Is Nusfjord the best solo filler eurogame? I'm not a seasoned eurogamer but I would bet it is. It plays very fast -a session lasts approximately half an hour- but it has enough depth to feel like a full, non-filler game.
Nusfjord came into my collection soon after I purchased Hallertau, so the comparison is inevitable, although they play and feel different. Hallertau is a longer game, the card play is more dynamic, and it only resembles Nusfjord in that you may block yourself in the worker placement phase. I was not a fan of the free-wheeling community center and the rolling rocks, however, they just seemed weird and unthematic.
Nusfjord is a pleasant efficiency puzzle. The artwork does give the impression of a fishing village, although the buildings are unfortunately nothing more than text and points. I never feel like I'm building a house, a castle, or a fishing facility, but as the game is quick and quite engrossing, I don't mind that much.
I'm writing this article after having finished a campaign, that is three sessions in a row with the same fish deck (it was herring this time). I did poorly and scored 77 points out of 100. Truth be told, I'm not a very patient and methodical player. I never suffer from AP and take my turns fast, spending a few minutes to look at the available building cards before I decide on my actions. I never stop to calculate how many points I have amassed mid-game, and I'm often surprised by the (bad) results ("I built 3 schooners and one cutter, how the heck did I score so low?").
Even though I like the idea of the elders, I find most of them useless. I tend to pick the same two old men most of the time: the one who lets you build a ship or a building, and the one who turns a ship into a better ship. The bonuses of the others are not that great, and I don't see why I would waste my hard-earned fish on them. I'm sure the Norwegian state gives good enough pensions, they can buy their own meals. It also seems odd to issue shares in a small village in the Lofoten, but what do I know.
The Building cards offer enough variety to ensure replayability, although I wish I could get hold of the recently released Lachs expansion (out of stock everywhere). I wasn't blown away by Nusfjord at first, but the more I played, the more I appreciated it. It's hard to call it fascinating but it has always been satisfying. It really is not easy to find such a deep game with such a short play time, and for this reason alone, I consider it a very good, even great, solo game.
PS. Pulp's Help the Aged is stuck in my head ever since I typed the word 'elders'.