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Fjords: the tactical battle for the best land!
Between the 8th and 11th centuries, the Vikings had the world holding their breath. Always on the lookout for new land, they aren't above fighting their own countrymen. In this game, two clan leaders fight each other, using the right tactics, for a fruitful plot of land along Norway's coast. They quickly build up villages at strategic locations and fight with anything they can to ensure the larger portion of the region for their clan.

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United Kingdom
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Crab Clan - Legend of the Five Rings
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“Fun & Light Tactics with Fjords”

There comes a time when a good Viking has had his fill of the sea, of visiting foreign lands for a little rape and pillage, and of Spam and parrots. When that happens, he settles down to become a good farmer and make the most of the rich meadowlands that lie between the mountains and turbulent waters of the fjords of Scandinavia.

This is the theme of Fjorde, a Carcassonne-like game from Hans im Glück in which two players work to open up the lands along the fjord and secure the most strategic spots to establish their farms. From these, each farmer can develop and expand his fields, claiming land with the aim being to have the most fields at game’s end.

This is a tile-laying game, area-control consisting of forty landscape tiles, plus four farms and twenty field markers split between two colours. All of these components are high quality, the wooden being either dark or light, and the tiles in thick card. They are hexagonal in shape, and depict three types of terrain. The blue of the sea, the green of the meadowlands, and the black of the mountains.

Fjorde is played in three rounds, each consisting of two stages. The first stage is Discovery, with players taking it in turn to lay tiles starting out from the three starting tiles, each indicated by their dark backs. Tiles must be played so that two sides must connect and match the tiles it is laid against. If a drawn tile cannot be placed, it is put aside until it can be put down on a subsequent turn. A new tile is drawn and placed instead. Once a player has placed a tile, he can also put a farm on the newly placed tile, though only on the meadowland section of the tile.

The Discovery stage lasts until as many tiles as possible have been placed. It is possible to leave gaps or lochs in the layout, but this and having tiles left over is infrequent. The second stage is Land Claim in which the players cultivate their farms. Beginning with the player that laid the penultimate tile, the players take it in turns putting down field markers. These can only be put down on empty meadowland that is adjacent to a farm or existing field marker of the same colour. This continues until all of the field markers have been placed. Both players count the number of markers and the scores noted. Another two rounds are played with the highest of the total points across the three rounds determining the winner.

Fjorde has a nice tactile feel to it, much like the publisher’s Carcassonne. Similarly, the laying of the tiles has a jigsaw-like quality. Tactically, game play centres on the placement of fields and farms to block and deny your opponent access to fresh meadowland. In this, players need to make best use of the terrain as they add new tiles. One tactic is to try and create choke points – between the mountains and the sea – upon which a player can place his farms and from there expand his fields and block access to for his opponent.

Simple and enjoyable, Fjorde can be played in half the listed time, and also be seen as pleasing, but quick alternative to Carcassonne. That said, it does not bear a great deal of replay as it perhaps a little too light. To counter that, it would be interesting to see an expansion for the game that adds more tiles and playing pieces, first to allow for more variety, and second, to add more players.


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