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LuckyIke

Viking-Themed Games

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As we lounge in the halls of these Viking Lumberjacks,  I couldn’t help but wonder: do Vikings like playing games about Vikings?  Do Mighty Barkers who hang out with Lumberjack Vikings like Viking games? I sure do!

This theme is one that is pretty hot these days, and it seems that some gamers suffer from Viking fatigue after an inundation of titles.  Clearly they need to grow out their beards, hew some lumber, drink some mead, and give it another go, because this theme offers a rich tapestry from which so many styles of games have been crafted.

I have found myself drawn to a few different Viking-themed games over the years, but want to hear what games have struck a particular chord with you.

 

Current Champion:

 Blood Rage - guys on a map battling it out as the world crumbles around them, executed so so well. I particularly love the ability to employ a cunning strategy of losing battles, only to gain bonuses for warriors sent to Valhalla.

New Contendor: 

878 Vikings - Academy Games most recent entry.  With 878, they have shifted from the “Birth of America” series (1754, 1775, 1812) to Europe, and boy is it fun.  They have successfully ported the features that make their previous games stand out, notably random turn order, multiple, asymmetric factions on each side, and the use of treaty cards to build tension with an uncertain end state.  The new feature in 878 is the Viking players’ two factions move in armies led by charismatic leaders, which leads them to behave like, well, marauding Vikings.  The game is well balanced, and from the English players’ perspective captures the sense of dread over having a new horde land on the coast just when you thought things were under control.  I haven’t had a chance to try out the advanced scenarios yet, but they look like a good way to add even more depth and create interesting tactical challenges.

Waiting in the Wings:

Vikingar - this was a Kickstarter I backed and while I haven’t yet had a chance to get the game on the table, my initial impressions after unboxing are quite positive.  The map is really unique, with pie-shaped pieces emanating out from a central disk, forming a flat earth.  The wooden meeples for longships and settlements have a great look as well.  There are multiple paths to victory, which looks like it feel similar to the different ways to gain stars in Scythe.  The other cool mechanic is instead of rolling dice, players cast runes onto the central circle of the map to resolve battles and such.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to give this one a proper shake down in the near future and will let you know if it plays as pretty as it looks. 

Great, but Not Rushing to Pick Up:

A Feast For Odin - this one was really interesting. Anyone who has played an Uwe Rosenberg game knows how fun they can be.  This was no exception, and I lost my initial learning game 92-91, which I will count as a moral victory in the midst of the point salad madness.  I had a blast playing it, and am glad I have a friend who owns it, but I’m not itching to rush and pick up my own copy.  The puzzle-y tile laying goodness is there, but I don’t think the added complexity of this one makes it more fun than some of the lighter titles by Uwe out there.  I’ll definitely play it again and maybe will acquire a more nuanced appreciation for its depths down the road.  Also, the game store owner (who hasn’t played it yet) hearing snippets of our conversation about my opponent’s pregnant sheep led to some quizzical looks.

What are some of your favorites? Least favorites? Anything coming down the pike that you’re excited to give a go?

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I have always wanted to play Fire and Axe: A Viking Saga. I have heard nothing but good things about it. Mike and I played a bunch of Viking Games when we were thinking about creating a Viking game...back before the wood stuff took off.

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1 hour ago, Adam said:

There's a trilogy of Viking themed games from Renegade. Raiders of the North Sea, Shipwrights of the North Sea and Explorers of the North Sea. 

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/170042/raiders-north-sea

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/75547/shipwrights-north-sea

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/176371/explorers-north-sea

Almost backed it but I've prefered upgrading CoCo :) 

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3 minutes ago, Serge Darveau said:

Almost backed it but I've prefered upgrading CoCo :) 

I have Explorers of the North Sea on pre-order from Miniature Market right now.

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1 minute ago, Lindsey said:

I haven't been able to find a copy of Feast for Odin yet but I hear it's epic!

Miniature Market, Cool Stuff and Amazon all have it. Going price right now seems to be $79.99.

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Just now, Adam said:

Miniature Market, Cool Stuff and Amazon all have it. Going price right now seems to be $79.99.

Wooo thanks I'll check it out! Also we are headed to PAX-U in a few days so maybe I can find a copy there too. 

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6 hours ago, Konas said:

@Serge Darveau I do love me some Blood Rage. I have also played quite a few terrible games set in this theme.

There's a french version with 3 expansions in a games store near my home (100 miles away, 90 minutes drive lol), I will think about it next year.B|

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Zombicide has a few Characters that fit the Viking theme.. That's the closest I've come. But find me a good game and I'll play it.

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I picked up Vikings On Board went it was on a super cheap sale last year. Here is my Amazon review:

Rating: Two Stars

This game is truly one of the most beautiful games I have ever bought, with the colorful artwork and 3D ships which come pre-made. I love the shields you put your goods on after they ship.

The gameplay is not so enjoyable, at least for my family. Players spend most of their time trying to ruin the plans of other players. Its difficult to plan ahead because most likely your ship pieces will be moved by other players, hijacking your goods you wanted to sail off with.

If you are a player who likes constantly "in you face" conflict, then you may like this one. My family prefers more Euro style games where you can develop long-term strategy, which is useless in this game.

 

Link: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Orange-04300-Vikings-Board/dp/B01IMWLG1E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511153747&sr=8-1&keywords=Vikings+on+board

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Edited by RomyCat

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So I had a chance to give Vikingar an initial run through. Bottom line, I enjoyed it quite a bit but will likely tweak/house rule a few minor things to make it even more fun.  

I played it two-player, and think that it will be more fun with more players.  A more crowded board will force more direct competition and player interaction, which in this game I would regard as a positive. For those who like their conflict light, with two players it felt more of a race to explore the world, which was also enjoyable.  

The other rule I would tweak related to casting runes.  The game uses runes instead of dice, which was really fun. However, we were rather clumsy rune casters, which resulted in many rune tiles going outside a marked circle, and thus not counting.  I think we will cast in the box lid (or someday soon a proper dragon tray!), which will make for more exciting battles.    

Here are some photos of the first game underway.

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1 hour ago, RomyCat said:

Luckylike, I have never heard of that game before. That circle map looks intriguing. 

The circular map was what first drew me to the game. You start in the center and explore outward.  To win the game, after you have completed the required number of objectives, you must find a gate to Valhalla at the end of the world. Many longboats were lost to the abyss before a brave crew found their way to glory.

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1 hour ago, Zoe said:

@LuckyIke This sounds and looks awesome! You already beat me to the dragon tray suggestion.

It would be perfect with the Ouroboros.  My Vikings, however, will be casting into a sabretooth tiger in the not-so-distant future!

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