A Feast for Odin Review
Stats at a glance
Vikings are well known for their raids on the British monasteries and villages, but their lives were about much more than just pillaging. In A Feast for Odin, you’ll have to manage essential supplies and strive to create a prosperous village in the harsh Scandinavian climate.
Brief Overview of A Feast for Odin
A Feast for Odin is a worker-management game made by the well-known designer Uwe Rosenberg. With over twenty years of experience in the business, Uwe had a large impact on the Euro game genre and created iconic games like Patchwork, Agricola, and Caverna: The Cave Farmers.
The game rates high on the difficulty scale, so I wouldn’t recommend it to casual players and newcomers to the genre. Sessions can last up to two hours, but you should delegate much more time for the first few runs. The theme is nicely presented and doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay, which is very important considering the game’s complexity.
Versions & Expansions
A Feast for Odin: The Norwegians
Currently the only expansion for the game, the Norwegians adds four new islands and the Irish coast. The gameplay is greatly expanded, so I would recommend playing the expansion after you’ve had your fill of the base game.
Unboxing A Feast for Odin
Within the box you’ll find:
- 1 Rulebook, Appendix, and Almanac
- 12 Plastic Bags
- 2 Resource Organizers
- A D8 and a D12 Die
- 1 Large Action Board
- 4 Home Boards
- 1 Small Supply Board
- 4 Two-sided Exploration Boards
- 15 Special Tiles
- 1 Oval Supply Board
- 52 Tiles for Various Purposes
- 125 Silver Coins
- 96 Wooden Goods
- 190 Occupation and 47 Weapon Cards
- 346 Good Tiles
- 50 Additional Wooden Components
I’ve tried to make the table of contents as condensed as possible, but as you can see, there’s a massive number of pieces in the box. You’ll definitely need a larger table to set up the game, but once everything has been laid out, it really looks impressive.
Value for Money
The value for money proposition in board games isn’t about what you get in the box, but rather how much quality game time you can get out of it. Still, getting a lot of stuff makes it easier to purchase a $100 board game. With nearly a thousand well-built pieces, A Feast for Odin certainly justifies its price.
Components primarily consist of cards, punch-out tiles, and wooden pieces. As expected from a Rosenberg game, their quality doesn’t disappoint. The most important part of the set is definitely the color scheme. It won’t really impress you at first, but you’ll quickly learn to appreciate the clear and bright color schemes that make the board easier to navigate.
Rather than the typical brown palette of the Eurogames, A Feast for Odin is dominated by the vibrant blue color of the sea, green fields, yellow sand. Brown has to make an appearance and is used mostly to illustrate wood. Resources have an old-school look to them and are surprisingly refreshing now that the modern styles have taken over.
As someone who looks at the number and quality of pieces to gauge the value of a game, I can tell you that only a few games come close to offering as much as A Feast for Odin does. You can make the argument that the majority of pieces are punch-out cardboard, but once you pick the 7-pound box and take out an encyclopedia-sized stack of boards, you’ll quickly change your opinion.
How to Play A Feast for Odin
The problem with trying to teach you how to play A Feast for Odin lies in the sheer volume of actions and strategies you can make. While other games in the genre are limited to about a dozen actions you can take at any given time, in A Feast for Odin, there’s 61.
As even the shortest explanation would be several pages long, I’ll give you a general overview of the mechanics and how the game plays out. Summed up in the least amount of words, A Feast for Odin is a worker-placement, resource-gathering, tableau-building Euro game.
Each player gets a home board representing their village. The grid section has many spaces that count as negative points at the end of the game, so you’ll have to gather resources throughout the game to cover them up.
The Tetris-like mechanic of the player board is what separates A Feast for Odin from other games in the genre. The goods come in various shapes and sizes, with quality represented by the color of the background.
Only green and blue goods can be used to cover up negative spaces, while orange and red can be placed on the blank spots. Green tiles can only touch each other at the corners, so players will have to play a Tetris minigame on their board to fit as many goods as possible on it.
There are a few marked resource tiles on every player board. If they’re completely surrounded by tiles, the player will get a permanent bonus. Coins and ore can also be used to cover up spaces on the board, and as they’re a 1×1 tile, they can help in surrounding bonus tiles.
The tricky part is that once placed, tiles cannot be moved. You’ll have to meticulously plan your moves and avoid covering bonuses, if possible.
The seven rounds are broken into 12 phases, which might seem like a lot, but a lot of them consist of gathering resources and income. Each player gets new Vikings, harvest resources, and weapons.
Actions are the worker-placement part of the game, where everyone places all of their Vikings in order. The first player for the next round is determined, and then income is distributed based on individual player boards.
During the breeding phase, your livestock either conceives or gives birth to another animal. Then, it’s time for the feast. The spots from which existing and new Vikings were taken now have to be filled with orange, red, and silver tiles, following specific rules.
If you were in the seventh round, the game would end here, but otherwise, there are three more phases to go through. Bonuses for surrounded home tiles are distributed, followed by updating and adding new mountain strips, which is another resource-gathering mechanic. Lastly, the Vikings are removed from the action board.
Exploration & Conquest
Aside from the player boards, there are extra island boards for players to conquer. They come with negative tiles of their own, but also with additional income and bonus resources to be made. From both the thematic and gameplay perspective, island conquest is one of the most important actions you can take.
This explanation of how to play the game barely scratches the surface, but it should give you a glance at what A Feast for Odin has to offer in comparison to other games in the genre. For a more detailed view of the rules and mechanics, I strongly advise taking a look at the game manual.
Your First Game of A Feast for Odin
The vast number of strategies and routes you can take in A Feast for Odin won’t do you much good unless you know what you’re doing, to begin with. I’ll give you a few useful tips to raise your odds of having a successful game.
The game starts you up with 6 Vikings and 61 possible actions, but in reality, there will only be a handful of actions worth taking. At the end of the first round, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved nothing, but don’t worry, the game is only starting.
Points & Player Boards
The sheer size of the player board with a lot of negative points may instill a sense of anxiety from the very start of the game. Counter-intuitively, you’re supposed to smaller tiles and surround bonus spots as soon as possible. Of course, if there’s a chance to get blue tiles, you should do so.
I haven’t covered the grey special tiles, but what’s important about them is their irregular shape, which makes it much easier to create an optimal layout on your board. The U-shaped piece resembling a horseshoe is particularly strong early on, as it surrounds the bonus spot from all but one side.
You’ll discover many strategies on your own, but for the first few games, try to direct your effort towards either whaling, pillaging, or a combination of trapping, crafting, and hunting. Whaling is the most viable, but keep in mind that competition will reduce your earnings, so if too many players are fighting for it, consider one of the other two options.
Pros & Cons
- High Skill Ceiling
- Great Rulebook and Precise Rules
- Solo Mode is Great
Let’s start off with an aspect that matters to most gamers, and that is replayability. Some games manage to keep their fresh through randomness, but A Feast for Odin adds a very high skill ceiling to the mix. The random factor will steer your game towards a certain strategy, but mastering one or all of them is a task that will take dozens of sessions.
The rulebook will help you on your mission to learn the game and become a skilled strategist. There are no ambiguous rules, and everything is sorted so that it’s easy to learn or look up during the game.
The solo mode is an excellent way to learn the game or train your skills, as it is essentially a copy of the multiplayer mode with a minor adjustment to the rules. You get two Viking sets of different colors and use only one set per round. As you alternate between the two sets, actions taken in one round will be unavailable in the next. This simple but genius rule makes the solo mode as enjoyable as the multiplayer experience.
- Puzzle Element Slows the Game Down
- Lack of Board Scaling with More Players
- High Complexity
Adding another brainy mechanic on top of the standard Euro game mechanic is great in theory, but in practice, it tends to seriously slow down the tempo of the game. Even though arranging the board is an ‘any-time’ action, you should still expect players to take their time as they plan their tile placement.
Best with 2
Something that really surprised me is how the game does not scale at all between two, three, and four players. Actions have the same amount of spots regardless, making the game more cramped as you increase the number of players. For this reason, I suggest playing A Feast for Odin with one other player at first and keeping it under four players generally.
There’s nothing I can really say about the complexity of the game that hasn’t been made obvious by the rest of the review. The game is hard and requires a lot of effort to get into, but those that put in the time will be rewarded with one of the best Euro game experiences!
A Feast for Odin Review (TL;DR)
A Feast for Odin is a complex Euro game set in the medieval Viking period, with a focus on sustaining the Village rather than just raids and conquests. Despite the higher price, it really offers a lot for the money, both in entertainment and replayability. The game mixes in a few clever mechanics that make it stand out and be a game worth getting into.
When I looked at my schedule and realized A Feast for Odin was coming up for review, I was quite concerned that I would not be able to playtest and properly convey my experience into a review. While I’m a huge fan of the Eurogame genre, once it goes over 3.5/5 on the Board Game Geek’s complexity scale, it takes a lot out of me to learn all the rules and mechanics.
Surprisingly, A Feast for Odin was not as difficult to learn as I expected. With some guidance from a friend, I got through the rules and played a couple of games in solo mode, just to get a hand of things before switching to multiplayer. The solo mode is generally not my thing, but I really enjoyed my time with it, and I plan on playing a few more games in the future.
Multiplayer can be a true test of memory, wits, and patience at first, but it’s a small hurdle to overtake when you consider just how much fun you’ll have long-term. I wouldn’t suggest A Feast for Odin if you’ve already got a few complex Eurogames in your rooster, as it’s not really a game that’s easy to pick up every couple of months.
However, if you’re looking for a game to fill your main roster, then A Feast for Odin can easily become one of your primary board games.
We hope you enjoyed our A Feast for Odin review. Drop a comment below if you have tried it before or plan to in the future!
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