The last ton of smoked fish is loaded onto the proud longship, which is anchored in the small fjord. Proudly the brave Norsemen sing a song to say goodbye. Before them are the lands of the south with their riches. The simple fishing settlements along the coast will not be able to withstand much. The well protected monasteries in the hinterland will be surprised by the attacks of the raiders.
Raiders of the North Sea – Workerplacement 2.0
Raiders of the North Sea is the second game from the North Sea Saga by Garphill Games. Our shipwrights from the first part have now finished building the ships. Now we’ll travel across the sea to other countries where we collect raw materials to make our Jarl happy. But before we can set sail, we first have to equip the ship. This is done for all players in the same home village. Here we place our only Viking we have on one of the free places and take the action. As far as known, so unspectacular. After the action has been executed, we now pick up that Viking from another location where there is already a Viking. And execute the corresponding local action. The actions consist of drawing cards, producing silver, increasing your strength or giving something to your Jarl to increase your favor.
Heading for new shores
Once you have gathered all the necessary resources, you can finally carry out your first raid. The same game principle applies here again. I place a viking on the free field of the target, for example harbors, monasteries or fortresses. Then you take the resources that are there. Afterwards you take the viking that is above the field back into your hand. This can also be a different coloured viking. Because besides black vikings there are also grey and white vikings. This means that in the next turn you will have partially improved actions available to you. Since you do not intentionally attack other players, you only have the option of blocking other players by cleverly placing and picking up vikings again.
Mine, yours, our pawns
Sometimes you have no choice but to use your newly acquired valuable white viking again. Because you can’t put the same viking back on your hand that you put before. After a raid, the resources must first be collected laboriously together again in order to face the next raid. What at first glance may seem confusing to new players, is still a very fast game. The clear illustration of the game board is very helpful. And so even newcomers will quickly get into the game.
Endless victory points
What takes a bit of familiarization, however, is the final scoring here. In contrast to other Eurogames, you can’t build up a really good oiled point machine to generate victory points. There are simply too many ways to get victory points. For example, you can convert resources into victory points by giving them to your tribe chief. However, the boss is picky and not every resource makes him happy, the exact amount is determined randomly.
Furthermore you can get victory points by raiding settlements. If vikings die while attacking a settlement, this is not that bad, because Valhalla calls. And the more vikings are in Valhalla, the more victory points you get at the end of the game. Or you can use the special abilities of some of your vikings, which give you extra victory points, for example by attacking a harbour.
These dynamics will decide who is the greatest viking of all times only at the end of the game. So it is quite possible that the battered player takes the lead due to his military strength. While one of the main aspects of the game is the raid on other settlements, this topic is handled very abstractly. Therefore, the game can also be played with younger board players.
Raiders of the North Sea – Quality at a low price
The quality of the components is excellent. All resources come in wood and other tokens are made of thick cardboard. The cards are linen finished and therefore quite stable. In any case, you should buy the metal coins in addition, they just feel good. The runes on them help you to feel even more immersed in the world of the vikings. And when everything fits into the small square box without any problems, the good quality is reflected consistently.
The well-known artist The Mico is again responsible for the graphics, using the same characters that have already appeared in the other North Sea publications.
The game is published in English by Garphill Games. I There are already supplies and if all goes well, you should be able to expand you viking village in November this year. There will be two new extensions in the shops.
Final thoughts on Raiders of the North Sea
In short, I like this game. And it’s the little things that Shem Philips put in. Be it the Vikings’ set and draw mechanism, the resource management where you have to decide when to raid which target, the composition of the ship’s crew through cards, where each card has two different functions, one permanent and one immediate. And so it goes on and on.
Then there are the really well-designed components that simply make you feel drawn into the game. You struggle with yourself, which viking you will send to Valhalla when you are forced to. You give your fellow player a bad look when he pulls an Assassin out of his hat and he kills one of my important raiders to take revenge on him two rounds later in the same way.
The only downside is that you always have to convince newcomers that the game is not difficult. Because at first glance there are too many ways to generate points. There are too many targets to raid, too many cards to play and too many places in the village that also offer different actions depending on the color of the Viking.
But once you start playing, all these possibilities are reduced to a manageable number that any newcomer can easily master.
For me, this game from the complete North Sea Saga is the best and was quite rightly standardized for the 2017 Kennerspiel. Nevertheless, it’s also worth a look at the other two games of the series Shipwrights of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea.