Dale Yu – Preview of Fjords (2021)

Fjords (2021)

  • Designers: Franz-Benno Delonge and Phil Walker-Harding
  • Publisher: Grail Games
  • Players: 2-4
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30-45 mins

Normally, I don’t do Kickstarter previews, but I am making an exception for Fjords as the original is one of my favorite 2-player games.  Prior to his passing, Franz-Benno Delonge and I were good friends, and this is possibly his best game design IMHO (though Big City is a close second).  I honestly haven’t played Fjords in a few years, but that is mostly because my opportunity for 2-player gaming has diminished.  I used to explain Fjords to people as – something similar to Carcassone, but with hexes and a little more complexity.  That short review still holds true…

Fjords is a tile-laying game that takes place in two phases. First, the players explore the fjords around them by laying hexagonal landscape tiles. Previously, you would draw a tile, and then place it in a legal spot on the board – such that it touches at least two previously placed sides (and all landscape features match).  If it could not be placed; the tile was set aside and a new tile was drawn.  Of course, there was an interesting bluff element going on as well because you might claim that a drawn tile could not be legally placed in order to avoid having to put it in a bad place; but if your opponent found a legal spot, you were obligated to play the tile.  In the new version, there is a display of four tiles for you to choose from – thus giving a bit more flexibility and planning.  After placing a tile, you may put one of your longhouses on the tile played (on the land area).  This phase continues until the tile supply is exhausted or when all remaining tiles cannot be placed legally.

Second, beginning from the encampments placed during phase one, players will walk the landscape, claiming as much of the plains and cliffs as possible.  On a turn, you must place a viking on a non-occupied tile that is adjacent to one of your longhouses or a previously placed viking.  If you no longer have a legal place to play a viking, you no longer participate in this phase.  The game continues until the board is full or no player has a legal place left to play. The winner of the game will be the player who has claimed the most land – this is a count of hexes with your viking or your longhouse in it – or simply look at the supplies and see which player have fewer pieces left over.  There is no tiebreaker.

This new edition of Fjords differs from the original release in the following ways:

  • The game now plays up to four players.  There are more terrain tiles included in the box to allow for players to have the same game feeling even with more players.
  • The game contains five new variants/modules designed by Phil Walker-Harding. These add optional variety and flavor to the game.

The new content has been created by Phil Walker-Harding, whose games usually hit my sweetspot.  The modules use the new Rune tokens, 8 different types included in the game.  Each of these runes comes with different rules associated with them, and it appears that you can mix and match them in any combination to change up the game.  

Some runes give increased scoring to hexes adjacent to them – others allow for “sea travel” which let you place a viking 1-3 hexes away as long as it is connnected by water to the particular rune.  This seems to be especially helpful in a four-player game when it will become extremely easy to get cut off due to the higher amount of competition as well as the fact that you now have 3 turns between your moves instead of 1 – thus making it harder for you to respond to moves made by your opponents.   In any event, I look forward to trying the game with more players and with the runes to see how things change!

For me, the best change will be the ability to play this with more than 2 players.  I had always though this game would be a great multiplayer game, and now I have the chance to see.  The addition of the runes gives some extra flexibility to make sure that no one gets shut out too soon from the settling…  If you want to learn more, the Kickstarter campaign just launched – check it out here:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/grailgames/fjords-a-grail-game


Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor




About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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2 Responses to Dale Yu – Preview of Fjords (2021)

  1. Jimmy Okolica says:

    Dale, have you played this with 3 or 4? I’m in the other boat. I have my doubts about whether this will be better with more and I’m curious if you’ve tried it.

    • Dale Yu says:

      Jimmy, i have not yet played it! This is a preview based solely on the rules – the KS just went live a few hours ago. But I am hoping that it works! WIth the powers of the runes, it seems like there would be enough options for 4p to play on the map

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