Don’t It Turn Your Green Goods Blue
My first play of A Feast For Odin. I expect this will take a while. I'm going to be referring to the rule book and making these notes and exploring the game systems. It looks very thinky; I'm excited.
[note: I won't be explaining how to play AFFO, this is just a report of my game. I’ll also be skipping over round stages that don’t affect me, like breeding or bonuses when I don't have any.]
Setup Time: 15 minutes
I'd read that exploring an island can be a smart way to start so I examine the selection of island destinations and, judging by silver income and relative ease of placing tiles, I choose Iceland.
I started to page through the manual to find out how to build ships, but then I noticed the action board has all the instructions I need. It tells me that in order to explore Iceland I need a knarr or a longship. And I can see I need wood to build a knarr at the cost of two Vikings, or two wood plus three Vikings and I get to play an occupation card.
My occupation card is ‘Craft Leader’: If you have at least 5 Vikings on crafting spaces you get a barrel of oil. Five seems like a lot at this point, mostly because I have no strategy beyond ‘explore an island’. Strategy is for the next game. I'm not sure I’ll be deploying that occupation card.
I go to the mountain and hack two chunks of wood out of the side of it. Then I immediately spend those two wood making a knarr. Yay! I haz a boat.
I settle Iceland with my final two Vikings.
Harvest: flax and mead
Update mountains: Ouch! I didn't think I'd lose that stone which was next on the mountain strip I took wood from. Oh well; this is a learning game.
On the harvest phase I start to think I should have tried to trade my resources on the last round but then I realize I used all my Vikings to get Iceland. Okay. Now what? I want to start generating income.
I also notice, belatedly, that I didn't take the solo Viking from the banquet hall at the start of round 1. Damn. Maybe I could have used it to flip some resources?
Okay. Moving on.
I draw a bow. I have two bows, two snares and a spear.
Actions. I need to trade. For the harvest but also to start placing tiles and generating income. I examine the trade section. Actually, oh no I can't place the food I have on Iceland because right now it's all green. (Very nice how the tile requirements are printed right on the island tile.) So I gotta turn these orange foods into green or blue goods (or red for the harvest).
One Viking trades flax for fish and peas for mead. That's the harvest done and dusted.
Now, I want things. Oh hang on, I still have my knarr. Do I keep that after exploring? (Flip flip flip) Yes. yes I do.
Can I go whaling with a knarr? No. I need a longship and with some ore on it. Okay, let's try to get some hide and some linen and turn them into a robe.
Hunting needs wood so back to the mountain. Nice, my Viking from the last turn is still there lounging about. That's a great mechanism. It provides a bit of multiplayer blocking without the need for other players. Three Vikings for three items from one mountain and two from another. Four wood and one stone.
Two Vikings to hunt game. I roll 7, 4, and 4. So I spend two wood and two bow and receive a hide and a game meat.
One Viking left. I turn flax into linen.
I suppose I could place my hide and linen on Iceland but I'd really like them to be blue. That can wait.
Feast: mead, fish and beans.
New Vikings plus no harvest and Shetland and Lofoten remain undiscovered but there are rumors on the trade winds of strange new islands called Orkney and Bear Island.
I draw a sword.
Actions. I want to turn my green goods blue. Two Vikings craft a robe from linen and hide (plus 2 silver). I place it on Iceland but still need more goods to generate income.
Let's go hunting again, this time with a snare. I roll 4,5,4. I can't do it. I declare a failure and receive a snare, a wood, and a Viking. Setting me up for success the next time.
Okay. I go back to the mountain and snag two ore. Then I go to the smithy and turn 1 ore into a special grey item: the cloak pin. Using that and two silver I start generating oil and silver on Iceland.
One Viking left. I briefly considered emigrating my knarr but I need silver equal to the round number and I am broke.
I go to the market and snag beans and a silver.
Income: 4 silver.
Feast: cabbage, beans and game meat.
Bonus; 1 oil.
Harvest: peas, beans, flax, cabbage, grain
The Faroe Islands were not discovered but I've heard about a place called Baffin Island.
I draw a spear.
I craft the flax into linen. I craft ore into a silver and a chest. I place the chest on Iceland along with a silver and start generating ore and stone. I pay a silver and trade my linen and oil for silk and a rune stone. I place them both on Iceland. I also use silver to generate fish.
Gotta turn some of this food red for the harvest. Why don't I try whaling? 1 need wood for a whaling ship. Four Vikings set out. 5, 12 , 2. Well, that's a bit of luck. I just realized I need ore on the ship to lower my roll but thank Odin I have two spears which reduce my roll to zero and the hunt is a success. They drag back skin and bones, oil and whale meat. And that's all my Vikings.
Income: 6 silver
Feast: peas, whale meat and grain.
Bonus: fish, oil, ore and stone.
Greenland vanishes and is replaced by Newfoundland.
I draw a bow and arrow.
Okay, I want to get Iceland covered. First I trade oil and skin and bones for runestone and spices. Using those goods plus an ore and 4 silver I finish Iceland. Personal victory condition achieved.
Next I want to work on my home board. I go back to the mountain for a stone and a wood. Then I trade two stone and two wood for 2 chests and 2 runestones.
Using runestones and the chest and silver I start to generate income and mead in my home community.
I need some red food for the feast. I snag two mead and two silver and that's the feast taken care of.
I have three snares. Let's go hunting again. I roll a 2 and use two snares to great success. I receive a hide and a snare.
It costs me a silver to trade my linen for jewelry and that's that.
Income: 10 silver.
Feast: cabbage, fish, beans, mead.
Bonus: fish, oil, stone, ore and mead
Harvest: peas, flax, beans, grain, cabbage, fruit
Whoops. I think I flipped Newfoundland too early. Oh, and I haven't been adding silver to the islands.
I draw a spear.
I place my chest and oil on the main board and push my income there to 3 silver.
I turn my flax into linen. I take wood stone and ore from the mountain and upgrade my linen to silk. I place the silk and some silver to push income on the main board to 4 and to generate an ore.
I got to the blacksmith and hammer one ore into the axe. I lose out on a runestone but I push income to 5 silver and cover up some -1 spaces.
Let's emigrate my lone knarr. It costs me 6 silver but will generate points to offset the deficit on the main board.
I craft an ore into a chest and a silver.
I craft a stone into a silver and a runestone.
Income: 13 silver
Feast: silver, grain, mead and peas
Bonus: fish, oil, stone, ore and mead
Again, how brilliant is the system for leaving on the board the Vikings from the previous round?
No harvest. Uh oh. Oh, no worries: I have lots of food.
I draw a bow and arrow.
I go to the mountain for 2 wood.
I hammer two stone and two wood into two chests and two runestones.
I fuss for a moment laying tiles on the main board and raise my income there to 7.
Let's go hunting again. 4, 8, 8, fail.
Are ships still worth points? I think so and I can't see what else to do. No need for more food. I need green and blue goods. I go get a wood and trade my beans for milk. I use two wood to build a longship. Then I emigrate it. Waving from the shore as my intrepid settlers sail away. And that's my final action.
Oh, I still generate income (15) and feast: fish, mead and fruit. Yum!
Positive sub-total: 81
Negative sub-total: -42
Final Score: 57
I messed up some administrative rules - like the silver on the islands - and I forgot to give myself the first viking from the hall and probably I flubbed some trading but overall I feel like I've gotten the hang of the game systems.
I really, really like the solo mechanic of leaving on the board your Vikings from the previous round. It helps add tension and forces you to plan ahead. That's a very elegant mechanic.
I love how thinky the game is. I never felt like I was just drifting through the turns, like I tend to in some games. Every turn, every action matters. Just because you're playing solo doesn't mean there are no stakes. I liked the problems the game presented: I need green and blue goods, how do I get them? What options are there on the board for me to flip this into that and then into this other thing? It's a very satisfying puzzle. I also really like the Tetris puzzle of placing goods on your player board or explored islands. It adds another decision node to your planning, another requirement to the green and blue goods problem. I like the processing of mountains and the rise and fall of islands to explore. I like the dice for hunting and whaling. It adds just enough randomness to simulate those actions and when you fail you receive things which will increase your chance next time. Plus, I like a little variability in my games; I don't need to control everything.
I should have taken more occupation cards. And I should have played the one I had. At the start of the game, five Vikings on crafting spaces felt like a lot. However, now I realize that I’m rarely placing Vikings one at a time, and having five on that track isn't so unusual.
My play time was two hours, but that was padded by rules flipping and generalized confusion about which action spaces do what. I expect that time will drop by half once I know how all the spaces work and how to achieve my goals.
I love this game. I'm not gonna compare it to Uwe Rosenberg’s other games because they all have things I like about them and liking one thing doesn't make another thing bad. I love the scope of the game and the things you do. I love how deep it is, and yet focused at the same time: explaining what you need to do is very simple. The complexity is player-generated. The problem solving of turning one thing into another and planning ahead is as complex as you can make it. I really like the artwork and themes. This is good game to relax and have fun with. It's thinky but not stressful. I'm excited to play it again and to see how it plays with other humans.