A Feast for Odin
One of my birthday presents to myself was a copy of this monstrosity. It’s by the same guy who did Agricola and Ora et Labora, both of which I adore. So does my wife!
So I’m punching out the 400 million chits and my wife walks by, right? And she says “looks like the same theme as that farming game and that game about the monks.” She doesn’t really hook into the names of things, or the people behind them, but she’s absolutely killer at building economic engines.
Her use of “theme” caught my ear! I dug in a little and I think she means, like…thematic ingredients. Getting sets of one resource to turn them into another resource. Paying ongoing, escalating maintenance for workers. Old-timey dark-agey jobs on cards. I mean, she’s right. This game really does feel like a remix of everything Uwe Rosenberg has ever done.
I liked it a lot after a single three-player game last night. My use of the word “theme” doesn’t match my wife’s, though, and I really enjoyed the fact that the vast point-salad style of the game means having to choose a route and stick to it really tight. I started with animal husbandry, sheep specifically, but instead of drilling down on that — making wool, trading that wool up for better stuff — whaling caught my fancy. And then I was in the boat business, which I kind of had to be anyway since you need a kind of boat to really trade. And then I’ve lost the game, because I stupidly thought I could be a whaler and a shepherd. Nah brah, specialization is where it’s at.
There are literally 60-ish worker placement options on the big central board. You start with 6 workers, and all the placement spots cost between 1 and 4 workers. Even at the end of the game, when you have 12 meeples, you just can’t do everything. I was surprised at how not-confused I was at keeping 60-ish options at front-of-mind. Really they’ve got them bundled up into maybe 8 different broad categories of things: building ships and boats, hunting, raiding, trading, crafting, farming, whatever. It’s not bad but I know I lost hard because I didn’t really understand how to follow my development to its logical conclusion. I started with a sheep and ended with five sheep and a nice enough spread of goods on my homeland, and ended up last. It feels like a good metaphor for life.
Anyway, get this! The game comes with an entire book with nothing but essays about Viking life as expressed through the game! It’s turned out to be a super interesting resource for Sagas of the Icelanders. Iceland is one of the places your Vikings can go explore, too, which is neat.
Top marks, can’t wait to play again.