Many large old oaks had already been felled to build the longship, but the ship was still far from being finished. The present ship occupied much more space than the last one that was built here. The new ship had to be big, because for her next long voyage to the rich south, the ship should be prepared. This ship would strike fear into her enemies from afar. They were sure of honor and respect from the gods.
Shipwrights of the North Sea is the first game by Garphill Games from the North Sea Saga. You play the leader of a village, who uses his followers to build different types of ships. Each ship type needs different resources. These resources have to be collected first, for this we use gold. We get the gold from our workers, the more workers we have, the more gold we get.
However, the three resources wood, iron and wool are not always equally expensive, the prices change from round to round. And so it can happen that in one round you pay only 1 gold for 1 wood and in the next round already three. Therefore we also need special craftsmen who can build exactly the type of ship we have on our building sites. To have some choice there, we can build a maximum of 2 ships. Once a player has built his 4th ship, the game ends and the victory points are counted.
Shipwrights of the North Sea in detail
Shipwrights of the North Sea is a fast card game with a resource management not to be underestimated. There are three phases in each round, referred to as a day in the game. In the morning phase the players draw cards, using a draft mechanism. At the end of this phase each player has exactly three new cards in his hand.
Once this phase is complete, there is phase two, the afternoon phase. During this phase, work is done and each player takes turns performing one action. To do this, you can hire craftsmen from your hand. However, you only have a limited number of free spaces in your village and not every craftsman can build all ships. If you make a mistake, you will usually need an Assassin to clear the space. You should also think carefully about which ship you want to build. Once the ship is on the construction site, you cannot remove it easily.
Another action is to buy resources that you will need to complete your ship. These resources have fluctuating prices, determined by the number of resource symbols on the card backs of the draw pile. So it can happen that you have to decide whether you want to make a deal or wait another round, but it can also get worse. The last action you have left is to discard all cards you have in your hand.
Then only the last phase remains. The evening phase primarily serves the income of the player. You get as much gold as you have workers. After that you get at least one new worker, with a maximum of 8 workers. This maximum is also the capacity of the resources to be stored, more is not allowed to be stored overnight. If you still have more, you must discard any excess resources. Finally the starting player changes and a new day begins. The work starts again from the beginning.
The playing feeling
So you work your way along and slowly build your ships. You can only hinder the other players a little bit, mostly you only have the Assassin, with which you can kill the important craftsman to block your opponent. However, this is again very lucky, depending on which cards you draw in phase one. Since you can’t take any cards with you into the next round, it’s difficult to build a strategy that works a few rounds later.
The game can be explained quickly and after the first few rounds it goes pretty fast. However, as a beginner you will quickly fall into the trap of trying to build a ship and blocking your building site and then simply not getting the craftsmen you need into your hand. This can be very frustrating, especially during the first rounds and reduces the fun of the game a bit.
The Other Stuff
The quality of the game is on a high level, everything fits perfectly into the small box. The cards are linen finished and do not necessarily need to be sleeved. The graphics are from The Mico and are absolutely suitable. Soon you feel comfortable in your village. The resource tokens are made of wood. The whole game makes a very high-quality impression throughout.
The conclusion about Shipwrights of the North Sea
Shipwrights of the North Sea marks the beginning of the North Sea Saga. And you can feel that in the game. The game is very lucky. Soon you are missing one or the other card and you don’t know at the beginning if you should get the craftsmen first or the ships first.
The bottom line is a fast game, without large strategic depth, which does not really reduce the fun of the game. Those who don’t shy away from the luck factor will be rewarded with a good game for in between.