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Nusfjord Review

Nusfjord (2017)

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg, Publisher: Lookout Games

1-5 players, 40-100 minutes

Mechanisms: worker placement


In Nusfjord, the players are fishermen in the Lofoten Islands, who are trying to get as many victory points as possible by developing their boats, fishing companies and supporting the village elders. The game is a typical Uwe Rosenberg game with individual flavour. We produce, place workers, build buildings, and “feed”, albeit differently than, say, in Agricola or Caverna.

The game consists of seven rounds and you get victory points based on the values on the different game elements (building, ship, etc.), based on the shares we issue, and for the remaining gold.

We get minus points for uncovered building locations and unissued shares. The player with the most points wins the game.

Content of the box

The rule book shows the parts with pictures. Then comes the setup, followed by an explanation of the rules of the game itself. Each action is presented in detail. At the end of the rulebook, there are rules for both single-player mode and campaign game mode.

Depending on the number of players, the game board is assembled from the action board, the ship and elder's board, the building boards and the banquet board. They are made of high-quality, easy-to-read cardboard.

The fish markers, the wood markers, the first player marker, and the worker discs were made of wood. the ship, first player, forest, elder council, stock, money, and harbour tiles are also made of cardboard. There are four decks of cards to play; three building decks and an elder deck. We use only one of the three building decks in each game. This gives the game a lot of variety. But based on the rulebook, we can even shuffle the cards in the three decks in many different ways.

The rules

Once we have set up our harbour boards with forests and stocks, depending on the number of players, we have placed the boards, with the elders, buildings, ships, the players play seven rounds.

At the beginning of each round, players pick up as many fish as their catch value (this is three fish for everyone at the beginning of the game) and distribute them according to the rules until they run out.

First, we have to put one fish upon the elders in our harbour (as soon as we have three fish on one elder, we can put one in our own supply and put the others back in the common supply), then on our shares owned by other players, then our own shares in our supply, then to our reserve.

There can be a maximum of eight fish in the reserves, and if there is more left, we have to throw it into the common supply

Then, players place their three workers one by one, either on the action board or on the elders in our possession. The action must be carried out immediately, and we cannot choose a place that we cannot take advantage of. Players can perform the following actions on the action board:

- We can get 1 gold.

- We can transfer all goods from the reserve to our supply.

- We can serve fish on the banquet board (so we get gold and will be useful later in activating the elders).

- We can build a building.

- We can issue shares.

- We can buy all the unclaimed issued shares.

- We can cut down the forest to get a tree.

"We can thin out forests to get wood."

- We can plant a forest.

- We can build a ship to increase our catch value.

- We can hire an elder and perform his action immediately (according to the next action).

- We can use the action of one of our claimed elder (for this we need to have fish on the banquet board and transfer one from there to our elder).

Once each player has placed his three workers, the return home phase comes; players take back their workers from the action spots and pass the first player marker. At this point, new cards may enter the game.

Information about these is on the first player tiles. After the return home phase of the seventh round comes the end-of-game scoring. In the fourth round, we draw C building cards into our hands, regardless of the number of players.

Most of these C cards give us victory points at the end of the game. Until the sixth round, only we can build them from our hands, in the sixth round we have to put them down, and in the sixth, to the seventh round, any player can build them.

Opinion and rating

The first and most important question for me about Nusfjord is how different it is from the other Uwe Rosenberg games? Do I need the Nusfjord next to Agricola, Caverna, and Le Havre?

Well, Nusfjord is a unique game. Mechanisms already known from other Rosenberg games are also well implemented, even in an original way, like distributing fish instead of direct feeding.

Covering your own board is especially good because if you don’t want to cover every spot with a building, you can even plant a forest back so you don’t get minus points. The use of the elders, the issuance of shares, are all imaginative.

Do I need this game, as a big fan of Uwe Rosenberg? No matter how hard I think, the answer, in the end, is always no. It’s true to be original, it’s true to be different, but it doesn’t offer a far different experience to get it.

One of the biggest reasons for that, the seven rounds is not enough. I don’t expect an Uwe Rosenberg game to end in forty to sixty minutes. The number of rounds of Caverna and Agricola, and the fact that we can get extra workers, is the basic expectation for me.

In Le Havre, the genius of the game itself and the multiple game modes available remedy the lack of these expectations, but I didn’t find the same in the Nusfjord.

How much does the theme come through: 4

Like in Caverna or Agricola. It works with this, but it would work with something else. The theme fits the game, it doesn’t spoil it in any way.

Appearance: 5

The look of the game is very nice. The graphics simply but beautifully give back the theme, the boards and cards are simple to use. The symbols are easy to understand.

Quality: 5

The parts are excellent and durable. Because they have to be stacked next to each other or on top of each other means they don’t tear, they don’t get stuck.

Replayability: 5

Very serious. The three types of building decks, their variability, and the C building cards are drawn in the fourth round give us different opportunities to develop our fishing company in each game.

Learnability: 5

Nusfjord has one of the best written, easiest to understand Uwe Rosenberg rulebooks which I have ever seen. The rules are easy to learn, and the gameplay itself is not complicated. It’s not even a five, but a five-plus.

Complexity (different strategies): 5

Although the actions are given in every game, they are imaginative. For example, we can not only cut down forests but also replant them. The elders don’t change much either, at most it’s just the time they come into play.

The strategic variety of the game lies in the building cards: we can build our strategy on cards A, B, and C of the three decks; so we can modify our actions, gain new abilities, bonuses, and victory points as well. We can build our game-by-game strategy on these.

Nusfjord gets an A- from me. It’s not an A for two little things, and one of them is more subjective. The more objective reason is that there are only seven rounds of play, for forty to sixty minutes I don't want to set up so many parts, I'd rather play two games of Kingdomino or Azul

The more subjective reason is that No matter how much I played this game, I always felt it wasn’t necessary next to the Caverna-Agricola-Le Havre trinity.

Thank you very much to our partner, Társasnavigá, for letting us try the game. If you have any questions about Nusfjord, or just want to tell us your own opinions about the game, we welcome your comments!

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