Board Games

Let’s Go Fishing

There’s a running gag among board gamers that there is a near unreasonable amount of games about farming in the middle ages. Is there a grain of truth in that statement? Absolutely, but the foundations of this phenomenon I like to attribute to one of the most prolific eurogame designers, Uwe Rosenburg. Uwe is a storied designer who released a game called Agricola, in which you play as a family of farmers in the middle ages struggling to stay fed and building a little wooden farm along the way. One of the most incredible things about Agricola is how attached you get to your little farm as you play card combos and fight over worker placement spots. Since Uwe released Agricola in 2007, he has released a gaggle of games that add a twist to that original formula. Today, we are singling out the lovely Nusfjord as I tell you how Nusfjord slid like a glove into my collection.

I love Uwe Rosenburg, but I run into problems with his games. First, the gameplay is incredibly satisfying, but the games tend to drag on when it comes to gameplay time for most of his big box games. Second, the solo modes leave something to be desired. Most of the fun in Uwe games comes from traversing this optimization puzzle while blocking other players. For example, you need to feed your family in Agricola, but you also have a hunger to get more sheep points. When you play by yourself, the game feels like it falls apart since you can easily weave through the roadblocks the solo mode implements. It tends to take the soul out of the game. Taking the box off the shelf, going through the motions of setting everything up, and playing for an hour or more seems like a lot of work when I am just shooting for a high score. Nusfjord manages to solve both of my problems.

A shot of a play of the Advanced Solo Mode

Nusfjord addresses my issues with the Uwe big box cycle by being a quick game and a simple game. Nusfjord was Uwe’s big box release of 2017, and it seems to have mostly flown under the radar. In Nusfjord, you play as a fishing village in the Scandinavian fjords catching fish, building establishments, and feeding the elderly. The center of Nusfjord is an action board that only has 12 action spots in a 1-3 player game. With the limited amount of action spaces, you attempt to harness the three different currencies in the game: fish, gold, and wood. Over the games’ brisk seven rounds, you will be collecting fish, trading stock, using elders, and trying to be the one who has the most successful fishing company. Did I mention stock certificates? Oh yes. There are shares in each player’s company that allow other players to benefit from their fishing prowess. Since each player has only three workers, each round zips by with blazing speed and allows for some genuinely ridiculous game times. From the time I took the game off the shelf to the time I put Nusfjord back on my shelf, I timed about 25 minutes. Even though the game is speedy, it doesn’t sacrifice that same bliss you expect of an Uwe game. The solo mode introduces you to playing as another player color during different turns. Alternating colors allows for some mind-bending blocking that forces you to figure out another strategy, just like you would in a multiplayer game.

Nusfjord is a gem to play. It is quick and mentally teasing. It offers depth and replayability with the three building decks the game comes with and the two expansion decks. It is what makes an Uwe Rosenburg game great boiled down to its bare essence and not a single thing more. Games like Le Havre, Agricola, and Hallertau are fantastic for getting friends together having a few hours to game. However, when I am itching for a good eurogame, and I don’t have much time or players, Nusfjord will be the answer to my woes.

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