Review – Beer & Vikings from Albe Pavo

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Review – Beer & Vikings from Albe Pavo

Designer – Matteo Santus

Art – Jocularis

Note – As I did an earlier preview of Beer & Vikings, I have taken the content from that preview and now added my opinions for you.

It all began last year with Sake & Samurai, a rather wild game about er… a bunch of Samurai sitting around, sampling the local Sake and then getting into a right old fight to the death.

The next installment in this series was released at Essen and its called, Beer & Vikings, which is a standalone game and also compatible with Sake & Samurai (see my review).

Now I liked Sake & Samurai but I struggled with the rules a bit. But as I was familiar with the system and I LOVE the theme, I will say up front that my experience playing Beer & Vikings was much better.

Yeah, a bunch of loud, raucous, muscle-bound Vikings are sitting in a pub, pints of beer generously flow and… you know the rest. Shouts of “In the name of Odin, I will send you to Hades!”and all that. It’s all about big, ugly, violent and very thirsty, Vikings.  I love the theme as I find it hilarious.

Let’s give you a taste of what you can expect (italics are quotes from the rulebook).

Introduction

Is it better to have the cask full or the Viking drunk?
In BEER & VIKINGS you are a fierce and thirsty Viking, who will do anything to get the last pint of beer. The winner of the game is the drunkest Viking (in game terms, the player who has collected the most Beer drink counters) at the end of the Sudden Death round. Be wary, though, for drinking too much will dull your wits and martial prowess. Each drink of Beer prevents you from using one of your resources, be it a weapon or an item, or even your personal power! You must always be wary not to drink too much or you risk becoming a defenseless soak at the hands of your enemies. On the other hand, you will be able to burn up (thanks to the ardor of your martial spirit) some of the Beer you have drunk to obtain significant bonuses which may very well save your life. Show yourself as the wise warrior you are and plan your strategy with care, not burning up too much Beer at the risk of finding yourself left behind at the end of the game, when the mug is empty and the Sudden death round begins. Those who will succumb to their enemies’ blows won’t be eliminated from the game, but will become Spirits of Loki, the god of deceit, teaming up with the other Spirits to attack the living, aiming to steal their Beer. And now, let’s raise our mugs (and our axes)!

This is a further development of the Spirits and Warriors system begun with Sake & Samurai so if you have the earlier game, you will be able to kick off swinging axes on this version very quickly as there are only a handful of changes. Also, you will be able to combine both games and pit Samurai vs. Vikings!

How does it look?

Well, Beer & Vikings is simply a gorgeous piece of work! A card game, you will find quite brilliant artwork here.

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8 Warrior boards
The fierce warrior you portray in the fight for the last mug! Each Warrior board has on its front side the characteristics of the Viking alive.

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98 playing cards Card which have two specific and independent characteristics: the Action Boxes in the four corners and the Card Text in the middle. All cards have three different types of back (troublesome, quarrelsome, drowsy) used only by the dead Vikings who have become Spirits of Loki. Icons indicate values for Attack, Defense, Movement and of course, drinking Beer! There are four different kinds of Card Text covering Events, Weapons, Minions, and Interrupts.

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4 Location cards
Vikings can go anywhere on their drakkars. If you are tired of getting drunk in a smoke-filled inn, change location!

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10 Valhalla Cards
Only the bravest can aspire to Valhalla. The Valhalla cards represent special powers only granted to those who eliminate another Warrior.

You also get Berserk counters, Steps counters (to measure distance between the fighters), and Beer counters (glug… glug… glug…) as well as a fold-able container representing a Beer mug.

The images in Beer & Vikings are very nicely done and have the same sense of humour found in Sake & Samurai. The art really gives you a strong sense of the fierceness and danger, on one hand, and the craziness of it all. I have to say that the Viking theme works more for me personally than the Samurai.

Gameplay

I won’t go through the rules in detail as you can find them here but the basics are –

DURING YOUR GAME TURN The turn of each player is divided in the following 4 Phases:
1) WARRIOR PHASE: play up to 2 cards – you can Drink, Attack or Move or Play an Event or even chuck a Minion in front of you to take hits on your behalf. Combat is subject to how many steps the fighters are away from each other.

2) MINION PHASE: your Minions move and attack
Minions are less quick and nimble than the Warriors they fight for, therefore they move and attack only after the Warrior Phase. I LOVE the Minions. Its just hilarious.

3) CARDS PHASE: draw 2 cards
Draw 2 cards from the draw pile. If you have then more than 4 cards in hand, discard down to 4 cards.

4) DEFENSE PHASE: select a Weapon with which to defend yourself during the other players’ turn.

DURING YOUR OPPONENTS’ TURN
Remember: you must play cards to make Actions, even when you want to defend yourself!
During the turn of your opponents, you may:

Perform a Defense Action when you’re attacked

Sacrifice a Minion from your hand when you’re attacked – “Sacrifice”… love it!

Play Interrupts 

AT ANY TIME
Skilled Warriors draw on their last resources if needed, wisely looking for any opportunity to win. They know that the gods favor only the bold Warriors.

Here is where the Beer comes in to draw cards and recover from wounds (dull your senses to the pain more likely…).

BURNING YOUR SOUL
One per turn (yours or another player’s), you may draw a declared number of cards from your Life Points pile!

USE A POWER (WARRIORS, ITEMS, VALHALLA CARDS)

GAIN VALHALLA CARDS
Each time your Warrior or one of yours Minions kills an opponent Warrior, draw immediately 2 Valhalla cards, select 1 to place it in your Equipment area and shuffle back the other in the Valhalla deck.

DEATH
If you lose all your Life Points, your Warrior’s life comes to an end. Will death really submit your spirit? As a ruthless and thirsty Spirit, you may yet win and get back at your opponents!

SUDDEN DEATH ROUND AND VICTORY
When a player takes the last Spirits drink from the Mug, the Sudden Death round begins. Each player, except the one who emptied the Mug, has a last turn to play! At the end of the round, the winner is the Warrior who has the most Spirits drinks on his board and cards. In case of a tie, the winner is the Warrior with the most Valhalla cards, other- wise the Warriors with the most Spirits drinks begin a new Sudden Death round, while the others are eliminated!

Even if your character gets the chop, you can still cause problems for the other players.

Golden rule for Spirits
Spirits are now in the afterworld and see everything from the opposite side. During his turn, a Spirit performs in order the following actions:

At any time, a Spirit who is attacked may Dematerialize.
Use the power of Elation Draw a card, Torment a Warrior OR Steal Spirits from the Mug

The victory conditions for the Spirits are the same as the Warriors’, the only difference is that Spirits count Spirits drinks as a team and lose or win together.

Did I like Beer & Vikings?

A resounding yes is the answer. Since I was familiar with the system from Sake & Samurai, I found it easy to get into and actually, I found the Viking theme a lot more fun. Once you understand the game play, it all moves along nicely. Lots of interaction, and there are a good amount of choices as to which cards to play and which aspect of the cards to best apply at any given situation.

This is a social game, for experienced gamers, not newbies who will need more time to understand how it works. Its more than a filler as there is a good amount to think about but it boils down to choosing which aspect of the cards to play to do the most damage. Interesting and crazy though, you don’t win with sober Vikings. You need to get the Beer tokens onto your cards, but there is a price to pay as you do which will hamstring your efforts. And then the players who you hacked to pieces earlier can still come back and cause havoc so you always have a chance to win regardless.

The balance of fun and frustration is just right in Beer & Vikings and I can heartily recommend it if you play with the right game group (experienced gamers who like interaction, and social banter). Gamers who take themselves too seriously and who are more concerned to win, than just have fun, won’t enjoy it.

Visually, the art is first class and very thematic. The system is solid and works well. If you dig Vikings, especially when they get their “berserkerness” up and swing huge axes, you will have a great time playing Beer & Vikings.

for more information go to – http://www.albepavo.com/

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