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 28 June 2018

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- Feudum

Game: Feudum

Publisher: Odd Bird Games

Designer: Mark K. Swanson

Year: 2018

Feudum is a huge first release from Odd Bird Games. It was funded on Kickstarter back in 2016 - a time before we had ever considered backing a board game on the platform. It was a very successful campaign, hitting a bunch of stretch goals and containing a bunch of expansion content. The base game alone is an intimidating enough challenge for us, and in this review we'll be looking at the retail release of the base game.

Feudum is a heavy euro game, currently rated 4.52 out of 5 for weight on BoardGameGeek, making it one of the heaviest game we've ever played. It draws you in with its cute colourful art style though, and I'm grateful that this gave us a gateway into wanting to try something a little more complex than our usual comfort zone. Let's take a look at how it's worked out for us!

There's plenty to explain about Feudum, but it has a few key parts. Each player has a hand of ten unique action cards, and on a turn they will programme four to play. These cards allow movement around the board, influencing of different locations (in an area control style), improvement of those locations, gaining income and so on. Most parts of the game require you to have resources, including food (or wine) to feed your workers each round, and in many cases you'll manipulate the guilds to get more resources. Guilds are owned by the players who have workers or feudums (fully upgraded locations) in that guild type - the level of interaction you can have with a guild you lead is much higher and can be a large source of victory points. Ultimately victory points are all you need.
This huge board screams complex, but also, look how pretty this game is!
My favourite part about Feudum is without doubt the programming of your action cards. It's just about manageable to effectively select four actions for a turn and execute a short manoeuvre
 that allows you to move forward. There's a ton to think about but this is a great bitesize chunk. Additionally, it's very rare for me to come up with a strategy in euro games, but in Feudum I actually feel inclined to do it, for example, in our last game I decided that I really wanted to try out building feudums and it affected my game from turn 1 in terms of the type of worker I chose as my first on the board. It's really satisfying to me that there are some very clear paths in the game and it's rare for a game to make me want to test out the new and interesting bits.

The rules of the advanced game encourage more competition. The purple influence marker is a 'serf' which can have benefits in terms of income, in this case of silver coins.
Perhaps one of the more challenging elements of Feudum is the resource management. Resource cubes can be pretty rare in the game, especially if you're not in the farmers guild and the 'feed your people' mechanic might be off-putting for some players. In some games I've quickly tried to force the end game when I see that my food is running too low. Your stock of influence cubes is also something you need to carefully manage as this can be very limited, again when you're not a member of the right guild to control making more. You need to be quite careful with how many you assign defensively and this can be pretty hard to manage.

There's a huge amount to explore in the base box of Feudum. We've only played the game with two players but it's clear how different it will feel with more. The amount of space on the board is almost perfect for two players not to interact significantly if they choose not to, but with three or more players I think there will need to be conflict in order for expansion to occur. In addition there will be competition over the guilds which will bring into play more mechanisms and might also give even more direction to your choices. In addition the advanced game mode offers more variety in terms of the strategies you can pursue. It's not a huge additional investment to learn and for us, it made feudums and player interaction more prevalent in the two player game, as well introducing the ridiculously cute monster miniatures. For a two-player game, I feel like the advanced rules are now a must.

I'm really on the fence about Feudum. The fiddly-ness of the game can be really frustrating. In addition there's so much to think about that after a few games we're still allowing take-backs for accidental poor planing. On the other hand, I love how programming is integrated into a heavier game. I love planning ahead and carefully managing my resources to execute a plan that might span over many turns. Once I'm a few turns into the game, it starts to flow with ease and I really enjoy getting into it. On the other hand, I can see that I would enjoy the game with any more than just two players - competition for spaces on the board would be too much for me and the more competitive elements of the area control mechanisms are something that is never appealing to me in games. Thankfully, I also don't see myself wanting to teach this game to new players, so it may just be a two player game for us.

We don't keep many long and large games on our shelves, but I think Feudum does offer us something different. I think we might most readily compare it to a game like Scythe, which is definitely an easier experience to play. I want to keep Feudum and to keep enjoying it before we forget the rules, but I'm not certain Amy will be convinced. For the Yelow Meeple, Feudum is a 7/10 and worth the effort to enjoy.

Feudum was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available for an RRP of £72.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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