Looking for a board game that tackles fishing in a serious and fun way? If so, check out Coldwater Crown from Bellwether Games. Designed by Brian Suhre for 1-4 players, Coldwater Crown simulates a fishing tournament taking place at three locations (four with the new Sea expansion). Players are trying to catch the heaviest fish and will submit one from each species they catch for scoring at the end of the game. The player with the heaviest total weight at each location will score the most victory points at that location, and player with the most total victory points wins.

At its heart, Coldwater Crown is a worker placement game with a mechanic similar to Raiders Of The North Sea, where you place a token to perform an action and then remove a token from the board to take a second action. Making your choice more difficult, each token has a 1 and 2 on opposite sides. The 1 side allows one action when placed or taken, but the 2 side lets you perform multiple or stronger actions. After a player removes the token from the board, they flip it to its opposite side, and they will use that token (with that side) for their first placement next turn. The actions players will be performing revolve around their player board, which has four quadrants.

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Posted by Dice Drop Games on Thursday, February 28, 2019

Each quadrant of the player’s board (tackle box) will have a number of randomly drawn crystals (bait) in six different colors on it. Each color matches a spot on the board at one of the bodies of water where an action token may be placed or removed. When a token is placed or removed, crystals matching that color are removed from one or more quadrants of the active player’s board. When the last crystal is removed from a quadrant the player will catch a fish from the corresponding location on the board matching both the crystal’s color and the quadrant from which it was removed. Each location has four cards representing the current available fish at that location, one for each quadrant. While the cards tell you the type of fish present and the weight range of that species, you will not know the exact weight until you take possession of the card.

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Posted by Dice Drop Games on Sunday, March 3, 2019

There are additional bonuses for being the first to catch different sets of species as well as being the first to catch 12 total fish, which also triggers the game’s end. There are also points available for catching species off the port, which is the 7th spot available for token placement. The port also allows players to fill depleted quadrants on their boards with fresh crystals. In the Sea expansion, players can use the port to send out their ship to catch more species of deep sea fish, including sharks and squid. The Sea adds more excellent choices to the base game without making it overly complicated.

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Posted by Dice Drop Games on Thursday, February 28, 2019

Other than Coldwater Crown, the only other fishing game I can remember playing is Fleet Wharfside, an excellent card game in its own right from Eagle-Gryphon Games. For me, Coldwater Crown takes its place alongside Fleet as a gem of a fishing game. The mechanics are simple and tight, which makes the game easy to explain and helps the turns move quickly. The choices are tough but not impossible and there is a lot of tension because you are never sure if the fish you want will still be available when you are able to remove the particular gem needed. As in most worker placement games there are also decent opportunities to hinder opponents by occupying spaces they need, at the very least forcing them to use the 1 side of a token for a weaker action. Because timing of when to remove certain color gems from a player’s board is an important element of the game, this makes blocking key if you want to win.

In the end, I would never have thought that a game featuring gems and quadrants could capture a fishing theme properly. Kudos, though, to Mr. Suhre for pleasantly surprising me. And not just me. Every time we’ve played Coldwater Crown, my fellow players have unanimously approved it as a highly satisfactory experience. It really is fun and you should try it if you haven’t.

Thanks for reading and keep nerding on.

RELATED: Read all Rob’s board game reviews and recommendations, here!



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Rob Fenimore

Founder at Dice Drop Games
Rob is a board game lover who owns a game shop in central Georgia. He also likes writing articles for us.
Rob Fenimore
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