Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 15 February 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Nusfjord

Game: Nusfjord

Publisher: Mayfair Games

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Year: 2017

I've probably told this story a few too many times on the blog, but here we go again. We have been eagerly anticipating Nusfjord since it was announced during the summer of 2017. We went on honeymoon last year to the Norwegian fjords and one evening started talking about designing a game themed around this impressive and beautiful landscape. We were considering different mechanisms, including the tetris-style boards from A Feast for Odin. When we heard that the designer of A Feast for Odin was releasing a game about this exact setting, we were intrigued to see if he would use any of the mechanics we discussed and hoped that the game could live up to our expectations.

Nusfjord is a worker placement game for 1-5 players from designer Uwe Rosenberg. Uwe Rosenberg has of course designed many worker placement games, such as Agricola, Caverna and Fields of Arle, but this design feels slightly different with less of the farming theme and 'feed your people' mechanisms and more of an economic feel, in what is overall a lighter game, in my opinion. So how does Nusfjord play?

The two player game allows for a satisfying setup with the player boards adjacent to the central boards.
Nusfjord is a game about fishing, and harvesting your woodland to build up a village. Each turn begins with a fishing phase where your fleet size (your value and size of boats purchased) dictates how many fish you catch. Fish are distributed to feed your village elders, then onto your shares and finally into your store. This is followed by a worker placement phase of three workers each where the choices are quite limited and not overwhelming. You might gain resources, gain gold, build a boat, build a building or recruit an elder. There are a fixed number of rounds which varies with player count and at the end of the game your points are equal to your gold value, the net value of shares you own, the points generated by your buildings and your fleet size, minus any negative points for empty spaces on your player board.

From the rulebook, Nusfjord is a very simple game, but it's not until you start playing that you really begin to understand the significance of different actions. The available buildings change in each game as they can come from three different decks and these can really begin to shape a strategy. However, there is a point in the game when you get to draw the 'Deck C' cards which is where the big points tend to be found and can really give a focus to the last few rounds. With just three workers, the game can be extremely tight and trying to build one or two Deck C buildings can be really challenging as their resource cost is understandably high.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out a good engine in Nusfjord and I always feel like the end game comes too soon. I often end up not quite managing to buy the building I was working towards and instead I waste a whole load of resources. This is definitely not all the fault of the game, I'm just not good at it and find it really frustrating. There's a lot of planning ahead and accounting, as well as a need to find a good combination of buildings and elders early on to get ahead and I've never found a satisfying combination that made me feel successful. 
A player board at the end of the game. The large fleet of ships means that the player receives a lot of fish at the start of each round. The two empty slots on the board wll result in negative points at the end of the game.
Having such fond memories of our time in Norway, I really wanted Nusfjord to not only be an excellent game mechanically, but also to be beautiful, to do the setting justice. Unfortunately, I found that the art was quite uninspiring and was particularly disappointed that some of the nicer art got covered with the very plain buildings, which should've perhaps been better considered with art to form part of the landscape in the background.

Nusfjord is definitely a solid lighter weight title from Uwe Rosenberg. We certainly shy away from some of his bigger titles on our shelves due to setup time and some overwhelming choices in terms of worker placement opportunities, so I do appreciate this more simple game. I am just disappointed that it couldn't live up to my high expectations and that it just doesn't click for me. So for the Yellow Meeple, Nusfjord is a 5.5/10.

Nusfjord was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £53.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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