The Cardboard Hoard: Review of Raiders of the North Sea
Raiders of the North Sea is the second game of the North Sea trilogy of games, along with Shipwrights of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea, all of which were designed by New Zealander Shem Phillips and Kickstarted by his Garphill Games publishing company. The game is a Viking themed worker placement where players will vie to raid surrounding territories to score the highest point total.
Raiders of the North Sea is a worker placement where players always have one worker. When they place that worker, they take that associated action, but may not pick that worker back up that turn. They have to pick up a worker on a different space of the board, and they get to take that second action as well. They then keep that worker to repeat this sequence on their next turn.
Available actions include drawing cards, stocking up on resources including provisions and silver, hiring crew, increasing armor, making offerings to the chieftain, and raiding.
There are three different colors of workers -- black, grey, and white. Only some colors of workers can be placed on certain spaces, and other spaces give different amounts of resources or bonuses depending on the color of the worker placed there. Where the communal workers are placed and what color they are becomes a critical part of the game, keeping players engaged on the game during opponents turns as their opponents' moves determine their options.
The players are also racing to raid each of the twenty-something locations to get choice loot, victory points, and set off the end of the game. Balancing when to spend actions increasing resources and crew, and when to raid is another critical and interesting decision point in the game.
Pros: Unique twist to worker placement, bright, colorful and intuitive board design, beautifully illustrated cards, nice wooden bits and metal coins, a good amount of depth for a game that plays in an hour, scales well from two to four players, small box considering everything contained inside.
Cons: No direct combat, and little direct player interaction (a few cards allow stealing resources from opponents), although there is passive interaction in where opponents place the communal workers. While not everyone will find this to be a negative, in the context of a Viking game with the word "Raiders" in its title, it is worth mentioning.
Due to the combination of its Viking theme, beautiful artwork, a unique twist on worker placement, Raiders of the North Sea is one of my favorite worker placement games. I look forward to seeing what the two upcoming expansions -- Raiders of the North Sea: Hall of Heroes and Raiders of the North Sea: Fields of Fame -- add to the base game.