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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Tuesday 2 April 2019

Holt, who grows there?:- Reykholt

Game: Reykholt

Publisher: Frosted Games

Designer:  Uwe Rosenberg

Year: 2018

Reykholt is a 1-4 player worker-placement farming game in which you take the place of Icelandic farmers growing produce in greenhouses in order to show off your incredible food to visiting tourists. However there are other farmers out for your glory... and the money. You'll have to fight for limited access to seeds and greenhouses in order to be the best, and richest, farmer in Reykholt.

Each turn you'll alternately use your 3 workers to claim one of the worker placement spots on the board and reap the rewards. While the spaces are limited to one worker per action, there are some spaces that get locked off if you have already used another, to stop one player from hogging all the greenhouses for example. After using your workers you will harvest anything growing in your greenhouses and then feed the tourists. The tourist tables act as the scoreboard around the edge of the board, early on they will have simple demands such as 1 tomato, but later on the increasing tourism will result in bigger demand for 5 or 6 of a vegetable at once!

The score track shows which vegetables you need in what order. It's possible to plan your whole game ahead of time, so long as your opponent doesn't block you!
The actions are all fairly easy to understand, many of them simply reward you with instant vegetables that can be used for the tourists or as a seed in a greenhouse. Seeding your greenhouses has you add one of a vegetable to it, then fill all the remaining spots with vegetables from the supply, letting you multiply your crops as you harvest. Harvesting removes a vegetable from a greenhouse early, which is vitally important to make your turns efficient and get the right veggies at the right time. There are also bonus cards that can be claimed, doing so will give you an bonus rewards every time you meet their requirement. One of the key elements of Reykholt is that many actions have multiple uses, so you'll often be blocking your opponents even if you don't want to do the same thing!

Reykholt is a game about efficiency, you only have 7 rounds to do as much as possible. That means you have 21 actions over the entire game, so make each one count! When you consider that the largest greenhouses can hold 6 vegetables and building it and seeding it will take 2 actions you start to wonder whether it's efficient to farm much at all. Good progress can be made by claiming the vegetables directly from the action spaces on the board, especially if you can grab a bonus tile to boost some of the effects. Because there are so few actions the game often feels like it's about to end as soon as it begins. It certainly ends up feeling like the game is coming to a close as soon as you are happy with your little vegetable growing engine.

Your greenhouses vary in size and ability to grow the rarer vegetables. Ultimately you'll need an even number of everything to advance far round the track so what to plant is an important aspect.
There's no denying that Reykholt is a well designed game, the actions all seem useful at the appropriate times and there are vastly different strategies to go for. You could even try to spend your time constructing and selling greenhouses to edge along the track! Replayability comes from the different power cards that are used each game, though I often found that the powers were a bit underwhelming unless you really focused on utilising them, and if you ignore them then the game is identical from one game to the next. The truly innovative pert of Reykholt is it's scoring track, I really enjoy that you get to take the vegetables instead of pay them once per round, it opens up an easy way to get a seed or two you need or lets you almost entirely ignore a vegetable for most of the game!

But despite all the good things about Reykholt I feel like it lacks a little in the playing. There isn't the usual charm I'd expect from a Uwe Rosenberg farming game. There are many different strategies, but with the quick gameplay and lack of any real variation I'd felt like I'd seen it all after a few games. Every game I felt like I was just getting somewhere before the game started coming to an end, and sue to the selling greenhouse mechanic it's actively encouraged for you to destroy the things you have worked so hard to create. Overall Reykholt is a solid farming game, but it feels a little short for it to truly come to fruition. If you are looking for a quick worker placement game though, the mechanics are solid and it's definitely interesting to explore the different strategies.


Reykholt was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store for an RRP of £57.99 or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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