It was time to get the ROTNS: Fields of Fame expansion to the table yesterday, after lunch, as I dealt with Jarls, who create a new element to deal with while pillaging and plundering.
As always, Shem's expansion seamlessly fits into the base game and solo mode, and brings even more fun to the table. 😀
Here's the setup. (*Disclaimer - The player board at the bottom of the base board is from the Hall of Heroes expansion - but why wouldn't you use the player boards whenever you play ROTNS!? 😉)
The new township board on the right hand side of the main board comes with the FoF expansion. It includes 3-new raiding locations (township), the fame track and the Jarl deck/discard piles. There are also the addition of wound tokens (*cue dramatic music*) 😯
Here is my starting hand and a view from our village as we prepare for the pillaging and plundering ahead! BUT can you see some of those light blue tokens on the main board? Those are Jarl tokens. Here's the new angle Shem Phillips adds to this already great game with this expansion. With Jarls in some locations you want to raid, you need to way your options a bit more prior to doing so... because now there may be consequences!
Here's the first of the Jarl's I encountered. This viking Jarl is now legendary in my mind for that reason. 🤣 When my crew encountered the Jarl named Iver on our first raid of the game, we knew going in there's a Jarl in this location. Unfortunately, until you arrive there you really don't know who they are, how powerful they may be or what you could get out of going into battle with them. It definitely makes me you think more and ensure you build up at least some decent military strength for your crew before venturing out into new lands.
When you encounter Jarls you have three options:
In this case with Iver, I subdued him. When you subdue (or kill) a Jarl your crew takes wounds which reduces your overall military strength of your crew. Subduing a Jarl has a -1 modifier; so you take the Jarl's strength (in this case Iver had a strength of 5) and subtract 1 for a total of 4-wounds from battle with him. A crew member can only take a number of wounds equal to their military strength (eg: Crew member with '2' military strength can take a maximum of '2' wounds). From there, you subdue them by convincing them to join your crew. You do this by paying the silver cost on the Jarl's card to help with the persuasion. In Iver's case, I paid 3 silver. And then we welcomed him to our crew! 😀
Here was the next Jarl we enountered on a raid a little while later...
Jarl Astrid was my first Jarl kill. Our crew was strong so we knew we could take her down. Same idea as with subduing, your encounter is still going to cause your crew to take wounds... after all a Jarl won't go down (or be subdued) without a fight! However when you're killing a Jarl, you take on wounds based on the Jarl's strength +1. In this battle, my crew took a total of 6-wounds. But it was worth it - we took her down!
When you kill a Jarl, your fame track increases by 2 because you're becoming more known throughout the lands. You only get fame when you kill a Jarl though, not when you subdue them or flee.
*You can also gain fame from going into a raid with more military strength than the maximum value of that location. I won't go into those details in this post, but just know thematically I love that. If you have a very strong crew, it only makes sense that your fame will be elevated throughout the lands!* 😉
Speaking of fleeing, I did that once too. 🤣 I learned that sometimes you think you can handle a Jarl in a raid, but once you get there and plunder you realize, "oh crap!" and you have no other options. When you flee from a Jarl you take no wounds, but you are punished for even attempting to take on the Jarl. The Jarl card is simply discarded, but you now must choose to lose 1VP or 1-Fame. Ouch!
Here's a shot of my crew following my encounter with Jarl Iver (seen on the right in my crew). They're all getting along now, but it took some convincing for sure. Understandably though. I mean, our crew did take some wounds from battle. So again to give you an idea; My Enforcer (left) has a strength of '3' but has taken on '2' wounds, so he now only offers 1 strength. Wounds create a bit more counting throughout the game at times, especially as you raise your military strength track and then count how much strength your crew has before raiding, but it's all good. It adds another element of depth and thinking to the game which I love.
"What happens if the Enforcer takes one more wound?" you ask... Thankfully he doesn't die. Remember, each crew member can only take up to their strength value in wounds. However it makes him so battered, that he's pretty useless. He'll offer a strength value of ZERO to the crew for our future raids. Some cards may still have on going effects (gain 1VP when raiding a harbour... just as a quick example) which you could still use from that wounded crew member despite them offering no strength. So they can still be useful for a time. Otherwise, you can remove wounds with the help of some townsfolk actions (seen on the bottom right of the Guardian card in the middle of my crew), or you replace them with a newly hired crew member. In which case, of course, all the wounds would be put back in the main supply.
I'm SO HAPPY to have the final expansion for Raiders of the North Sea in my collection. Did I win my first time playing with this one?? Absolutely not. 🤣 And it really doesn't matter - I loved it. Besides, I killed a Jarl! Like come on, that's amazing in itself right? These games are some of the most beautiful and colourful to bring out to the table, and they're so much fun to play! My next step is definitely going to be playing with the Fields of Fame AND Hall of Heroes expansion.
Another note before I end this post is that this expansion also offers two optional variants to the game! One is it recommends a card draft when playing 4-players or more at the start of the game. I think that's really cool, but honestly I didn't read any further than that because that rarely will happen in my case.
The other variant however I know will come into play eventually for me, as my viking bravery increases....
These two new dice would replace the dice from the base game. They have the same values, but as you can see they also have a valkyrie symbol as well (*cue that dramatic music again..*). This means, you risk even more when raiding some of the locations. You may go into a raid knowing one crew member won't make it out alive because there's a valkyrie token amongst the plunder. BUT, once you roll these die you could also end up losing one or even two more crew members... Yikes! I'm sure you'd move up the valkyrie track quicker using these, but one thing is for certain; you'll be able to cut the viking tension with a knife during these games!