thanks for the review! My copy should be arriving tomorrow, I'm excited to dig in! I'm glad to hear you can play fairly peacefully, my wife and I tend to prefer games with minimal direct conflict as well.

(Put me down for meeples too )

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lucky henry wrote:
Yeah, I much prefer cubes. I find meeples to be too "cutesy" and add nothing to the gameplay. In fact, if I buy a game with meeple the first thing I do is sub cubes or pawns.
I happen to prefer cubes over plastic miniatures.
But I also completely agree that a nice production with custom meeples enhances the experience.

I'm with both of you.
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I'm for having cubes, most of the time, for two reasons:

1) Am am getting real sick of the components arms race (actually it is more like a pissing contest) that is, often, making games more expensive than they need to be.

2) For some games, where I have to pick up a bunch of markers, like in Greenland, and place them somewhere and move them around it is surely a lot easier to do this with a bunch of cubes...unless you don't mind having your fancy plastic miniatures falling over (but then what is the point?)...if you do mind, then you have to place them one at a time to make sure they are all standing upright.

That being said, I like the meeples used in Greenland. They aren't generic (they are pretty thematic too) and they are pretty easy to handle in a clump.
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Akis Iosifidis
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dakary wrote:

1) Am am getting real sick of the components arms race (actually it is more like a pissing contest) that is, often, making games more expensive than they need to be.
That! I totally agree with you.

But I also like meeples like those in Greenland and Neanderthal.

Plus the box/space situation,
it is so helpful that the game comes in a small but adequate box!
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I wish the box was a touch bigger. I have trouble fitting everything in with sleeved cards (I know, I know, sleeving is stupid blah blah blah).
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Jesse
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dakary wrote:
I wish the box was a touch bigger. I have trouble fitting everything in with sleeved cards (I know, I know, sleeving is stupid blah blah blah).
I find the same thing, if I'm very careful I can close it snugly but most of the time the lid ends up sitting a millimetre or two up. Not the end of the world though, taking up minimal shelf space makes up for it in my opinion!

I prefer meeples to cubes, but either to miniatures, when it comes to board games. I enjoy painting miniatures and I play tabletop wargames, but growing up playing Games Workshop games has left me with a healthy skepticism when it comes to games that encourage or necessitate using specific miniatures I'm sure I'll end up passing up on some good games but there isn't exactly a shortage of stuff to play!
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Jeremy Sherwood
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boyfights wrote:
dakary wrote:
I wish the box was a touch bigger. I have trouble fitting everything in with sleeved cards (I know, I know, sleeving is stupid blah blah blah).
I find the same thing, if I'm very careful I can close it snugly but most of the time the lid ends up sitting a millimetre or two up. Not the end of the world though, taking up minimal shelf space makes up for it in my opinion!
Do any of you use the modifier tracking board? I never do, so I took it out and then everything else fits nicely. I appreciate the compact box. The lid is quite loose, however, (at least on mine) so a rubber band is a must if I want to take it anywhere.
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Jesse
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Jeremy Sherwood wrote:
Do any of you use the modifier tracking board? I never do, so I took it out and then everything else fits nicely. I appreciate the compact box. The lid is quite loose, however, (at least on mine) so a rubber band is a must if I want to take it anywhere.
That's not a bad idea! I've only played it solo so far and didn't really figure out what the modifier board was even for until 7 or 8 plays in, I'm sure most people could get by fine without it. Lately I've been playing solo with multiple tribes though using the 2nd edition rules/scenario and the tracker has been much more useful, it really speeds things up when you have 8-10 hunts to resolve!
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