NORTHGARD: UNCHARTED LANDS
By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on July 23, 2020
Unexplored bountiful lands on the horizon. Only the boldest warchiefs sent out their bravest warriors to explore and exploit this lands full of mystery and dangers. While expanding their lands and fighting other clans, to claim the uncharted lands of Northgard, will they be tough and smart enough to survive the cold Winter?
Northgard: Uncharted lands is a so-called 4X board game with some deck building, based on Norse mythology and the eponymous strategy videogame. During the game you have to improve your deck and use your management skills on your territories and resources to bring fame to your clan and write history through conquest and devotion to the Gods.
This board game is on Kickstarter, so probably more stuff will be added along the campaign. At the time of writing, the box holds a lot of brute Viking miniatures, thirty-five Map Tiles and fifty-six Building Tokens. Lots of cards for the deck building part of the game, tokens for resources and fame and, for those good old Viking fights, there are two special dice.
In Northgard: Uncharted Lands each player controls a Viking clan of warriors, each of which has a somewhat stronger character: the War Chief, complete with a special ability. Every clan also comes with special powers, specific to that clan. Each player will get six starting cards and add one of their clan cards to create their starting deck. Later in the game, you will be able to add Development Cards to your deck and with the use of "Lore" (one of the resources used in the game) you can improve your hand of cards even more, and build an ultimate deck.
The game starts with every player adding Map Tiles to the starting tile and add three units to it. When everyone have placed two tiles with their bloodthirsty units, each player shuffles their own starting deck and everything is set for the first round. Every round starts with each player drawing four cards from their freshly shuffled deck and the revealing of Development Cards from the common deck. The first player starts with their first action and one after the other every player play their actions until all players have had their turn. Action are: Play a card, Wait, Replace a Card, Remove a Card, Upgrade and Pass.
When you play a card, it does one of a number of things; recruit a unit to enlarge your influence on the board; build a small or large building when you have enough resources, each with their unique benefits; move your units and perhaps start a fight; explore by adding a tile to the board and some more special actions coming from the development cards which you may choose from during the action phase. So every round you will add a new card.
After the action phase, each player must collect Fame and Resources from their territories and buildings before the next phase when Winter comes you need to cough up food for the units you have spread on your territories. When you are not able to feed your hungry warriors, unrest arises among your ranks. and these guys carry some really big axes. just saying. The game ends after seven rounds, or when one player controls three different and closed territories with a large building on it. Oh yes, and the player with the most Fame points wins the game.
The Final Verdict
Good things about this analog version of Northgard: First up, it plays very smooth. Considering the big manual, the learning curve is really not that steep. After our first game, we didn't feel the need to check the manual very often, because the rules are pretty clear. The Viking theme and art are nicely done by French artist Grosnez, especially the cards are beautifully illustrated. Player interaction is great and there is not a lot of downtime, due to the quick one action per player, one after another.
I would have expected a little bit more action at sea. I mean, they are plundering Viking clans for Thor's sake! But apparently they skipped the sea voyage and have already arrived, so they're fighting each other on land. It says on the box that a game takes about twenty minutes per player, but I think we went over that every time we have played. An average game for us took about ninety minutes with three players. Seeing as how we played a prototype version of Northgard, we can't say much about the quality of the final game, but I can tell you that it is already looking really promising. We received a couple of miniatures and they look awesome!
Michael "Magic Mike" Dumee's videogame perspective
The board game version of Northgard makes use of the same style graphics that gave the videogame its cool look and feel. Exploring and expanding are also really similar with the video game. Add some extermination and you got me hooked. Only thing missing are the sound effects: "WRAAAAAAAGH!" Luckily, we can make those ourselves! Less fortunate is the fact that some of the interesting clans from the videogame are missing in this analog version of Northgard. Plus, there were no wolves wandering around on the cardboard like in the videogame, which are often fun to fight. But, as we understood from the publisher, there are still some surprises coming during the Kickstarter campaign.
Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee's view
I used to love those old video games like The Settlers and Age of mythology. Northgard the videogame was intended to follow that line of games. With Northgard: Uncharted Land, Open Sesame Games made a fine conversion of the videogame into the analog world. This game plays wonderfully smooth and added a nice twist in the form of deck building. I wondered if it could keep up with the bigger 4X games and in comparison: Northgard is lighter than most (but still medium). So lovers of heavy 4X games will probably be missing all the complicated upgrade possibilities. However, this makes Northgard an easier game to pick up and gives it a way shorter playtime. For me, that's pretty awesome and together with the Norse Mythology theme, I am really looking forward to the final version of Northgard: Uncharted Land.
So, is Northgard: Uncharted Lands right up your pillaging and plundering Viking alley? Then please make sure to check out the game's Kickstarter Page. We would like to thank Open Sesame Games for this opportunity to test and review the game and I want to end the review in style, by using a Viking worthy quote from my little brother Michael, who graciously agreed play tested this game with us:
He's just so eloquent, wouldn't you agree?
NORTHGARD: UNCHARTED LANDS
Open Sesame Games
Northgard: Uncharted Lands Kickstarter Campaign
Year of release: TBA 2020
Designer: Adrian Dinu
Players: 2 - 5 players, ages 13 & up
Playtime: approx. 75 minutes