The Lunch Box Games series from Inside the Box is a series of quick-playing, lightweight, board games great for playing during your lunch break. The first game in this series is Skora, a Viking themed card game.
Instead of your usual pillaging Vikings theme, in Skora players are competing to get the best fishing catch. This is a super-fast playing lightweight, competitive, area majority, card game.
Disclosure: Inside the Box games was cool enough to send us a review copy of Skora. Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and podcast. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
What do you get in the lunchtime game Skora?
Skora was designed by Rory Muldoon and Rose Atkinson and features some really striking art by Rory Muldoon. It was published in 2020 by Inside the Box Board Games under their Lunch Box Games line.
The card game Skora is a game of fishing and feuding but it’s mostly about fishing. It is a small card count, lightning-quick, area majority game played over two rounds. The first round, players play catch cards onto the board which is divided into three fishing spots. While placing certain cards they will also get to add boats. Once all cards are played, players will draft catch cards based on area majority, aka who has the most boats in that part of the ocean. In addition to each card being worth points, players also have a hidden scoring card they chose at the start of the game that can earn them bonus points.
If you want to see what you get inside the lunchbox sized box for Skora check out my, somewhat glitchy Skora Unboxing Video on YouTube. I do apologize for the quality on this one, especially the part where the video breaks up as I’m talking about the rulebook. While we considered just not publishing it, the rest of the video is good and it really shows off the cards well.
The first thing of note about Skora is the box it comes in. The box is meant to look like a small lunch box. It’s the right size and even features artwork of a handle on the top of the box. It’s very solidly constructed and flips open from the front, which is held shut by a magnet.
Inside the box, you will find the rulebook which is only seven pages long and includes a reference page for the scoring cards. The rules are very clear and easy to learn.
This is the kind of book you can read when opening the box for the first time with your friends at the table and learn to play together.
Beneath the rulebook, you will find two punch boards. The first holds the central “board” that you will be arranging cards around, the other punchboard holds a number of square axe tokens. These are very thick cardboard, thicker by a couple of millimetres over your standard board game punch boards.
Below this, you have a pretty basic cardboard trough-style box insert. This insert holds a baggie with a bunch of wooden boats. The boats come in four different colours and also feature unique flag artwork to help anyone who has difficulty telling the colours apart. The game comes with six of each type of boat.
Next, we have a pack of end-game scoring cards. These are nothing fancy featuring white text on a black background.
Finally, you have the catch cards. Three are three different suits, Fish, Claws and Sharks, and two different numbered cards for each suit. The numbers range from one to six and there are four copies of each card included in the game.
The individual suits are distinguished by both colour and iconography. Each card also features some very striking Viking themed artwork and some additional game text.
How is the Viking themed filler game Skora played?
You start a game of Skora by placing the Ocean Board in the center of the table between all of the players. This board has three ocean areas (A, B and C) and a spot for a row of cards to come off of each area.
Players start assembling their hand by collecting one each of the catch cards numbered one to three. The remaining cards (numbered four to six) are shuffled. One card gets placed face-up in each section of the Ocean Board then the rest of the cards are dealt out evenly to each player with any remaining cards removed from the game.
Next players each get two randomly assigned decree cards, picking one to keep and discarding the other. These are end game scoring cards that give bonus points for things like your end game scoring hand having a majority of one of the three card types, having only two catch types, having different creatures in your final catch, etc.
The game is broken into two phases, Baiting and Fishing.
During the Baiting phase, each player will play one card at a time from their hand to one of the three ocean areas. The card is played on top of any previously played cards at that area, making a row going down, so that the previous card can be clearly seen.
Each card features a catch type (suit) of either fish, claws or sharks, a point value from one to six, a creature type (with image) and an action. As each card is played you carry out it’s action.
Cards one through three all have the player add boats to the location the card is played at. The four and five cards manipulate cards already played, moving one card from the location they are played at to an adjacent Ocean Board space, while the six card has no special action but is worth the most points.
If the card played matches the suit of the card it is placed on top of you also get to collect an axe token.
After placing a card you also get the option to move one of your already in play boats from one Ocean Board spot to another.
Once everyone has played all of their cards the Baiting phase ends and you move on to the Fishing phase.
During the Fishing phase, players collect catch cards.
Starting with the A ocean area, the player with the most boats in that area selects one catch card to collect from the cards at that location. Then the player with the second most boats selects a card to take. This continues for all players with boats at the location. With each card taken players remove one of their boat tokens from the board. If a player runs out of boats they cannot collect any more cards and if the cards run out any leftover boats are wasted.
Note that the order of card selection is set at the beginning of the phase and doesn’t alter as players remove boats. After determining the order of control, the boats only indicate how many cards each player may be able to take.
If there is a tie for area majority, that tie goes to the player with the most Axe Tokens. That player must then flip over one of their Axe Tokens (which may affect future ties). If players are also tied for the number of Axe Tokens the tie goes to the player earliest in turn order.
Play continues like this, resolving each of the three ocean areas until everyone has collected all of the cards that they can.
Special note for two players: When selecting a card to collect you also pick a second card and remove it from the game.
You continue the Fishing round drafting cards in boat majority order from each of the three ocean locations until all of the cards have been removed.
Once everyone has completed fishing all that is left is to add up your catch cards. Cards are worth victory points based on the number on the card, plus players also score points if they managed to complete their decree card. Whoever has the most points wins.
What did we think of Skora a Viking fishing game?
To understand and enjoy Skora, I think you have to realize the goal that Inside the Box Games is trying to achieve with their Lunch Box Games series. That goal here is to have a number of small box games that you can literally bring to lunch. They are quick to teach and easy to learn, relying on tried and try game mechanics making them very accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike. They take up a small footprint, not requiring a large amount of space or a dedicated gaming area to play, and they play quickly taking about half an hour. When looked at in that light Skora succeeds admirably.
Along with being a great quick filler game, perfect for something like a lunch break, Skora looks great. I love the aesthetic that Rory Muldoon went for with this card game. I really dig the card artwork and the layout. If I could improve one thing I would have repeated the card point value under the suit on the top left of each card, but that’s a small thing that would help with people used to fanning their hands like traditional playing cards. Though the hand size isn’t really large enough for this to be a problem.
The quality of the components in Skora is top-notch. I’ve already noted above how much I like the box. I was also impressed by the card quality. The cards have a very matt finish which makes them easy to read both in hand and across the table, something that helps facilitate actual gameplay. The cardboard here is thick and the boat meeples are well designed. I especially appreciate the graphics placed on the flags to help with accessibility. Though my wife and I did both think the purple ships to look a bit too much like striped T-shirts.
The gameplay in Skora is also solid. This game reminds me most of the large number of small card count filler games that became popular with Love Letter. Similar to those, Skora only features twenty-four cards at the highest player count (and fewer cards are used with less than four players). This is a game about counting cards and perfect or near-perfect information. It’s about figuring out what cards your opponents have and predicting what they will do with them.
Where Skora went from good to merely okay is when playing with only two players. While the game works with only two people, it uses variant rules, rules that mean that in most games players will waste a number of boats and only earn a small handful of scoring cards. No area majority game really works well with two and Skora wasn’t able to become an exception.
Overall Skora is a fast-playing filler with some really solid mechanics. Limiting the number of cards in the game means that players have a good idea of what is out there at all times making the decisions in the game very tactical. While I personally generally prefer my area majority games to be on the longer and heavier side, I did find Skora did a good job of scratching that itch.
Where Skora shines is at doing exactly what it was designed to do, and that’s to be an accessible, quick to play, game which still manages to have meat on it. It’s a game that is perfect for breaking out during a lunch break or as a starter or filler on game night. If you are looking for a game to fill that niche, Skora is a great choice. If you prefer your area majority games to be longer and more complicated, Skora probably won’t have enough depth for you but it may still be worth checking out. Sometimes having something to fill a half-hour gap of free time is just what you need.
While I like my games meaty and with lots of depth, I also like having a number of quicker, shorter, games in my collection for starting off game nights, for a finisher at the end of a long night of gaming or to fill the gap between games. Skora is going to be perfect for that. What are some of your favourite games for filling the gaps on game night? Let us know in the comments!