Published by: Grey Fox Games
#of Players: 2-4
Mayday Card Sleeve Sizes: Std Card (63.5x88mm)-73 Mini USA (41x63mm)- 48
The Jarl of Trondheim has died and you must now fill the void during these dire times. As a Viking Leader, you will fight Trolls and other deadly monsters for glory and to protect the townsfolk. Other clan leaders are also trying to fill the power vacuum and claim the title of Jarl. Can you kill epic monsters and be the Champion Midgard wants and needs?
Champions of Midgard comes with a beautiful game board that sets the scene nicely for this Viking game. Viking Warriors are represented as red (spearmen), black (axemen), and white (swordsmen) dice. Workers are represented by each player's respective colored meeples. Monsters are represented by standard size cards. Journey, Destiny, Rune and Merchant cards appear as smaller size cards. While the information fits on these cards fine, I find the smaller cards are very difficult to shuffle. Wood and food are represented by either wooden cubes or shapes of wood and food that are sold separately from the game. All other components are your standard cardboard pieces that are adequate for the game. Champions of Midgard provides decent quality components that should handle multiple playthroughs.
Champions of Midgard is a worker placement game that also has a dice rolling mechanic. Champions of Midgard's worker placement mechanic is very similar to those found in Lords of Waterdeep and Stone Age. Therefore, this game is usually compared to Lords of Waterdeep and other games like it. Players take turns assigning workers to different locations and activating that location's action. Workers can also be assigned to battle locations, some of which you need a boat for. After everyone has placed all their workers each player will assign Viking Warrior dice to the various battles their workers are assigned to. For combat that requires boat travel, there will be a limit to how many warriors and food you can place on that ship.
Once everyone decides on Warrior placement, then the battles start. The first battle is versus the Troll monster. If no one fights or wins against the Troll, every player will receive a blame token from the townsfolk. These townsfolk are jerks and if you fail, they will blame you fast. The blame tokens will give negative glory (this game's victory points) depending on the number of tokens you have. If someone fights the Troll and defeats it, he will get to remove 1 blame token from himself and place a blame token on another character, as well as receive glory for himself. Like I said, the townsfolk are very fickle people. They are quick to celebrate your victory; but also blame you when things are bad. After that battle is settled, you move onto the players assigned to 1 of 2 Draugr battles. Upon victory, players will take control of that card and receive gold and glory that is stated on the bottom of the card. The townsfolk don't seem to care about these battles, though. It's either kill the Troll or you don't matter to them. Stupid townsfolk. After these battles are completed, you will then move on to any boats that players used to fight monsters from a different land. As we all know, the sea can be a harsh creature or a gentle voyage. The same can be said for the journey your Vikings are going to take with their boats. First you will flip over the location's journey card, which could mean smooth sailing or storms and Krakens. Why must it always be the Kraken? At least its not Mega Shark, I guess. After you settle any conditions from the journey card, your workers will be very hungry from approaching the new land. You must feed all of your Warriors by the ratio stated at that location. You will need either 1 food for 2 Warriors or 1 for 1. Any Warriors not fed are thrown overboard and to bottom of the sea for the Kraken to eat. Finally, you will fight the monster for that location and upon victory, will receive a large amount of glory and gold. If you fail, the worker comes back to the village alone with tales of what the monster did to your Warriors: “It was not pretty. Poor Dave got impaled with his brother-in-law's femur...” All surviving Warriors left from all the battles are returned to their player's character sheet to be used again.
Now that you know what your workers do and what happens when you win or lose battles, let us focus on the battles themselves. A battle will be between a monster and however many Warrior dice assigned to that battle. The player will roll his warrior dice and total up the number of hits. Dice may have 1 or 2 hits shown on a side of the die. You will then compare that with the monster's health. If the number is equal to or greater than the monster's health, then you have delivered the lethal blow. Before you claim victory, though, the monster was able to attack as well. You will take the monster's attack number and compare it to any shields shown. If there is more attack than shields then you will have to remove and discard 1 Warrior die for each unblocked attacked. An example would be if the monster has 3 attack and you rolled 5 dice and 1 shield. You would choose 2 dice to remove as 2 of the 3 attacks were not blocked. You will need to learn and accept that you will most likely be losing dice each battle. After both attacks are resolved, you will receive the victory spoils if you delivered the fatal blow (even if you have no warriors left). Basically, the worker drags back the corpse and takes the credit if none of your Warriors make it back alive. If you did not deliver the lethal blow and still have Warriors left, you will continue to fight until there is a victor.
The person with the most glory wins the game. Glory is earned by defeating monsters and from Destiny cards that are revealed at the end of the game. Destiny cards are secret goals that give you glory if you complete or tie the objective. You can also receive glory from building your own boat and from Rune cards. Rune cards are magic that will allow you to manipulate the game in some way. For example, one card states that “when played, you can reveal and score a Destiny card now.”
I enjoy worker placement games a lot. Some are on my current top 10 list. Does Champions of Midgard take the place of one of those games? Honestly, right now, I do not think so. I will have to play a lot more times (which I want to!) to see if I prefer this over Waterdeep or if it is just a good alternative. While Champions of Midgard plays a lot like Lords of Waterdeep, it does have enough to separate itself and make it unique. It is unique enough to earn a spot in my collection. I enjoy the battles, but some will not like the randomness of how many Warriors you will get back. I try to look at it as, “I will send in just enough Warriors to win the fight and if any come back, then that is an added bonus.” It is that decision of how many warriors that really adds a risk/ reward feel to the game that I personally enjoy. Do you fight only one monster and send in all your forces to ensure a victory? Or do you split up your force to try and take multiple monsters and hope you defeat each with just barely enough Warriors?
A lot of worker placements do not have much theme to them. I felt Champions of Midgard had a good amount of theme in it. Whether it was the battles and losing my Warriors or the mystery of what a sea voyage might do to my crew, it made me feel as if I was leading Vikings to battle. The rulebook was clear enough to learn the rules and reference back to easily when there were questions. The game takes around 60-90 minutes, depending on the number of players and if they have played worker placement games before. I find that to be a very reasonable time per play for worker placements. Each Viking Leader has a special power that makes them unique. I feel some might be stronger than others, but that is balanced out by allowing the person who is going last to pick their leader first. The only big gripe I heard from players (and a little from myself) was a lack of shields. Players would have liked the swordsman to have an additional shield or a “tank” type character to absorb some of the attacks. I think this comes down to your perception of the game and if you look at getting Warriors back as a bonus, then this is less of an issue. I really enjoyed Champions of Midgard and look forward to more plays of it. I find the theme enjoyable and liked the many outcomes that could come out of a battle.
+ Viking Theme that actually added flavor to the game instead of just pasted on
+ Executes worker placement mechanic well and adds an additional battle mechanic to set it apart from other worker placement games
+Plays in a little over an hour
+ Good insert that comes with the game
+ Risk/ Reward decisions that can make the difference
- some will not like the unpredictability of battles
- - need a tank class dice of added shield to swordsmen
-little cards are a pain to shuffle