Table Top Takes: For Northwood!
Let’s take a look at a game that I played solo not that long ago on Malts and Meeples. I’ll add the video below. But For Northwood! A Solo Trick-Taking Game offers something that is unique. Trick-taking, if you aren’t familiar is when you are trying to win or lose a series of cards played. Generally one being the “trump” suit that can beat any other suit, but you need to play the same suit. It’s a bit confusing without examples, so watch the video and read how you play For Northwood! below.
How To Play For Northwood!
Like I said, For Northwood! is a trick-taking game but a solo one. Let’s start a bit with setup for the game, though before we go into play too much. In For Northwood you are trying to win the favor of some animal royalty at 8 different locations. These locations are from 0 to 7. Plus you have some friendly creatures already to help you.
Each round consists of visiting one of these locations, fiefs, and trying to win a certain number of tricks. You guessed it, from 0 to 7 depending on which one you are at. The royalty flips a card and then you need to follow suit, if you can, and you are looking to get the exact number of tricks won by playing the highest number. Or if you are out of that suit, with a trump card.
However, the royalty is just flipping cards. That means that you get random cards to play against in your trick-taking. So that is where your four friendly creatures come in. They all have a power that you can use once per fief to manipulate your hand or the cards being flipped. So it is also the question of how you use them to get the number you need.
What Doesn’t Work
I have one main thing that doesn’t really even bother me, but it might bother some. This game has luck to it. Even with using the helpers, and you can try and get specific helpers in play in some situations, it is tricky. You don’t plan it right and now you know that you’re done for in a hand. There’s no reason not to stop playing that hand then, but it’s so limited that it could be frustrating.
Let’s talk, though about what works. Because I think there are a lot of good things going for it. Firstly, I really like the creature royalty. It’s a mainly random setup, you have one helper from each suit and two fiefs with each suit. But beyond that how they come up is random. You might have the most useful card to help get 0 tricks on the 0 trick fief. So it’s always a puzzle as to how you make it work. And that is also always going to be a rotating puzzle.
The speed of the game works as well. It’s really fast to play. Longer than some solo games, I will say, but still a very fast time, about 15 minutes, box says 20. But when you know what you’re doing, it’s probably under 20 minutes with setup which is great.
The solo experience also works. It’s trick-taking which is generally not solo. But this works for that. You need to plan out which fief you go to based off of how you can win tricks in your hand. Then it’s more of what I’d call a card shedding game. But it is done in a trick-taking fashion which is great. And it’s like some other solo games, solo hidden movement, where I wasn’t sure how it would work, but it works very well.
Finally, the game is simple. The most complex things are on the royalty cards. I’ve played a number of trick-taking games where they try and add in too much. That bogs down how easy the game is to teach and how fast the game goes. This game knows what it is, sticks to it, and it’s great that way .
Who Is It For?
Who this if for, is fairly simple. It is a game for people who like solo games. Will people who like trick-taking games like this one? Possibly, but I do think that it’s a game that is more built for solo gamers in terms of who is a fan of a style of game. The trick-taking is a smart card shedding style, but it lacks some of the nuances that trick-taking games often show off.
Final Grade on For Northwood
I like this game a lot. And I need to dive into the story book or challenge aspect of the game. That basically gives you specific setups to see if you or how it takes you to beat the game. That is going to add even more variability to the game which will be nice as I see this as a solo game I am going to play a lot.
I also see why it won’t be for some. If you love trick-taking games but haven’t done solo, it might be a good spot to jump in. But if you have tried solo games and don’t love them, then I don’t know that this will change anything for you. Which I get, solo gaming isn’t for everyone.
Overall, this game offers something and it does it well. And for me, that is what I was looking for. So for me, one that I highly recommend if you like solo games. And one that I kind of recommend if you really like trick-taking games and kind of like solo games.
My Grade: A
Gamer Grade: B+
Casual Grade: B
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