Raiders of the North Sea from Garphill Games
‘Raiders of the North Sea is set in the central years of the Viking Age. As Viking warriors, players seek to impress the Chieftain by raiding nearby settlements. Players will need to assemble a crew, collect provisions and journey north to plunder gold, iron and livestock. There is glory to be found in battle, even at the hands of the Valkyrie. So gather your warriors, it’s raiding season!’
3 words to describe this game: Vikings, raiding, plunder
Gameplay: In this game, you place a worker on a free space and complete an action and then pick up a worker and complete an action. You always end your turn with a worker in your hand. So you begin in your village, gaining silver and provisions in order to sail across the sea and raid harbours, outposts, monasteries and fortresses. Denoted on the map are the resources and crew you will need to be able to raid certain areas. Some areas can be raided without a fight, others you will need the strength of your crew to yield the most victory points available. There are three scoring tracks around the outside of the board: armour, Valkyrie and victory points. Armour points can be bought in the village, Valkyrie are gained during raids and can be lucrative and then each time you raid and fight in different areas you score victory points. The person with the most victory points wins the game. This is a worker placement game which involves timing your raids and your resource collection, building a strong army but one in which you can lose some crew in order to gain Valkyrie points and making choices about how to use cards and when to complete different actions in order for you to beat your opponent!
1 Gameboard - laid out like a map this tells the story of the game. During the game, you collect provisions and ready your crew, then sail across the North Sea to raid villages and plunder goods. The board allows you to immerse yourself in this idea. I love that the scoring is incorporated around the outside of the board so that other than your crew and resources everything is contained within the one board
16 offering tiles - thick tiles well made and easy to read
Wooden pieces - (12 score markers,18 Valkyrie,18 Gold, 18 Iron, 26 Livestock, 32 Provisions, 7 Black workers, 11 Grey workers, 12 White workers)
These are nicely made; the idea that different colour workers give you different resources and unlock different areas of the map is a mechanic I really enjoy in this game. The resources are fine and represent the different items in the game. The only one thing that nibbles me is that the gold doesn’t look like gold and is the same shape as iron just yellow. The fact that they have metal coins in this game make me think it would not have been too far to have added a more gold looking token for the game perhaps something like they have in Everdell with the resources. This is a tiny thing and really doesn’t affect gameplay; just aesthetically the metal coins are so nice I would have loved it if the other resources were as tactile and exciting
Silver coins - metal coins - yes! Yes! Yes!
1 black bag - bag is only used to randomly select resource placement and not used in gameplay so yes it’s fine for what it does but it’s just a bag
2 Averaging dice - two red dice for working out raiding scores
71 townsfolk cards - artwork on these is great and I love they have multiple purposes - you can use them to add to your crew or to play as an action perhaps stealing resources or getting a a reduction on offerings etc.
4 ships cards - in each player colour and they are used again in two versatile ways; one as a reminder about how many crew and resources you can hold and to remember your score should you score over 50
Overall thoughts: This game takes a little getting used to but it’s totally worth putting in the time. We found remembering to pick up your worker after you place one tricky in our initial game but you soon pick it up and it makes for a really interesting game as you have to balance what you want to do with what you want to allow your opponents to do.
The theme is fun and it’s cool to make decisions about which places to raid and when to do it. Strategy is important as it is possible to get stuck trying to gain resources if you spend them all early on ransacking some of the trickier places. You have to manage your resources and plan for future turns which all makes this such a great game. There are so many options you want to take but you are limited to where there are meeples for your second action. The different colour meeples allow you to gain different resources and use different spots so it’s a massive puzzle of where can you go and which move will be the most lucrative at the time.
This is a fantastic worker placement game. Not as difficult as something like Viticulture but it is fun and enjoyable. It makes me want to play other games by this publisher and designer and I’m excited to introduce others to this game.
Thank you to Shem at Garphill Games for kindly sending me this copy to review.