Pirates of the Frozen North
Mini Set Review
Product: Pirates of the Frozen North
Cheapest place to buy: eBay (usually)
Factions: Vikings, Pirates, English, Spanish, French, Americans
Features/New Stuff: Vikings, Icebergs, Longships, Icebreakers
Ben’s Rating: 11/20
Pirates of the Frozen North (FN, 2007) saw the Vikings sail into battle aboard their Longships. The Vikings are another very poor minor faction, as they have small fragile ships and have trouble in the gold game. Icebergs were featured as a new terrain option. FN is another slow set, but there are a bunch of very solid game pieces among the mediocre stuff. You can find all of the game pieces in the Master Spreadsheet, and I’ve ranked the Top 10 here.
– Art: 3/5. Pretty much all of the longships are interesting, but most of the regular ships are not. The repetitive UT’s and mostly boring named crew don’t help. However, the French and Americans have some very pretty ships, and I think the rather dull look actually fits the theme rather well, keeping the score from being a 2. Though the white look of the cards is also very thematic, it’s hard not to prefer the vibrancy and color of the first 5 or 6 sets in terms of cards.
– Set Quality: 3/5. FN continues the trend of more mediocre ships where MI left off. I’ve noticed that the named crew, UT’s, and LE’s seem either fantastic or terrible. Plenty of playable ships, just not a lot that people prefer to use. In addition, I believe Cadet-Captain Mike proved that this was the slowest set for ship speeds.
– New Content: 1/5. Wow… where do you even start with this one? Icebergs are by far the most obnoxious terrain type – of course they should damage your ships, but moving them at the beginning of each player’s turn has consistently been the most-forgotten aspect of gameplay in my experience. They’re annoying to no end, and they look silly compared to the reefs and sargassos because they would never be flat. Then we have the Vikings, where the historicity of the set comes into question. Many people have lamented the Viking faction even more than the Mercenaries, simply because the timing of their exploits in real life is so far from the Age of Sail. However, I think the Longship keyword takes the cake for worst new content in this set. Viking longships didn’t even carry cannons as far as I know, but here they get the most potent offensive ability in the game just because they have small ships. The Vikings would be far better off with a different version of the keyword while functioning as a swarm nation.
– Collectability/Misc: 4/5. Not much to say here, other than the fact that FN remains one of the pricier sets.
= Overall: 11/20. A decent set strictly from a gameplay perspective. A rather strange direction to take the game in, and the reverse power creep continues.
Below you can check out the entire Set Review Podcast episode for a full overview of all the game pieces.