Published by: Catalyst Game Labs
# of Players: 2 to 5
Catalyst Game Labs has brought us some beautiful miniatures in Battletech and great components in the Shadowrun universe. Vikings: the Board Game has plenty of positives and some negatives for it's components. The player ship boards are beautifully illustrated and made from a glossy, thick card stock. All of the cards have pictures from the television show and are very clear to understand. The reference cards for each player are always very nice to have, especially with a game like this that has numerous icons. The various goods and warriors are represented by wooden cubes. I am not a big fan of cubes theme wise, and wish that the colors of the spice and fur cubes were more noticeably different. The actual map is comprised of various cardboard hexes that are random each game. I really like the randomness of the map. I worry about that the hexes will breakdown over time due to the flakiness of the cardboard. The hexes skipped art and went straight to their purpose. Each hex has it's day cost and any goods lost and received. This makes it very clear to play with, but boring and unattractive to look at.
The rule book is 24 pages of instruction on the details of this game. The book provides many helpful colorful illustrations and appendixes to help players understand details. I do feel the rule book is more in-depth than it really needed to be. The rule book looks intimidating for a game that is actually really easy to learn. The game does come with a great insert that holds everything very nicely and provides enough baggies to store everything else. The box is also very think to handle anything that may happen when traveling with the game.
Vikings: the Board Game has players venturing into the unknown and returning for 3 years. Each year is divided into a winter season (clean up and prepare) and the summer season (explore and raiding). After the players have returned after their third summer season, they will total up their Valhalla points and the person with the most is the victor and Jarl of the Vikings.
During the winter season, players will score any placed runestones, and earn gold or vp for exploration points. Players will also complete any quests that they may not have completed by the end of the summer season. Players will place new land tiles for the year they are about to start as well as shuffling and replacing all the sea hexes back face down. New Seer and Hero cards will be placed out to be chosen later. Seer cards are quest cards that players try to complete to receive Valhalla points and other benefits. Hero cards are special warriors that give your crew a bonus. After everything has been cleaned up and prepared, players will each look secretly at 2 land tiles and place them back face down. Once that has been completed, players will bid for influence which determines who gets to look at tiles first next round, the order of recruiting heroes, going to the trade house and selecting seer cards. After the order has been determined, the player with the highest influence chooses their hero card and then each player in order chooses theirs. Players then starting with the person with the lowest influence, use the trade house to buy and sell goods to prepare for their summer season. After everyone has traded, they will select their Seer cards from highest influence to lowest. Player markers are then placed on the highest calendar day for the year (30 year one, 35 year two, and 40 year 3). Everyone is then ready for the summer season.
Seer cards are the quest cards of this game and some require you to make the journey back before the summer season has ended to complete the quest. Some will require you to explore a number of areas and place runestones. Runestones can be purchased in town for 2 gold each. During the summer season before you travel out to sea, you can spend days in town getting resources, runestones and warriors. This is done by visiting the various spots on the town hex board. When placed, runestones provide a discount of one day to that hex and provide Valhalla points during winter. If your boat did not make it back to home before you have run out of days in the summer season, you will be automatically sent back to home and your summer season is over. For completing some quests this is completely fine, while others require making it back or give bonuses for doing so. Land tiles that were explored during the summer season will stay face up for the rest of the game. Once everyone has run out of days for their third summer season, the game is over and the player with the most Valhalla points wins the game.
I am fan of the television show and have enjoyed many viking themed games. I enjoyed the game as a game, but felt cheated on the theme. Instead of intense battles, Vikings the board game is a essentially an exploration game with pick up and deliver mechanics. The raids were like trading any other resource. If you are fine with that, then you will enjoy the game as risk taking, what will be on the next hex type game. The pace of the game moves very nicely and everyone learns the game very fast. I am always thankful for a useful insert and they provided a very good one. I enjoyed taking risks and going to an unexplored hex over a hex that was already explored. Everyone always felt they were in the game and not losing. There are a lot of icons to learn but the player aid helps a lot. The gameplay is very solid mechanically. I would recommend this game to players who enjoy pick up and deliver games, as well as those who enjoy risk/reward outcomes. I would not recommend the game to someone just because they like the TV show or viking theme. I personally would have no problem playing it again anytime, but it may not be a game that I ask to bring to the table.
+ Great box insert
+ Mechanically solid
+ Lots of risk/reward choices
- Gameplay does not match the action of the show
- Cardboard hex tiles are flaky
- Rule book is longer and more in-depth than it needed to be which could intimidate some