Title: Raiders of the North Sea
Available on: Steam, IOS, Android, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Dire Wolf Digital
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios and Garphill Games
Genre: Board Game
Official Site: Raiders of the North Sea
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
Where to Buy: Steam, Google Play Store, Apple Store, Nintendo Game Store
Every now and then a developer will release a video game based on a tabletop board game. While the majority may not translate well to the screen, Raiders of the North Sea nails the idea perfectly. Dire Wolf Digital, the creative team behind the game, are experts at developing board games built for the digital age. (Just check out their deck-building game Eternal). Their work on Raiders combines the fun of the physical game with the convenience of having it on mobile devices, a PC, or the Nintendo Switch.
I’ve been getting into more board games over the years and being able to play one on the go without a bunch of pieces, cards, or rule books is a blessed experience. There can be a lot to keep track of and timing can be slowed down by players not knowing or understanding the rules. However, the digital release keeps all of the qualities from the board game and enhances the experience on screens.
I actually got my first taste of Raiders at Gen Con this year. In the gane, players get a walkthru of how to play and tips on how to succeed and overcome enemy Chieftains. From the colorful art to the sound effects and mechanics, Raiders of the North Sea is satisfyingly good fun.
The concept of the Raiders is simple, collect resources and build your army to overtake settlements and gain victory points. The player with the most victory points at the end of the game impresses their Chieftain leading to a thriving settlement.
To do this, at the start of each turn, players have access to a meeple they can choose to move to a building of their choice on the map. This gives them a choice to gather coins, crews members, or provisions to grow their army and raid other settlements across the sea. Afterward, they collect another meeple, either set by a player or on the map to begin with and reap the rewards of that token’s location. It’s such a pleasing experience to grab the meeple and drag it across the map and feels like I’m physically moving the token on an actual gameboard.
It also has a focus on time management and strategy. Players will need to not only be aware of their own army and resources but pay attention to what the other players have on their side. Many cards can shift the gameplay in favor of one player or another by having someone hand over a certain provision or silver piece.
Knowing when to raid and when to counteract another player’s move is always something to keep in mind. This concept means you have to outthink everyone else and plan your moves accordingly. It’s an idea reminiscent of chess and is another concept that makes Raiders even more fun to play.
There are a few ways to play Raiders; you can follow the game’s campaign mode or battle other players in online matches. While I haven’t had the opportunity to choose online yet, I never felt the need to. The campaign’s ten levels are challenging enough and I felt as if I were battling against another person anyway. The choices the AI make are smart and can be difficult to outmaneuver if you’re not quick enough to raid a specific settlement first. However, there is nothing like the feeling of playing against another human and waiting to see what their next move will be.
The campaign is a new addition to the Raiders experience. The physical release from Garphill Games and Renegade Game Studios was built to be played between two to four players, while the digital version is designed for one to four. Though Raiders is a traditional board game in every definition, the digital version captures that tabletop feeling well and never felt like a standard handheld video game. While many other translations of board games feel, well, boring, Raiders is a fresh idea and one that all future digital tabletop games should adhere to.
While the controls are simple to follow, there were a few times I found the game to be sluggish. You aren’t able to move around the map at the start of another player turn instantly and it may take a few seconds to begin moving around. There were also moments when I couldn’t grab and drag the meeples, I had to reposition the map or minimize the game to get it to work.
There is also no speed up or skip option in the campaign to move along the AI’s turn. While it isn’t game-altering, being able to speed up their turn would move things along a bit faster.
Another unique addition to the Raiders digital version is the return of Mihajlo Dimitrievski’s artwork. He was the artist on the physical game as well and getting to see his work on the screen is wonderful. The Viking characters move around and each come with their own small voice prompts, though they are only grunts and guttural noises, it’s a fun inclusion.
You will also notice tiny details in the game. Apart from the sounds and sights of your army sailing their boat to a settlement and raiding it. You can see minute things such as arrows being fired at the barracks, the sound of the ocean, or flocks of birds flying by. These things really add to the ambiance and set it apart from other digital board games.
Verdict: Raiders of the North Sea should be the tone to which all future digital board games follow. It’s one of the most entertaining worker placement games I’ve played and is in a league of its own among digital tabletop games.
- Simple and engaging
- Wonderful art style
- Touch controls can be sluggish
- Slow response time