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Coldwater Crown Review

Quick Look:

Designer: Brian Suhre
Artists: Ryan Coleman, Beth Sobel
Publisher: Bellwether Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 1-4
Ages: 14+
Playing Time: 40-90 minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com


Rules and Setup:
In Coldwater Crown you race to catch the most - and biggest - fish from different locations.  You setup by placing fish in each zone with the weight shown face down.  Point tokens are arranged from highest point value to lowest in each challenge section and for each location.  Master Angler challenge tokens are all the same and will be placed in their depicted spot.  Randomly shuffled the mystery weights and set them in a pile on the depicted space, and randomly place a colored tag on the board.  Lastly the "first to 12 fish" token is placed in its position and is given to the first person to catch 12 fish.  That player will trigger the end of the game letting all other players take one more turn.  Tokens with the 1 side are placed on the top colors of each location and one is given to each player.

Bait is added to each player's tackle box with 3 pieces in the 3 box and 4 pieces in the 4 box.  In the game, you catch a fish when the last piece or bait is taken off of a box in the tackle box.  The color of the bait that was the last to be taken off, and the location of the box in your tackle box will indicated which fish you catch.  You flip it over and see what the weight is, if it matches the weight in the mystery challenge you can claim the token.  The bait is collected in a common discard pile. When the white colored bait is pulled, the bait is added back into the bag with play continuing.

Let me go back to a normal turn.  You will first place your token on an empty spot on the board.  There will always be 4 open spaces with 3 being covered.  Once you place your token, you will do 1 or 2 actions depending on what number is faced up.  If it's a "1", you will remove 1 piece of bait of that color from each box in your tackle box. If it's a "2", you will remove all pieces of bait of that color from all boxes.  Now you can see how to get bait off your boxes to catch fish.  After placing a token, you will pull one off and do the same as your first move with different colors and with different numbers on the token you are pulling off .  After taking your action, you will flip the token to the other side to be placed your next turn.  If you took a "1" off, next turn you will place the same token with it being a "2" and vice versa.

There comes a time where you need to refill your bait in order to catch more fish.  There is a port space, here you will can either take a master angler challenge card, or refill one of your bait boxes according to the number that is shown on the token.  If it's a "1" you can do one of these, if it's a "2" you can do two of these actions.  The master angler fish are placed near your board and when you discard bait, you will place them on your card until you fulfill the requirements, and at that time you have caught that fish.  During play whenever you fulfill a challenge you take the point token right away.

When a player catches 12 fish, or when one of the locations runs out of fish cards, the game ends as explained above.

In the solo mode you play a dummy player that is very good at catching fish.  You play your turn as normal except for having 9 pieces of bait of each color in the bag with 7 pieces being pulled to start with.  On their turn, if they have the same number of fish as you or less, they get 2 actions, if they have more fish than you, they get one action.  You will reach into the bag and pull out a piece of bait. Whatever color is it, you will either move the token on that color, or in the direction shown in the book, you will take the closest token counterclockwise and move it to that color.  If there is 3, 4, 5, or 6 of that color, they catch that fish of that color with that number referencing the box number it comes from.  When the clear bait is pulled, you take the top master angler card and give it to the dummy player.  Then you place all the bait back into the bag.  You can then choose to draw 7 bait to start in the discard pile, or give the dummy player another master angler card.  The dummy player will get all point tokens whenever they accomplish any requirement for them just like a normal player.

Theme and Mechanics:
The theme and mechanics match so well I'm not even sure how they figured this out because it's so brilliant.  You have somehow secured a spot in the Coldwater Crown fishing tournament. Will you need to figure out where and how to catch the best fish and balance your locations to win the most trophies in the end.

The game is a strategic game that uses worker placement by placing a worker and then taking one off. The game also uses set collection to gain points of different or same types of fish caught.  Worker placement is one of my favorite mechanics, and I feel like they added a nice twist to the mechanic by causing there to always be 3 workers on the board during every player's turn.


Artwork and Components:
The board for the game is detailed with background art showing an airplane view of the locations to fish.  There are 60 fish cards illustrated with 11 different fish.  30 Master Angler cards ate illustrated with 5 more things to catch.  There are 97 pieces of bait that are represented with colored plastic crystal pieces and a cloth bag to put them in.  There are 35 trophy tiles that are used to collect points, 15 tackle pieces to give extra one time abilities, 7 wooden angler tokens with sticker for each side, and 5 tag tiles.

I feel like the components are what they need to be for the game.  I would personally prefer that the fish cards were bigger with some added flavor text about the fish on them.

The Good:
This game is very strategic, and really challenges your brain because you will have to keep track of which bait color you are trying to leave for last for each area, which type of fish will get you a trophy, and what color spots will be left after all the other players go.

The Bad:
There is something missing, I'm not sure what exactly it is, but I'm sure either Brian or one of their super-fans has figured out what it is and I'm sure there will be an expansion put out that will fix that void.  In the game you need to focus on small details to catch the fish you want, and sometimes its hard to match your tackle box with the fish, or bank on drawing certain color bait when re-filling your tackle box.

The Solo Mode: 
In the solo mode you play the same as a 2 player game except you play a "dummy" player.  This dummy player is really really good at catching fish.  They catch a lot of fish, but they are not choosing the fish which can make things better for you or worse for you as they will sometimes catch all the fish that will give them more points.  The catch up mechanic makes it a little more manageable for you as the dummy takes only one action.

Final Thoughts:
I love this game, and the way it causes me to plan and think about all the choices I can make.  This is a must have worker placement game and joins in the group of the best worker placement games out there.  I wait patiently for an expansion that will take this game to becomes my favorite worker placement game.

Players Who Like:
I would recommend this game to those who enjoy Euro games, more specifically worker placement games. For those interested in fishing, this would be a great game to play.  If you want a game that gets your thinking but isn't complicated, this is the game for you.

I am giving Coldwater Crown a 9 out of 10 super meeples.

Check out Coldwater Crown on:


About the Author:
Brody Sheard played board games with his large family growing up. He continues his love of games by teaching his family, local gaming guild, and friends about new and exciting games. Brody believes that board gaming keeps your mind healthy while also having fun interacting with others.secured a spot in the Coldwater Crown fishing tournament.
Coldwater Crown Review Coldwater Crown Review Reviewed by Brody on December 19, 2017 Rating: 5

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