I’ve playtested Winds of the North a handful of times already at various stages of its development. But it’s been a while since a good chunk of what I’ve been working on this past few weeks was mostly writing encounters and cleaning up the rules so hopefully, someone who isn’t the designer can understand how to play. But now that the first major playtesting phase has started, it’s time to dive back in.
Eyjolf is a capable man, born to be a Viking. His stats are:
- Combat: 3
- Survival: 2
- Farming: 0
- Seamanship: 1
- Wisdom: 1
He’ll be looking for fights and doing some hunting for sure. The downside is, everything on the farm will be a challenge for him. He does not have a green thumb. In addition, his low Wisdom will definitely hold him back in some important areas; he’ll be looking for good Tools to help cover some of those areas.
Since I have a set of pre-painted Viking figures (I’ll probably do a write-up of those at some point), I grab one to represent Eyjolf. Minis aren’t actually used in the game, but it doesn’t hurt to have your hero sitting in front of you to help immerse you in the game.
Month 1, Spring
Eyjolf first visits the local market to buy some supplies. On the way, he gets a common event. A rune-stone! Unfortunately, he is literally too stupid (Wisdom 1) to get the best result which is usually a free Skill level, but the tale raises Happiness by 1. At the market, a Hunting Spear is an obvious purchase (it matches his mini!), though I’m tempted to hire the Farmhand that I rolled for one of the available Hirðmenn, 20 silver is expensive, and there are other things I need. I briefly think about getting the Ard for help planting crops, but then I don’t and I soon regret it.
I waste 2 seeds of Peas after rolling two 1s trying to plant them. This is what I get for having a Farming of 0. At least my hunting was successful, bringing in a deer for 3 Meat and 1 Hide. It makes up for a lackluster fishing trip that only yielded 1 Meat. But I crafted some Fishing Nets that will hopefully help with that in the future.
At the end of the month, I get an event. Wild horses are in the area, and I manage to catch one. I now have a mount! This will give me a bonus when I go exploring over land. Unfortunately, I forgot to visit the Spring Festival. I was too busy failing to plant crops. It’s a shame, the mock combat would have been good for Eyjolf’s 3 Combat.
Month 2, Spring
The failures continue, this time Barley. I waste my last Barley seed, but at least I get some Onions planted. Eyjolf is just not a farmer. But he is a good hunter, this time bringing in a large stag for 5 Meat and 1 Hide. The fishing has also brought in some Meat and now 2 Oil which I can sell at the market for quick cash. I’m going to need that silver.
But some bad weather has gotten me sick twice now, dropping me to 4 HP (from my starting 6); I might have to rest up soon. One of the occasions I got sick was when building during a Storm, which also gave me a -4 penalty. I still managed to get a little bit of work done, but more importantly, I got the Smokehouse started. I get 1 free progress each month for having at least 5 members of the Household, and the Smokehouse will preserve 4 Meat each month. It will combo well with hunting and fishing, which is good because Eyjolf is a terrible farmer. We need to eat something.
To cap out the month, I try to make a Shield, possibly to just sell at the market for a bit of extra silver, but I flub and waste my resources… Eyjolf is stupid. At least the resources weren’t too bad; since he’s a good hunter, I can get replacement Hide pretty easily.
Month 3, Spring
The season is almost over, so time to finish planting crops… if I can. Luckily, I get the last of my Onions down. Our only crops consist of Barley (which is the starting crop) and now 4 crops of Onion. It’s food…
I do manage, on a good roll, to finish the Smokehouse, which will start converting meat so it can stockpile. Unfortunately, our fishing trips this month were not very bountiful. And I needed to take care of other things, so I never got a hunting trip in. Instead, I rested and mercifully got my 2 HP back. With his 1 Wisdom, he only would have gotten any healing on a 5+, 50% chance of nothing! But Eyjolf can get lucky sometimes. Now that he’s healed up, time to explore!
Since I have a mount, my total bonus for exploring (Survival) is +3, and I get a good roll. For my encounter, I get a Rare Encounter. A local lord is building a grand hall and asks for me to join in building it. Well… I suppose, but really, no one should ask Eyjolf to help build things. That’s Farming, and his is 0. But I do have a nice +1 Build Hammer I bought in the market. With a decent roll, I at least help some and get a reward of some food. I would have also gotten a free Servant for the Household, but I haven’t expanded the house yet, so we’re full still. However, this also gives me my first Discovery. I get to add the Hall to my map and can return later for a new encounter.
On a side note, some successful ventures to cut wood has given me 7 Wood, which will surely let me build something good. But I need Iron for the Smithy which is needed to unlock the advanced crafting and building.
But Spring is over. We now move on to Summer. Summer offers a small window to go Raiding, which can be very profitable but takes up most of Summer. I could use the silver, but I might be able to make it up with fishing and hunting, then selling off the Oil and extra Hide. But there could be other rewards if I do well in the Raid, and Eyjolf is definitely a fighter (he even has a nice spear). Summer also presents a great time to go exploring since I won’t be preoccupied with planting crops.
To Raid or not to Raid! We return next time with Summer…
A bonus look at the pre-painted figures: