Shipwrights of the North Sea

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RRP £59.99
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Shipwrights of the North Sea is set in the early years of the Viking Age, circa 900 AD. As Viking shipwrights, players compete to build the greatest fleet on the North Sea. Players must collect oak, wool and iron, as well as The aim of Shipwrights of the North Sea is to be the player with the most Victory Points at the games end. Points are gained by constructing various Ships and B…
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Category Tags , , , , SKU ZBG-RGS0587 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Great Artwork.
  • With the expansion, you have a choice to mitigate the take that element.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Good quality components.

Might Not Like

  • Overdone theme & you never feel like a viking.
  • Game feels like it went on far too long.
  • Rule book not clear.
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Description

Shipwrights of the North Sea is set in the early years of the Viking Age, circa 900 AD. As Viking shipwrights, players compete to build the greatest fleet on the North Sea. Players must collect oak, wool and iron, as well as

The aim of Shipwrights of the North Sea is to be the player with the most Victory Points at the game’s end. Points are gained by constructing various Ships and Buildings. The game ends after the round where 1 or more players constructs their 4th ship.

Gameplay Overview

The game is played over a series of days (rounds). Each day follows the same pattern:

Morning Phase - Planning (Each player receives 3 cards)
Afternoon Phase - Working (Players take actions and play or discard their 3 cards)
Evening Phase - Resting (Players receive Gold and Workers for the next day)

Printed Components

128 Cards - Featuring 46 unique and stunning illustrations
5 Beautifully Illustrated Player Boards
5 Player Reference Boards
1 Illustrated Rulebook
1 Pioneer Token
5 VP Markers

Wooden Components

5 Gold Ships
25 Oak
25 Wool
25 Iron
50 Workers

After seeing the Expansions for Explorers of The North Sea on Kickstarter I tried hunting down a copy of the base game to review as it looked like a game I would enjoy. Worker placement and Vikings are very much an over done thing lately but luckily for me I enjoy that.

Sadly, the game was out of stock everywhere so I settled on a game in the same series, created by Garphill Games, called Shipwrights of the North Sea.

The Game

Shipwrights is set in the early years of the Viking Age. As Viking shipbuilders you race to build a fleet and score the most points. You must collect oak, wool and iron, as well as drafting craftsmen cards to enable you to build the ships. Gold is a resource that is spent to enable a ship to be built.

The first thing you notice about this game is the art. It’s done by The Mico and is very colourful and vibrant. The art is done in a style that fits the theme. Upon opening the box and reading the instructions I must say it left me a little bit disappointed.

There is nothing wrong with the quality and I have seen games with worse quality components but there was something that just didn’t feel right (something that only surfaced after a few play-throughs). The cards are however of good quality as are all the other pieces.

Set-Up & Play-Through

There was a little confusion when we first played this game as the rule book doesn’t tell you how many goods or workers to start with. Instead it shows you a picture with no indication in the text saying so. Once this was sorted we carried on with the set up;

  • Shuffle all 128 cards in to one deck.
  • Place all goods in an easy to reach place to form the supply.
  • Set up each player board with 3 workers 2 goods of your choice and a gold ship tracker.
  • Choose starting player.

As you can see, the set-up in Shipwrights of the North Sea is very quick!

At the start of your turn you start the draw phase, where player one picks three sets of cards equal to the number of players plus one. You then select one card and pass that on to the next player and do the same for the other three sets until all players have three cards.

Once you have all your starting cards you then start by taking your actions. In this phase players must always play or discard all three cards. There is no limit on the amount of actions you can take and the available actions are:

  • Buy goods – The cost is two gold and two workers and what you get is determined by the back of the top card on the draw pile.
  • Buy a Tool – If you have a tool card (yellow) you can purchase this for the cost in the bottom corner.
  • Hire a Craftsman – Place red craftsmen cards by your player board these are required for ship building.
  • Call on townsfolk – If you have a grey townsfolk card you can play or discard it. They have various actions that are at the bottom of the card.
  • Begin building a Ship – When you get a ship card the firs must be placed in workshop A and the second in workshop B.
  • Finalise a Ship – When you have the required goods, gold and craftsmen you can finish building a ship and this will give you points at the end of the game.
  • Construct a building – If you have a building card in your hand you can purchase it for the required amount of gold and workers. These are bonus cards and award points for meeting certain conditions.

How Our Game Went & Final Thoughts

We played as a group of five and after the initial confusion of sorting out the starting goods and workers, we all set off choosing cards and buying goods. The game flowed nicely and there was always something to do on your turn.

After a few rounds we started getting cards that would allow you to take cards or goods off other players. This prolonged the game and made it drag on somewhat. One minute you would be a good or two away from building your ship and then someone would take it away from you and you would have to start all over again. Out of the five that played, three of us enjoyed the game.

The take that element was something the others did not like and I agree that it will not be for everyone. My initial comment about something feeling off about this game was discussed after play had ended and we all agreed that at no point did we ever feel in touch with the theme.

Not one of us felt like a ship builder or a Viking and after the first 20 minutes or so and it just became a game of drawing, buying and discarding cards. The expansion supplied (Townsfolk) does try and combat this by adding another board and five shields. The idea is that it gives you another set of actions and gives you two new workers each turn.

This board gives actions that mitigates the take that element slightly and does make for a quicker and less confrontational game. This game will get played again and its not a bad game and with the expansion its actually quite fun.

This blog was originally published on March 29th, 2017. Updated on April 27th, 2022 to improve the information available.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Great Artwork.
  • With the expansion, you have a choice to mitigate the take that element.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Good quality components.

Might not like

  • Overdone theme & you never feel like a viking.
  • Game feels like it went on far too long.
  • Rule book not clear.