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Skora

It’s been a long winter and the clans of Norsica must plunder the sea for sustenance in this 2-4 player card game designed and illustrated by Rory Muldoon.

Gameplay

Skora begins with each player choosing ships of their selected color and being dealt a hand of catch cards numbered 1-3. The rest of the catch cards numbered 4-6 are shuffled, with one placed on each of the three ocean spots on the central board, and the rest evenly distributed among players (with any extras taken out of play). Players will then be dealt two Decree cards, choosing one to keep as their hidden personal goal.

The goal of Skora is to have the most bountiful fishing harvest, which happens over the course of two phases: baiting and fishing. Players will take turns, beginning with the starting player, playing their cards in one of the three ocean spots on the central board. After they play a card, they will either place a ship or move it to another ocean spot on the central board. If a player matches the creature type of one of the spots, they will gain an axe token. Players must immediately take any actions on the cards they play. The baiting phase continues until all cards have been played into the ocean spots.

Then the fishing phase begins. Players will begin in the first ocean spot, assessing the number of ships each player has placed in that spot. The player with the most ships will get to select which card they want first, the player with the second-highest goes next, and so on until all ships have been used or all the cards have been selected, in this round-robin style. The same action takes place in the second and third spots of the board. Any ties in the number of ships are broken by the person who has the most axe tokens going first. They will then discard one of their axe tokens, which can cause ties to go differently on subsequent ocean spaces.

The objective is to not only claim the creature cards with the highest point totals, but also creature cards that fulfill the objective on the Decree card each player chooses at the beginning of the game. Players will tally all the points from their creature cards and the Decree card (if fulfilled) and the player with the highest point total is the winning clan.

Skora components

Skora image provided by the publisher

Review

Skora delivers on its promise as a strategic, but quick game. Turns happen without too much thought as players play cards while also seizing where to place their ships for the best advantage, also leveraging the actions on the cards to their benefit when possible. However, the game’s minimal amount of ships and cards can mean that players who put too much into one space find themselves not getting enough cards, not using an action to its fullest potential, or missing out on better cards on other ocean spots.

Likewise, just choosing the highest point cards from any given ocean spot can mean losing out on the Decree card bonus. Though bonuses are fairly simple (such as having the most of one type of creature in hand at the end of the fishing phase), they can be the deciding factor in any given game because the bonus is worth more than an extra point or two from claiming a creature card that does not count for the Decree card. 

In a game that takes no more than 20 minutes to play with four players, Skora offers a lot in its little package. The art and color choices are eye-catching, the gameplay simple, and the instructions short and to the point. The only complaint anyone had during play was that the game was too quick, to which the response was a simple “let’s play again.” 

Pros: Light strategy game that is easy to learn and play but hard to master, beautiful art and graphics

Cons: None