Explorers of the North Sea

Raiding. Pillaging. Longboats. Axes. Beards. Braids. What is it about Norse men and women that keeps us so enthralled with this theme? One can’t deny that Viking society has a rich history and culture which game designers can draw upon for games as simple as providing a feast for a god, or building longboats or even mythical, and fantastical combat as the world ends.

Renegade Games Studios have had enormous success with the games in The North Sea Trilogy. Explorers of the North Sea: Rocks of Ruin is an expansion for both Explorers of the North Sea and The North Sea Saga. Designer, Shem Phillips, is adding new ways to score with players able to salvage shipwrecks, build structures, and raid fortresses. Salvaging shipwrecks provides provisions for extra actions, or timber to build structures, or battering rams to make raiding fortresses easier, or gold which is worth Victory Points. This expansion also adds a 5th player and features art by Mihajlo Dimitrievski. It’s expected to release April 2018.

In June, 2018, IELLO are releasing Raids. This viking themed game seems more combat oriented as players compete against each other as they try to retrieve treasure and earn glory. Players have ships which they sail from island to island to collect Vikings, Viking related paraphernalia, and fight monsters for points. Vikings can even board each other’s ships to attack one another. The game is designed by Matthew Dunstan and Brett J. Gilbert (who both designed Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time) with art by BibounRaids will support 2-4 players, aged 10+, and will play in roughly 40 mins.

Renegade Game Studios had previously announced that they would be the English language printer for the Spiel des Jahres nominee Raiders of the North Sea from Garphill Games. In a new press release, Renegade has stated that they will expand this partnership to include all the games of the North Sea Trilogy, including the campaign expansion.

Raiders of the North Sea is a unique worker placement game, in which players gain an action for placing their meeple, but also gain a second action by picking up a new meeple. The meeples on the board come in three colors, and the spaces on the board are color limited. Add a great viking theme of building armies, collecting crew and pillaging outposts, and you have an excellent game, worth of the Spiel nomination.

Shipwrights of the North Sea is a card game where 2-5 players collect artisans and resources, racing to be the first to construct their viking long ships. Various nefarious characters can be recruited to help the player succeed or hinder their competition.

Explorers of the North Sea is a tile laying, pick up and deliver game for 1-4. Players sail their vikings in plastic boats from island to island, picking up livestock, raiding villages and constructing outposts. Points are awarded for sets of collected items, and for completing islands by playing tiles.

The North Sea Rune Saga is an expansion which ties all three games into one large campaign for those brave enough to live the full viking life.

All of the North Sea Games are designed by Shem Phillips, and include gorgeous artwork by Mihajlo Dimitrievski. Look for the trilogy of games from Renegade in Q4 2017. You can read the full press release on Renegade Games’ website here.

Another week, and another round of Kickstarters to deliver a pounding to your wallet.

First up is an expansion to an award winning game, and that is Beasts of Balance Battles.  Beasts of Balance is a hybrid game where you stack geometrically shaped animals on a platform, and those animals then appear in an app you run to play the game.  Throughout the game you will moving, combining, and stacking animals in an effort to have the highest score in the app by the end of the game.  This is because while you may just stack animals in real life, in the app each action has differing effects, making this dexterity game much more interesting.  What Battles adds to the game is cards that have effects that attack and remove your opponents animals.  There are also a volcano to contend with now and divine guardians that give you special abilities during the game.  So if you want to expand your Beast of Balance game, or jump into the game now, check out the Kickstarter.

Next up is a new tile placement and area control type game called Overworld.  This game aims to capitalize on the nostalgia of Super Nintendo era RPG games, evident in their choice of box design and the similarity of game pieces to quintessential RPG characters.  In this game you are slowing building out the map, and whenever you completely surround an empty square, that becomes a dungeon.  Who controls the dungeon is determined by who holds a majority in all orthogonal directions.  At the end of the game you will trace a route through all your dungeons and however many spaces it takes will be your final score, and most points is the winner.  One other things to mention about this project is the puzzle lock system they came up with for the tiles, essentially making it so that if the pieces fit together, it’s a legal placement of the tile, a nice innovation to help simplify the game.  So if you are interested, head on over to the Kickstarter page to check out this 16-bit themed game.

After that we have a family weight game called Pepper and Carrot, the Potion Contest.  Pepper and Carrot is a tile manipulation game in that each turn you will be using action cards on the table or in your hand to manipulate tiles on your board.  What you are trying to do with those tiles is get the right ingredients connected together to form one of the three recipes on the main board.  Be the first to complete all three recipes and you are the winner.  There are also additional game modes including solo mode and Chaosah mode, where one player plays as an old witch needing only to complete one recipe, but they are at a disadvantage to the other players.  Art is excellent and very light, making this a great looking game.  Check out the Kickstarter today.

Next we have the latest game from Victory Point Games, a deck builder with a board type game called Renegade.  This is a cooperative game where you are playing hackers, fighting against the tyranny of the SMCs (super massive computers) that have brought the world to the brink.  You will use cards to generate resources on the board, and with those resources you can perform various actions to combat the SMCs.  As you generate resources, if you have three of the same kind in a spot you can convert it into an installation, allowing you access to more and stronger abilities.  As with other deck builders there will be a hackers deck that allows you to buy upgraded cards with better resources and abilities.  Can you stop the machines?  Check out the Kickstarter page for more information and to pledge.

Now we get to the smallest of the Kickstarter offerings I will be talking about, and that is Twin Stars by Button Shy Games, part of their Wallet Series of game.  These are a pack of solo game scenarios featuring the same game system, which utilizes four dice, some tokens, and three cards.  The path to victory in each game is very different, but the core of the game is dice rolling to get combinations of symbols to activate abilities.  The choices in the game come from deciding which dice to re-roll, can you accept a bad symbol combination resulting in a penalty, and how will you assign the dice to get the best effect possible.  Some of the scenarios have been released in other Kickstarters like the Rule the World and Escape the Brig, but here you will be able to get everything in one spot, including some unreleased scenarios.  Add in potential stretch goals and you could have lots of solo gaming for not much money.  Check out the Kickstarter page, and you can pledge for just the cards, supplying your own tokens and dice, or go deluxe and get everything you need to play in one package.

Finally we come to the last project I will mention, and that is an expansion to Explorers of the North Sea called Rocks of Ruin.  Explorers of the North Sea is a viking exploration game where you are sailing around in your longships, raiding towns, picking up livestock, deliver the livestock, and building outposts.  There are lots of ways to score points in the game and it came with 48 tiles giving it a play time of about an hour.  Rocks of Ruin adds new things to the game in the form of a 5th player, 24 more tiles that increase the map size by 50%, more buildings, fortresses, and shipwrecks that you can salvage.  So if you like Explorers of the North Sea, this expansion will just give you more of what you love, with the option of adding another friend to the game.  Also being included in this Kickstarter is a mini expansion for Runesaga, adding a fifth player to that along with three runestones and three inscription tiles.  So if you are interested in these expansions, head on over to he Kickstarter page.