Shipwrights of the North Sea
The work of a Viking is never done. Whether it’s sailing to the ends of the earth for a bloodthirsty battle or acquiring resources (somewhat questionably) for the tribe at home, a day’s work is full of action-packed, awe-inspiring, vicious reputation-gaining adventure and thrills.
But that’s only one side of the tale.
Shipwrights of the North Sea offers a new perspective into the year 900 A.D. Before the warfare, before the blood and violence and traveling to pillage and plunder for glory, there were craftsmen. This is their story.
Each tribe has a particular section of land near the Sea, a vibrant community where townsfolk and marauders live in harmony. Those who don’t seek the glory of the ages find fulfilling work in building ships in the workshops, running the mill, or supporting the families in the village.
While the workshops and village serve mostly as locations for housing ships and people, the mill serves a second purpose: not only to store available resources, but also to help make money. That helps to build buildings, which give more victory points towards declaring the craftiest shipwright of all.
Each round represents a day in the life of a shipwright. As with any tradesman, work begins early. The different tribes gather together to share the first round of resources of the day: a deck built of ships, craftsmen and townsfolk cards.
Now, one would think for a shipwright, the most important cards ought to be ships. After all, they give gold and regulate how many workers can be assigned the following day - they even award victory points towards becoming the greatest tribe of all! However, specialized craftsman, skilled in the art of making a particular kind of ship, are equally valuable. One cannot simply build a Busse without a decent carpenter.
Using a drafting system, each player collects three cards to help guide their actions later in the turn. Because each card is unique and helps in an unusual way, it may be useful to collect a variety of cards to be better prepared, but whatever the strategy, keep an eye out for neighboring townsfolk. They try to help any way they can, even by some questionable means…
Once the day’s responsibilities and resources are assigned, it’s time to work. There are a variety of actions available, and players can take any or all of them: buy goods or a tool, hire a craftsman, call on townsfolk, begin or finish constructing a ship, or construct a building.
Regardless of how many actions they choose – or how many times they perform an action – players must play or discard all three cards from the morning draft. This is where it can be tricky: craftsmen can be “reserved”, and hired a different day instead of being played right away, but ship and townsfolk cards must be played directly. Now, there are plenty of ships in the sea, so discarding one may not be a terrible thing. Townsfolk, however, are an entirely different matter.
Townsfolk cards each have a special ability, available only for one turn for whomever holds their card. Whereas the craftsmen focus on putting their skills to work, townsfolk live to mettle in the affairs of others. The Conspirator moves a craftsman from an opponent to his own team, the Raider pillages another player’s gold supply, and the Thief steals goods for their own use. There are good villagers, like the Watchman (who keeps everyone – and everything – safe for a turn) but nonviolent tribe members are difficult to find…
Finally, once darkness falls, the drama and chaos of the day is complete. Shipwrights from each tribe return to their homes to rest and review the events from earlier: did they complete any ships? How many workers helped with construction, and did the village benefit from completed ships? Did ANY kind of progress happen today?
During the night, player resources of Gold and Workers are refilled, and the tribe rests. Tomorrow will be another full day, but for now, there is peace.
Shipwrights of the North Sea is yet another victory in Renegade’s winning line of board games. By blending a bit of familiar gameplay with new twists and turns, they’ve created yet another “new standard” for the shelf. Young shipwrights as well as old will enjoy trying their hand at one of the oldest professions in history, and will certainly delight in the trickery that may go with it.