For Christmas, my mom surprised me by gifting me “A Feast for Odin” by Uwe Rosenberg. It is a game I had in my view for a while, but the price and clear complexity of the game scared me away. Since Christmas, I have played the game 5 times, with one of those being a 4-player session. After five times, I can say it is in my top two games ever played.
There are several things that make Odin a great game. While it is not for the “casual gamer,” it blurs the line of what board game complexity is in a way I haven’t seen before. It makes itself accessible with a strong theme and fun mechanics. What I like most is the “Wow” factor that is hard to categorize. Several games leave you sitting back and thinking, “Man, that was satisfying.” Almost like good food or drink, you just walk away thinking, “I want more of that.” My experience with Odin led me to write about those same experiences with other games. Sometimes a game just makes you say, “Wow!” So, from time to time, I’ll do that. I’d love for others to share the feeling I have.
For Odin, there are a few factors that stand out:
The Viking Theme
Vikings are a theme that many designers might stay away from. The gaming word has released several games about Vikings in recent years. I think Rosenberg nailed the theme. He integrated exploration, ship building, hunting, pillaging, and feasting all into one experience. The integration of theme always improves the euro-game experience. This game’s interaction between theme and gameplay proves this point well.
The “Tetris” Mechanic
The fact that you have to fit all your loot onto a board makes the mechanic interesting. There are infinite arrangements and many correct choices. This makes the mechanic better than many I’ve played. Your given tiles, which could be peas, milk, a chalice, or some whale meat. Then you’re asked to fit them into an area full of negative points and bonuses. I enjoy every placement until the last one. After five games, I find I love this tile-laying puzzle to be my favorite part.
The Story Factor
After the game, my friends sit around and talk about feeding our Vikings coins, salted meat and milk. We talk about converting sheep into jewelry. I know that sounds odd, but it’s these stories that make the game fun. Anytime I’ve talking about a game several days later, that is a good game. Rosenberg’s games have always had that effect on our group more than others. We speak of the stress of Agricola – and we speak of it with affection. This game provides a packet of stories you can walk away with and tell. Any experience in life that gives you that is something to hang onto.