Review – Villainous Vikings from Victory Point Games

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Review – Villainous Vikings from Victory Point Games

Designed by Jeremy Stoltzfus w/ Graham Weaver

Thanks to Victory Point Games for providing a review copy of this game.

Who doesn’t like Vikings right? And yet, there aren’t a load of notable games out there about Vikings. I wonder why. I mean, the Vikings provide a rich historical flavour as well as the exploration, conquest let alone the mythology. It’s a strange one in board gaming that there isn’t a robust library of awesome games covering this topic.

Well with Villainous Vikings, Victory Point Games have entered the arena so I will tell you what I think about it.

Villainous Vikings is a game for 2-4 players age 13+ that takes about 45 minutes and covers the Vikings at a strategic level with additional elements reflecting the operational raiding and trading aspects as well as the tactical level of battles.

From the rules-
A Viking’s Mission
Your goal in Villainous Vikings is to amass as many Valhalla Points as possible so that after Ragnarök occurs your Captain has the best seat in Valhalla to tell his tales of battle and drink his mead. You will gain Valhalla Points by raiding, trading, and battling the other Captains who are also vying for Odin’s favor.

Unboxing

Here is what comes in the box.
1 Game board with a very nice map depicting Europe and North Africa

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13 counters
4 Shield markers 1 Trade Network token
3 Draugr tokens 1 Conquest Legacy token 4 Longship standees

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The cardboard is thick and sturdy and the artwork is excellent whilst remaining functional. The board comes in 5 parts which are put together in puzzle fashion. The Longship standees stand out in particular as they give the players a 3D ship to move around the board which looks great.

103 cards
9 Asgard cards – these are special gifts from the Nordic Gods which can come in handy
1 Ragnarök card – this card triggers the end of the game

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50 Map cards – these are the locations that the players travel to to attempt their Viking adventures

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23 Hero cards – certain locations have Heroes, Mercenaries or Bosses assigned to them

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12 Longship Crew Section cards – each player has 3 cards which represent 3 crew sections

8 Viking Captain sheets – each captain has their own set of actions, one of which is guaranteed

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The art really stands out for me here. Very thematic, the art really brings out the feeling of the Viking era without being overly cheesy or ultra-authentic. I love the look and feel. The card content is easy to read and clearly laid out. The cards are sturdy and will withstand many plays.

6 dice with stickers
The weak spot in the components if there is one. And this is just about taste. I would have preferred etched dice for the cool factor only. The dice are big and chunky and you have to put stickers on them. The stickers are well done. So the dice are functional and they do the job they are supposed to.

Gameplay

Villainous Vikings is relatively easy to get into. It’s not a complex game and I taught it to a 10 year old who completely grasped the gameplay pretty quickly.

Player Turn
At the beginning of the Current Player’s turn, she may choose to permanently expand the Journey Card Pool by one card if it is not at the maximum of eight cards; the cost of expanding is as follows:
6th Card . . . . . . . . 1 gold
7th Card . . . . . . . . 2 gold
8th Card (Max) . . . . 3 gold

The journey card pool is the game engine and drives the process. Each turn, the players are constantly traveling and looking to conquer, trade or influence, or to replenish crew. The deck mostly has locations which progress in difficulty. Sprinkled into the deck are cards which give you assistance from the Norse Gods.

A starting set of 5 cards are laid out from which to choose from. Each card chosen is replaced with a new card from the deck. A 6th, 7th and 8th card can be bought and added to the available cards displayed.

Each turn, the player takes one of the following actions:
Use a Map card – Raid or Trade – players travel and conduct a Raid or seek to trade. If there is another captain already at the location, a battle between the players might take place
Interact with the Gods via an Asgard card
Regroup in the Northlands to replace crew that have fallen in battle.
Replenish the Journey Card Pool.

The process is easily learned and works very well. There are choice each step of the way and the players don’t always get their own way.

For each Raid, dice are rolled and you will compare attack and defense values to see who wins. If you roll a Hammer, it is usually applied to a captain’s special ability. Each location has its own individual strength and as you proceed through the deck, they become progressively more difficult to overcome, especially as you find locations with Heroes, Mercenaries or Bosses.

A really nice feature is that there is a limit to the number of cards in the deck during a game with plenty of spare cards for future games which means no 2 games will ever be the same. Lots of replay value here.

As an alternative to Raiding, you can opt to trade and this gives you the chance to hire crew and mercenaries and bribe local officials to increase your chances of conquering a location later. There are some really nice touches.

Another nice touch is that the cards have multiple uses including the ability to spend them to aid in a raid or battle for instance and just push you over the top to victory. Trouble is, it’s a trade off as you then lose a card in your hand which might come in handy for victory points.

Ragnarök (game end)
As soon as the Ragnarök card is chosen from the Journey Card Pool, the game ends and the players are summoned to their final showdown in front of Odin the All-Father. Each player has an opportunity to replenish their crew as if trading (two gold per Crew Section to be replenished) before all of the Viking Captains enter a free-for-all Battle against each other. This is very cool. After this you then add up gold and victory points including extra set collection bonuses.

Did I enjoy Villainous Vikings?
For me, a good Viking game has to have the feel of an epic Viking saga along with a sense of the historical. If it’s too silly and reliant upon the myths, I’m not sure it would be as interesting.

Villainous Vikings really gets the balance right. It leans more towards the historical feel which makes it more interesting. You certainly get a feel for the strategic scope of exploration a and raid and trade aspects. The mythology aspect is there but just enough.

This game is easy to play and teach and plays relatively fast but it gives you a nice set of choices. If you just look to raid, you won’t win. You have to pick your battles and also trade effectively or you will be in trouble. There is a push your luck element as you have to ask yourself how far do you risk losing your crew.

Luck plays a reasonable part in the dice rolls and cards but to me this adds to the fun. This is not a simulation or a game for heavy strategists. But you have a nice balance of choices and decisions to make. The dice and cards keep you surprised and having to rethink. This is not a game that allows forward planning. The test is how will you deal with a changing situation.

This game has to be played with 4 players for sure to get the most out of it and guarantee player interaction which is a must in a Viking game.

I would say that Villainous Vikings is a really fun and interesting game which doesn’t lose it’s bite after a number of plays. The design is sound with an emphasis on fun play rather than the detailed minutiae. Combat and trade are nicely abstracted and quick. The pace is good. The tension high as you seek the right combination of conquests to build a strong combat position.

The bottom line? Villainous Vikings is one of my favourite games of 2014 and I highly recommend it if you are interested in the theme and a lightish game with a good balance of luck, choices and player interaction. It would not surprise me at all if this game become one of VPG‘s stronger sellers.

For more information, go to the Victory Point Games website.

http://www.victorypointgames.com/games/villainous-vikings.html

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News – Darkest Night expansion 3: From the Abyss – VPG PRESS RELEASE

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News – Darkest Night expansion 3: From the Abyss – VPG PRESS RELEASE

From the Abyss, the third expansion for Darkest Night, provides the Necromancer with an array of sinister new abilities. It also adds the Channeler, Exorcist, Mesmer, and Valkyrie as new playable heroes, along with new Event and Artifact cards. From the Abyss can be combined with either or both of the previous expansions, or used separately.

Click here for all the details on Darkest Night expansion 3: From the Abyss.

 

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News – Imperial Stars II – Victory Point Games PRESS RELEASE

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News – Imperial Stars II – Victory Point Games PRESS RELEASE

In the far, far future, two empires, remnants of the long lost Terran Homeworld, are brought into conflict over dwindling resources and the last few uncolonized planets in their sector. In the distant past, these two empires were allies against the Titans (see Astra Titanus) and Xeno incursions (see Forlorn: Hope), but with their frontiers colliding and diplomacy failing, it is time for admirals, captains, and crews to carry the fate of empires to the stars and find their destiny.

Veteran game designer Chris Taylor has done it again, putting a “Big 4X Game” experience into a small, cleverly-designed package of space exploration and conquest for two players. With multiple maps hosting the asymmetrical forces of the opposing empires, players will discover that there are many paths to dominating their corner of space!

Click here for all the details on Imperial Stars II.

 

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Kickstarter News 23/8/14 – If I had the cash, I’d look at…

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Kickstarter News 23/8/14 – If I had the cash I’d look at…

There was nothing of interest last week but this week we have…

 

 

 

DeadMen

 

Dead Men Tell No Tales from Minion Games

 

Now this looks pretty cool and loads of fun I must say. That is, if you like cooperative games like I do.

Dead Men Tell No Tales (DMTNT) is a cooperative game where players take on the role of a Pirate crew, boarding the doomed Skelit’s Revenge for one purpose: to take the loot. You need to deal with the spreading fire and explosion potential as well as the enemies left on the ship. But what’s a little risk for the plunder!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/miniongames/dead-men-tell-no-tales?ref=category_recommended

Nothing else really captured my attention this week…

 

Review – Dragon Slayer from Indie Boards & Cards

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Dragon Slayer: The Odds are in your Favor

by Benny Sperling

Note – This review is of the Kickstarter edition, the retail version may differ.

Dragon Slayer is a push-your-luck dice game with a twist. That twist? Direct player interaction! Or at least 1 round of it for each player. I’ll explain the game first, then we’ll talk about the player interaction.

Unboxing

Dragon Slayer has 12 custom dice, they are embossed so there is less chance to get worn out (I’m looking at you first edition of King of Tokyo). There are 3 Hero dice with 3 axes, 2 shields and 1 flame per die. The odds are in your favor as you’ll need Axes more than anything. The flames are bad and need to be shielded, the axes are used to kill a dragon. Any flames not shield cost the player one of their dice. This is where it can get bad, lose all three dice and you are dragon chow.

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Speaking of dragons, there are 3 dragons, each with its own set of 3 dice.

Gameplay

The player must assemble the whole dragon and have an axe in order to defeat it. 

The Blue dragon, considered the easiest and worth 2 points, has a head die, a wing die and a tail die. Each die has 4 of its body parts and 2 mountains. , odds are still in your favor, the Blue dragon isn’t scary as the only damage you’ll take is from your own hero dice. The Green dragon, worth 4 points, still keeps the odds in your favor though there is 1 flame, 1 mountain and 4 of the body parts per die. Even the Red dragon worth 6 points, is still basically in your favor to get the parts assembled, but 2 flames per die can be deadly! In a recent game, I rolled the 3 Red dragon dice and the 3 hero dice… 3 flames, 3 axes. That was the end of my turn.

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Each turn you can try to fight as many of the dragons as you want, you only score if you defeat a dragon and stop. If you engage a dragon, you must defeat it or lose all of your hero dice. If you defeat all 3 dragons, you can then continue and fight each one again, but you cannot fight the same dragon until each of the 3 are defeated.

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But that’s not all, remember the player interaction? Once per game, you can challenge an opponent to press their luck. They can stop and score, but you earn 5 points. If they keep going and lose, you earn 5 points. If they keep going and win, they earn double the points for that Dragon! And you get 0. This can be a well timed move, but only when played carefully.

The game ends when a player earns 40 points, each player gets an even number of turns.

Verdict

Overall, I quite enjoyed Dragon Slayer, it’s short, about 15 minutes, the dice are great, the scoreboard and cubes are nice to keep track and the reverse of the 2nd scoreboard shows a map of the dragon and what dice get rerolled. It fits nicely with the other Press-Your-Luck games like Zombie Dice or Incan Gold. I would take this one over those two though. Sold game, well done Indie Board and Cards.

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Note: this copy was received as part of my backing the Kickstarter campaign.

 

For more information – http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/158243/dragon-slayer

News – Tenka: Shogun – Victory Point Games PRESS RELEASE

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News – Tenka: Shogun – Victory Point Games PRESS RELEASE

Whether in the royal court or on the battlefield, the lords of feudal Japan fight a never-ending struggle for power amidst the chaos of a faltering Empire. You will vie for provincial control as order crumbles around you, hoping to secure enough holdings before the entire country is enveloped in the fires of revolution.

In Tenka: Shogun Edition, you will work to fill your Court with all of the tools necessary to rule Japan’s various provinces. Power can come from winning over Priests, lesser Lords, and Knights, or you can push for bringing Japan’s unique aspects to your side. No matter the direction you choose, you’ll be racing against time to restore order before Chaos breaks out.

Only one can seize enough Provinces or retrieve the Imperial Regalia (the three Sacred Treasures of Japan) to control the realm. Will it be you?

Click here for all the details on Tenka: Shogun.

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Gen Con News – If I had the cash to be at Gen Con 2014, I’d look at…

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Gen Con News – If I had the cash to be at Gen Con 2014, I’d look at…

I’ve been following the goings on at Gen Con 2014 and I watched a number of BGG broadcasts showcasing new games. I also looked at the BGG new release list.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only a handful of new games that I really think are interesting.

XFiles

X-Files from IDW Games and Pandasaurus Games

From BGG – As a long time fan of the TV show, I’m pretty interested in this game. It sounds like they’ve got loads of references to the show. Hopefully it has the feel of the episodes.

In The X-Files, players take on the role of Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files team as they work to uncover global conspiracies and threats while going up against various members of the Syndicate. In game terms, 1-4 agent players team up against one opponent who controls the Smoking Man and his nefarious network.

The X-Files board game will focus on material from the first three seasons of the television series, giving fans a chance to start from the beginning of the phenomenon.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/156737/x-files

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 Dead of Winter from Plaid Hat Games

Yes, there are far too many zombies games around. But this one stands out as something different and much more about the characters. Sounds fun.

From BGG – Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game, the first game in this series, puts 2-5 players in a small, weakened colony of survivors in a world where most of humanity is either dead or diseased, flesh-craving monsters. Each player leads a faction of survivors with dozens of different characters in the game.

Dead of Winter is a meta-cooperative psychological survival game. This means players are working together toward one common victory condition — but for each individual player to achieve victory, he must also complete his personal secret objective. This secret objective could relate to a psychological tick that’s fairly harmless to most others in the colony, a dangerous obsession that could put the main objective at risk, a desire for sabotage of the main mission, or (worst of all) vengeance against the colony! Certain games could end with all players winning, some winning and some losing, or all players losing. Work toward the group’s goal, but don’t get walked all over by a loudmouth who’s looking out only for his own interests!

Dead of Winter is an experience that can be accomplished only through the medium of tabletop games. It’s a story-centric game about surviving through a harsh winter in an apocalyptic world. The survivors are all dealing with their own psychological imperatives, but must still find a way to work together to fight off outside threats, resolve crises, find food and supplies, and keep the colony’s morale up.

Dead of Winter has players making frequent, difficult, heavily- thematic, wildly-varying decisions that often have them deciding between what is best for the colony and what is best for themselves.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/150376/dead-winter-crossroads-game

sentinel

Sentinel Tactics from Greater Than Games

I enjoy Sentinels of the Multiverse and a game with minis based on it sounds great.

From BGG –Sentinel Tactics: The Flame of Freedom is a tactical combat game that uses a hex grid map to represent terrain. Each player controls one or more heroes or villains, each of which has unique powers. Combat is based on the rolling of six-sided dice. Whereas Sentinels of the Multiverse is a fully cooperative game,Sentinel Tactics is a team-based game. Groups of players will cooperate against either a villain player or against another team of players, so while the game is competitive, cooperation and teamwork are still vital to the gameplay.
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/146408/sentinel-tactics-flame-freedom
samurai

Samurai Spirit from FunForge

Seems fun and very silly but could be fun.

From BGG –

Samurai Spirit is a co-operative game in which each player is a fierce samurai defending a village surrounded by a horde of bandits. The game plays out over three turns during which each player takes turns drawing bandit cards, then choosing whether they want to fight the bandit, defend the village, or let the bandit pass in order to help the other samurai.

The challenge of the game consists of balancing your choices: Should you fight each enemy to quickly reach your beast capacities, while also coming closer to the death and risking further loss by not defending the village sufficiently? Should you mainly defend or help the other samurai, taking the risk of remaining human too long and therefore weaker, when you know that weakness will be a major problem when facing the lieutenant and the villain bosses? Each enemy presents a tough choice to you, your team, and ultimately the whole village! Each turn ends with farms and fences being destroyed, and since those aren’t unlimited, you must do what’s necessary to end the game with at least one undamaged farm and enough farmers to tend it. Do you have what it takes to stand against evil and become a true hero?

Fight with courage, smartly assist your teammates, defend the poor villagers, turn into a savage beast, and wreak havoc on the enemy lines — all of this is up to you! Ultimately it would be your honor to chose to die in a ultimate sacrifice in order to save the village. All of this is what makes the true samurai spirit!
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/158900/samurai-spirit

rhine

1944: Race to the Rhine from Phalanx Games

Not totally convinced about this one as its not really a war game but maybe…

1944 Race to the Rhine is a new game experience. You can’t win this game without proper planning. Your tanks need gas to move and ammo to fight. But don’t forget to feed your GIs. So what would be your transport priority?

Will you follow General Patton’s strategy to discard ammo in order to bring additional fuel barrels along to move boldly forward? Would you risk your prestige and gamble on Market-Garden as Field Marshal Montgomery did? Would you cross the Rhine more quickly than General Bradley did, with the help of your hard work and a little luck?
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/148601/1944-race-rhine

libertyroad

War Stories: Liberty Road from Conquistador Games

Tactical war game with what sounds like a good simplified system with a good level of detail. However, I’m not thrilled about the art so maybe…

From BGG – War Stories combines the best of miniature gaming with the best of board gaming to create a fast-playing, rewardingly deep tactical battle system with wooden blocks — and optional museum-quality vehicle miniatures. Easy to learn for the casual gamer and difficult to master for the die hard wargamer, pushing infantry and gorgeous tanks around the board has never been this much fun! Liberty Road, the second entry in the War Stories series, features twenty scenarios chronicling the liberation of Europe by the Western Allies during World War II — from the beaches of Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge — Liberty Road puts glorious Shermans, Panthers, King Tigers and many more high-quality pre-painted miniatures at your disposal to achieve your objectives and outfight your opponent.

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/136229/war-stories-liberty-road