Have you ever wanted to visit Iceland? Or wanted to grow vegetables? How about growing vegetables in Iceland whilst throwing a large feast for tourists? Well, your wait is over thanks to Uwe Rosenberg’s newest worker placement game, Reykholt, which is published by Frosted Games and Renegade Games Studios and plays from 1-4 players. For those that are familiar with Uwe Rosenberg who has designed games such as Agricola, Le Harve and A Feast for Odin, it will come as no surprise that Reykholt centres around food, or more poignantly, farming, although I wouldn’t get too hung up on the theme as you will be very disappointed if that is what is attracting you to this game. Let me tell you how it plays:
The aim of Reykholt is to grow enough vegetables that you will exchange in order to advance on the tourism track from feast table to feast table around the board, with the player who advances the furthest being the winner. The game is centred round five vegetables: tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, cauliflower and carrots, which players will either grow in their very own green houses, claim from the board by placing one of their workers on a free action space or from service cards that players can select in the same way.
Before the game starts, each player will be given three workers which they will place on the board one at a time in alternating turn order. The board is made up of several action spaces that will provide players with rewards, such as extra vegetables, greenhouses, the ability to seed vegetables in a greenhouse, harvest your vegetables or trade items in order to advance up the tourism track, as well as a few others.
Greenhouses are where vegetables are grown; they come in various sizes that will also restrict the type of vegetables that can be grown in them. In order to grow a greenhouse full of tomatoes, for example, the player must have one tomato first and then use one of their workers to claim an action space that lets them seed. The player will seed their tomato and then fill up the rest of the spaces with tomatoes from the supply.
To obtain these vegetables, a player must claim a harvest action space which, depending on the space, will allow players to remove one or several vegetables from their greenhouses, which in turn can be seeded again once empty.
Only one worker can be placed on any one action space, and there’re also other restrictions on the board preventing the same player from taking similar action spaces. All this is carried out in the work time phase.
The next phase is harvest time, where players simply take one vegetable from each of their greenhouses.
The third phase is tourism time and is where players will advance around the tourism track. The track is made up of feast tables, all of which will have a requirement on them, such as two mushrooms or six carrots. If the player has the number of vegetables on the next table, then they can trade these in to the supply to advance on the track, which will get progressively harder to achieve, although players’ engines will soon kick in to help. Once per round a player can move one table for free, and instead of having to hand the vegetable to the supply, the players actually take that number of vegetables instead.
The final phase is homecoming time, which simply means players retrieving their workers from the board and advancing the round tiles. Games are generally played over seven rounds, although there’re a few exceptions.
Play will go back and forth in this way, with players seeding, harvesting and collecting vegetables in order to exchange them to score more points.
I will quickly explain the service cards before offering my thoughts on the game: At the start of the game, players will decide which of the five sets of service cards will be used; once done, that set will be shuffled and five cards placed face up for all players to see. When claimed by a player, these cards will give one-off or ongoing rewards, such as extra vegetables or the ability to seed or harvest without using workers, along with many more.
That’s the game, so let me offer my opinion on some of its best and worst features, starting with the negative as this won’t take as long:
The theme. Forget everything I said in the opening paragraph as Reykholt has just enough theme so as not to be referred to as an abstract game. Where Iceland comes into it, I have no idea.
Now that’s out of the way, let me mention Reykholt’s best features, starting with it’s such a good game, plain and simple. Not only does the artwork look pretty, but the graphic design on the cards and boards make the game easy to understand and play.
The components are great also, wooden pieces that actually resemble the vegetables’ shape and colour make the game so much more appealing than using cubes, and having those goods boxes included to store the pieces was such a nice touch, if slightly over-engineered for some, maybe.
All the cards in Reykholt are of good quality, and I love the fact that players can share the service cards so that the game doesn’t turn into the first person to grab a powerful card. Having five sets of these is also fantastic as it changes each game that you play, although I will say that some sets are more fun or playable than others. These sets also allow players to set up combinations during play, which will help massively in determining the winner. These combinations might be placing your worker on a spot that gives you two vegetables, which you can take, but as you have taken those, a service card might give you a different vegetable for free, which if played at the right time, might trigger a second service card, which in turn allows you to harvest for free.
Time will be a massive factor as to why I believe people will like this game: Once you have the hang of Reykholt, a two-player game could be over within 20 minutes, half an hour at an absolute push. A four-player game comes easily within an hour, and by the end of that, you will feel like you’ve played a decent-sized game but still have time to play it again, which is what I did on several occasions.
My final positive will be the same for almost all of Rosenberg’s games, and that is that it seems to have been mathed out to within an inch of its life. Everything seems to fit perfectly, whether that is trading up vegetables or handing over the correct amount of them to score. The number of action spaces available is another example of this; there is enough for the game to flow but not too many for the board not to feel tight, which makes player choices important without forcing them to spend ten minutes a turn deciding what space they will choose, meaning there is very little downtime. It is simply extremely well balanced and is continuing to be a joy to play.
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemens Franz, Lukas Siegmon
Publisher: Frosted Games, Renegade Game Studios