Explorers of the North Sea

Explorers of the North Sea: A Guide to Rules, Instructions & Strategy Tips


Explorers of the North Sea is a game where you get to be a Viking captain (fun bit of trivia I always like, that viking is a doing word; i.e. to go viking), sailing the seas, discovering islands, and building settlements. It’s part of a series called the North Sea Saga and was made by Shem Phillips. The game came out in 2016 and has been pretty popular among folks who like strategy and tile-laying games. It’s for 1 to 4 players and usually takes about an hour to play.

The idea is to score points by doing things like delivering livestock, building outposts, and fighting off enemy ships. The game ends after all tiles are placed. The player with the most points wins. It’s a mix of planning and luck, and you’ve got to be smart about your moves.

Quick Tip for Explorers of the North Sea

Always keep an eye on your opponents’ ships and settlements. It can give you clues about their next moves and help you plan your strategy better.

Rules for playing Explorers of the North Sea

The rules of Explorers of the North Sea are pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. Each player starts with a ship and a few Vikings. On your turn, you do a bunch of things. You place a new tile to build the map, move your ship, and do actions like picking up livestock, raiding settlements, or building your own outposts. You’ve got to make the most of your turn because you only get a few actions.

There are rules about how you can move and what you can carry on your ship. For example, you can’t just pick up an endless number of animals. You’ve also got to watch out for enemy ships because they can attack you. If you’re smart, you can use this to your advantage and attack them first.

The game has a bunch of different tiles, like islands, sea, and enemy ships. Each type of tile has its own rules about how you can use it. The islands are where you pick up livestock and build outposts, while the sea tiles let you move around the map.

Equipment and Setup for Explorers of the North Sea

To play Explorers of the North Sea, you need the game box which comes with a bunch of stuff. You’ve got tiles that make up the sea and islands, little wooden ships and Vikings, and pieces for livestock and outposts. There are also some cards that give you special moves.

Setting up the game is easy. You put the starting tile in the middle and give each player their ship and Vikings. You shuffle the rest of the tiles and make a pile. Each player gets some tiles to start with, and you’re ready to go.

The tiles are the main thing in the game. There are different types, like straight sea, curved sea, islands with one, two, or three coasts, and special tiles with enemy ships or fortresses.

How to Play Explorers of the North Sea and Game Mechanics

  1. Place a Tile: You add a new tile to the map from your hand.
  2. Move Ship: You can move your ship up to four spaces. You can pick up or drop off Vikings, livestock, or raid settlements along the way.
  3. Actions: You get three actions per turn. These can be picking up livestock, building an outpost, moving extra spaces, or attacking an enemy ship.
  4. Draw Tiles: At the end of your turn, you draw new tiles so you always have three in your hand.

The game ends when all tiles are placed. You then add up points for things like livestock delivered, outposts built, and enemy ships defeated.

How to Win at Explorers of the North Sea

Winning at Explorers of the North Sea is about balancing your moves. You want to score points by delivering livestock and building outposts, but you also need to keep your ship safe from enemies. Beginners should focus on learning the different ways to score points. Intermediate players can start planning their moves ahead of time. Advanced players will think about what their opponents are doing and try to block them or steal their points.

It’s also important to manage your hand of tiles. You want to make sure you can keep moving and scoring points every turn. Sometimes it’s worth taking a turn to set up a big move later on.

Best Strategies for playing Explorers of the North Sea game

Some of the best ways to win at Explorers of the North Sea involve being flexible and ready to change your plan. You might start off wanting to deliver a lot of livestock, but if you see a chance to build an outpost or attack an enemy ship, you should take it.

It’s also good to keep an eye on the tiles you have and the ones that are left. If you know what’s coming up, you can plan better. And don’t forget about the special cards. They can give you a big advantage if you use them at the right time.

Sneaky tactics can include blocking other players from reaching islands or stealing livestock they were going for. Just be careful because they might do the same to you.


If you find yourself stuck with no good moves, try to change the map in your favor by placing tiles that open up new options. If you’re ahead, you might want to play more defensively and protect your lead.

If an opponent is getting too strong, you can team up with others to slow them down. Just remember that there’s only one winner at the end.

Frequently Asked Questions about playing Explorers of the North Sea game

  1. Q: Can I move through a tile with an enemy ship without fighting?
    A: No, if you enter a tile with an enemy ship, you must stop and fight.
  2. Q: How many actions can I take on my turn?
    A: You get three actions per turn, but you can get more by playing certain cards or using special abilities.
  3. Q: Can I pick up livestock from an island where another player has an outpost?
    A: Yes, you can still pick up livestock from there.
  4. Q: What happens if I run out of Vikings?
    A: You can’t do any actions that require Vikings until you pick some up from islands or your outposts.
  5. Q: Can I move my ship over land tiles?
    A: No, ships can only move on sea tiles.

Additional Tips for Explorers of the North Sea

Remember to keep track of the score as you play. It can help you decide what moves to make. Also, don’t forget that the game can end suddenly when the last tile is placed, so plan your endgame well.

Another thing to consider is the weather. Some tiles have storm symbols that can affect your movement. Use these to your advantage or avoid them if they’ll slow you down.

Lastly, don’t get too focused on one strategy. Be ready to adapt if the tiles or your opponents’ actions force you to change your plan.

For more information on Explorers of the North Sea, check out the publisher’s website for official rules and updates: Garphill Games – Explorers of the North Sea.