One of my favorite forms of procrastination is to lose myself in a good civilization-building strategy game, and Northgard is currently my top pick to turn off my brain for an hour or two. In this game, you control a clan of Vikings that is settling on a new continent and competing with other clans doing the same. While winning the game is satisfying, simply surviving this brutal game is its own form of victory.
You start out with a few settlers foraging for food. Build a scout camp, and you can assign a worker to reveal more map tiles. Build a wood camp to get wood, or your people will freeze. Build farms, fishing huts, and hunting camps, or they’ll starve. Build mines, so you can improve all your buildings. Build markets and trading posts, so you can sustain your buildings and buy things. Build mender’s huts, so you can heal your wounded and stave off plague. Build towers and train different types of warriors, or wolves, draugr (Norse zombies), and other players will mercilessly tear you to shreds. Stock up on everything because winter is coming, maybe even a blizzard, which will rapidly deplete your supplies. Did I mention everything in this game is trying to kill you? This new continent is wonderful, but it really doesn’t want you there.
The game is easy to learn and play but difficult to get good at, as you have to precisely manage your resources, from manpower to basic necessities to land. Each land tile on the map holds only so many buildings you need to build to grow and survive, so your clan is under constant pressure to expand. Plus you’ll keep finding map tiles you really want, which offer fertile land or iron or stone or easy ability to defend. This pressure to grab land puts you into natural conflict with the other players, who will be raiding you anyway but are now fighting with you over important resources they need. It’s a brilliant part of the game. Speaking of wars, the other players will all have a specialized skill their clan possesses, such as the Raven clan, which hires mercenaries to attack your coastal provinces and plunder them, or Wolf, which earns happiness for having a big army and gold for every one of your warriors they kill.
If you’re into gaming and enjoy strategic civ-building games, check it out. I highly recommend it as a really fun and challenging game in the tradition of games like Rise of Nations.