Author: Franz-Benno Delonge

Publisher: HANS IM GLÜCK

Awards: none



The new game Fjorde by Franz-Benno Delonge takes two players to the rough coastline of the Scandinavian countries. Here the players will try to discover fertile lands and to secure for themself a major portion of these areas by turning them into fields. The game goes over a total of three full rounds of play, and in each round a fully new landscape of arable land and fjordes (i.e. bays of the ocean) will be discovered.

Since Fjorde in essence qualifies as a small two-player game, the playing components are quite easy to survey. The playing area which needs to be discovered consists of a total of 40 hexagonal landscape tiles (showing arable lands, mountains and fjordes), three of which form starting hexes which remain the same in all games and thus are placed openly on the table before each round. All remaining 37 hexes will be shuffled and arranged in a face-down drawing pile. To complete starting preparations for the first round, each player receives a total of four farmsteads and 20 fields as his stockpile of playing pieces.

Each round of the game is subdivided into two phases. The first phase is concerned with the discovery of the new land, and here the players alternately take turns in drawing and placing one of the landscape hexes on the gameboard adjacent to already placed hexes. When placing the newly drawn hex the active player needs to observe some placement rules. So any landscape feature on the new hex must match the landscape features on the adjacent hexes, and furthermore a hex never may be placed in a way so that it touches only one other hex or that it effectively seperates two bodies of land by leaving water as the only connecting landscape feature. If there is more than one valid possibility to place the new hex the active player is allowed to chose one of these positions. However, if there is only one possibility to place the hex the active player MUST put it there. Sometimes it may also happen that there is no possibility to place the hex at all. If that should be the case the hex must be placed aside (into the so-called "open deck") and the active player must draw new hexes until he is able to place one according to the placement rules.

A player always may chose to take one of the hexes from the open deck instead of drawing a new hex, provided that the player only places one hex in his whole turn. Thus, a player even may take a hex from the open deck if he has drawn hexes once or more often in this turn from the drawing pile but had to put these into the open deck.

Very important is the addition that a player may decide to put one of his four farmsteads on the hex he has just placed (provided he still has an unused farmstead in his stockpile). These farmsteads will form the basis for a player's operations in the second phase of the round, the taking possession of the arable lands. This phase starts once the last hex had been taken from the drawing pile, and now the player who did not place the last hex onto the playing area is allowed to place his first field onto the newly discovered lands.

Like the discovery phase, the second phase with the placement of fields requires the players to observe some rules when placing their fields. Thus, at the beginning of this phase the players only may place their fields adjacent to their farmsteads. Once a field has been placed, the players now can chose whether to place their fields next to a farmstead or next to one of their placed fields. However, a further rule which needs to be observed when placing fields is that they may only be placed at hexes which are unoccupied by farmsteads and fields of the other player. Also, a field may only be placed at an adjacent hex, but hexes which are separated either by a Fjord or by mountains are not considered to be adjacent.

During this phase the players will try to be as quick as possible in placing their fields in a way as to separate the other player's farmsteads from major areas of arable lands. Once a player successfully has "fenced off" an area of land, he should directly turn to the next such operation since he will be allowed to fill up these "fenced off" lands with fields once all disputed areas have been dealt with.

Winning of the round is the player who was able to place more fields. The number of fields each player could placed are noted as victory points. Once a round is over, the game resumes with a fresh new playing area and a new first phase. A total of three rounds is played and the game is won by the player who has scored most victory points after three rounds. If there is a draw, the player who has won two rounds will have won the game.

My first thought upon seeing Fjorde was: "Oh great! Another tile-placing-and-collection-of-victory-points game!" To a certain degree, this statement may be considered to be true since the rules basically seem familiar from some older games. However, I still consider Fjorde to be an entertaining new 2-player-game, since it nicely makes use of its few and small playing components to allow players maximum gaming fun. Especially the splitting of the game in three rounds of two phases allows much room for both players to develop strategies and to catch up if one of the players should have gotten into the leading position, so that the game in effect will remain quite tight until the ending of the last round. This ensures that the game will not get boring and it also causes a good replay-value. Finally, the game features a fitting nordic artwork with cute little farmstead houses, and this also strengthens my overall good impression of the game.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany