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Deck the Viking halls

Yule, as you may know, was A Feast for Odin in the old days.

The eponymous board game has some special seasonal tiles available as an add-on, so when I played it today I tried to decorate my Viking settlement with them. A Feast for Odin is a thematic eurogame. You can produce and gather resources, go out to explore and settle, or even raid and pillage your way into prosperity. There are some 60 action spaces on the board, plus free actions and occupations to take. This means in the solo game you can pretty much run a simulation of any part of Viking life you're interested in. To get the seasonal tiles I was going to need a lot of money, or a longship to steal them. I decided to build a ship.

There are seven rounds in a play. You start with harvesting, so you'll always have some food available. You also get a weapon every round, that you can use for hunting, whaling, or raiding. During the game your village will grow automatically and you'll have more workers available. That you don't have to worry too much about food or workers, is a big plus for me. You can focus on your goals and the actions to take.

In the solo game, you play with two colours, and you leave the workers on the board for one extra round, effectively blocking your future self. Rosenberg uses this principle in more games and it's really fun puzzling out your long term strategy. After every worker has taken an action, you get some income, your animals start breeding and then you hold your feast.

Unlike most eurogames, some actions involve a little luck. For activities like hunting and raiding you have to roll a die. You can re-roll, use weapons or resources and improve your boats to add points to your roll, but it may and will sometimes go wrong. This time I should be very good at whaling, but I managed a terrible roll. No whales in sight that day. No extra goods that turn - and the action space blocked for the next turn. Fortunately my raids went better.

The village board is made up with empty spaces in a grid and a lot of those spaces have negative victory points printed on them. Any luxury goods you craft or steal can be used to cover up those spaces. Ships, buildings, discovered lands, emigrations and occupations will then give you points. This way you have to try to get from -100 to 100 points. I was so focused to get hold of the tree, sleigh and skis that I forgot to work on my overall score. I ended at 48 points.

But with a festive board, and I think that may have pleased Odin.


Update: the complete series:

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