Dire Wolf Digital is no stranger to the mobile marketplace, having previously worked on a handful of board game adaptations including Lotus and Lanterns. Raiders of the North Sea, however, is so packed with quality that it feels like a new milestone for the developer.
Raiders of the North Sea is an interesting game to see taken from tabletop to digital due to it being the middle installment in a trilogy..The trio of board games, from Garphill Games, revolves around Vikings as they race to build a mighty fleetly (Shipwrights of the North Sea), smash and grab some loot (Raiders of the North Sea), and chart and claim new lands (Explorers of the North Sea). Its definitely got the most interesting premise for most.
The main play area is the village. It contains eight different locations where workers can be placed with some of of them having more than one slot to have workers placed. There are places like a Mill, which offers grain, or the treasury, where you can trade cards from your hand for coins. There’s also The Longhouse where you’ll be trading coins and winnings from raids for extra victory points.
Aside from the village there’s a long river which features ports, outposts, monasteries and fortresses, these are what you’ll be working up toward raiding. There’s a natural progression in that easier targets (which require less military strength to defeat) will give lower rewards and offer less potential victory points. As the rewards ramp up the requirements also do, with some demanding the death of crew members as part of the conquest.
Each crew card has multiple uses, with some of them offering passive bonuses to your crew, some giving rewards when they die in battle, and others giving greater rewards for your domestic efforts.
Gaining new crew members is as simple as spending a worker to gather new cards, and then visiting the barracks to recruit from your deck. This is where the grain and coin tokens redouble their effects as each crew member has a cost to recruit. This ensures that there’s a clever pacing to the game, as those who raid too voraciously will find their crew and coffers empty, which will take several turns to rebuild.
The crew artwork is easily the highlight of the game and while some might argue that when you’re working with an award-winning system it’s hard to go wrong Direwolf Digital have done a great job with their adaptation efforts. They could have easily put in a lot less effort than they did with their adaptation of Raiders of the North Sea, but – even down to how the hired crew stack in front of each other – it bleeds extra care.
The only negative for me, then, is the speed of some of the animations. There are options to speed up enemy turns, which is welcome (and should be in more games) however some of the game play animations still take some time to play though, dragging out turn-times to be longer than they need to be.