A Feast for Odin

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.

6 thoughts on “A Feast for Odin”

  1. Nice write-up! There is so much to get out of games like this, like metal exercise and play time. I just wish I could grok these games. Whenever I play them, once every two or three years, my brain hits a wall. It’s almost impossible for me to make a longterm plan. It’s like, “Hey, I wanna do a thing.” I do the thing two turns later and am satisfied. Meanwhile everyone else actually has an engine built. And then my family starves.

  2. I collect Rosenberg games. I think iI miss 3 or 4. This is probably his most refined of the Harvest Series (ok, almost all his games are about harvest engines, but I mean the offsprings of Agricola). I have yet to play Nusfjord though, so maybe that’s the current apex of refinement.

    His forest trilogy is different though. I really recommend Patchworks as gateway drug, or to flesh out any gamer collection.

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